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5 Tips for Traveling with a Bike

February 18 2017 – Ezekiel Binns

travelling with bikes
travelling with bikes

If you are a true bike-nerd like us, you may at some point trek across the globe with your beloved ride in tow. Landing in an awesome locale and unpacking your familiar, trusty steed will undoubtedly add a whole new dimension of fun and frolicking to your What better way to experience Europe (as the Europeans do), the beautiful mountainous backcountry of Japan, or the nooks and crannies of a South American capital, than in the saddle of your trusty transport?

Airline travel is stressful and expensive enough already; add to that bike fees, delays, and worry about your precious cargo, and you’ll need one of those “vacations from your vacation” when you get back home! But, bikes and planes really do mix. All it takes is a bit of planning and strategy to eliminate potential potholes in your road to adventure.

Ensure a successful vacation and make sure you and your bicycle are fit to fly with these helpful tips!

  1. Be aware of airline bike fees and regulations. Some airlines are more bike-friendly than others. But since 9/11 and the recent budget-tightening in the airline industry, you have to be slick to avoid massive fees and unwelcome surprises.

Many people travel with golf bags and skis—but it’s still relatively rare to travel with a bike, so some airlines might charge upwards of $200 each way for oversized cargo! However, some airlines are better than others. Virgin Airlines and Jetblue charge a flat $50 fee for bikes. Many cyclists and bikers recommend Southwest Airlines for their bike-friendly fees. Check the airline’s website and read the fine-print BEFORE you purchase a ticket.

  1. Get a good bike bag or case. Protect your investment! Don’t spend your flight worrying about jostled bike parts or dents and dings. If you travel with a partner, investing in a double bag could save you fees and trouble, depending on the airline.

If you’re really serious, hard cases are the way to go. Worry-free, and they’ll last a lifetime.

  1. Learn how to fix a flat and more. Who wants to be stuck in a dark, foreign alley walking a flat—or 40 miles from civilization with a broken chain? Make sure you KNOW how to fix a flat and any other bike emergencies that could pop up, then BRING a travel tool kit with you. You don’t want to become a travel horror story.

Bikes have a tendency to take you a lot further, distance-wise, than you might have originally planned. When you are in an unfamiliar place, forethought is your best defense against a bad situation. Tune up, clean and check all your bike parts before departing to make sure everything is in tip-top shape.

  1. Multi-task. There are many ways to save money, time and space. Reduce the number of bags by using a double bag, if applicable. If you can spare the weight, you can also use your bike bag or case to stuff extra clothes and gear.
  2. Mind your P’s and Q’s. The first time you travel with your bike will naturally be the hardest. You will learn more as you go, but above all, be polite and patient. You catch more bees (airline staff help) with honey than with vinegar! You can sometimes avoid a whole lot of trouble by being a good flyer, smiling, and following directions.

Checking a bike adds time and effort for all parties, so no use adding to it with a bad attitude. Make sure airlines know that cyclists are good travelers! Above all, relax and enjoy your travel. You are doing something many never will—traveling and biking just for the fun of it! Post pictures, and spread the enthusiasm for traveling with a bike!

Veteran bike travelers say to count on one thing: inconsistency. So be flexible and friendly. All airlines differ, and can actually change at any time. Factors like the agent you’re working with, their mood, the plane’s weight capacity, and the destination can all impact your fees and regulations. So be prepared with some cash in reserve and don’t pitch a fit if you have to use it.

So where are you and your bicycle off to next? Let us know! Maybe you’ll come back with some tips of your own!