BikeTours.com is now in our 15th year of sending our clients on European bicycle tours, and we’re seeing these primary trends:
1. Families shifting from two mouse ears to two wheels.
We ask our clients which family vacation their kids will be talking about in 20 years. Increasingly, parents are realizing that, while trips to Disney are fun, it’s the experiential travel that is more likely to change their kids’ lives and linger in their memories. In our e-book on family bicycle tours, we give 10 reasons parents should consider a bicycle tour for their next family vacation:
1. Bond with each other
2. Sense shared accomplishments
3. Create lasting memories
4. Reconnect as a family
5. Experience new places intimately
6. Gain a better understanding of new cultures
7. Unplug and engage all your senses
8. Improve self-image
9. Reap the benefits of active travel
10. Build environmental awareness
Download the e-book for free here.
2. E-bikes—where the “E” stands as much for “equalizer” as “electric-assist”—opening active travel to vast new markets.
Electric bikes aren’t motorbikes or even mopeds — instead, they provide power on demand, responding to and complementing your pedaling speed and power.We’re seeing electric-assist bicycles open bicycle touring to four broad groups:
1. Couples often want to travel together but are hindered by differing ability levels. In these situations, one spouse might follow the tour’s daily biking itinerary while the other rides in a support van or takes public transportation to meet at the day’s destination. Sometimes the less-fit (or less-interested) spouse will try to cycle alongside the enthusiast but ultimately slows down or rides behind the party — not much fun for anybody.
2. Multi-generation family vacations face the same challenges — the kids or grandparents may not go the same speed or distance as the rest of the family. E-bikes offer a solution for everyone to participate and maintain an enjoyable level of exertion.
3. Travelers with infirmities or recovering from injuries can still enjoy an active vacation with an electric bike rental. Since they compensate proportionately to your effort, riders in less-than-perfect health receive assistance when necessary or appropriate.
4. Some would-be and first-time cycling tourists have anxiety over their ability to keep up with their party. But the reassurance of an e-bike helps many people step out of their comfort zone because they know no one will be waiting for them. It means they don’t have to worry about being too slow and they’ll be able to better enjoy the views and sights along the bike tour route.
More information on electric-assist bikes.
3. Bike and boat tours
Bike and boat tours have long been popular among our clients, but interest has been surging.. We’ve identified several reasons:
1. They combine the best of two worlds: cruise vacations and adventure travel.
2. It’s easy to take a day off from cycling and enjoy the scenery from the boat deck other than the bike saddle (also a great advantage to travel partners with different experience, stamina or enthusiasm levels).
3. You don’t have to unpack and pack every day since your floating hotel travels with you.
4. You can access routes available only by boat.
4. Multi-generational travel
Pretty much due to increased recognition of #1 and increased availability of #2!
5. Self-guided bicycle tours
Until recently, most cycle tourists had two primary options
1. Inexpensive self-contained tours, where they’d have to plan everything, carry their own gear, plot their own routes, organize their own lodging (often camping)
2. Expensive guided tours with support van and guide and with routes and lodging planned out and provided
Over the past several years, self-guided tours have become increasingly popular and available. The routes and lodging are planned out and provided, as are luggage transfers, but you ride on your own. Most self-guided tours also provide service hotlines in case of issues along the way. Self-guided tours had been offered primarily by bike tour companies based in Europe.
Since our model is to represent the small, local European bike tour companies rather than operate our own tours, we feel we’ve brought self-guided tours more into the mainstream for American travelers. Another benefit: self-guided tours often cost as much as 70 percent less than guided tours, and they typically have more frequent (even daily) departures.
More on the differences between guided and self-guided bicycle tours.