Hi everyone! My name is Shannon and I’m from Newmarket, Ontario. I am super excited to lead an amazing group of teens this summer and create lifelong memories! I fell in love with cycling about 4 years ago, and I recently discovered the joys of bike touring.
Travel and Bike Experience
My first bike trip was a week-long solo tour around Prince Edward Island in Canada, I was instantly hooked on bike touring! Then, I rode from Toronto to Montreal with a friend and most recently, completed a 5 week-long self-supported tour from Vancouver to San Francisco. I have also travelled with my family to Iceland, France, Germany, Austria, and Italy.
Activities, Skills and Studies
Some of my favorite activities include triathlons, basketball, ultimate frisbee, snowboarding, camping, reading, and scrapbooking. Some of my other work experiences are being a lifeguard and swimming instructor for over 7 years. Recently, I graduated from the Biomedical Science program at the University of Ottawa. I can’t wait to meet new people and go on more fun adventures this summer! But don’t be surprised if I mention distances in terms of kilometers instead of miles!
Learn More about Teen Treks 2023 Bike Trip Leaders
Visit Teen Treks Leader Page to discover new and past leaders, and what makes Teen Treks Leaders such a important part of an adventurous teen bike travel experience. Find more Leader Profile’s here.
Often, the one thing coming between you and your first bike trek is having the gear itself. But waiting to have the top-of-the-line gear isn’t ideal when you’re eager to hit the open road on two-wheels. Panniers (or saddlebags) are an essential component for self-supported bike travel and can make a big difference in comfortability and joy out on the road. While there are many important things to look for in in a pair of panniers, there is no need to break the bank for the right saddlebags to carry bike-touring essentials like sleeping gear, tools, clothing and cooking equipment.
From many years of guiding bike trips, to countless personal tours including the Blue Ridge Parkway, coastal Spain, the Netherlands and across eastern United States, I’ve experimented with many different kinds of panniers, and often with little money to splurge. My bike travels have also given me many interactions with other bicycle tourists who have shared their personal preferences and dislikes when it comes to panniers. These personal and anecdotal experiences, as well as individual research, has given me an understanding of the essential features to look for in purchasing saddlebags for your first bike trek.
I’ve put together a list of the three of the best budget-friendly sets of panniers my experience and research has brought me to. While considering this list, I’ve made sure to not compromise value in the selection of budget-friendly saddlebags. First, I will list the most-essential features to look for in a set of panniers for your first bike trek, then I will share the three best budget-friendly panniers.
What to Look for in Panniers
A Set of 2 Rear Panniers
Waterproof, or an Added Waterproof Cover
25L, 27L, 30L, 40L (per bag)- Reasonable amount of space for carrying bike touring essentials like clothes, tools, sleeping gear and cooking equipment.
Bright Colors for Visibility
Reflectors for Visibility
Separated Panniers (not connected)
Roll Top Cover (great for keeping water out)
Three-point Secure Connection
Quick Release System
Removable Shoulder Strap (great for traveling through airport/train station)
Water-resistant Nylon material with all-weather rain cover included with each pannier
Smart Quick-Release clip-on system
Multiple compartments and pockets
Secure three-point connection
Drawstring closure with outer buckle-cover for extra protection from moisture, dirt and dust
Other Ways to Find Budget-Friendly Panniers
Non-Profit or Community Bike Shop: Visit your local non-profit bike shop, otherwise known as a “community bike shop” or “bike co-op.” Most non-profit bike shops have used bicycles, bike parts and supportive gear that participants can purchase for a donated price. This could be a great place to find good quality, used panniers for a low price and also a good way to support a local non-profit while reusing valuable gear.
Used Gear Shops: Call or visit a local used gear shop to see if they have pre-used panniers at discounted prices.
Craigslist & Facebook Marketplace: Craigslist and Facebook Marketplace are great places to find used panniers directly from the seller.
*Use the checklist listed above to help guide your search when looking for used panniers
At last, I want to thank you for checking out my list of Top Three Budget-Friendly Panniers. I hope this guide has been helpful in your search for panniers for your first bike trek and given you a useful guide to your search for both budget-friendly and good-quality panniers. If you are looking for more information about bike touring panniers, or bike touring bikes, then check out the Teen Treks Gear Guide for more detailed advice.
Over the past ten years, I have led many trips for Teen Treks. Some of my favorite trips have been the Pacific Northwest Trek, 1,000 Mile Trek and Maine Coast. I now have the pleasure of working behind the scenes as Teen Treks’ Program Coordinator. My work is focused on recruiting teens and leaders through relationship building, creative content and communication strategies.
I’ve been dedicated to Teen Treks for a long time because I have seen the incredible ways bike touring impacts teenager’s lives. In my time at Teen Treks, I have made lifelong connections with the teens I’ve led. This has given me the good fortune to see how their bike trip helped shape their future for the better.
I’m going to share the 5 Reasons Why Bike Touring is a Great Activity for Teenagers. This information has been gathered from personal experience, leader surveys, trekker surveys, parent feedback and general oversight.
