There is perhaps nothing more exciting that an overseas cycling holiday, particularly during the winter months when cycling is mostly limited to spinning classes and rollers here in the northern hemisphere, but if you want to avoid costly baggage fees and paying more than you should to take your beloved bike and cycling gear with you, you need to master the art of packing light.
Cycling holidays are now more popular than golfing holidays, and fortunately, airlines have taken note. You can now take you bike on almost every flight providing it meets the airline’s size and weight requirements, and you can do this either as part of your checked baggage allowance, or for an additional fee.
While these additional fees will not add a huge amount to the overall cost of your cycling holiday, you’re looking at a minimum of £120 roundtrip, and you can buy more than a few energy gels, protein bars, and chamois creams for that kind of money!
To save money on your cycling holiday, you need to know what to pack and how to pack it, and so here are a few tips for your next overseas cycling adventure:
- Invest in the lightest bike bag or box you can find. Hard shell cases do provide a greater level or protection, but they often weigh over 10kg, and leave very little room for anything other than your bike. Scicon and EVOC Bags are exceptionally lightweight, easy to pack, and they leave plenty of space for your cycling kit – and so they can save money in the long run.
- Book your flight with an airline that allows you to transport your bike as your checked luggage allowance. For long-haul flights, British Airways is a good choice as they have a checked allowance of 23kg. Providing you have a lightweight bike bag or box, there’s no reason why you cannot pack your bike, helmet, shoes, and 4 or 5 lycra outfits and still stay within your 23kg limit, leaving you hand luggage allowance free for everything else.
- Some airlines, such as KLM, Air France, Lufthansa, and Turkish Airlines all charge a fee for transporting bikes, but they have an increased allowance of up to 30kg. Even the old stinge-bags at Ryanair follow this rule, and with 30kg at your fingertips, you can easily pack your bike and all your cycling gear for a 2 week cycling holiday.
- Pack for the type of cycling holiday you are going to take. If you are cycling out and back to the same hotel each day, then 2 or 3 outfits will see you through a weeklong trip. You can easily rinse out shorts and jerseys in the evening and leave them to dry the following day, so you’ll always be fresh and ready for the day ahead. If you are constantly on the move, such as a Garden Route Cycling Holiday from Port Elizabeth to Cape Town in South Africa, then you will need to pack a clean set of cycling clothes for every day of your itinerary. It may sound excessive, but no one wants to cycle next to whiffy armpits, so be kind to yourself those around you by changing daily!
- In the evenings, you only likely to wear your casual clothes for a few hours, so take plenty of mix and match items that you can wear more than once. As most cycling holidays take you to warmer climates, shorts and t-shirts are fine, but always take a fleece or jacket – just in case!
- Unless you heading to a remote cycling destination such as the Peruvian Andes, the mountains of Lesotho, or far south Patagonia where cycling supplies are limited, avoid taking gels, energy bars, electrolytes and an excessive amount of spare inner tubes with you. They will all add to your checked baggage allowance, and you can buy them on site.
- That said, don’t forget to take important things such as specialist tools and components that are not widely available in other parts of the world.
- Finally, whatever you do, do not pack CO2 canisters. You’re likely to get arrested for trying to blow up the plane, and if they somehow manage to pass through the airport security systems, they could explode in your bike bag and cause all kinds of damage.
The key to packing for a cycling holiday is limiting it to the essentials. Most cycling gear can be washed and dried in an hour, so you can always ask the hotel to wash your clothes if you get stuck. But try to keep it light so the only thing you have to worry about is cycling from A to B, oh yes, and not being the last up the hill!