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Destination Unknown: Planning Your First Bicycle Trip: Part 2

In part one of this two-part article, we discussed some of the planning steps necessary for a bike tour.  In this second part, we’ll talk about some longer-range touring plans.  

Perhaps you’re thinking about a cycling trip that offers a change of scenery…a trip to a distant state or even a different country that might satisfy your craving. 
In fact, you may even be thinking more about a vacation where there is great cycling but also exposure to the local color and history of a particular region.
Perhaps you envision having a shared experience with other cyclists.  Just as planning for local or out of state trips, there are important things to consider.

The most immediate consideration you will have is “how can I get bring my own bike instead of having to rent one?” 
Of course, you can pack your bike yourself. 
There are plenty of Internet tutorials that will illustrate the procedures for doing this correctly.  In most cases, you will have to remove your seat post, loosen your stem and handlebars, remove your pedals and wheels, and maybe even detach your rear derailleur. 
Just remember you’ll need tools to reassemble your bike when you reach your destination.

However, if disassembling your bike is beyond your comfort level, take your bike to your local bike shop and have them pack it for you. 
Most bike shops charge around $30.00 to do this. Unless you have a soft- or hard-shell case, bike shops will pack your bike in an old bike box with bubble-wrap and tape.
While a bit more of an expense (cases start around $60.00 and go up to around $300.00), the nice thing about a case is it has individual padded compartments for your wheels and other parts and prevents your bike from being crushed or damaged. 
A crushed bike is an unhappy bike (and creates an unhappy traveler). So consider the case an investment on future bicycling travel.  

Another option is to use a professional bike shipping service.  You still would need to purchase a shipping container or have a case, but these organizations focus exclusively on shipping bikes to anywhere in the world via UPS or FedEx. (, for instance, offers a box called an Air Caddy, which they claim can withstand 3,500 pounds of downward force.
With this container, all you need to do is “simply lower or remove the seat, rotate the handlebars back, and remove the front wheel.
All of your bicycle's precise derailleur and brake adjustments are unaffected, and your pedals are not removed.”   
For $100.00 for the Air Caddy itself (and an additional fee – starting around $40.00 -- for shipping), this seems like an affordable option. 

Another company that offers similar services is (
The primary difference here is that they offer the worried bike shipper the option of purchasing insurance.  By using one of these services, you save yourself the stress of hauling your bike to the airport and getting hit with baggage fees.
An important point to consider: if you choose to fly with your bike, make sure to contact your carrier in advance.
Many air carriers have restrictions and additional fees for transporting bicycles. 

Then again, you may decide it still may be too stressful to think about getting your bike to your destination, especially if you are thinking about a faraway country. 
It turns out there are options for this scenario as well.  A visit to ( gives you access to an online directory of places where you can rent a bike in the United States and abroad.
If you click on one of these links, a list appears with contact information and the type of bikes these places have for rent.

You will still need to bring your own gear and maybe even your pedals, but in the long run this option will eliminate the stress you feel about shipping your bike. 
Rental costs are usually pretty reasonable, and this option could be a fun way of riding a bike that is very different from yours.
Just keep in mind to specify the kind of bike you want and to ask for the right sized frame.

The above options are great if you want to take a self-supported trip that is largely unplanned and within your control. 
However, what if you decide instead to have more of a shared experience with other cyclists where accommodations, the bike, and other amenities are all arranged?
In that case, a bicycle touring company such as Backroads (, Trek Travel (, Bicycling, or several others is probably where you will want to focus your efforts. 
These companies offer cycling trips for destinations all over the world for the enthusiast to the hard-core cyclist who likes to put in big miles on a daily basis. 

These trips are completely supported over a set period of time with a specific destination.  These companies usually offer top rental bikes, nice hotels with luggage transport, excellent meals, and sightseeing with local cultural immersion.  
It is truly a vacation with the bicycling option added on.

Whatever you decide on for your first cycling trip, there really is no need to let yourself be overwhelmed.  Again, my recommendation would be to start local, then move to an out of state destination, then on to something more international.  
Each time you take a trip, even if it is just out of state for an event ride, there is something new to be learned.

Have more questions about taking a first cycling trip with or without your bike in tow?  Check out the links above then decide what is right for you. Have fun!


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