Traveling With Your Bicycle

Travel. Sights. Memories. What could be more relaxing than touring through the Italian or French countryside than being on your single bike or tandeming with your favorite person in the whole world? (hey guys, nothing is the correct answer!). 

How do I go about getting my bike there and then what do I do?  Well, a guided tour company is the way to go for those that don’t have the time or gumption to set up their own tour.

You can have some really good tours on your own if you are willing to do some leg work and set up your own tour. My wife and I have been on three guided tours and one self guided tour in Europe and I have been on one bicycle trip without her.  I can tell you the first time or two it is a good idea to take a touring company’s guidance and the experience they offer when traveling abroad.

Now that we have a few trips under us and the unguided tour it really isn’t a problem but it sure would have been difficult to assimilate not only the language barrier but the cultural differences you have to wade through without being exposed to things gradually in the guided tours.

Traveling outside the United States can be a little daunting for some people so the hand holding is not a sign of weakness but should be looked upon as a way to get your feet wet so you can do it on your own later. Granted, there is a cost to having someone take care of all of the details for you, but if you pay attention and learn what they are doing, ask some directed questions and keep your mind open, you can do it yourself.

The touring companies will take care of almost every aspect of your trip except getting your bike there (unless you rent one of their bikes, but then you wouldn’t be reading this if you were going to use one of theirs).

You are most likely going to take your single bike or your tandem with you or again you wouldn’t be reading this. Getting it there in one piece is pretty important. The best way to get your bike there is with a dedicated travel case.  I have used several types of travel cases including a Crate Works bike box and a Serfas travel case.

Of the two, I really like the Crate Works box.  Take a look at them over on my site about specific cases.   You might look at this case and not believe that it would work but I prefer this case over my Serfas injection molded plastic box. The Crate Works box has a ton of room on the inside and I have used it on my last three trips overseas and my bike has come out looking just as I packed it. I even saw the guys on the tarmac loading my bike and they weren’t nice to it yet it didn’t bother the bike inside.  Another good thing about this case it that it folds flat for storage at home.

Back to the traveling part; If you do plan to go it alone, or should I say without a guide you will need to know a few things. Maybe some of the things that I have learned can save you some headaches.

Research your destination to know where to ride.

Sure you say, I know that. No, really. Take some time, get Michelin maps and study them. Know what the symbols on the maps really mean. You don’t want to be on your bike and have to guess if the road really goes where you thought it went. Get a GPS! The Garmin Edge 705 is just the ticket to put on your bike. I used a Garmin Nuvi 250W that was made for a car and it was a pain to put it out of your pocket, put it back in, pull it back out etc. The Edge 705 wasn’t available until I got back. Now that I have used one, wow, it really works!

Stay in touch

How are you going to stay in touch with your family and friends while on you travel? Calling cards work okay. Internet phones are a good idea if you have access to an internet connection or cafe. Generally speaking though, free internet connections are harder to find around Europe than they are here in the United States. Most of the sites that you want to connect to in Europe will be a pay per session or pay per hour type. This is true in hotels as well as wandering around.

International cell phone rental is a good option.  Mobal Phone rental is who I have used for the last three trips to Europe. If you want, you can see about them on on my site. What I really like about them is they are truly an inexpensive option if you only plan to use the phone on trips and not here in the United States. There are no, none, not a single one, hidden charges when you get one of their phones. You simply buy the phone (I got the $49 model), and you pay for what you use, period. You don’t use the phone for a year, you don’t pay a dime. Compare this to AT&T’s plan (higher rates per minute than Mobal’s), Verizon (you might get a lower price per minute but you have to buy the $80 sim card and you have to figure in the $15 per month charge for the international plan you have to add).

If you are going to use your phone overseas like you do here; 10,000 minutes a month, 9000 text messages, etc you might want to consider one of the higher models or just setting up service over there. If you just want a phone to say call home, check on the kids and stay in touch, the Mobal phones are really the way to go. I even let my friends take it on trips with them and they end up buying one for the next trip. You can get a nifty thing from Mobal too that if you sign up a friend, you get a discount off the per minute charges on your own phone. I think I am up to 50% off now with all of the friends that have ended up getting phones from these guys.

If you want to get some more information come on over to my site about bicycles at  I talk about more things about biking than can be covered in the scope of this article

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