Kris and her friends have been sailing together every year for nearly a decade. Here she tells us about how she got inspired to organize her first trip, and how it launched adventures all over Europe, along with lots of new friendships.
Planning a tour with friends
We did our first [boat and bike] trip in 2011. My friend’s husband was organizing one and we were invited to come along. It was wonderful, but we didn’t have a perfect fit with the group, they were quite different from us. So we thought, if we can have this much fun with people we don’t know, imagine what it’s like to do it with people we do!
The first trip we planned was from Amsterdam to Bruges in 2012. I sent an e-mail round to friends with the dates asking who was interested, and inviting them to share with their friends. Very soon we’d filled up the boat.
The joy is infectious
There’s a core group of three to four couples who have been on every trip we’ve ever been on. And we pick up new people every year. We’re such a happy group that the joy is infectious! Other people we meet just want to be around us, and sometimes they even end up joining for other trips.
It’s so special being able to travel with friends. One of the couples we met on our first trip have become close friends who we see all the time. Other people I may only see once a year for the holiday which is invaluable quality time together. There are four or five tables and we make sure to move around at dinner so we get to chat to different people every night.
Going with a group of friends means there’s such a natural click, and you all get along! And if not, we don’t invite them back!
When I know we wanna plan a trip I call Jossie [Tour Manager at Boat Bike Tours] and book the boat and dates which she holds for me for a couple of weeks while I’m rounding up the group.
She also helps find the best itinerary for our group. Like I’ll say “We’d like to go somewhere not too touristy, what’s a good route and what’s the best time of year to go?” and she works with us. We always go in September, which is great. It’s still warm but not high season anymore.
We did the Netherlands last year on a route Jossie suggested from Maastricht to Amsterdam. It was a great trip, through the countryside, a quiet cows-and-chickens kind of trip. Some of the villages we stopped at didn’t even have a shop big enough to buy postcards!
Another time I organized a city trip with 12 girlfriends on a smaller boat hopping from Rotterdam to Amsterdam to Delft. It was so much fun!
The best view is from a bicycle
It’s simply the best way to see the country. You travel 35-40 miles every day, and have the chance to stop and talk to people along the way.
In the Champagne district we hired regular bikes, but it was quite hilly so sometimes a bit of an effort. The next year we rented e-bikes which were fantastic! I felt like Lance Armstrong whizzing along, and it meant that even if I hadn’t slept that well or was a little tired I was excited to get on the bike. We do have some pretty hardcore bikers in the group though who just get regular bikes.
The only times that people have come and not enjoyed the trip have been when they weren’t confident riders. One woman even said she hadn’t realised it would be a cycle holiday! So now I make sure that they know what they’re in for.
We always go for the guided bike tours with the expert guides. We also look out for each other as a group, and make sure that no ones left behind.
We did ride into Paris at 5pm on a Friday night which was quite challenging. Luckily we had a great guide!
All the fun with none of the hassle
The trips are fun and casual and joyful. The crew are always so genuinely happy to see us, the boat is clean and well maintained and they really care about us.
You don’t have to decide where to spend the night, or what you’re going to eat. There’s no packing and unpacking and finding a new place to sleep every night.
I can’t recommend it highly enough!
Are you inspired to start planning your own tour?
At Boat Bike Tours you can charter your own ship and receive a group discount to make the tour even more affordable. Read about all the details of “booking your bubble” here, or sign up for our 6-part e-mail charter tour course.