Taking your bike on vacation: how do you transport it?

Whether you’re a bike touring enthusiast or looking for a bike trip, traveling with your bike has so many advantages: but how do you get it from home to your vacation destination?

As the saying goes, « if you want to travel far, ride carefully », you may find it difficult or time-consuming to reach your vacation destination with just your bike, even in France.

Whether for a short or long trip, you’ll often need to use another means of transport to travel: car, train, plane, bus or ferry. How do you go on vacation with your bike? We explain it all in this article!

Going on vacation with your bike when you use your car

If you use your car to get to your holiday destination, there are several options for transporting your bike:

Using a bike carrier

Three systems are available: roof, trunk or hitch-mounted bike carriers.

Porte-vélo sur la voiture

The roof bike carrier attaches to your vehicle’s roof bars and allows you to carry up to 4 bikes. Its main advantage lies in its ability to carry several bikes, regardless of type, weight or size. However, your fuel consumption will be higher and your ride less comfortable. Bridges, tunnels and parking lots can pose problems because of the height.

The trunk-mounted bicycle rack is the most economical, reliable and durable solution. Unfortunately, the system is not compatible with all cars, so don’t hesitate to check with specialists in stores or on the Internet beforehand. We advise you to choose a tilting model to maintain access to the trunk. An anti-theft device and rubber protectors can also be fitted. The main disadvantages are loss of visibility, the addition of a license plate and greater risk of breakage.

The towbar bike carrier is a system that attaches to the vehicle’s towball. Easy to use and compatible with all vehicles fitted with a towball, a strap secures the bikes to the frame. This is the most secure of the three systems, perfect for long journeys. As with the trunk-mounted bike carrier, you lose visibility and need a second license plate, as well as a traffic light kit.

Carrying your bike in the trunk

If you don’t want to make any investments or set-ups, you can transport your bike in the trunk if it’s not too bulky, or if you have a large car.

To save space, you can also remove both wheels from your bike and store them in the trunk with the frame, or place the wheels in the space between the front and rear seats, with the frame on the rear seats (belt it to keep it securely in place).

To avoid damaging the bike and your car, you can also use a cover.

Travelling by train with your bike

If you’re traveling by train, you have two options for transporting your bike: either disassemble it and store it in a bag, or transport it assembled.

If your bike is disassembled and packed in a bag, it is considered « hand luggage ». You can transport it free of charge if it does not exceed 120cm in height and 90cm in width. For an assembled bike, you’ll need to reserve a space if you’re taking the TGV, for example.

For other trains, certain specific conditions apply: don’t hesitate to consult the conditions of carriage on the company’s website, especially if you’re traveling abroad.

Taking your bike on vacation when flying

To take your bike with you on the plane, you’ll need to plan ahead and check with the airline what you need to do.

As with any unusual luggage, you’ll often have to pay an additional fee, and you’ll need to inform the airline in advance. They will inform you of the conditions for traveling with your bicycle. Some airlines will carry your bike free of charge if the maximum baggage weight is respected.

For transport, you’ll also need to pack your bike (to avoid breakage and scattering of components), as well as removing the pedals, deflating the tires and aligning the handlebars with the front wheel axle. We recommend that you protect your bike’s most fragile components.

Transporter son vélo en avion

Carrying your bike on the bus

As with the train, each company applies different conditions. Flixbus, for example, offers to transport your bike for just €9: either as checked baggage, or on equipped buses, on a bike rack.

Many airlines may refuse to carry your assembled bike. So it’s essential to have a cover, so you can dismantle your bike and put it in the hold.

Travel by bike and ferry

The ferry, or boat, is a popular means of transport in Europe: for crossing a lake, an inlet or a strait. As with other modes of transport, you can transport your bike assembled or disassembled. You will have to pay a surcharge, which varies from company to company.

We recommend that you bring a cover (rigid or not) and equipment for dismantling your bike. In many cases, you won’t have to pay to travel with your bike: it will be considered as hand luggage.

How do I travel by bike? Our latest recommendations

Whatever mode of transport you use, we recommend that you always plan ahead and take along the necessary equipment to protect your bike (hard or soft cover) and to dismantle it. Check with the companies you use to ascertain their specific requirements and conditions for transporting your bike.

When it comes to taking your bike on vacation, there’s nothing better than a folding bike. It’s easy to transport and requires no special equipment.