If biking 25 to 40 miles a day with your kids sounds intriguing but far-fetched, I get it. I was in the same spot before I booked our Mosel Valley family bike tour with Austin Adventures. We wanted an active European family vacation this year. Friends thought we were overly optimistic considering we had never biked more than ten miles with our 8 and 11-year-old. This is where the expertise of a family tour operator is invaluable.
After discussions with the Austin Adventures team, including their European cycling director who is actively involved with guests, I was convinced that our family could do this. We joined another multi-generational family of 12 and the six day tour sped by as we biked, played and dined our way through the Mosel Valley.
The flat terrain of the Mosel Valley enables young families with less experienced bikers to pedal all day. The lesser known cousin of the Rhine Valley in western Germany has extensive bike trails that meander along the Mosel River and through vineyards and small towns with cobblestone streets.
Medieval castles look down from their hilltop perches on this idyllic scene as bikers pass by and river barges ferry passengers and cargo past patio cafes. The unexpected scenery surprise is the Roman ruins that dot the countryside dating from the region’s reign as the western capital of the Roman Empire.
Beyond any of the highlights of this trip, it’s the guides and the personalized service that standout. After interviewing the Nilsson family about their Austin Adventures trip to Costa Rica with kids, I had an idea of what awaited us but would not fully comprehend it until a few days into the trip. The service is seamless and casual. It sneaks up on you until you’re overwhelmed by how much the guides go out of their way for guests.
I should admit that my family, with the youngest kids, seemed to have more mishaps than most but the guides dealt with everything as if they had seen it all before — a yo-yo string stuck in the bike’s derailer, a ride through stinging nettles and a few crashes along the way that caused more embarrassment than hurt. It was all taken in stride and with professionalism.
Another surprise on the trip was an almost complete lack of American tourists outside of our group. We loved this and embraced the spontaneous opportunities that we would never do at home. We watched World Cup soccer games way past bedtime, danced the salsa at a local festival in Trier under the shadows of the 2000-year-old Roman city gate and gained a deep respect for the generations of families that take such obvious pride in their wines.
The days feel lazy, yet each one covers between 25 and 40 miles on the bike and more if you choose extended routes. Throughout the seven to eight hour days, there’s always an option to call the support van if needed, which we did a couple of times with our youngest. While the itinerary is prearranged, it’s not set in stone and if you’re interested in a specific sight or doing something different the guides accommodate if they can.
With a 6:1 guest to guide ratio the small group tour is the best of both worlds as the kids have other kids to interact with yet the service feels like a private tour. On several occasions a guide entertained the kids so we could finish a longer ride or go on the adult-only planned wine tasting.
One of Austin Adventures’ signature features is the dining experience. You think you’ll lose weight biking every day, but after multi-course dinners and decadent snacks along the bike route we all gave up. Knowing what was waiting for us at the end of the day made that extra mile or two not so tough.
At Ciao Bambino, we know the importance of family-friendly accommodations, especially when you are changing hotels nightly. At the end of an eight hour day of biking all everyone wants to do is relax. The upscale hotels on the trip are well vetted for families. Most have separate bedrooms or spaces for the kids, a pool and free WIFI which turned out to be a very important amenity for the older kids.
We can help! Ciao Bambino’s Family Vacation Consulting Team provides one-on-one trip planning services. Request assistance on My Trip Planner.
Editor’s Note: Kristi was provided a media rate to review Austin Adventures for families. As always, her thoughts and opinions are her own. Photos by Kristi Marcelle.
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