You are living in London, but you want to go on a cycling holiday in Spain? What do you do?
- Find a bike shop and hire a cheaper bike when you get there for around £15 per day (£25 per day for an expensive bike)
- Take your bike on your flight
- Take your bike with you on a ferry
- Use a shipping company
- Fly over a folding bike
- Go on a guided tour that includes a bike
I’ve tried a few options. In Bolivia, when I cycled down the World’s most dangerous road, I rented a bike with a company there. When I flew with British Airways to Germany to cycle along the Rhine, I made a few foolish mistakes with my bike packing.
British Airways are in fact one of the most bike friendly airlines as you can fly your bike for free. The Guardian did a good comparison of different Airlines:
- EasyJet it costs £25 per flight although there is an extra £9 admin fee, along with 2.5% surcharge on credit cards (min £4.95). Therefore, to fly to Spain and back would cost £63.95.
- Ryanair: it costs £50 per flight, with £6 admin fee per flight. Therefore the total is: £112.
- Monarch: £20 per flight if you book in advance, therefore the total is £40.
There are some downsides as I experienced. For a start, it’s a pain to lug your bike all the way to the airport and back. Especially if you are relying solely on public transport and your legs. Also, it is questionable how well they will look after your bike. You really have to pad your bike with as much protection as possible.
An alternative is to ship your bike out using a service like Luggage Mule. All you have to do is package it up in a bike box or bag at home and then schedule a day to collect it.
The prices seem reasonable for two-way journeys:
- Spain: £89.99
- Portugal: £89.99
- France: £79.99
- Germany: £119.99
- Italy: £109.99
This saves you a lot of hassle with carrying your bike to and from the airport, as you can send it directly to your hotel from your home address.
There are a couple of downsides. The first is that your bike must be collected a few days prior. If you are relying on your bike for your daily commute, then you’ll be without it for a few days before and after your trip. If you have a second bike, this isn’t an issue.
Additionally, collections only happen on weekdays, so someone needs to be available to hand the bike to the courier and to pick it up. However, the bike can be picked up from your office or a friendly neighbour, a family member etc.
Overall, it’s really an option worth considering. Personally, I could see myself using it if I was ever to move to another country. It’ll be enough hassle carrying all the rest of my luggage, without having to worry about a bike at the same time. Instead, I can get my bike shipped, as well as any extra boxes that I haven’t had space for.