Taking a bike overseas

Discussion in 'Touring and recreational cycling' started by Veater, Jun 13, 2016.

  1. Veater

    Veater New Member

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    It's come to that time of year where we start planning our vacations for next year, and we are considering our abroad holiday at the moment. Often we just choose relaxing breaks as my partner has a demanding job and likes to really melt into a sun lounger and not move for a fortnight. But next year, I'm itching to properly travel, to see some sights and attractions.

    I think I'd like us to ride while we're there. Not exclusively, and we'll probably rent a car. I'm sure there are bike rental places in most countries, but ideally I would prefer to take a tried and tested bike if I'm using it for a couple of weeks. But I have no idea what people to do to travel with their bikes - is there a method to get a bike on the plane, does it cost a lot of money, etc? I imagine it'd be a lot easier on a ferry? We do prefer to fly as I can get sea sickness.

    Any experience with taking a bike overseas?
     
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  2. AryaSnark

    AryaSnark New Member

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    You will likely have to pay extra for your lugagge then, since bikes take a lot of place, even when neatly packed. I think you could consider taking a folding bike with you, if you really don't want to rent a bike in the area. Also, a good idea is to pack the bike in a transparent plastic bag - luggage handlers are more likely to treat it well if they can see it's a bike, not just another travelbag which they often toss around quite carelessly. You absolutely need to take spare packacking for each flight, since the airport security may decide to rip it off and check what's inside.

    Alternatively, if you are staying there for a longer time or know someone locally, you could just buy a used bike there (best if you can arrange it before arrival), and then sell it once you're going back home. That's what I did when I was in the Netherlands last time, admittedly it was easy to arrange since it's the proverbial cycling country. ​
     
  3. Belovedad

    Belovedad New Member

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    I have never really had a reason to take a bike overseas so I am not aware of the process. I assume that you will have to get in contact with the medium prior to boarding to let them know. It wouldn't be much of a problem I believe but I think it's easier to just rent one wherever you're staying.
     
  4. Veater

    Veater New Member

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    How does it work out financially though? If I could transport my bike for the same cost, or even slightly more expensive than renting, I don't mind going to the extra effort. It's better than relying on a service, potentially in a country where I don't understand the language. And having to worry about things like insurance and theft. If it's my own bike, I know where I stand with it and I can take the measures I feel comfortable with, and if I lose it then at least it's my own expense and I don't have to pay above the odds for something that wasn't even mine anyway. I don't know, I just don't like paying to borrow things I already own, if you get what I mean.
     
  5. AryaSnark

    AryaSnark New Member

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    The costs really depend on your airline and the route of travel, but generally, the cost can't really fall below 40 $ on international flights. They also charge extra if your total luggage exceeds the limit, and when travelling with bikes, this is likely to happen. Sometimes you can get a hefty discount when flying business class, but I don't think you gonna choose it for your personal vacations.

    (I vaguely recall one airline waived the fees every year during Tour de France, but it wasn't continued after 2014 or soemthing).
     
  6. sharkantropo

    sharkantropo Member

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    You should consider then in buying and taking a folding bike,
    A folding bicycle is designed to fold into a compact form, facilitating transport and storage. When folded, the bikes can be more easily carried into a plane or bus.

    Folding mechanisms vary though, with each offering a diverse combination of folding speed, folding ease, compactness, ride, weight, durability and price. Distinguished by the complexities of their folding mechanism and number of pieces a folding bikes may be more expensive than comparable high quality non-folding models. The choice of model, apart from cost considerations, is a matter of resolving the various minor but practical requirements: a quick easy fold, compact folded size, or a faster but less compact model.
     
  7. 9lines

    9lines Member

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    I think that carrying a bike won't be convenient. I will prefer that you hire one if you will not get the money to buy a bike. You will have to consider where you can store it. There are foldable bikes that you can buy if you have to travel with a bike but unfortunately they cost more. You can also hire a bike whenever you will be instead of having to carry one.
     
  8. Damien Lee

    Damien Lee Active Member

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    You may have to pay extra. I think it's best to check with your travel agent about this matter. I've never taken my own bike when travelling overseas, and have always rented one when arriving at my destination. I just think this is the more convenient method overall.
     
