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    FAQs about Backroads

FAQs about Backroads

Backroads was founded in 1979 by Tom Hale, who continues an active role as company President.

You can email us here. You can also write, phone or fax us at:

801 Cedar St. Berkeley, CA 94710-1800
800-GO-ACTIVE (800-462-2848)
fax: 510-527-1444

  • All lodgings
  • On Trips with Hotels: all breakfasts, most lunches, including our trademark grand picnics, and all dinners except for one, when you'll have the opportunity to sample local fare on your own
  • On Camping Trips, all meals
  • Expertise and services of our experienced Trip Leaders
  • Snacks and beverages between meals
  • Additional guides and experts from the region on many trips
  • Van shuttles to support a variety of route options
  • Comprehensive Travel Planner with detailed pre-trip information
  • Private guided tours at museums, historic sites, wineries and other select attractions as noted in the Travel Planner
  • All gratuities at hotels and restaurants on Trips with Hotels
  • Special events, including wine tastings and other select attractions as mentioned in the Travel Planner
  • On Biking and Multi-Adventure Trips: use of fully equipped Backroads titanium bike plus helmet and accessories
  • Trailer bikes, carriers and kid-sized helmets for Family Trips
  • Equipment and experienced guides for kayaking, rafting, snorkeling, sailing and canoeing as described
  • Park and other entry fees
  • Fares for trains, ferries and other modes of travel as listed in the Travel Planner
  • Select coach transfers
  • Baggage transfers and porterage
  • Backroads water bottle
  • Not included: airfare, alcoholic beverages (Backroads provides wine at select events), gratuities for Trip Leaders and personal expenses

Backroads trips are designed for all levels of fitness. Some trips are more challenging than others and we suggest that you refer to the Activity Level Options or talk to one of our Trip Consultants about your current activity level and the type of adventure you're looking for. They'll help you pick the right trip for you. Call 800-GO-ACTIVE (800-462-2848) to speak to a Trip Consultant daily from 6 am to 6 pm, Pacific time.

You'll get the most enjoyment out of your active adventure if you're reasonably fit. Try running, hiking, swimming or other aerobic activity for at least 20 minutes, three times a week, to help you stay in shape. If you choose a Biking Trip, the best training is to get out and ride—hills and flats—several hours at a time on consecutive days. The key is to just do it—and want to do it again the next day. Once you reserve a trip with us, we'll send you specific training tips.

On most days of your Backroads Biking, Multi-Adventure or Walking & Hiking Trip, you'll have a choice of three mileage options. One day you might go for the most challenging. The next day, you may take it easy by choosing the shortest route, leaving more time for relaxation, exploration or mingling with the locals. You and your fellow travelers may spread out over several miles or you may choose to ride or walk together. For your peace of mind, one leader covers the route in a Backroads van, ready to offer assistance, refreshments or a lift back if you're done for the day.

Our trips attract people of varying abilities so there's typically someone else traveling at your speed. This is ideal for friends and couples with different paces; they can spend the day with similarly fit travelers and then reunite for the evenings.

It's up to you to decide how far you want to travel. Depending on the route options you choose and the pace you set, you'll typically spend three to five hours each day, biking or walking or—on our Multi-Adventure Trips—engaging in a combination of biking and walking along with such activities as kayaking, rafting or snorkeling.

The number of activity hours you can expect for each level per day:

  • Level 1:  2-3
  • Level 2:  2-4
  • Level 3:  3-5
  • Level 4:  4-6
  • Level 5:  5-7+

See our Activity Chart for more details about time and distance involved in each level.

On biking routes, one leader drives the support van, sweeping the route several times during the day and providing lifts and assistance as needed. Another leader rides the route, roving between groups traveling at different speeds. On walking routes, one leader usually takes the lead while the other brings up the rear. The amount of van support depends on the location of the walking routes. On trips with kayaking and rafting excursions, leaders typically team up with an experienced local guide to give you support and instruction.

The leaders transport all luggage between hotels (or campgrounds) in Backroads' special trailers. They'll also gladly pick up and transport any purchases you make along the way. You need only carry snacks, clothing and personal items for the day's activities.

It's best to leave valuables at home. If you must bring valuables on the trip, please understand that they're 100% your responsibility, regardless of what anyone (including leaders) might tell you. Keep them with you at all times, or lock them in the hotel safe if you deem it adequately secure. If you're concerned about forgetting items in the hotel safe (easy to do!), a good trick is to leave something on the safe that you can't forget, such as a single shoe. Cash, jewelry and passports are especially important to keep in your possession. It's not safe to leave valuables in Backroads vans; while not common, break-ins do happen. Although we'll transport your valuables during your trip as a convenience, we don't assume responsibility for any damage or loss. This policy applies to personal electronics as well as other items, such as luggage, jewelry, and fragile and delicate accessories, whether purchased on the trip or otherwise.

About half of the people who travel with us are between the ages of 35 and 55. Older and younger travelers are also well represented. Depending on your trip, you may meet solo travelers, families and couples. They'll exhibit a diversity of interests and occupations and share a love of active travel and the outdoors. About one-half of our guests are Backroads alumni, while one-quarter were referred by a friend.

The average group size for all Backroads trips is 16. The maximum number of guests ranges from 14 to 20 on our Walking & Hiking Trips, and 18 to 26 on Biking and Multi-Adventure Trips. Due to the unique nature of our active River and Ocean Cruise Trips, we welcome more guests on each departure than on our land-based trips; this allows us to create our own robust active community with that special Backroads camaraderie during our voyage.

