You’ve been looking forward to your bike tour to Europe all year, you’ve put in all the training miles, and are starting to get your packing list together.  The one area of bike tours that can give people the most anxiety is getting your bike safely to your overseas destination in one piece. Here we outline several different methods and tips on how to pack your bike for air travel.

The three common types of bike boxes are: hardshell case, soft bag, or cardboard box. If you don’t already own a bike box, you can find a review of the many available options here. The hardshell case will offer the most protection, but also comes at a higher price. The soft bags offer many good and easy-packing options for a mid-range price. The cardboard box option is the least expensive choice, usually completely free from your local bike store. However it offers the least amount of protection of the three options.

The guys at GCN have made a great series of videos for packing the three different types of bike boxes:

Hardshell bike box/case


Soft bike bag


Cardboard bike box


Here is an excellent article written from the viewpoint of an airport baggage handler who has seen it all in terms of air travel and bikes. He gives excellent tips on how to pack your bike for air travel to make life easier for both you and the baggage handlers.

One final packing tip: No matter which bike box option you choose in the end, it is important to always pack your pedals, bike shoes, helmet, and 1 kit in your carry on bag.  Never pack these inside your bike box. If airport security opens your carefully packed box for inspection, this will minimize the chance for lost parts. Additionally, if your bike is delayed by the airlines you can still start your tour on a rental bike with your own bike clothing, pedals, shoes, and helmet!

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