Great family vacations don’t have to cost a fortune, and they don’t need to harm the planet, either. If you’re looking for a low-key, fun-filled holiday idea that doesn’t use up the earth’s precious resources, a bikecation may be just what your family needs! Bicycle vacations will allow you and your family to experience nature in ways that are totally up close and personal, and they will also boost your family’s overall fitness level.
Today, there are plenty of ways to enjoy fulfilling and affordable bikecations that feature plenty of fresh air, laughter and natural beauty. To help you plan the ideal family bikecation (and to assist you in learning how to be eco-friendly while you do it), Hearts has compiled a helpful quick guide to some amazing bikecation holiday tips, along with some fascinating facts about the way that typical vacations negatively impact personal fitness, the environment, and family vacation budgets.
Quick Guide: the Downside of Typical Family Vacations
- 30% of American children are overweight or obese: One in three American children is now in the overweight (or obese) category.[i]
- 15 pounds excess weight for inactive girls: Adolescent females who don’t get enough physical activity may gain up to 15 pounds of extra weight, negatively affecting self-esteem and health.[ii]
- 162 more calories per day for gaming boys: Teenage boys who play lots of video games instead of participating in sports are apt to take in 162 extra calories per day (compared to non-gamers), burning only 21 calories an hour during video game play.[iii]
- 300 calories burned per hour cycling: Losing weight during a bikecation is highly probable, since four hours on a bike tour burns as many as 2000 calories;[iv] even gentle cycling burns 300 calories per hour.[v]
- 1.5x more climate emissions than yearly driving: Even the most eco-conscious families have bigger carbon footprints while on holidays. A trip to Disneyland will create 1.5 times more global warming pollution than a year of family commuting.[vi]
- $1,415 average family vacation budget: American families spend $1,415 for each conventional vacation.
- Potential savings with a bikecation: Choosing eco-friendly self guided bike tours instead of flights and hotels is more cost-effective – perhaps the best travel deal around![vii] The price of overnight camping: $20 to $30/night[viii] plus incidental expenses like bike repairs of $65 makes bikecations a lot cheaper than even road trips.[ix]
- Nature good for ADHD, heart health, and more: Exposure to light elevates mood and boosts Vitamin D levels; reduces the risk of heart attacks, cancer, and depression;[x] and can settle kids with ADHD (natural surroundings has been proven to help children with this disorder to focus more effectively).[xi]
Take Action! Planning the Ultimate Family Bikecation
- Start small: A quick and simple one-day bikecation is a great way to experiment with this aco-friendly holiday style. For tips on planning a fast and easy family bike vacation that is safe and affordable, visit KidsCanTravel.com.
- Guided bike tours: If your family needs a little direction during a bike vacation, why not consider a guided bike tour? Bike tour companies, such as AdventureCycling.org, offer great tours with different levels of support.
- Use national park bike maps to plan a route: If you’re interested in exploring American’s glorious national parks during your family bikecation, you’ll love the routes outlined at USA Today’s Travel Tips web page. For information on camping or finding cabins in American National Parks, check out the federal government’s recreation website.
- Basic gear requirements: When it comes to packing for overnight cycling/camping trips or multi-day mountain bike trips, it’s best to learn what to take from a true cycling guru, such as Adam K.
- Bikecation safety: Taking care of your family during a bikecation will require a little forethought and planning. Learn the fundamentals of cycling safety when riding with kids at the SafeKids website. Safekids also provides helpful tips on keeping kids happy and healthy while camping.
- Political actions: To politically support eco-friendly family holidays, such as biking vacations, why not get involved with a group that is devoted to protecting our beautiful planet. The Sierra Group offers plenty of ways to get involved with promoting eco-friendly principles.
Dig Deeper: Travel Responsibly
- Learn how to reduce your carbon footprint and travel more responsibly by visiting DavidSuzuki.org.
- Get more advice on bike safety from KidsHealth.org.
[i] Childhood Obesity. (n.d.). Retrieved from Chidren’s Defense Fund:
[iii] Scrivener, L. (2012, January 1). How video games could make kids gain weight. Retrieved from Heart and Stroke Foundation: http://mdw.heartandstroke.ca/news/post/how-video-games-could-make-kids-gain-weight
[iv] Cycle Tours and Fat Loss . (n.d.). Retrieved from Cycle Fiesta: http://www.cyclefiesta.com/multimedia/articles/cycle-tour-fat-loss.htm
[v] Elvidge, S. (2010, September 20). Fun Facts: How Many Calories Does Exercise Use? Retrieved from Kid’s Exercise: http://www.kidsexercise.co.uk/fun-facts-how-many-calories-does-exercise-use.html
[vi] Getting There Greener: the Guide to your Lower-carbon Vacation. (2008, December). Retrieved from Union of Concerned Scientists: http://www.ucsusa.org/assets/documents/clean_vehicles/greentravel_report.pdf
[viii] Leco, M. (n.d.). Camping Tips. Retrieved from USA Tourist: http://www.usatourist.com/english/traveltips/lodging/lodging-camping-tips.html
[ix] Bicycle Repair Prices. (2007). Retrieved from Used Bicycle Guide: http://usedbicycleguide.com/Bicycle%20Repair%20Price%20List.html
[x][x] Spending time outdoors is good for you, from the Harvard Health Letter. (2010 , July). Retrieved from Harvard Health Letter: http://www.health.harvard.edu/press_releases/spending-time-outdoors-is-good-for-you
Image via Flickr: MoBikeFed - http://www.flickr.com/photos/mobikefed/3571804755/
Image via Flickr: garryknight – http://www.flickr.com/photos/garryknight/6047400442/
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