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Flexible, Lightweight Storage for Plane Travel?

Old 06-20-16, 08:57 AM
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Flexible, Lightweight Storage for Plane Travel?

Kelley and I are flying out of the country with our bikes. We don't have too much equipment. In total, I think our touring load matches that of one traditional touring bike.

We need a checked bag solution for the airplane to get our panniers, sleeping bags, tent, and gear through the airport. But, we are planning to leave our bike boxes behind once we land, so a big duffel bag or suitcase is not practical for that checked bag.

I remember someone talking about using semi-disposable totes to get their gear through an airport. Does anyone have any ideas for a very lightweight solution to this part of our travel?

I was considering these Zip-Loc storage cubes, but I am not sure they'd survive a plane trip.

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Old 06-20-16, 09:02 AM
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there are 'Transparent Dry Bags' SealLine EcoSee? Dry Bag
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Old 06-20-16, 09:09 AM
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buy a suitcase/duffel from goodwill for $1, leave it behind.
or stow your gear in a cardboard box, and discard it
with the bike box when you set off.
or were you planning to carry the totes on tour?
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Old 06-20-16, 09:30 AM
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Not really understanding what you are asking about something that will get gear through the airport, but here is what I think:

Get a box for the camping equipment. It becomes as disposable as the bike boxes. Or, as saddlesores mentioned, just a suitcase/bag you don't care about. Once you get off the plane and get to baggage, grab a baggage cart to push it all. Clear customs, assemble bikes in a convenient location, load everything on bikes, and push bikes through airport as if you were already on tour.

Alternatively, if they are big enough, use one of your panniers as your bag.

I would not trust those bags on an airline conveyor belt.
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Old 06-20-16, 09:47 AM
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Originally Posted by jefnvk
Not really understanding what you are asking about something that will get gear through the airport, but here is what I think:

Get a box for the camping equipment. It becomes as disposable as the bike boxes. Or, as saddlesores mentioned, just a suitcase/bag you don't care about. Once you get off the plane and get to baggage, grab a baggage cart to push it all. Clear customs, assemble bikes in a convenient location, load everything on bikes, and push bikes through airport as if you were already on tour.

Alternatively, if they are big enough, use one of your panniers as your bag.

I would not trust those bags on an airline conveyor belt.
I don't know why I didn't think of a regular cardboard box. Well-taped, that should work fine. Especially with "FRAGILE" written all over it.

Thanks! Question answered!
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Old 06-20-16, 10:01 AM
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Originally Posted by mdilthey
I don't know why I didn't think of a regular cardboard box. Well-taped, that should work fine. Especially with "FRAGILE" written all over it.

Thanks! Question answered!
Glad I can help!

Just make sure to keep it to the size limits, depending on your airline and unless you are a frequent flyer you are likely already going to be dinged pretty hefty on the second checked bag anyways.
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Old 06-20-16, 10:27 AM
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Originally Posted by mdilthey
I don't know why I didn't think of a regular cardboard box. Well-taped, that should work fine. Especially with "FRAGILE" written all over it.
Thanks! Question answered!
if you ask at the check-in counter, the clerks have "fragile"
tags you can attach to your boxes. check at the odd-size
luggage dropoff, they may have "fragile" tape as well.

if you're worried about the boxes, grab a ball of gardening
twine at wally world, cut to suitable lengths and make a
mesh net. helps to hold the boxes together during rough
handling. a couple 6" pieces of pvc as carry handles make
dragging boxes through airports and up stairs much easier,
and gives the baggage handlers something to grab besides
the easily torn hand-holes in the boxes.
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Old 06-20-16, 05:42 PM
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Originally Posted by jefnvk
Glad I can help!

