The location or time constraints for your bicycle tour do not always allow you to pack up your car and bicycle to drive to the start. So what is the best way to get to your tour? And to transfer (if applicable)? What will it cost? What are the baggage limitations or restrictions? How important is convenience to you? What bicycle will you have on tour? And how will you get back?
Specifics about these topics should be clear in your mind BEFORE you lock in your airfare. Research and define these three key considerations to set a solid foundation for a great tour!
1) Should You Bring Your Bike?
Extended vacations may involve a series of transfers using trains, planes, buses, cabs or other vehicles. For most of us in the US, even getting to a standard one-week tour will involve flying to the destination. You’ll need to do some research to determine the mode, or modes, of transportation you’ll be using to arrive at the start and for transfers during your trip. And you’ll need to define your touring tolerances.
Longer journeys in cramped quarters tire travelers. Short journeys in spacious accommodations alleviate some of the rigors of travel. Now is the time for you to focus on the logistics, the details, the duration, and the hassle factor from your viewpoint. As you begin exploring options for getting to your tour and getting around, review your level of comfort and tolerance for additional lines, reduced legroom, temperature variations, cushy seats, unexpected delays, the number of connections and so on. How does your vacation schedule impact your choices? The more you know about your travel style and limitations, the better your decisions will be.
For example, to get from your home to where you hop on your bike you may need to take a taxi, an airplane, a train, a bus and walk 1/4 mile. Are you willing to walk and haul your luggage 1/4 mile? Or will you require a taxi and personal service? Each leg of your journey, and each option for a journey leg, will have associated costs either in time, money and/or your resulting comfort. Therefore, each option of each leg will affect your overall tour experience. Clarify your travel style and preferences.
3) What will your tour cost in time & money?
As you investigate the possible options, take notes on the costs and limitations of those options. On your mobile device, in a spreadsheet or on a piece of paper, design a simple cost comparison table. Keep track of the cost in dollars and time. For each option of every leg of your trip, list:
- The base cost,
- Taxes and fees,
- Duration of the bus ride, train ride, car trip etc.,
- Extra baggage charges,
- Charges for bicycle transportation,
- Any baggage limitations,
- Any additional constraints (such as arrive 3 hours early to bring bike),
- Comments on benefits (or lack of benefits) in using this transportation mode or how it fits your travel preferences,
- You may also want to confirm the equipment (exact plane model) can accommodate you bicycle case or box since some small planes cannot.
The journey from your home to the tour start is the 1st leg of your trip. The last leg is from tour end back to your home. All non-bike transfers during your trip should be included in your cost comparison table as separate legs. Once your table is complete, with data filled in, you can easily compare costs of different options for each leg and add the costs of the legs in different combinations to determine your total transportation costs. See which combinations will work best for you by reviewing your comments and travel preferences. Remember to keep an eye on the total travel time too! (Sample comparison table.)