What could be more Dutch than a holiday combining biking and camping? Niina Nuottamo's Dutch husband has taught her how to holiday like a local and she's here to share her tips.
Tent, bikes, train tickets - check! Here’s a step-by-step guide to a family biking and camping holiday, based on our experiences so far:
- Lightweight: pack only what you absolutely need. The less weight you have to travel with the better!
- Warm layer: always include a fleece or sweater if you are camping as temperatures can plummet at night
- Bike bags or a trailer: let the bike carry or drag the weight as it’s not particularly comfortable to bike for long with a huge backpack on
- Waterproof: ensure that the bike bags/trailer are waterproof - you know how unpredictable the weather can be, even in the summer!
- Equal split: distribute the weight across the bikes, according to what would be reasonable for each person based on their size/fitness/confidence levels
- Day pack: pack so that the items you might need during the trip (water bottle, snacks, extra layer, waterproofs) are readily accessible
- Insurance: the ANWB offers a special breakdown/repair service for bikes
- Bike MOT/APK: check the bikes before travel and, at the very least, ensure that the wheels are fully inflated (much easier to ride)
- Navigation: you can use Google maps/navigation or the fietsknooppunten network/app
- Get up early: ensure enough time to travel and set up your tent once you get to the campsite (you may not want to be cycling during the hottest time of day)
- Breaks: schedule regular breaks, especially if it’s a hot day and/or the kids are biking too
In the Train
- Ticket: remember to buy a ticket for your bike
- Off-peak: you are only allowed to travel with your bike in the train outside peak hours, so plan accordingly
- New trains: the newer Sprinter trains have the entrance level with the platform which makes it easier to wheel in your bike (instead of having to lift bikes up a few stairs), particularly if you have extra weight on the bikes
- Bike sections: look out for the bike symbols on the side of the train - these are the designated bike compartments
- Once in: remove bike bags, arrange bikes by destination (those who get out first should be most accessible) and lock your bike
- Avoid switching trains if you can
- Extra transfer time: if you can’t avoid a transfer, allow extra time, especially if you need to go up and down in lifts to change platforms
- Lifts: check your bikes/trailers etc. fit into the train station lifts, otherwise you have to carry everything up the stairs!
- Food: ensure there is a grocery shop nearby, especially if you don’t have a means to keep food cool enough
- Sharing is caring: make friends with your campsite neighbors (you might be able to borrow something instead of trekking all the way to the stores)
- Ticks! Check everyone for ticks regularly and ensure you’ve packed a tick removal pincet (we’ve had quite a few already this year)
So far, Niina Nuottamo has lived in five countries (Finland, US, Spain, UK and Netherlands) and learned five languages (Finnish, English, Spanish, French and Dutch). In Amsterdam, she found peace with her multicultural background. She never intended to stay long, but now with a Dutch husband and two kids, she has finally found a place to settle and call home - at least for the moment.