Just make sure to keep it to the size limits, depending on your airline and unless you are a frequent flyer you are likely already going to be dinged pretty hefty on the second checked bag anyways.
He's going international so they should get two each (with most major airlines. Not sure about Icelandair.)
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Old 06-20-16, 06:17 PM
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More ideas here.
https://backpackinglight.com/forums/...for-backpacks/
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Old 06-20-16, 06:48 PM
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With conventional panniers I just zip tie the rear bags together to make them one checked bag. Sleeping pad with tent poles go in the bike box. I carry on the two front bags. One goes overhead and the other is my "personal" item that goes under the seat. I don't use a handlebar bag but if I did I would think that it would qualify as a "personal item" and both 10 litre front bags would meet dimensions to go overhead. Couldn't you do something similar with your bikepacking gear?

It just seems redundant to find a disposable bag or box to put your bags in. Kind of like asking for a bag at the grocery to put your bag of oranges in. Your bags will survive the bike trip without protection. Certainly they will survive the flight.

If you're using a bike box or bag provided by the airline just roll everything through the airport on the bikes as you would have them packed for travel. Box the bikes and consolidate bags at the baggage check in.

Last edited by BobG; 06-21-16 at 04:23 AM.
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Old 06-20-16, 06:57 PM
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Originally Posted by bransom
He's going international so they should get two each (with most major airlines. Not sure about Icelandair.)
Not anymore, at least with the Euro and American flag carriers, can't really speak to the Asian airlines. I travel to Europe 1-2 times a year, I haven't gotten two free bags since around 2011 or so. There may well be a carrier that still offers it, but none I can remember looking into recently. They're all down to one free checked bag, albeit free booze still exists!

EDIT: that all does depend on class and flyer status, too, my experience is based on economy with no sort of elite status.
EDIT 2: Apparently a lot of flights to Asia do indeed still have two free bags, still haven't found one with two to Europe.

Last edited by jefnvk; 06-20-16 at 07:13 PM.
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Old 06-20-16, 08:03 PM
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Originally Posted by Machka
From our 2012 RTW trip ...

Here are ours ... this was arriving at the airport in Taipei. We flew from Melbourne to Hong Kong, spent a few days in Hong Kong, then flew to Taipei. We stayed 1 night in a hotel near the airport and were able to leave our boxes there. Then we spent another night there just before flying out.




Then we flew to Hokkaido, Japan ... in the process of unpacking the bicycles in the airport at Chitose. We were fortunate enough to be able to leave the boxes at the hotel there.




We gave the boxes up when we arrived at Heathrow, UK and had to find new ones when we flew out of Heathrow a little over 3 months later. Then we were able to store the new ones at my parents place in Canada for the North America leg of the journey. Onward to Western Australia, and this is us packed and ready to return to Melbourne.


As you can see above, we've used ...

-- cardboard boxes


-- those woven bags you can pick up in airports and OP shops and dollar stores etc. (the large-ish blue bags). They run maybe $10 at most and although they might not be really sturdy, they'll do the job. Plus you can have them wrapped at the airport. Because some airlines only allow you one piece of checked luggage each (even on international flights), we checked our bicycle boxes then had the two blue bags wrapped together so they were one piece and paid the extra for that piece.


-- duffel bags that pack down/roll up to practically nothing. The blue and green duffel bags and the purple backpacks pack up to something about the size of my camera. We use these for carry-on luggage.

That is my hand. The top bag (blue) is the duffel bag in the photo above. The bottom bag is a decent-sized backpack, also shown in the photo above. They're both scrunched into their little bags in the photo below, of course ... and that is how small they scrunch up. They are also very light.



And next to my camera ...





Another shot of it all ...


Last edited by Machka; 06-21-16 at 04:18 AM.
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Old 06-20-16, 08:57 PM
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Sea to Summit do some great lightweight and packable bags. I carry their daypack in my gear just in case I need some extra baggage.

Travelling Light? | Sea to Summit

Or you could do what I've done when I've flown to Europe, just put the bike and gear in a Ground Effect Tardis. Everything flies together and you just roll up the Tardis and carry it until you can post it to yourself somewhere or just leave it at a hotel etc for the return journey.

