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A Comprehensive Guide To Organising An Overseas Cycling Holiday

By Sam Wakefield

Jetting off for an overseas cycling holiday is the perfect way to explore new landscapes, embrace new cultures, and challenge yourself on two wheels.Flying with a bike can seem daunting if you’ve never done it before. Whether you’re a leisure rider or seasoned cyclist, it’s important to start planning everything well in advance to ensure your holiday goes smoothly and your trusty steel remains unscathed.

In our comprehensive guide, we take a look at some of the most important considerations for a cycling holiday abroad, including how to transport your bike and stay safe in the country of your choice.

Choosing a destination

It’s useful to choose a location that aligns with your cycling preferences and abilities. Consider factors like climate, terrain, and scenic beauty. Europe offers many popular cycling destinations, from the French Alps to the charming countryside of Tuscany.

You can even venture further abroad to Southeast Asia, where you’ll find many incredible cycling routes through Thailand, Cambodia, and Vietnam. Conduct as much research as you can and weigh up your options before making a decision.

Travelling with your bicycle

Before organising your flight, it’s important to check your chosen airline’s policy or ring ahead of time. Usually, the option to select a bicycle will be under ‘sporting equipment’ on their website if they allow one to be taken onboard. Many airlines are happy to substitute the bike for luggage; if not, there’s usually a reasonable fee to pay.

Take note of all the packing requirements. Generally, the majority of airlines will ask that you bag or box your bike, which means it’ll need to be dismantled. This will involve removing the pedals, handlebars and front wheels, deflating the tyres, and lowering the seat post.

Once you have collected your belongings, re-assemble your bike before customs control to ensure it is not damaged. Any issues should be reported to airport staff as soon as possible and an incident form should be filed.

Organising your transport

One of the easiest ways of getting to the airport with a bike is to drive. This will ensure it fits in the vehicle with your other luggage and means you can arrive early to check in your belongings at the airport. You can either dismantle your bike before setting off or do so at the airport. If you’re unsure, it’s best to ask airline staff on arrival and they will tell you what to do.

Most airports have parking close to the terminals, meaning you aren’t required to carry your bike or other heavy luggage long distances. For example, there is parking located at Manchester Airport Terminal 1, both North and South terminals at Gatwick, and various terminals at Heathrow.Once you reach your destination, you can either organise an extra-large taxi or put together your bike and embark on your journey.

What you’ll need to pack

Apart from the bike itself, you’ll need to pack other essential cycling gear and equipment. To make sure your bike is constantly well-maintained, consider bringing spare parts and tools for minor repairs.

Additionally, you’ll need to bring suitable cycling clothing and shoes, a helmet, a backpack, and a hi-vis jacket – particularly if you plan on cycling at night. Alternatively, you can borrow the equipment from local tour operators, who usually offer bike and equipment rentals.

Local cycling etiquette and safety precautions

Before hitting the road, it’s best to familiarise yourself with the local traffic regulations of the country you plan to visit. For example, some places will have designated zones or lanes for cyclists and different rights on the road. Don’t always assume you can cycle in certain areas.

Prioritise your health and safety by ensuring you take out relevant travel insurance that covers cycling-related activities. Also, always carry sun cream, water, a first aid kit, and anynecessary medication when on your travels.


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