Active Vacations- The New Vacationing Future?

photo courtesy of Brian and Renee Bouma

-Tiana Bouma

“They call it Backroads, but we like to call it Snackroads.” Brian Bouma, a two-time client of Backroads, said. “Every time you ride for an hour they have a bus set up with snacks and drinks and they drive by waving all the time.”

Tom Hale, the Founder and President formed Backroads, after spending three decades trying to find more rewarding alternatives to traditional vacations. There is no better way to immerse yourself in the life of a region and explore hidden corners while traveling under your own power. Backroads is part of an active vacation movement that is finding a way to more authentically connect with the world.

The types of trips range from biking tours, multisport tours, walking and hiking tours, private trips, and family trips. You can choose exotic locations in Africa, Asia, Europe and Latin America or see hidden treasure of the US from a view perspective.

Brian Bouma and Renee Bouma, a couple from Bend, Oregon recently returned from a six-day trip through Northern Vermont.   The Bouma’s biked an average of 45 to 60 miles a day starting in Burlington, Vermont and winding past Lake Champlain, Vermont’s Greek Mountains, and classic New England farms.

“One of the days we have to climb Appalachian gap, which is a challenging climb that they actually have a professional road race on and I climbed it and I didn’t think my wife would make it up cause it was so challenging.” Brian Bouma said, “The trip leader rode with my wife and encouraged her and climbed the entire road without getting off. 17% incline and he did this three times with three different people.”

Clients can tell the trip leaders are engaged and care about their groups. Meals and lodgings are all arranged in beautiful towns and inns native to the area that many would normally pass up for a more generic company. Experience ranges from professional and extreme bike riders to individuals and families that have never ridden a bike before.

“You can go whatever speed you want.” Renee Bouma said, “They always support you, it’s not like you’re in a group race.” Besides the tour guides that ride with the group there is a van and usually another car following with snacks, spare tires and bikes, and a comfy seat if a rider gets tired and wants to take a break.

photo courtesy of Brian and Renee Bouma

The rides each day are about the scenery and experiencing something new. Clients are encouraged to stop, take pictures and walk around. The Northern Vermont trip included fifteen people from all over the country. The small group sizes keep the trip personal.

“Twenty percent of the roads were dirt. “ Brian Bouma said, “You’d be in a Middle of a dirt road miles off a paved road and you’d come across a farmhouse and a church that was built in 1805 or 1790.” These are sites that would have been missed in a car or plane.

At the end of the day riders hand the trip leaders their bikes and continue vacationing. All riders need to travel with are clothes. Backroads even offers gel pads for bike seats. Although the Bouma’s Vermont trip was close to home, a trip through Europe or other continents is recommended. The Bouma’s first trip a few years ago with their two daughters, current University of Oregon students, traversed Austria and the Czech Republic.

“What we really enjoy about these trips is that they map out these amazing routes that you would never ride or figure out on your own unless you’ve been a resident for 20 years.” Renee Bouma said, “True to their name, you were on backroads.”

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