Ground Effect Tardis - compact bike bag
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Old 06-21-16, 03:58 AM
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Originally Posted by mdilthey
I don't know why I didn't think of a regular cardboard box. Well-taped, that should work fine. Especially with "FRAGILE" written all over it.

Thanks! Question answered!
I have gone with a taped up cardboard box. The only drawback was that they made us sign a waiver saying they were not responsible for damage (only loss) and put a sticker on the box to that effect.
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Old 06-21-16, 07:55 AM
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Originally Posted by Machka
-- duffel bags that pack down/roll up to practically nothing. The blue and green duffel bags and the purple backpacks pack up to something about the size of my camera. We use these for carry-on luggage.
Who makes those? I normally keep a cheap drawstring backpack in my normal traveling backpack on vacation, for carry-on if I want to check my backpack on the way back with booze in it, but those look much nicer and smaller.
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Old 06-21-16, 10:02 AM
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Turkish Airlines flies to Europe and they allow two free bags of 50 lbs each. A bike costs 90 Euro each way from the US to Europe.
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Old 06-21-16, 10:20 AM
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Originally Posted by mel2012
Turkish Airlines flies to Europe and they allow two free bags of 50 lbs each. A bike costs 90 Euro each way from the US to Europe.
Good to know. Turkish has some good deals at times, too, just never wanted to deal with flying the extra hour or two to Ankara for a layover if there was something comparable available without the layover.

I wonder how touring in Turkey is?
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Old 06-21-16, 07:29 PM
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(I must have something against cardboard boxes...)

Have you considered having your stuff mummified inside thin film plastic? (Available at most airports for a nominal fee)

---

Longer answer would look like - my wife and I fly with all of our gear inside bike bags + one pannier each as carry on (no checked luggage other than the flight bags). And this may include an extra wheel trailer. Our loaded flight bags weight under 20-23kg (3kg for the trailer and additional front wheel). We store one pannier under the down tube. Once at the airport, we assemble the bikes, put the flight bag on the rear rack (roughly the size of an very large sleeping bag from the sixties) and ride out. No need to worry about where to dispose of the boxes.

We have invested in compact camping gear. One Ortlieb back roller is enough to pack a tent, two pads, two sleeping bags and two camping chairs, with room to spare.
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Old 06-21-16, 10:20 PM
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Originally Posted by gauvins
(I must have something against cardboard boxes...)

Have you considered having your stuff mummified inside thin film plastic? (Available at most airports for a nominal fee)

---

Longer answer would look like - my wife and I fly with all of our gear inside bike bags + one pannier each as carry on (no checked luggage other than the flight bags). And this may include an extra wheel trailer. Our loaded flight bags weight under 20-23kg (3kg for the trailer and additional front wheel). We store one pannier under the down tube. Once at the airport, we assemble the bikes, put the flight bag on the rear rack (roughly the size of an very large sleeping bag from the sixties) and ride out. No need to worry about where to dispose of the boxes.

We have invested in compact camping gear. One Ortlieb back roller is enough to pack a tent, two pads, two sleeping bags and two camping chairs, with room to spare.
That's what I do too. My bike and gear go in the Tardis bike bag and that weights around 30lbs total. I've flown with it on Virgin Atlantic and IcelandAir and it just went on as checked baggage. I use my Ortleib handlebar bag for carry on.
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Old 06-21-16, 10:21 PM
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Originally Posted by jefnvk
Who makes those? I normally keep a cheap drawstring backpack in my normal traveling backpack on vacation, for carry-on if I want to check my backpack on the way back with booze in it, but those look much nicer and smaller.
Sea to Summit
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Old 06-22-16, 01:03 AM
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As others have said, just get a cheap duffle bag and throw everything in it.
I'm leaving on an extended tour this Friday, and that is what I plan to do. I saw the bag I want today - 4 bucks one time use, its worked in the past and will work now. If I'm correct all your stuff is pretty expensive which I assume means it isn't fragile, so that shouldn't be an issue.
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