Each Backroads Classic departure has its own unique mix of guests. The majority of departures are made up of individual couples and singles but sometimes they include a small group. At times these groups identify themselves to us when they book their trip, but often they do not. When we're aware of a group of 8 or more, we offer a Private Trip as an option, if one is available. It's up to the group to make the choice to go private or not.

When we're aware of 8 or more guests traveling as a group together on a Classic Trip with Hotels, we will notify guests who are currently booked and those who are considering booking the trip, unless the group makes up less than 50% of the trip’s total enrollment. If you're concerned about having a group on your trip, please let your Trip Consultant know.

Families with children under 18 are encouraged to join our Family Trips. These trips feature family-friendly pricing, routes and activities. On Classic Trips, we're unable to accept reservations for children under the age of 14 and we allow only one family per departure traveling with a child or children 14 to 17 years old. Guests 18 and over are considered adults and are welcome on all Backroads trips. We recommend that you talk to a Trip Consultant to select the best trip for your family (call us at 800-462-2848 from 6 am to 6 pm Pacific time, seven days a week).

Our prices are based on double occupancy (two people per room). Backroads will endeavor to find a roommate (of the same gender) for guests wishing to share a room. If you sign up more than 95 days in advance of your trip and no roommate is available, 50 percent of the private room charge will be due at final payment. Should a roommate be found before your trip departs, the private room charge will be refunded. If you sign up less than 95 days in advance of departure and no roommate is available, the full private room charge will apply. Should a roommate be found within 95 days, the private room charge will be refunded. On some trips, twin rooms are limited or unavailable; a private room charge applies if a shared twin room is not available, regardless of the number of days before departure. Please be sure to speak with your Trip Consultant to confirm your room arrangements. Note that in Europe, single rooms are often smaller than double rooms.

Included in your trip price are Backroads’ high-quality, custom-designed titanium bikes for use and enjoyment on all Biking and Multi-Adventure Trips. Do you prefer to ride a pro-level bike? The top-of-the-line Cannondale Synapse Hi-Mod will be available by request on Biking Trips in Europe, US and Canada ($400) beginning 7/1/19. Wishing for a boost? Request the custom Backroads eBike, available on Biking Trips in Europe, US and Canada (except Alaska and Utah). And tandem riders can choose the Co-Motion Periscope Torpedo tandem on Biking Trips in Europe, US and Canada ($400). View more details and bike specs. In rare instances when Backroads bikes are not available models of comparable quality will be provided. If you choose to bring your own bike, your Trip Consultant can offer trips on the best ways to ship it to the trip start.

We are not offering a women’s-specific frame because Cannondale, in keeping with industry trends for 2020, isn’t producing a women’s equivalent. There is a move away from gender-specific frames toward a single frame style engineered to fit both genders, with a fuller range of sizes and components better matched to each size (bars, saddles, cranks, etc.). Their goal is to fit bikes more precisely versus more broadly. Please note that you do have a choice of saddle sizes with this upgrade.

Backroads is the only travel company to manufacture its own fleet of kids' bicycles; we offer 20" and 24" kids' bikes on all Family Trips, as well as Burley Kazoo trailer bikes for children up to 85 pounds and Burley Cub trailers to tote children 60 pounds and under.

Absolutely. Your Trip Consultant will be happy to give you the names and telephone numbers of people who have participated in the trip you're considering.

Is your spouse a weekend bicyclist who has always longed to explore Tuscany? Is your daughter an enthusiastic hiker eager to lace up her boots in the Canadian Rockies? A Backroads trip makes a perfect gift for your active family and friends any time of year. Gift certificates are available in any amount and can be applied by the recipient toward any Backroads vacation, pending availability. To purchase gift certificates for the active travelers in your life, please contact us at 800-GO-ACTIVE (800-462-2848).

Yes. And a Backroads trip has all the ingredients for a perfect honeymoon. Romantic destinations like California's Wine Country, Vermont, Tuscany and Provence. Superb lodgings and cuisine. And engaging activities—as much or as little, as easy or as challenging, as desired. It's the ultimate wedding present. Just call us at 800-GO-ACTIVE (800-462-2848) for more details or read more about our honeymoon registry here.

The farther in advance you book, the greater availability of dates you'll find. For holiday periods and popular summer destinations, such as Yellowstone Tetons, San Juan Islands, Italy and France, to name a few, we recommend reserving at least four to six months before the trip you're interested in departs.

Yes, Backroads accepts reservations from professional travel agents. If you prefer to have your travel agent handle your Backroads booking, please have him or her contact us directly. Pricing is the same whether you book directly with Backroads or with your travel agent.

Because this site is continually updated to ensure posting of the most current information, trip dates and other details may differ from those found in our printed materials.

Gratuities for most services during your trip (except your Trip Leaders) are included in the price.

How much are you recommending for the Trip Leaders? Please see your Travel Planner for specific amounts for your trip.

How should this be covered? All leaders graciously accept gratuities via cash or PayPal. US leaders also accept US checks. Gratuities may be given to one leader—the team divides tips among themselves after the trip.

Why aren’t Trip Leader gratuities included in the trip price? Backroads is committed to providing the utmost value to its guests. That’s why our trips already include so much more than other travel companies—including more great leaders on each trip. Ultimately, we don’t include gratuities in the price of the trip for two simple reasons: 1) allowing leaders to accept tips is customary in the industry, and 2) we hear from guests that they enjoy the opportunity to recognize leaders personally for their hard work.

How does Backroads pay its leaders? Backroads' leader compensation (much like our leader performance) is unparalleled in the industry—precisely the reason we are able to recommend gratuities as low as half the amount suggested by other companies.

Trips to Alaska’s Kenai Peninsula, New Mexico, New York and Utah are subject to state tax; River Cruise Trips are subject to port fees. These additional charges are not included in the trip price.