Anyone who has taken their bike on a cycling holiday understands the many complexities and hassles that you can encounter along the way. This is not to say that renting a bicycle once you arrive is not without its problems. The best solution we have found at Cyclomundo is to determine which option is best for you, commit to that option, and research what you can expect. In this article, we have compiled a few resources that can help you work your way through this process so you can have the relaxing cycling holiday you deserve.
There are several factors to consider when deciding if renting a bike is the best option for you. With all of our self-guided tours, we provide you with our regional rental bike specs before you book and will help you get fitted once you arrive, but there are still some key factors to consider before making a decision:
Properly packing your bike can make a huge difference when you are bringing your own bike along. Whether you fly with your bike or ship it ahead of time, making sure that it is properly disassembled, padded, and packaged will help reduce the impact of any bumps that it may encounter during the journey. It is critical that you check out any airline or shipping restrictions on size, weight, and packing material because there would be nothing more annoying than getting to the airport/post office and having your bike rejected because of a few inches or pounds.
Options for Packing Material:
Hard Bike Case
Below are a couple resources that explain methods for how to properly dismantle and pack your bike:
If it is your first time shipping your bike and you have questions about dismantling or need help gathering packing materials, it is a good idea to visit your local bike shop. They should be able to provide you with more specific suggestions and resources.
Many of our clients choose to take their bicycle on the flight with them. This is generally done by properly packaging your bike in a hard case or box, and checking the bike as an extra piece of luggage at the airport. These days with the skyrocketing prices and intense restrictions on air travel, it is very important to check your airline’s policy about bikes. In some cases, it is necessary to make arrangements with the carrier prior to check-in while others charge large fees if you do not meet the size and weight of baggage restrictions. With a little research and maybe a polite email or phone call, you will find that most airlines are very understanding and accommodating for bike travel. Below are some resources for common airlines, but we encourage you to do further research for your specific itinerary.
*If your trip has multiple legs, make sure to check the bike policies of all of the airline operators you will have.
Within Europe, you may have the option of traveling by train. Historically, this has been the cheapest option for traveling cyclists. Most trains in Europe allow bikes for free, or for a small fee depending on whether they are boxed or not. For more details on traveling on trains, check out this article: www.cyclomundo.com/blog/travel-tips/traveling-with-a-bike-on-trains-in-france.html
If coming from the UK, there is also a bus company call Bike Express that has routes from the UK into France. Passage with them includes a coach bus ride to many destinations and a slot for your bike in their custom-made trailer.
When shipping your bike internationally you have two options: you can use a general shipping company like FedEx or UPS or you can use a company that specializes in shipping bicycles. While shipping your bike with a specialized bike shipping company is likely the most expensive option, many of our clients have found that the ease and convenience it provides outweighs the costs. Several of the specialized companies offer door to door service and can provide bike-specific packing materials. Many local bike shops also have relationships with specific shipping companies and will allow you to drop your bike off with them to be packed and shipped.
Shipping within Europe or from the UK is generally much cheaper and faster than from the US, making it a better option for those who don’t want the hassle of extra luggage. You also have more options when going through the general post system. In this case, proper packing is essential for not only protecting your bike but also saving you some money (most carriers within Europe base their prices on the size of the package).
*Discounts for USA Cycling members, check on their website.
BOTTOM LINE: Do your research! There are a plethora of resources out there to help you get a clearer picture of what to expect and how to proceed. Before you get bogged down looking through endless forums and blogs, a simple trip to your local bike shop could provide the most valuable resource.
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