1. Freedom in an Organized Environment
One of our 1,000 Mile Trekkers originally wanted to take a solo bike trip before heading off to college. His parents felt more secure if he joined an organized biking group. After completing his 30-day trek from Chicago to NYC with Teen Treks, the trekker said he was grateful to bike with an organized group which allowed teenagers the freedom to exercise their skillsets and take ownership over their trip experience.
A strong value within Teen Treks bike tours is giving teens the opportunity to drive their own trip experience. Trekkers do this by taking ownership over responsibilities and driving the group’s daily activities.
Trekkers rotate through assigned daily leadership roles that enable them to take self-directed and peer-directed accountability for responsibilities. This helps teens practice the freedom to assume responsibilities, while leaders can take a more hands-off approach.
Leaders encourage trekkers to bring their interest to the table each day. Maybe the group would like to stop at more swimming holes. Maybe they would like to make a point of checking out museums in a big city. Or perhaps they might find an interesting attraction when strolling into the city. Trekkers are able to voice their interest in leading the group to experiences that add quality to the trip. It’s the leader’s job to facilitate a fun, safe environment for teens to explore their freedom and independence.
2. Teamwork and Self-Reliance
Teen Treks’ leaders take a hands-off approach that enables trekkers to grow in leadership, self-reliance and teamwork skills. Leaders oversee trekkers as they assume assigned roles. They facilitate conversations and reflections to help trekkers understand their contribution within the group. Teen Treks has found this enables teenagers the opportunity to exercise independence, take ownership for responsibilities, and learn to receive peer-to-peer direction.
Daily, teens take on roles in which put them in a position of leadership within their peers. Roles include:
Points of the Day (navigator/map holders)
Safety Manager (bike maintenance lead)
Hype Person (fun activity instigator)
Health & Hydration Manager
Team Boss (the one who makes sure everyone is fulfilling their roles)
These assignments allow trekkers to exercise leadership, independence, and accountability in a supervised setting.
On a typical Teen Treks day, trekkers are split into two separate groups. One group is the cooking and grocery shopping team, the other is the cleaning and tent-set up team. Trekkers rotate each day through these team assignments. These groups give trekkers practice in many group dynamic and individual skills, including:
grocery shopping for a group on a budget
cooking for a group while differentiating dietary needs
setting up/tear down of campsites
serving the needs of an entire group
The approach is for trekkers to assume their daily roles without prompting from supervisors, rather using peer-direction or self-direction. This teamwork and self-reliance development is paramount in teens development into young adults. We often hear from trekker parents about positive effects at home, in school, and in extra-curricular activities after their bike trek.
Teenagers have fresh and eager eyes to see the world around them. And bike touring is a form of travel that is very immersive and fosters discovery. It is slower than a car, faster than walking, and enables travelers to see their surroundings up-close. There is not a glass window or plastic door keeping the bike traveler from the space around them. The open-air and movement found on a bicycle allows sight, smell and hearing to be activated, making the possibility of discovery even greater.
You might find a hidden trail off the side of the road. Or maybe you will roll into a city, have a conversation with a pedestrian and find out the best place to get food in town. You might hear music and follow your ears until stumbling upon a festival.
The opportunity for discovery is why we love bike touring so much. And with the openness to new opportunities teenagers carry so well, the combination of teens and bike trips couldn’t be better aligned for an incredible, life-changing experience.
4. Confidence Booster
A former Across America trekker said he went back to high school after that summer with a newfound sense of confidence. He accomplished daily physical and mental adversities and persevered until the completion of the 3,000+ mile trek.This boosted his sense of confidence in his own independent abilities.
We’ve seen bike trips boost teens confidence too many times to not believe it. Our leaders cheer on trekkers facing physical and mental challenges, and watch as they become stronger bikers every day. Teens often leave not wanting to get off their bicycle, no matter how much they struggled in the beginning.
Teens carry this self-confidence and newfound awareness of their strength as they return back to school. Their sense of accomplishment translates into confidence in their studies, sports and extracurricular pursuits.
Bike touring in a group setting is a great way for teenagers to grow in open-mindedness.
Teen Treks trips consist of about 10 teenagers and 2 leaders. Teens come from all around the United States, and often from other countries. They work together to accomplish:
daily biking goals
role assignments within a group setting
All this enables teens to learn to work together with peers from many different locations, backgrounds, lifestyles and personalities.
As they work together, teens are also sharing many special moments together. Campfire chats, beautiful roadside scenery, frisbee, swimming, and many other fun activities work to foster positive relationships through a group of diverse peers.
Another way bike touring in a group setting helps teenagers experience open-mindedness is through food! Let’s face it, nothing makes you more hungry than a long day on a bicycle. Teenager’s appetites are greater on a bike trip than in their every-day life, which makes them more open to eating what is in front of them. This often helps kids break out of picky eating habits. Trekkers work together to decide what kind of meal they are going to cook each night. The emphasis on home-cooked campfire meals encourages trekkers to cook and try new foods for the first time. They often realize they enjoy new foods they never thought they would until they tried.
