FAQs for Families with Kids 8 and Under
On our Family Trips for Younger Kids (4-12), we also welcome kids 13+. Our Family Trips are designed with all ages in mind and offer kid-appropriate routes and activities as well as longer options for adults and teens while kids are in the company of our Kids Activity Expert. If there is an activity with an age restriction to participate (rafting, kayaking, rock climbing and horseback riding for example), the leaders will coordinate happenings for the littles and free up the parents to join the age-restricted activity. You can find specific kids' bike and activity age restrictions here. Please note that we do have a minimum age requirement of 4 years old for all trips.
Yes, just ask your Trip Consultant to give you the breakdown for the trip and date you're considering. Please keep in mind this information may change before your trip departs.
We know from our own experience that families need a balance of time together and time apart. Each day of your trip will feature specific activities designed just for kids, giving grown-ups a chance for adult-only time. These kids' activities typically take place a couple of hours before dinner and on two days the activity may take most of the day, depending on what we're up to—but the themes will always be exploration and fun!
You'll have some time on your own when special activities for kids are scheduled. We typically plan one to two separate half-day activities for kids when the hiking or biking is more challenging, or if there's a cultural experience, wine tasting, shopping or a luxurious spa for adults to enjoy, without kids. And, of course, when there's something spectacular for the kids to do!
Your child needs to be 8 years or older to ride in the support van without a parent or guardian. If you have a younger child who wants a lift, one parent must ride along.
Lodging & Meals
The Premiere Hotels we select for our Family Trips are distinctive properties with comforts to please even the most discerning travelers—and they also enthusiastically welcome families. They offer amenities such as swimming pools to appeal to the kids, and the finer touches parents appreciate. In Europe, dinners are often on the longer side (but you can often opt for family room service). Our trips with Casual Hotels typically provide a more informal environment, shorter dinners and a welcome retreat for relaxing and sharing stories about the day's adventures.
Getting into nature and off the grid sets the stage for quality time together as a family. It also provides ample opportunities for kids to get to spend time with other kids and leaders before and after dinner, while adults enjoy some grown-up time. As parents, all the camp chores, meal and equipment needs are handled so you can enjoy camping as much as the kids.
Rooming options are dependent upon individual hotels. Typically we can arrange for single, double or triple rooms on all Family Trips. A triple room often means 2 beds for parents with 1 child. In some cases, a triple room may include 3 beds, or 2 beds and a rollaway or fold-out sleepers. In some European hotels with smaller rooms, triples may not be feasible at all. On occasion we may use a high quality pull out sofa as a twin bed option for kids.
Once you make a specific request to your Trip Consultant, we will make every effort to secure rooms that connect, are adjacent, or are at least near one another or located on the same floor. Hotels will be advised of your request and Trip Leaders will follow up with hotels about special requests prior to check-in. Please note that connecting rooms are not available in the majority of our hotels, particularly in Europe.
Children under the age of 18 must be booked in the same room as the accompanying adult.
We know that kids may have special tastes, so we make sure that our meals cater to their varied palates without sacrificing yours or your aspiring foodies. You and your family will find freshly made, healthy and delicious food on our picnics as well as quality cuisine with good kid options at our hotels.
On many trips, we plan for one night where adults and kids dine separately. While you enjoy adult conversation, and fine dining our leaders plan a fun night out filled with great eats and activities for the kids. And if you'd prefer to eat as a family we can accommodate that for you too.
Leaders & Safety
Our Trip Leaders are the most carefully selected and rigorously trained in the travel business. For Family Trips, we look for leaders who like, respect and want to be around kids and teens and have experience in managing and/or teaching kids. Equipped with a wealth of entertaining and educational resources, our leaders are experts at creating a comfortable, safe and fun environment. They can communicate at kids' level, see the world through their eyes and have the energy to keep pace with even the most active. Each day of your trip, one Trip Leader will be completely dedicated to the role of Kids Activity Expert.
Yes, kids who are 7+ may ride their own bikes on specifically designated trips. The majority of bike routes on these trips are on bike paths, but we also take road surface, route difficulty and traffic into consideration. Kids 7- to 8-years old who pedal their own bikes must be safe and competent riders. This means they must be comfortable with light traffic, able to ride a straight line without weaving or losing balance, and able to handle gears and hand brakes. Note that if your leaders determine that your 7- or 8-year-old is not riding safely, they may require a switch to a trailer bike or to alternate activity.
Yes, we sometimes make exceptions since we understand that some kids under 9 are safe and competent riders. Please ask your Trip Consultant for more information. Please also note that in regions where the kids' age requirement to ride their own bike is 9+ we may not have 20" wheel bikes available.
Yes, they are good options but it's important that you have some experience with the specific type of equipment before taking a Backroads Family Trip to ensure that you are comfortable and ready for the open road. Pulling a 4-year-old in a trailer or an 8-year-old uphill on a trailer bike can be challenging. Please note that there is a weight limit of 60 pounds for a trailer and 85 pounds for a trailer bike and the adult pulling the trailer bike must weigh at least twice as much as the trailing child in order to safely control the trailer bike. The Co-motion tandem is an excellent choice for strong and experienced riders as long as the pilot is comfortably riding the tandem solo when a younger co-pilot needs a shuttle in the van. Please note, for safety reasons we do restrict the use of trailers and trailer bikes on some trips.
Car seat laws vary by state and country. Backroads generally provides car/booster seats for children 30-80 pounds and 4-8 years of age. Please contact a Trip Consultant for details. (For US Child Restraint Laws, visit www.iihs.org/iihs/topics; for information on Canada's requirements, visit www.parachutecanada.org).
Kids on trips with biking will benefit from wearing biking-specific clothing. Be sure everyone has a good pair of walking shoes. We'll give you a packing list after signing up so you can pack like a pro.
Our Trip Consultants are happy to answer any questions you may have—call us at 800-462-2848.
Important Documentation for Traveling Internationally with Kids
If you are not the parent or legal guardian of the kid(s) you're traveling with, or you are the only parent traveling with your child, you need to have a consent letter from the non-accompanying parent(s)/legal guardian(s) authorizing travel. (This is in addition to proof of the child's citizenship.)
Depending on your country of origin, and your trip destination, passports are necessary. It is your sole responsibility to be sure you have the correct documentation for all travel. If you're applying for a new passport or renewing an expired passport, please allow sufficient time to have your family member's passports processed. Passports issued to minors under the age of 16 are set to expire every 5 years. Some countries require that a traveler's passport be valid for at least 6 months beyond the dates of the trip. Check your expiration dates carefully! Not having proper ID and proof of citizenship may prevent you from re-entering the United States. You may find helpful information about obtaining passports for minors on the US State Department's website: http://travel.state.gov/content/passports/en/passports/under-16.html.
US citizens can also refer to www.state.gov or the applicable foreign consulate for further details.