How to Pack for a Long Bike Tour with Kids?

You will encounter many challenges on the road with your child. Your decision to pack light when you go out on a bike tour with your child is then wise. You will have one less thing – heavy physical baggage – to worry about.

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You and your child will love your decision to pack light. First, you will experience less physical and mental stress. You and your child can pedal in better comfort when your bikes aren’t loaded with heavy bags.

Be sure to make a list of things you should not want to pack with your kids on a bike tour as part of your planning process. You want to avoid bringing too much or too little of everything that you and your kids will need on a bike tour.

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Tips for Packing Light for a Bike Tour

But what does “packing light” mean? You may have confusion about which items to pack in your bags and which ones to leave behind. You can refer to these tips for this purpose.

  • Lightweight clothes are best: Your best choices are lightweight clothes with versatile uses (i.e., on-the-bike and off-the-bike clothes). You can also bring clothes for layering instead of a heavy jacket. You may also pack the waterproof shell layers on your bag’s top layer for easy access.
  • Bring two pair of spares: You should bring two pairs of cycling jersey, shorts and tights as spare. You can also bring an extra pair of rain gear, gloves and socks, as well as shoes. Your best choices in materials include waterproof and breathable fabrics, which also dry faster.
  • Make a checklist: You will forget many essential items without a checklist. You can write down as many essentials as you can think of first. You will then be able to add and subtract other items as you think of them.

Your checklist will change depending on when, where and why you’re on a biking tour with your child. For example, you can ditch the clothes for layering during the summer months. A few suggested items on your checklist include:

  • On-the-bike clothing like shorts, jersey, socks, shoes, and rain gear
  • Off-the-bike clothing like ​comfortable shirts, shorts and pants
  • Underwear, sandals, and hats 
  • Insect repellants, sunblock and sunscreen
  • Bike repair kit and spare parts
  • Duct tape
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  • Consider the weight capacity of your bikes: You may want to bring along more clothes and tools but it isn’t practical. Your bikes may not perform as well as expected when it’s too loaded with bags. You may even be risking your child’s limbs with a heavy load on his/her bike.
  • Provide room for possible extra items: You should start your tour with extra room for items picked along your route. You can also pack and repack faster when there’s extra room in your panniers.
  • As the adult, you will be in charge of the valuables on your bike tour. Be sure to keep you cash, cards and smartphone in a small backpack or fanny pack for easy access.
  • Once you have chosen the items for packing, your next step is packing your panniers. First, limit the total load to between 15 and 45 pounds. Your kid should carry less of the weight for obvious reasons, such as the tools on your bike.
  • Second, place more weight on the front panniers - 60% on the front and 40% at the back. But you can experiment with the best weight distribution for effective handling and steering.

For example, light yet bulky items like clothes can be in the rear panniers. Your tools, spare parts, and food are best placed in the front panniers. You should line them with heavy-duty plastic bags and label them, if needed.

What Not to Pack?

Your packing efficiency today will result in better enjoyment on the road tomorrow. When you have this list, you can remove unnecessary items from your bags and bikes’ panniers. You will end up with a lighter load, too, which means greater safety and faster speed on the road.

  • Too many underwears: You and your kids will only need three pairs of underwear – one on your body and two in the bag. You should also only pack two pairs of each type of clothing aside from the ones you’re already wearing.
  • Denim jeans: Since you’re already wearing biking shorts or knickers, you don’t need jeans. But if jeans are a must on your trip, you can pack a single pair of dark jeans in cotton. You don’t have to worry about them getting dirty too soon so you can wear them many times.
  • Jackets: As a responsible parent, you should think twice about going on a bike tour with the kids during winter. You can then skip on the heavy jackets although a light windbreaker is a good idea for spring and fall riding.
  • Too many shoes: You and your kids will only need two types of shoes – biking shoes and walking shoes. You may even use commuter biking shoes because of their dual purpose. You can then bring along sandals or flip flops for other activities.
  • Too many toiletries: You should leave the big bottles of shampoo, bars of soap, and shaving lotions at home. You can buy your toiletries in local shops, even get them for free in the hotels. You can bring along sanitizing alcohol, if cleanliness is a concern.
  • Books, magazines and other reading materials: You’re on a bike tour to spend time with your family, enjoy new places, and admire the scenery. You don’t need reading materials for entertainment, even when you’re camping in the woods. Your most important reading materials on a bike trip – a detailed local map.
  • Too many towels: You can either get towels in the hotel or buy in a local shop. You can pack a thin towel for emergencies but if there’s nothing to be had, you can use your shirts to dry off. You will also find that it’s easier and faster to dry shirts than towels.
  • Water filter: You’re not going to need water filters unless you and your kids are getting off the beaten path for days on end. You can drink straight out of the tap in most locations in the United States, too.
  • Chargers and cables: You shouldn’t bring every electronic gadget aside from your smartphone, perhaps a satellite phone. You don’t have to bring their chargers and cables for this reason, too. You should leave the iPods, MP3 players, tablets and laptops at home.
  • Makeup, jewelry and fancy personal accessories: You must leave these things behind at home, too. You have to maintain a low profile for safety and security reasons, especially in new places. You should instead pack sunscreen and sunblock, pocket money, and bank cards in your bag.
  • Toys: Your kids may not like it but packing too many toys in the bags is a big no-no. You can take a small favorite toy, if needed, but no more than that. You and your kids will find several entertainment options along the way, too.
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Final Words

You have to be careful about the items packed in the bags and bikes’ panniers when you’re on a bike tour with kids. Your first step is to make a checklist of the essential items – clothes and shoes, bike kits, cash and cards, and smartphone. You can then add and remove items as you go along.

When you’re planning a bike tour with your kids, you have to pour extra energy, time and effort. You should always put their safety and security as your foremost priority. You have to be the responsible adult at all times so educating yourself about safety on the road is a must.

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