International Cycling Trips – Flying

By Jiri Kaloc

Flying with your bike to a cycling vacation can feel overwhelming. How do you best pack your bicycle? How to choose the right flight and do you need insurance? Let’s take a look at all you need to know about flying for cycling.

Choose your airline wisely

It all starts with choosing the right airline. They all have different rules for travelling with a bike, some consider it extra luggage and others have a special category for them. The weight limits can also vary from 23 kg up to 32 kg. It’s also worth checking the price of your extra luggage as it might cost you as much as 200 EUR. With some airlines, it might even be worth upgrading your ticket because it typically comes with more luggage options prepaid. So, why not enjoy some more comfort since you would be paying for the extra luggage anyways.

Your cycling vacation should be suitable to your ability level so you can enjoy it. There’s no rule telling you how many kilometres you have to ride. © Profimedia

Pick the right type of insurance

Yes, travel insurance feels like an annoying extra expense but it’s always smart to be covered just in case you need it. When it comes to cycling, make sure to check what specifically your travel insurance covers. Regular cycling is commonly insured but racing is not. If you’re planning to participate in an event during your cycling trip, make proper adjustments.

Prepare your bike for flying

Whichever airline you selected, you will be asked to pack your bike in a bag or box for transportation. First, disassemble your bike and strip it off pedals, wheels, seat post, and handlebars. You can also deflate your tyres a little bit because the cabin pressure can cause tyres to over-inflate. Remember to take a set of Allen keys and a pedal spanner to be able to reassemble the bike when you arrive. Now, you have to make a choice about what to protect your bicycle with – a bike box, a bike bag or a simple cardboard box. Here is a simple overview of the advantages and disadvantages of all three.

Bike Box


  • The best possible protection for your bike
  • Very durable and will survive many flights


  • Very pricey
  • Adds a lot of weight, around 16 kg

Bike Bag


  • Relatively cheap and good value for money
  • Light and decently durable


  • Not the best protection, you might need to add extra padding
  • It takes practice to pack it well

Cardboard box

If you’re on a tight budget, you can always go with a cardboard box. You can ask your local bike shop, they usually just throw them away so they’ll be happy to give one away for free.


  • For free
  • Very lightweight


  • Might need replacing for the return journey if too damaged
  • Almost no protection, you need to add a lot of padding

Check your bike for damage

Hopefully, you prepare your bike well and nothing goes wrong in transport. But make sure you check your bike for damage before clearing customs. The airline’s liability could be limited if you don’t. Be sure to get written confirmation of any damage from baggage handlers too. Some airlines give you 4 days to report any issues.

Dealing with jet lag

If you’re flying, chances are you might end up in a different time zone. Depending on how many hours away from your home you are, you might be dealing with some jet lag. There are a few things you can do to minimize its negative effects. First, get on the plane well rested and stay hydrated during the flight. To quickly adapt to your new time zone, try to eat at the usual meal times of your destination. Try to get exposure to early morning light and exercise in the morning too. This will help push your internal clock the right way. It also helps if you try to go to bed at a reasonable hour in terms of your destination.

Something always goes wrong when travelling. But with good preparation, you might just avoid some unpleasant issues and enjoy your international cycling trip to the fullest.