by Arianne Fabrice
Want to take your cycle rides up a gear, beyond the daily commute and weekend trips? Then do so with a cycling holiday! The mix of exhilaration and tranquillity this kind of activity getaway delivers is nothing short of fantastic for your mind, body and soul. The only thing you may be concerned about is how to take your bike on a plane. In this case, don’t panic! There’s plenty of services and products on hand to help make life easier for you.
Before getting your bike ready for its grand adventure, you just need to put in some extra time to make sure your cycling holiday abroad runs smoothly with no bumps in the road. Once you've arrived in your plush holiday accommodation you can concentrate on enjoying new routes with your trusty steed, but for now, here’s our guide on how to take your bike abroad on a plane…
Banner image by Martin Thomas, used under CC License (CC by 2.0)
Most airlines let you take your bike on a plane, but check that your chosen one does so by looking at their online policies or giving the customer services team a call. As a rough guide, the fee costs £30-50 each way. You also need to think about how you’re going to get your bike to and from the airport, factoring potentially bigger fees with more spacious taxis. For peace of mind, definitely consider insuring your bike, too.
Practice taking your bicycle apart and then reassembling it, which you’ll have to do when packing it into a bike box or bag. Assembling the bike will definitely take longer than the dismantling process, usually taking around and hour and a half in total – so, be patient.
Packing your bike and putting it back together
The tools you’ll need here are: a set of Allen keys, a general spanner and a pedal spanner. An extra pair of hands might come in handy too!
Use the pedal spanner to loosen and take off the pedals. The Allen keys will help take apart the seat (you might need a spanner, depending on your model), handle bars, stem and wheels. For the back wheel, it can be a good idea to use a chain keeper to ensure the chain stays in place. Secure everything with cable ties and straps, and use padding such as bubble wrap when you’re boxing or bagging it.
Now all you need to do is fit everything back together nice and securely. Get a cycling friend to help with this if they can.
Bike box or bike bag?
Bike boxes and bags are available to hire, but investing in one will come in handy if you plan on taking more cycling holidays abroad (and let’s face it, why wouldn’t you?!). Prices can vary between £100-600, depending on the materials used and amount of protection offered. Soft shell bags are a cheaper option, but hard shell boxes are a more reassuring choice for expensive bikes.
Planning bike holidays
Sorting your own itinerary from scratch puts the wheels in motion for a memorable trip tailored to your own needs and wants. Save yourself some stress and make sure that everything is sorted before setting off, all the way down to the finer details. Research routes that are popular with other riders and that provide plenty of refreshment and overnight stops along the way – you can never do too much preparation!
If you prefer to have everything already planned out upon arrival, you can book onto cycling tours with reputable companies online. They will help with equipment and guidance en-route, which leaves you free to get on with the pedalling! Chat with fellow cyclists for their personal experiences and recommendations.
Whether it’s a family holiday or a cycling club get together abroad, think about what suits your needs the best. There’s also the question of whether to take your own bike or not, which leads us nicely onto…
Why take your own bike on a cycling holiday?
Image by GlacierNPS, used under Public Domain
When it comes to planning bike travel abroad, you’re left with plenty of choice. Many companies offer bike hire, but you also have the option to take your own along. If you’re doing a DIY cycling holiday, taking your own bicycle is the best option to go with.
Although you’ll pay a fee for bringing your beloved bicycle overseas, it will save bike hire costs throughout the holiday. Plenty of riders also feel more familiar and therefore more comfortable on their own saddle. You also won’t need to worry about adjusting the seat or getting to grips with the gears and steering of other bikes.
And then there’s an emotional attachment that a lot of cyclists are sure to relate to – you want your trusty two-wheeled companion with you to enjoy the ride and explore new corners of the world with. It’s only natural, after all!
Cycling holiday checklist
If you’ve made it this far, you’re probably fully geared up for bike travel. Modern bike boxes make it simple for cyclists wanting to take a bike abroad, so take advantage of the brilliant models available. It will take some effort to get things ready but the rewards will be totally worth it – miles are meditation, and the scenery, on the other hand, is truly tranquil.
Always remember to pack Allen keys and a pedal spanner so that you can assemble and reassemble the bike.
Check with the airline to see if you’re allowed to pack any clothing in extra bicycle box or bag space.
Do a practice assembling/reassembling run before you head off.
Check weight and size restrictions with your airline you’re using and stick to them to avoid any surprise charges.
Pack your helmet, repair kit, shorts, t-shirt and anything else that you’ll need once you’re on the road.
Have a full itinerary in place, along with emergency contact numbers.
Above all, have fun!
Your bike will be forever grateful for taking it abroad for a very special ride indeed. Now you’ve been fully briefed, why not look at some of Villa Plus' best destinations for cycling?
Arianne Fabrice is a travel journalist who specialises in the popular resort destinations in and around Europe. Having worked for some of Paris’ premium travel mags, she’s recently moved into English-language publications.
Banner image by Wayne Bishop on Unsplash.