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Old 05-17-11, 05:22 PM   #1
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Bike box shipping and storing

I am considering taking my first bicycle tour in a little less than a year. The hope is to fly into New Orleans and ride my tour bike over the next few days along the Great River Road to Baton Rouge. At that point, I would like to fly out of the Baton Rouge airport back home.

My only transportation will be the bike and my two feet. There is plenty of lodging along the way, and the roads are well mapped. I have until next March to save up for the needed bike accessories, the ticket, shipping costs, and the lodging. The only real problem left is what to do about the bicycle box.

I know the bike has to come and go in a box. The problem is that as soon as I arrive in New Orleans, I no longer need the box, and do not plan on returning to the city. Upon arrival to Baton Rouge, I will need a (the) box again to ship it out.

So, how do people normally handle this situation? Do you just buy boxes each time you get to the airport through the airline and throw them away after retrieving the bike? Or do you find a way to forward the box to the place where it is needed next? If that is possible, how do I turn around and ship a box immediately upon arrive to New Orleans towards an area in or around the Baton Rouge airport?

I have read about the pros and cons of cardboard temporary containers vs personal shipping boxes, and am not really committed to one or the other. How would you be sure you had easy access to bike boxes at the airports?
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Old 05-17-11, 06:26 PM   #2
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Many Years ago I flew into Portland and flew out of Eugene Oregon, And did a week long coast tour between the two citys. If I remeber correctly I shipped the empty box with some assembly tools to the next airport. I can't remember the carrier (its been 20 years) but I think it was either Greyhound bus or Fed Ex, or some cheap airline. It didn't cost that much since its based on weight. It was nice since I put together my bike in the airport and sent the box to the next desination. It was at baggage claim when I rode up to the airport in Eugene. There were a few new holes in the box but it was worth it not to have to deal with it.
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Old 05-17-11, 07:31 PM   #3
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For 1 way trips I've bought a new box at my departure point. In the US, I would just get it at the airport. In other countries, I've sometimes sought out bicycle shops.
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Old 05-17-11, 07:54 PM   #4
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yea, multiple choice.
I have made the return trip box out of a couple bike shop boxes..

KLM at AMS airport sells a big box, I liked riding from and to the airport
on the same paths the locals used to go to work there..

on a departure from SFO My recycled Amtrak box looked recycled ,
lots of packing tape to make it sound.
the staff wanted to do an inspection, but, when done,
gave me another box to repack in.
(many years ago)

Last edited by fietsbob; 05-17-11 at 08:07 PM.
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Old 05-17-11, 07:55 PM   #5
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I always just pick up a free cardboard bike box from a bike shop a couple days before I need to get on a plane. I've never had any problems. Since your trip is short, a few days before you arrive in each place just call some bike shops and ask if they will put a box aside for you.
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Old 05-17-11, 07:57 PM   #6
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If I were you, I'd consider renting a bicycle in N.O. For such a short trip, that will make the process significantly easier.
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Old 05-18-11, 07:58 AM   #7
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I've gotten a surplus box from a bike shop, but I had to call them a week in advance to make sure they had one that was intact and not in the cardboard recycle dumpster yet. It was free. On a tour down the Oregon coast I met four guys who had arranged with a hardware store in Brookings that sold bikes to save four boxes for them.

I have issues because my bike is so tall - it's a 62cm LHT. Two tours ago I took Amtrak and discovered that their bike boxes are about as big as they come. That's what I'll use from now on, when possible. I think they cost $10 new, and they often have used ones sitting around, for free I think. After my last tour I left mine at the station for the next person.

If I were you I'd call some bike shops in Baton Rouge and see what you can arrange. Or call Amtrak and see if they have a baggage section at their depot that has boxes.
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Old 05-18-11, 08:13 AM   #8
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Depending on your airline, this might be cheaper and far more convenient:

Ship the bike UPS or FedEx to a local shop in your destination city. Have them assemble it. Arrange to have your bike boxed and shipped home by a shop in your destination city. Just make arrangements with the shops ahead of time.

We did this for a loop tour two years ago. Worked extremely well. The shipping was pretty darn cheap. Something like $45/bike each way from Philadelphia to Whitefish, MT. This may be because we had the LBS do the shipping and they get commercial rate that is lower than what the average Joe gets. You also don't have to deal with packing the bike yourself and getting it to/from airports. You land, get into town, go the shop, pick up your assembled and tuned bike and ride off. When you are done, you drop the bike off, forget about it and go have a beer.

Heading to Missoula in June for a loop tour and have already made similar arrangements with my home LBS and a local shop out there.

Several airlines (Southwest and now Frontier being exceptions) charge ourrageous fees for bikes. I think Delta is now over $200 each way.
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Old 05-18-11, 08:14 AM   #9
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finding a box for free should not be so difficult before departure
on the way back it might be a little harder, just ask around
you don't particularly need a bike box either, plasma TV boxes work too, or just combine a couple of boxes
or in case of emergency you can buy a couple of rolls of plastic foil used to wrap food (easy to find), wrap around your bike many many times, it becomes very strong
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Old 05-18-11, 08:44 AM   #10
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I generally fly with the bike to the start. I then discard the box and ride right out of the airport. I have done the return trip more than one way, but am most likely to pay a bike shop to pack and ship the bike home. Last time the total was $100 including the bike shop and shipping charges.

BTW I highly recommend either Southwest or Frontier. Some other airlines will charge as much as $200 just for the bike. If you can't use Southwest or Frontier it might be cheaper to ship to a bike shop. The last time the charge was $50 of the bike box and the bag with my panniers and stuff was free (it wasn't oversize or weight otherwise I think it would be $50 too).

To get panniers and gear to the start and home again I have used a couple different approaches:
  1. A suitcase from a thrift shop ($7).
  2. An expandable duffel bag from WalMart ($15)
  3. A cardboard box.
If your gear doesn't fit in the suitcase or duffel you can use a smaller second one as a carry on. The WalMart collapsible ones come in a variety of sizes, are cheap and are readily available in most cities. They also fold into a small flat shape and can be carried easily on the bike. I prefer to not carry one for the whole trip, but it would be doable.

Last edited by staehpj1; 05-18-11 at 08:48 AM.
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Old 05-20-11, 12:54 AM   #11
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If you aren't already a member, join and and ask someone on the list in Baton Rouge if they will hold your bike box until you get there.

You will probably get a free place to stay in the bargain.

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Old 05-20-11, 10:11 AM   #12
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Thank you all for the advice. It looks like there are at least a few viable options. Now, all I have to do is get the gear together and figure out some dates.
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