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How to have an adventure without a car in the Netherlands

How to have an adventure without a car in the Netherlands

There is no shortage of beautiful plots of nature that you can visit by travelling by public transportation or bicycle. Not only does travelling with a bicycle add to your adventure, but it is also more ecological.

How to have an adventure without a car in the Netherlands

By Elisabeth Möller

Are you yearning for the open road but find yourself without a driving licence and/or car? You might think that this makes going camping near impossible, but that doesn’t have to be the case at all. There is no shortage of beautiful plots of nature that you can visit by travelling with public transportation or bicycle. The great news is that dusting off your trusty bicycle not only adds to your adventure, but offers a more ecological way of travelling too.

Whether you own a hypermodern electric bike, a mountain bike, a race bike, or a simple city bike as many here in the Netherlands do – you can hit the road with it! On a city bike it’s sensible to stick to a distance of around 40 km. Fit young people might want to go further distance and someone who’s used to cycling on a race bike can oftentimes easily reach 100 – 200 kilometres in a day. The journey to your camping destination will be full of new sights and sounds which will add to your overall adventure. We’d like to inspire you and show you that these healthy doses of nature and the outdoors can be obtained without a car. 

If you want to go camping by bike or public transport, the Netherlands is a great country to do it in. Not only is it flat as far as the eye can see, but the Dutch public transport system is efficient and easy to navigate. 

Glamping by means of public transportation 

Are you not very keen on carrying around lots of heavy camping equipment? Then there’s always glamping! Your accommodation, be it tent, yurt or teepee and of course your bed will be prepared for you by your host. Everything will be ready for you when you arrive, so this is an ideal solution for people who shrink away from the prospect of transporting and setting up camping gear. 

If you are looking for an adventure in the Netherlands, you could take the train to Vlissingen in the southern province of Zeeland. 

  1. At the station, you can rent a public transportation bike (OV-fiets) to go into the direction of Ritthem.

  2.  After around 20 minutes of cycling, you’ll get to your destination: an ecological campspace run by Marieke! She offers glamping spots and the option to rent a small caravan. 

  3. This idyllic spot is cycling distance from a number of interesting spots, including the harbour town of Vlissingen where you cycled in from, the province’s capital Middelburg or the beach – all within a half-hour cycle. What better way to spend your holiday outside, enjoying nature? 

 

A quick search for glamping destinations on Campspace will show you a selection of glamping spots in your desired areas. Check out the map view to determine which campspaces are located at biking distance from a train station. If you can’t rent a bike at the station you can simply take your own bike with you on the train. 

Into the great outdoors

In The Netherlands there are many cities from which you can easily reach the countryside by bike. Make sure you have sturdy panniers in which you can fit a small tent, sleeping bag and sleeping mat. For a couple of nights, you won’t need much more, right? 

Tip: you can also choose to spend your night in a hammock. This is an easy way to lighten your luggage. To sleep comfortably in a hammock, we recommend putting your sleeping mat in the hammock and to protect yourself using a tarp. This way you will be secure, sheltered and you’ll sleep safe and sound! 

  1. From the Dutch cities Gouda, Utrecht, The Hague or Leiden you could bike towards Oudewater. Hilde and Michael are hosts of a campspace well worth visiting there! 

  2. From Leiden, The Hague and Gouda, Google Maps will help you to navigate through the Reeuwijkse Plassen. In this beautiful area you will find plenty of opportunities to stop for an ice cream or to take a well-deserved break with a dip in the water. 

  3. As soon as you arrive at the campspace you’ll find a quiet spot to pitch your tent amongst the trees in an apple orchard. There’s also a private beach from which you can jump into the river Hollandsche IJssel. 

  4. Within 10 minutes by bike you’ll be able to reach the idyllic old village Oudewater, where you’ll also be able to do some grocery shopping at the supermarket and find a pub for a cold beer or something to eat. 

 

Travel light by bike 

Let’s be honest: when travelling by bike or public transportation, you don’t want to be hauling around much weight in equipment. 

General packing tips for a cycling trip

  • Before you pack, ask yourself what you can do to minimise the volume and weight of your luggage.

  • When travelling by bike, step one is to make sure your bike has a sturdy luggage carrier. Even when using a race bike or mountain bike, you can still add one of these onto your bike. Ask your local bike reseller for the possibilities. 

  • Backpacks or daypacks tend to make you really warm when cycling a longer distance (sweaty back anyone?), and it’s also a strain on your shoulders. Try to take everything with you in panniers. If you need more room, you can always add a duffel bag on top of the panniers, which you can attach to your bike’s luggage carrier with rope or straps. (For racing bikes there are also many possibilities to add bags to the frame of the bike.)

Packing food for a cycling trip

We’d also recommend planning ahead and checking if there are any supermarkets close to the campspace you’ll be staying at. This way you won’t have to bring all your food the entire way. You’ll only need to bring what you’ll be needing during your biking trip, which will save you both space and weight. 

Packing a tent for a cycling trip

A lightweight tent is something worth investing in. It makes travelling that much lighter and easier. If you already have a tent and it’s a bit more on the heavy or voluminous side, you could consider borrowing or renting a cargo bike or a trolley that can be attached to the back of your bike. We prefer sustainable and eco-friendly options, so we’d recommend asking your friends and neighbours if you can lend theirs if they have one you could use. 

Packing clothes for a cycling trip

Our best tip is to bring as few clothes as possible, but take bio-detergent with you on all your travels. You can easily clean your clothes when you arrive and dry them in the sun or in your tent. In doing so, you won’t only save precious space in your bag, but you won’t be bothered by the lingering smell of your cycling clothes!

Try to teach yourself to pack consciously, by using a folding and rolling technique when packing. This way, clothes won’t take up unnecessary space. 

A final packing tip for your cycling trip

Something that’s important to remember to take with you, but easy to forget: lighting! Both for on your bike and for use at the campsite. Easy to forget, yet a (potentially literal) lifesaver when it gets dark. 

Preparing your bicycle

When travelling by bike, it’s important to check the air in your tires before you leave. This can make a huge difference, not only with a race bike, but with a city bike as well. A repair kit to fix a leaky tire might also be clever to bring, just in case. If you are travelling with an electric bike, we would recommend checking with your Campspace host if there will be an opportunity to charge your batteries.

Preparing for travelling by train or bus

Are you travelling by public transportation? Make sure you buy tickets in advance or top up your OV-card beforehand. There’s nothing worse than stressing about your ticket minutes before your transport departs.

Find your perfect camping spot in advance

Make sure to reserve a place at your campspace in advance. Especially when travelling by public transport or bike, you want to make sure you’ve got a cosy set up to look forward to when you arrive. We’d also encourage you to check all the services and amenities available at your campspace of choice and be sure to ask your host any additional questions beforehand. It’s likely they’ll have some cool recommendations for activities and sightseeing within walking or biking distance as well!

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