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Family Biking Trips: Balancing Technology Focused Kids with Human Interaction"

By Jamieson Haverkampf 

Ok. I know what you're up against. Britney, Pokemon, N'Sync. The coolest of the cool. A "Beaver-Cleaver" weekend with the family isolated from emails, Sega and the never-left-behind walkman makes a kid break out in hives. Yes. I'm the first to agree: email and cell phones make our days easier and our lives much more flexible. Today's modern world offers opportunities unheard of a few years ago. Unfortunately for our kids, they grow up in a world so focused on electronic communication they lack the value and balance of human interaction. Take the risk and pull the plug. Jump into the unknown and take your family on a group biking vacation. By giving them this eye-opening view in the actual physical world, you encourage them to grow into more
well-rounded little campers. I guarantee you'll teach your kids the best kind of interaction: human.

Dinner next to a 79 year-old ex-postal worker grandfather biker who gages over 100 miles every day impresses an indelible positive mark on young minds. Biking with a Navy officer dad filled with many U.S. Military secrets peaks curiosity. A new young biking friend from Montana builds new friendship bonds. Eventually, through sharing difficult hills, laughter, aching hunger pains, group meals and day's successes, you and your kids grow into a more dimensional individuals. Isolated from daily technological
interruptions, you focus on growing and learning from one another instead of the latest high tech gadget. Without exposure to travel, other cultures and ideas, a child lacks an extremely valuable education. In addition to beneficial interaction with people from all walks of life, your child will gain maturity, self confidence, worldliness and growth beyond his/her years.  Consequently,, it's much more fun than homework.

In my opinion, Backroads (http://www.backroads.com or 800-GO-ACTIVE) based in
Berkeley, California, far and away surpasses other biking companies with great service, food and guides. ³Our trips stand alone from the other companies because of our guides,³ explains Christina Wang, a Backroads trip consultant. The guides are well educated, entertaining have extraordinary backgrounds and are the selected top 1% of all Backroads guide applicants.

The guides go through a very rigorous training before they are sent out on a trip. You can pick from various places and different type trips like multisport or hiking in the United States or many different countries like France, Denmark or even Wyoming/Yellowstone Park. 

Our Puget Sound (San Juan islands) and our Yellowstone trips are very popular trips for families. There's so much to do on the islands and the routes are safe for families especially carrying trailers behind bikes, explains Christina Wang. Ages of kids on our family trips usually range from as young as 3 up to about 15 years-old.

Backroads camping and inn based trips are both available. The camping trips are substantially less expensive and conducive to campfires and memorable marshmallow roastings. Family style trips offer children new playmates in their age group as well as new parents for you to swap war stories. Here's what you can expect: 1) tons of fun, 2) great exercise, 3) gourmet meals, 4) healthy and yummy snacks for the day's journeys, 5) detailed to the mile maps of each day's trip, 6) flexibility for all levels of experience with various mileage options every day, 7) opportunities to meet new physical challenges and successes. Trips range from short weekends to week-long voyages. Their family trips offer kids bikes as well as attachable trailers for smaller children, extended biking routes for parents and off-bike activities for kids.

Other companies that offer family based trips include Butterfield + Robinson (http://www.Butterfield.com or 800-678-1147) and Vermont Biking Tours (http://www.vbt.com or 800-BIKE-TOUR. Note: VBT minimum age:10 for North American trips, age 13 for Overseas trips). On Butterfield + Robinson trips, emphasis placed on introducing children to the culture of the area they are visiting is top priority on family trips. ³In Ireland, we have a popular trip for families that incorporates a cave tour in small traditional fishing boats. We like to emphasize the cultural component in our trips, explains Kelly McKinney, Butterfield and Robinson's Director of Sales. Castles and caves in Ireland are fun for all ages. Ireland has attracted a large tourist interest lately and kids avoid a language barrier and interact easier with
natives.

On the way home, Britney, Pokemon, pagers and laptops will be back filling your kids' ears and eyes with familiar and popular desires. Of course, by the end of the biking weekend, parents and children both exchange emails and promise to keep in touch. Hopefully penpals surface and the new education you instilled continues. But rest assured that for a brief moment of time, your choice to show your kids the real natural world will pay off. A week long life filled with laughter, new friends and new places - void of daily technology - opened your prodigy's eyes, hearts and souls a little bit wider to the beauty of human interaction.

(INFO: For other information on travel with kids go to about.com (keywords: travel with kids). They have many helpful articles on advice from experienced travel-friendly families. Also check out gorp.com (Great Outdoors Recreational Pages) - specifically http://www.gorp.com/gorp/eclectic/FAMILY.HTM for more information on family trip options.)

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You can reach Jamieson Haverkampf  at: Jamieson Haverkampf 

 

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