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Flying vs. Driving: Tips for Long-Distance Bike Travel

by Geraldine Orentas

After carefully time and dedication, you found the perfect vacation for you and your family! Congrats on that. Everyone deserves a break now and then (more often, please). You decided that going somewhere different from your hometown was worth it, so you’re planning a long-distance journey. The magic that these places have will inspire you to go anywhere. But there is always an issue – what about your bike?

Planning Before The Flight

If you choose to bring your bike with you on your flight, specific considerations should be considered. Depending on your carrier and destination, flying with your bike will add anywhere between $50 to $300 to your plane ticket – each way!

While some airlines are becoming more flexible, letting cyclists bring their bikes as additional “bags” or offering cheaper alternatives, you still need to prep your bike. Ideally, you want to send off your bike in a box. Airlines already prefer sturdy cases, so if you can get your bike in a box, that will be perfect. Otherwise, a soft casing with ample padding can do the trick too. 

Always ask the airline ahead of time about their baggage fees and whether or not they have an option to waive the fee. For example, JetBlue has done promotions, allowing bike transit for free to celebrate the Tour de France. Perhaps, planning your trip accordingly will make sense.

Driving With Your Bike

Of course, if you’re taking a national long-distance trip, you can always strap your bike to the back of your car. Whether you’re taking your car or renting a car, this is often the cheapest option for long-distance bike travel. Nonetheless, depending on the distance, you might still want to consider traveling by plane. 

If you do strap your bike to a car, think about the different options. If possible, put the bike inside the vehicle. This will shield your bike from dirt, rocks flying off the road, and other elements that could damage it on the drive. If you can’t get a car that fits your bike inside, invest in a high-quality bike rack. Make sure your bike is attached correctly, and is not in contact with anything. You want to avoid friction at all costs. Also, you should probably avoid getting a ceiling bike rack. Even though these can be great racks, they leave your bikes exposed to anything the road throws at them.

Rent When You Get There

If travelling with your bike is too much effort, consider leaving your bike at home and renting when you get to your destination! Unlimited Biking has locations in Washington DC, Alexandria VA, New York City, and San Francisco! Choose from hybrids, tandems, road bikes, and ebikes. With reasonable prices and long term rentals available, this might be the best option when traveling on a budget. Just make sure if you are staying overnight with a long term bike rental that you have a place to safely store it!

Final Thoughts

When you’re embarking on a long-distance trip with your bike, both options – flying or driving – have their pros and cons. It all depends on what your plans are, your budget, and your bike.

**If you are interested in doing a long-term bike rental, give Unlimited Biking a call at 212-749-4444 or visit our website.

Geraldine Orentas is a writer from Happy Writers, Co.

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