And of course, travel itself is a great vehicle for stirring open-mindedness. As bike groups travel from one destination to the next, they are seeing new places, meeting new people and having meaningful interactions along the way. Nothing opens you up to new perspectives better than interacting with people, cultures and ideas in many different parts of the world. But first, we must get on our bike and travel there!
Starting today, Teen Treks is exciting to announce the start of our winter discount on all Summer 2023 Bike Adventures! For a limited time only, future trekkers can receive $500 OFF the bike trip of their choice. Simply scan the list of our Summer 2023 Bike Trips and enter the code: PRE-SEASON2023 when registering to receive your discount.
As always, feel free to contact us with any inquiries about our summer bike trips for teens!
From the Teen Treks staff and Board of Directors, we wanted to wish our greater community of trekkers, bike trip leaders and parents a Happy Thanksgiving!
From Amsterdam-Paris, to Cape Cod, to the Maine Coast, we had many wonderful bike trips in Summer 2022, leaving the Teen Treks staff reflecting on another great season exploring new places by bicycle! Thank you to all the trekker families for your participation in making this summer a memorable experience for many years to come. And many thanks to our outgoing and adventurous bike trip leaders who make each trip a one-of-a-kind experience!
We hope you enjoy a time away from work, school and life’s busy-ness this Thanksgiving Day and can spend quality time with friends and family!
As the Teen Treks staff looks ahead to bike trip Adventures in 2023, we have many exciting opportunities on the horizon. We’ve seen a lot of interest in our Across America Trek next summer, a 55-day bike tour from east-west and a life-shaping experience for teens looking to gain confidence, independence and new skills while achieving a grand bike excursion. We’re also excited to see a high registration for our Amsterdam-Paris Trek, a 16-day journey through some of the most iconic European cities in a land made for cyclists.
We can’t help but be excited for these adventures and many more on the horizon for Summer 2023! We hope you will join us again and/or tell your friends!
Today was the last day of our fun times in Montreal and with new friends. We started off again with another delicious breakfast in the hostel. After that we biked the bumpy roads of Montreal all the way to a biodome in the city. It recreated a bunch of different environments, we saw penguins, different types of birds, an alligator, and of the exhibits VERY accurately recreated where we biked. After we left we went shopping around the old port of Montreal and we got some delicious fried donut holes. For dinner we walked around china town and found a random restaurant, and the food was served in a lazy suzan type of way. The walk back to the hostel in the rain was very scenic with the reflection of lights and a green glow in the sky from buildings. We discovered Max is a professional speed walker, and got snacks for the bus tomorrow from a grocery store. After a very stressful bike packing, we sat for a calm and relaxing game of risk. Thank you for joining us (kind of) on this trip and this last blog, and Goodnight.
We woke up to a delicious orange, bagel, panini, and lox breakfast. There was a panini press at the hostel which was a big hit this morning. After breakfast we biked to a market with a bunch of fresh fruits and veggies and food places. We bought some group strawberries and they disappeared in 5 seconds. We left the market to go watch the Rogers Cup. We found out tennis is really boring and ended up trying to find as much free stuff as possible. We got massages from a BMW and got coasters. We got back to the hostel and left to go walk around Montreal. We went thrift store shopping and found a nice restaurant to eat at. We all had delicious poutine, and Max ate a little too much. We are currently having an intense game of Risk, and thats all for today.
We woke up this morning to a Minecraft themed breakfast. Biking today was very hot, but we made it through the long bike paths to our final destination! We celebrated getting to Montreal with free iced tea from the pride festival and a pizza dinner. After a drawn out game of Risk, we are tired and ready to sleep.
We woke up to a rainy morning. After the wind yesterday causing people to shelter into their tents everyone’s shoes were SOAKED. We celebrated Jasper’s birthday with some delicious muffins and got ready for the day. The points today were me and Ivan. We biked along for a long time until we found this abandoned barn on the side of the road. We explored the barn and found some cool old machinery. We kept on biking until we got to the border and while we waited on the side for the road we made new friends with random people in a car. After the border crossing we kept biking and found some cows that Lauren wanted to pet and did so with permission from a farmer. We got to town and went shopping for a delicious breakfast for dinner. We then had a super secret cake for Jasper to end the meal. We ended the day by stargazing at night and saw Montreal’s light beaming through the sky. Thats all for Quebec see you in Montreal tomorrow.
The group woke up in beds for the first time in about 2 weeks and biked to get breakfast. After getting a delicious meal from Bettys, the group biked back to the hostel. Alana played piano and Duncan sang along while Henry listened to some good tunes back in Canada. Alana sadly had to go and then Dunkin Adam and Olivia went to go play spikeball with the local Buffalonians. Duncan got picked up after winning the grand championship of spike ball and the teen trek leaders took off to get nachos. Thank you trekkers and my fellow leader for making this trip great and unforgettable.