Carfree Camping in Provincetown

We recently returned from a delightful trip to Provincetown on Cape Cod with the whole family, including my mom. We went there specifically for Family Week and we had a blast. And we camped. And of course the whole thing was done carfree. Here’s what we did.

Angela was the one who acquired much of the gear for this trip. We needed to invest in a tent and chose the EMS Big Easy 6-person tent and got the footprint as well. We also purchased some additional sleeping bags and inflatable mats. Baby R, who is currently 14 months old, also had a small sleeping tent (we decided this was a must after our similar camping trip when H was a baby). We were quite comfortable with three adults and two small kids in the tent, and we hung a sheet to create the illusion of two rooms — one for kids and one for adults. We also brought supplies for cooking, a tarp, a small lantern and flashlights, clothes, and various other junk. We had a stroller with us as well and a few purses and miscellaneous small bags.

We packed it all into a small internal frame backpack that I wore, a daypack and medium rolling suitcase that my mom handled, and four duffel bags that got loaded onto the xtracycle. Nathan was the master packer who made sure it all fit. On the morning of the trip, my mom came over, Nathan loaded up the bike and left for the Provincetown fast ferry. Mom, H, R, and myself all followed on the train.

And here’s where we ran into our biggest logistical problem. It turns out the MBTA was doing some track repair and running a shuttle bus between two stops on the red line. We had to go past these two stops and get to the silver line in order to get to the ferry. So we took a train, then a shuttle bus, then another train, then another bus (the silver line), before walking the short stretch to the ferry. And we did it all with two kids, a stroller, two backpacks, and a rolling suitcase. And, we managed to miss a train stop in there somewhere so we had to take an extra train. We arrived at the ferry with no time to spare at all, ran down the ramp, and the ferry took off.

Nathan was able to easily wheel the loaded xtracycle to the bike racks on the ferry, so that part was hassle-free. An hour and a half later, we got to Provincetown wheeled the bike and carried the rest of our stuff off, and looked for some lunch. After that we had a brief hike to the Coastal Acres campground. We made the mistake of walking up Bradford street, rather than Commercial. We thought it would be less crowded, which it was, but it was also hilly, which made everyone tired, including our youngest walker, four-year-old H. The walk was only 1.3 miles, but it felt a lot longer. Mom stayed with the kids at a playground about a half-mile from our campsite while Nathan and I set up camp. Then Nathan went to the local grocery store to buy us food for the week — we had made a list and planned meals the night before.

We did not have bikes for everyone on the trip, but we used the xtracycle to get an adult to the main part of town with H most days, while two other adults walked with baby R. On a few occasions both kids rode on the bike. We also used the xtracycle to get the stuff we needed with us back and forth and used it a bit like a car to store things we might need but didn’t want to carry around. The trip would have been possible without a bike, but was a lot easier with one, especially a cargo bike like the xtra.

In future years, we will likely bring an additional bike with us, and we’re considering adding a small, light-weight shelter to our gear in addition to the tarp (which did protect us from one rainstorm). We’ll probably camp for Family Week again next year (even camping in P-town is outrageously expensive), and we’re also planning on a trip to the Boston Harbor Islands for early next summer.

[Also, I will post pictures at some point soon -- they are currently trapped in the camera!]

About Angela

Angela is an associate professor of mathematics and enjoys writing, reading, and talking to people about her bike. She's the proud mother of two cute kids, H and R.
This entry was posted in Cambridge and Boston area, Our Xtracycle, Public transportation, Recreation and Travel, Walking and tagged , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

8 Responses to Carfree Camping in Provincetown

  1. dr2chase says:

    I did not know that you could get an xtracycle onto the fast ferry; that’s useful. We’ve done the slow ferry (return) trip with a bunch of boy scouts before. It is also possible to stick an xtracycle onto the commuter rail for a reverse commute to Plymouth, though there’s a fair amount of road biking from there if you are headed out towards Cape Cod.

  2. Cindy says:

    You are inspiring!

    Let us know if you want some company on the trip to the Harbor Islands…. I’d love to go camping!

  3. Nathan says:

    @dr2chase– It was a cinch to get the xtra on the ferry. We were prepared to leave it behind if needed, but no one balked at all. The bikes go on two racks at the front with plenty of space for a longbike. I was even able to leave it fully loaded (we have the kickback so it’s stable). It was a little sticky to get off in p-town, because they had narrower rails on the gangplank to get off the boat and I had to pull one bag off, but all in all, much easier than expected.

    Depending on the width of the bucket, it might even be possible to get a bakfiet or a madsen on the boat. Length wouldn’t be a problem, only width of the rails getting on/off the boat. I’m now wishing I brought a tape measure so we could share the specs!

  4. Pingback: Carfree Family Camping in Provincetown | Carfree with Kids … : Baby Trip

  5. sara says:

    Love hearing of this adventure. Reading about other families’ experiences, such as camping with no car, makes me always think, “Hey– we could pull of something like that, too.”

  6. dr2chase says:

    I’ve only seen the fast ferry loading from the Provincetown end, and it sure looked like a tight fit. On-the-other-hand, with the wideloaders off, the bike is narrower than me (42cm handlebars, wider shoulders, 36cm pedal edge to pedal edge, wider butt), so if the curves aren’t too tight, it should fit.

    Wideloaders on, is 32″, if I recall correctly, which just fits through an ADA opening.

  7. Andrea says:

    Wow! I’m exhausted just reading about all those train changes/bike rides over hills. Really amazing to manage a family camping trip sans car. I am so impressed…and inspired! My husband and I used to backpack, but since we’ve had kids, we’ve gotten accustomed to the family tent, Coleman stove, lawn chairs and other amenities car camping affords…and we’re pretty minimalist compared to the people in the campground with two or three tents, plus the kitchen tent, boats, canoes, kayaks, bikes (in addition to the trucks they arrived in).

  8. Pingback: Beating Toy Clutter | Carfree with Kids — Carfree with Kids

Leave a Reply