On your bike, get set...go! Saddle up and hit the road with Booking.com’s guide to a biking vacation
In the last year, cycling has really stepped it up a gear. With so many people working from home as the new normal and no longer spending hours commuting, we’re finding time to discover the joys of bikes. They’re healthy, cost-efficient and eco-friendly - and they’re often faster than some of the alternative modes of transportation.
The world’s preparing to open up again, and according to recent Booking.com research a majority (61%)* of US travelers are keen to seek out more rural experiences off the beaten path. More than half (65%)* are planning to avoid public transport on their next trip, and over two-thirds of global travelers (70%)* are aiming to give tourist destinations a miss.
For travelers in search of new experiences, a biking vacation ticks all the boxes. It’s the socially distant ticket to the great outdoors and all the opportunities it provides. So, in the run-up to World Cycling Day on June 3, Booking.com pulled together some top tips to inspire a biking vacation, as it becomes safe to travel again.
There’s no right and wrong way to enjoy a biking vacation: everybody knows what’s right for them, their party, their budget and their fitness levels. But the way Booking.com sees it, there are three basic approaches:
- Pedalling all the way. For the real enthusiast, fond of traveling light, the classic biking vacation starts on a bike, on the doorstep. Yes, you might have to put in some miles before reaching the roads where cycling becomes a real joy, but this could be the ideal option for the almost half (41%)* of Americans who are keen to enjoy the beauty of their home country a whole lot more.
(Example: ‘Scotland, The Hebridean Way’ below)
- Car & bike combo. Two words: roof racks. Whether hiring a car, the rack, and/or the bikes, drivers can take their road trip to the next level when they take their bicycles with them. Whenever they reach an area that’s better explored on two wheels, they just park, get out of the car, get on the bike… and get back to nature.
(Example: ‘USA, The Pacific Coast Route’ below)
- Discovery on two wheels. Plenty of us are looking for a more laid-back way to put our new-found peddling skills to good use. We can take the plane, train or car to our destination of choice, hire the bikes when we get there, and explore the surroundings at our own pace. If worried about hills and aching muscles, we can always look into the technological wizardry of the e-bike.
(Example: ‘Spain, Mallorca’ below)
A cycle tour of legendary repute, this 185-mile (300 kilometers) route crosses 10 islands and appeals to the hardcore cyclist with thighs of steel and dreams of glory. It’s well signposted, all the way from the Island of Vatersay to the Butt of Lewis Lighthouse in the North.
But it’s not for the weak. Anyone keen to go this ‘extra mile’ will need to take preparation seriously, as there’s not a whole load of shops and services for cyclists who get into a pickle.
Anyone from further afield can kick things off by flying into Barra Airport, the world’s only tidal airport.
Nothing brings out someone’s inner adventurer like a spot of (100% legal!) wild camping - and if they want, they can always give their legs a wee rest when they spend a day or two in a campervan from Hebridean Campers.
The USA’s Pacific Coast Route truly lends itself to the ‘combo’ approach. While experts might pedal all the way, most would rather rent a car and take the bikes along for the ride.
Starting in Vancouver, Canada, this route takes in three US states over 1,848 miles (2,975 kilometers) as it wends its way right down to Tijuana in Mexico, a great spot for a celebratory burrito and tequila.
Not far south of Canada is the Whispering Pines Retreat, where travelers can make their plans and take the bikes out for a ‘practice run’ or two in the nearby national parks.
With breathtaking coastal scenery, redwood forests, quaint little towns and an abundance of wonderful wildlife, the entire route is an experience not to be rushed. Highlights include the Oregon coastline, the San Juan Islands and the iconic Golden Gate Bridge (which boasts its own cycling lane).
Renowned for its bike-friendly mentality, Mallorca’s immensely popular with bike aficionados who love the silky smooth roads, considerate drivers and balmy climate.
It’s the largest of the Balearic Islands, and provides a great mix of flat roads and climbs, rolling foothills and idyllic coastal routes.
The entire island is geared up for cyclists, who won’t have any problems hiring a bike and the accompanying kit, knowing the nearest repair shop won’t be far away if they have any mishaps.
Families, couples, newbies, enthusiasts - it’s perfect for just about anyone on two wheels, especially those who are looking to travel light and pick up everything they need when they get off the plane.
A particularly fine venue is the stylish, relaxing Son Brull Hotel & Spa in Pollenca. It’s the perfect place to rest aching limbs at the end of a day enjoying the cycling infrastructure that the island has spent so much time and money developing.
Here to stay
Bikes aren’t going anywhere. They’re a great way to shed the pounds and strengthen the heart at the same time as immersing oneself in the countryside… at speeds only athletes can dream of.
They’re a unique way to experience the world up close and personal, and bond with friends new and old. And they’re pretty much the embodiment of the ‘simpler experiences’ that 73%* of US travelers say they’re looking forward to sampling on their next trip.
With a mission to make it easier for everyone to experience the world, Booking.com offers car rental in 160 countries, with 60,000 pick-up locations worldwide. The company is also offering Getaway Deals for travelers booking accommodation for their spring and summer 2021 getaways, with discounts starting at 15% and are valid for stays starting anytime before September 30 2021. In addition, Booking.com is bringing the great value of its Genius program to even more customers by giving all account holders access to the program’s Level 1 benefits, with no minimum number of previous bookings to qualify, including access to exclusive 10% discounts at hundreds of thousands of participating properties around the world. All travelers have to do is download the Booking.com app, log in and look for the Genius logo to identify associated benefits, discounts and perks.
*Research commissioned by Booking.com and conducted among a sample of adults who have traveled for business or leisure in the past 12 months, and must be planning to travel in the next 12 months (if/once travel restrictions are lifted). In total 20,934 respondents across 28 countries and territories were polled (including 999 from USA, 496 from Canada, 497 from Mexico, 997 from Colombia, 999 from Brazil, 499 from Argentina, 995 from Australia, 499 from New Zealand, 999 from Spain, 996 from Italy, 996 from France, 999 from UK, 996 from Germany, 498 from Netherlands, 499 from Denmark, 499 from Sweden, 498 from Croatia, 1001 from Russia, 498 from Israel, 997 from India, 994 from China, 499 from Hong Kong, 497 from Thailand, 496 from Singapore, 499 from Taiwan, 997 from South Korea, 500 from Vietnam and 995 from Japan). Respondents completed an online survey in July 2020.