  9. Pedal Portugal

    Pedal Portugal New Member

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    I've taken bikes (a tandem!) on both long and short-haul flights. It's actually quite simple but exactly what you can take and the cost will depend on the airline.
    Quite a lot of UK airlines allow you to take a bicycle as one of your pieces of baggage - it generally goes as "sporting goods". If you look on the website for whatever airline you are planning to fly with, it will probably be there in the rules/allowances for baggage.
    With British Airways (BA) the main issue is that the bike has to be within the weight limit, which varies depending on the type of flight/size of the plane. With their long haul flights, I had a limit of 23kg (I think). Boxed up, my tandem was just within the limit. It was more difficult on a recent flight to Croatia as the limit was 20kg but more importantly the bike had to be less than 190cm - which meant packaging the tandem with both wheels, racks and mudguards removed!
    Every airline has different rules. You generally have to remove the pedals, turn the handlebars 90 degrees and deflate the tyres.
    The other big issue is damage. Baggage handlers are not gentle and I've heard plenty of horror stories about bikes getting wrecked in transit. We've also had damage a couple of times but nothing disastrous and on some trips no problems at all.
    If you can take most of your gear in panniers and use them as carry on luggage and put the bikes in the hold then it might not cost you any extra at all. Or you pay whatever it costs for an extra bag.
     
  10. Weatherby

    Weatherby Well-Known Member

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    it is $150 or $200 each way
     
  11. eliel

    eliel New Member

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    When I travel I always try to rent a Bike!! Last trip to Orlando, FL I rented a Specialized Tarmac Full carbon at www.theridexperience.com

    Better than bringing mine.
     
  12. vivaty412

    vivaty412 New Member

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  13. goldenroadbiker

    goldenroadbiker New Member

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    It is always a challenge to find this information online, but here's my experience, traveling to/from the US.

    1. Bringing your own bike is better - it fits and you're used to it
    2. Use a 'soft' lightweight bag. it saves weight and I have never had a problem with damage etc.
    2. Fees I have been charged
    a. Lufthansa $0
    b. United - $0 to $250 (domestic US and international) - see below
    c. Southwest - check online - I think it's $100

    Here are my tricks. they don't always work but increase your chances
    1. Go through the 'regular' baggage check, you're more likely to get someone that isn't familiar with the rules.
    2. Keep your bike under 50lb. sometimes you can argue that it is not a 'heavy' bag and therefore should not be charged
    3. Be NICE.
    4. Act like you don't know what the rules are, and try to convince them that you haven't been charged before.
     
  14. Froze

    Froze Well-Known Member

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    I haven't taken a bike by plane yet, but I know several who have, so the information I'm going to give is based on what those people told me.

    First, of the 4 people that I know that have taken a bike on a plane 1 got his bike damaged (which he was able to get repaired but he lost two days waiting for the repair, and another one got his stolen off the belt in Germany! In my mind a 50/50 chance of something happening to a bike is not good odds, even if the two were unusual events there is also the added possibility that the airlines can lose the bike because if airlines can lose luggage, they can also lose bikes.

    I know one person who tried to go the rental route, he found out several things. First you need to order the bike rental in advance because in some areas they out of bikes in the tourist season, so you may need to reserve yours as soon as you order your plane tickets. He also said to pack your own pedals, saddle, shoes, clothing, even water bottles and cages as silly as that sounds but where he went they charged him a rental fee for the bottles and the cages! If you'll be bike camping then you need to bring your own panniers or get a rental fee for those as well. Of course you should check with where you're renting from if they charge you for stuff that you shouldn't have to bring along. He got so frustrated from the rental thing he left the bike shop, found another bike shop who sold used bikes, so he ended up buying a used classic bike instead. At the end of his trip he was going to sell the bike but he liked the bike so much he boxed it up and sent back to his home via UPS and he still has that bike.

    I've heard on the internet that some travelers send their bikes by some sort of postal service to the motel where they were going to be staying, then called the motel in advance to tell them of the shipment and to hold it in a secure place till they got there (make sure you tip the person in charge of handling your bike at the motel). Once the trip was over they sent it back the same way. No fuss from airlines this way, and you can insure it. What I read on the internet is that people bought a plastic shipping box, had the motel keep the empty box at the motel till they returned from their trip. I also read that some people rented lockers and put the shipping box in a locker then when the trip was over go to the locker and get the box to send the bike back.

    Again, I have no experience in taking a bike on a plane, so the info I gave is from those that I knew and what I read on the internet.

    Personally from all that I've read and heard is I would probably rent even though I heard of all the charges that they rack up, but I would also consider buying a used bike if a shop was around that did that, or get on Craigslist and buy one that way. But of all the methods of getting a bike somewhere, by passenger plane would be my last choice.
     
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