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Taking the Kids -- on an adventure when they're in college

By Eileen Ogintz, Tribune Content Agency on

"It's better to have other people to be with rather than just my family," explained Mark Sikand, 20.

"On a regular family vacation, we'd even be fighting about where we are eating," said Jenna Bronfman, 18, who's on her fourth Backroads family trip. "That doesn't happen on a Backroads trip."

There are also four adults who opted for this trip based on schedule. "The kids are great and add to the fun," offered Ray Schupp.

"With five adults traveling, you have five people with different agendas going in different directions," said Virginia Meyer, traveling with her husband and three sons aged 22, 24 and 26. "This is something we can all do together and everyone is happy."

In Meyer's case, that means using an electric bike (as are seven in our group) and opting for less rigorous rides, even hopping in the van to be able to photograph the group and the beautiful regions where we are cycling, while her husband and sons signed on for the toughest routes. They would all eat together on the boat.

And when we stay overnight in cities like Vienna, the younger generation heads into town for the evening, while the parents can relax onboard. "The best part with this age group is to have the option -- they can explore the city at night and not get on a bike in the morning, if they don't want to," said Lynette Sikand, whose sons are college age and whose family opted for their second Backroads river cruise trip in two years.

But few miss the rides. Everyone bikes at their own pace with one leader at the head of the pack and one "sweeping" the back, with the van and Backroads support team always ready to pick up lost or tired bikers -- as we were in Bratislava on a scorching hot day. (Thank goodness for mobile phones and Google maps to help them locate us!) Even with Garmins pre-programmed with the routes, as well as paper directions and maps, it is easy to take a wrong turn on a country road and get lost. "Happens every day," cheerfully says our other veteran guide, Martina Quintana Madehim.

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The last day, we cycled from Passau -- a beautiful baroque city of some 50,000-people surrounded by the Danube and Vils rivers -- to Neuberg Castle and back to Vilshofen where the ship awaited. There were a lot of big hills, as Thompson had said. The countryside is beautiful, with farms, horses, pumpkin patches. We can see the Alps in the distance and the Danube at various points along the way. The weather is cool -- perfect for cycling.

We stop for lunch at the Hoftaferne Neuberg, overlooking a castle that dates back to medieval days.

"If I had planned this last day's ride, my kids would have been yelling at me because of all the hills. Backroads takes all that stress away and I don't have to worry about anything. We go where Backroads tells us. It's a lot easier -- and that's what I want on vacation."

As do all parents!


(For more Taking the Kids, visit and also follow "taking the kids" on, where Eileen Ogintz welcomes your questions and comments.)



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