After about 1 1/2 years of no cycle touring we decided that it is time to start again. Petra’s body is back to normal after the pregnancy and Esmé is now 1 year old, ready to experience the life on the road.
As you probably can imagine we needed to think about how to transport two kids instead of one and how to fit luggage for 4 people into 8 panniers. Trailers (and children) are damn heavy and we try to limit our luggage to a minimum.
I have no idea how we manage but the 8 panniers, which we already used when we were touring only with the two of us, are still enough for everything we need for a whole family. To maximise our freedom, the most valuable thing while touring, we carry all the gear we need to wild camp. A tent, mattresses, sleeping bags, cooking gear. As you can see on the picture we put the tent on Ben’s Weehoo. But there is almost nothing, except the baby and some nappies, in the Chariot. Peter and Petra take almost no spare clothes, maximum one book each, no computer or iPad (we never did). For the children we took very little toys. We experienced on previous trips that a lot of toys break easily when used outside or when they get wet. Furthermore Ben hardly ever played with them, because he is too busy playing with rocks, sticks, water or sand.
Our 3 person tent got too small so we bought a Terra Nova Hoolie 4. Till now we are satisfied with it. It’s cheap and huge. 4 mattresses fit easily next to each other.
First we thought that we will miss the vestibule we had at our 3 person tent but the Hoolie has enough space on the side of the entrance to fit our panniers.
As we already shared with you Weehoo sponsored us a 2015 IGO Turbo.
We decided for a Weehoo instead of a FollowMe or something similar because we find it more comfortable. Ben likes to enjoy our rides by looking around and singing songs and he tends to fall asleep easily while touring.
We are still looking for the best solution for Ben while sleeping in the Weehoo. His head keeps moving from left till right and back which causes also some minor problems for Peter while cycling. The best solution till now seems to be a neck cushion (which people use during long flights in airplanes) but we turn it around. Otherwise Ben’s neck seems to bend dangerously unhealthy forward. Any better suggestions?
Nice weather and good camping spots are essential for touring with children. It makes life easier. They can play outdoors without us worrying too much. So we waited for good weather and started our first big trip at the beginning of April. We cycled from our village till Vienna, which literally means across Austria (600 km) and took a train back home.
This trip has been disappointing for us. Esmé liked the cycling and surprisingly the sleeping in the tent was no problem at all. But she didn’t like the time when we got off our bikes and wanted to prepare food or pitch the tent. She felt uncomfortable while sitting in the grass and didn’t dare to move as she would do at home. Therefore she cried more than usual and wanted to be carried by Petra only which made it impossible for her to help with the daily tasks. Peter had to do everything alone and got very exhausted. We had no time at all for ourselves and doubted our choice of touring with our children. What is the meaning of traveling by bike with two small kids when they don’t enjoy it? Tired and sad we took a train back home.
After some days at home we recovered and discussed about what to do now. Touring by bike is our life, we love it and we want to do it with our children. That has always been our wish. We decided on taking Esmé outdoors more often. Ever since she has been born she has mostly been inside or been carried while being outside. Last year in summer the weather has mostly been really bad. Too bad to put a little baby in the grass. And then winter came and we carried her because sitting in the snow would have been too cold.
We also decided to do some more shorter cycle touring trips this spring and summer. A couple of days or maybe a week. If that works out well we want to try another longer trip of a couple of weeks in August.
So that’s what we did. Besides a couple of day trips (hiking and cycling) we did a loop of 160km (3 days) over the Staller Sattel (border between Austria and Italy). This trip was not only another trial run for Esmé but also a little test if we are in good shape again after an obliged winter break. We had to cycle about 2000 altimeters.
And no, we didn’t came back home disappointed this time. Esmé enjoyed being outside. She was playing with grass and rocks and water and sand and really liked it.
As you probably can imagine we feel happy and relieved now. Hopefully our next trips will be as peaceful and nice as this one has been.
Enjoy the pictures! We keep you updated.