Biking Around the World

13 Jun

This family of five, with roots set in a Cumbrian village in England’s scenic North West, has been circling the globe since 2000 on one adventure after another. They have been cycling, sailing, canoeing, camper-vanning, eco-touring, road-tripping, railroading and backpacking as a family in places as diverse as New Zealand, Samoa, USA, Canada, Sweden, France, Spain, Holland, Germany, Austria, Italy, Latvia, Lithuania, Estonia, Finland, Aland, Hungary, Slovakia, Poland and at home in the UK. They have clocked up over 12,000 family bike miles in ten years!

They have graciously let me highlight some of their travels and share their words of wisdom. If you would like to read more in-depth stories about their adventures and goals, please visit their site Family Adventure Project. All photos taken by the Pelling family as well as all quotes.

“I see childhood as a time for experimenting with the world, a time for play, for learning, for trial and error, for splashing about in society, dipping a toe into the outdoors, and trying out different character traits to see which suit. I’d rather like to see adulthood as that too.” January 2012

Kirstie explains why they believe adventure is good for their family: “We believe family adventure has as much to offer ordinary families as it does the extraordinary ones who venture in the extreme. Family journeys have great educational potential. While on the road, we’re out to learn whatever we can not just about journeying as a family but also about the landscapes, climates, cultures and natural wonders we encounter. Cycling is our thing and by traveling light, powering ourselves, camping out, we aim to live and learn with minimal impact, in harmony with nature. We hope our children’s early encounters with the world and other adventurous families we meet on the road will help to nurture a lifelong interest, love and respect for life itself.” 

“We think doing active, creative and challenging things together as a family is good for you, especially if it gets you outdoors. And we know from our own experience that family adventures are good for family relationships, health and wellbeing, learning and education, and for developing character and resilience.”

Kirstie describes their first big trip: “Our first big adventure as a family began in November 2004, when we took off on a 10 month, global adventure visiting New Zealand, Western Samoa, the USA and Canada. A major part of this expedition was a six month self supporting cycle tour, pedaling ‘end to end’ in New Zealand, from Port Adventure near the southern most tip, to Cape Reinga, the most northerly point. From the South Pacific Ocean to the Tasman Sea, over wild, rugged mountains, skirting fjords and lakes, around volcanoes and geysers. Two adults, two toddlers, two bikes, two trailers riding across two islands and two thousand miles.”

“If you like the idea of getting out, getting active and adventuring with your family, you’ll be glad to know you don’t need a lot of money, equipment, training or experience to get started. What you do need is an idea of what you want to do, the enthusiasm to engage your family and the imagination and determination to make it happen.”

“Kids want to adventure. Kids need to adventure. As parents most of us know this. But sometimes we struggle to make it or let it happen.”

“The value of outdoor adventures, little or large cannot be underestimated. And it’s not just about thrills and spills or building a bank of rose tinted memories of childhood. Whether building a tree house, camping and stargazing, fishing on the old industrial canal, or exploring the local environment on foot or by bike; active adventures bring real health and developmental benefits. When children are helped and allowed to experience risk, even in a semi-controlled way, it helps develop their ability to deal with it and builds self-confidence. It encourages them to think for themselves and develops their resilience. It readies them for dealing with the risks and uncertainties that are part of the big wide world. Who doesn’t want active, healthy, resilient, confident, independent children? And don’t we need people like that in the world?” From my favorite article from their site, Kids Need Adventure.

“It’s not just kids that need skills to adventure safely. We parents need them too. We need the skills and confidence to lead our own mini family adventures, to show kids how to adventure and explore, and to give them the skills and know-how they need to be safe when they’re out and about on their own. ” Kids Need Adventure.

“Research suggests we are breeding a nation of Nintendo kids, more familiar with the screen than the sky. Is this what you really want? What happened to fresh air and the freedom to wander? Let them out on their own occasionally. Boot them out if you have to. They will come back again. When they’re hungry.”

Thank you so much to the Pelling Family for letting me share their words and thoughts. If you would like to learn more about this amazing family, visit their blog, Twitter or Facebook page!

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