Published on: 17 January 2015 | Last updated: 3 January 2020
If you fly to the start of your cycle tour then one of the issues you’ll need to think about is packing your bag for transport — and then what to do with the bike bag, or bike box.
The simplest solution is to leave your bike bag or case at a hotel: most hotels are only too happy to store a big bag or box in return for you staying with them. You might also be able to use warmshowers.org which has a ‘Bike Box’ filter to search for hosts willing to store bike boxes. In some places, You may also be able to leave your bike at luggage storage deposito (see ‘Storing luggage’) but this is probably only an option for shorter trips.
Send your bags to your destination
A variant of this approach would be to send your bike bags to your final destination.
Many veteran cycle tourists put their bikes into big, clear plastic bag (British readers may know these as ‘CTC bags’), these will fold down small enough to go into the post.
Alternatively, there’s the Ground Effect Tardis which you can fold up and put in the post. They are well-made bags, but you do need to partially disassemble your bike to get it into the bag (there’s a video on the Ground Effect site so you can see what’s involved).
Sending a bike by courier
Another option might be to send your bike by courier - either for both legs of your trip or for the return journey. Two firms offering this service are:
There are probably other firms (if you know of one, please let me know).
Sendbike.com use DHL. At the time of writing the price for shipping a bike from Italy to the UK was €149 (£130) and from Italy to Germany was €114. Bear in mind that these prices include delivering a box to you — prices are lower if you provide the box.
Spedire Subito use BRT Corriere Espresso (a DPD subsidiary). they have a flat rate charge of €75 but you need to provide the box.
Finding a bike box for the return journey
Many people opt to put the cardboard bike box into the recycling and then get a box for the return journey. Bike shops often have bike boxes — although bear in mind that most have limited space and will get rid of unwanted boxes pretty quickly. To find a bike shop near your destination see the Find a Bike Shop page.
Some people (thanks Alex) have got in touch to say that television boxes also work well. Two of the main retailers of elettrodomestici in Italy are Euronics and MediaWorld, although often you’ll find that they are in out-of-town retail parks that may not be easy to get to without a car.
You can also buy bike boxes from amazon.it (if that link breaks, try searching for a ‘scatola per biciclette’).
Buying a bike bag
Instead of buying a box you could buy a bike bag. It’s more expensive than a box, even if you buy the box, but you can carry a bike bag. OK maybe you wouldn’t want to carry it very far, but you can carry it. This might mean that you could take the train to the airport rather than having to take a taxi.
Probably the best bet is to buy a bike bag from Decathlon. For anyone who hasn’t come across the Decathlon, they are a French firm who are like the IKEA for sports and outdoor goods. They have stores throughout Italy: if a city has an airport then there it’s certain to have a branch of Decathlon. Their own-brand products are Decathlon offer both mail order and ‘click-and-collect’ (prenota e paga in negozio). You can use the store finder page to search for the nearest store. I would recommend using the prenota e paga option rather than just going to the shop and hoping, but bear in mind that if you don’t collect the order within a few days, the order is automatically cancelled.
Airports and train stations
Some airports and train stations have left luggage facilities, prices are around the 5 or 6-euro mark, so probably too expensive for anything other than longer than a week or so. An exception to this is Trapani airport in Sicilia where the deposito bagagli has a special rate for bike bags and boxes: 3€/day for the first 7 days and the 1.5€/day after that. It’s a pity more airports don’t follow their example.
Other airports with luggage storage facilities are:
Update: from the Summer of 2019 Alghero aiprot is introducing a ‘Bikers’ Assistance Area’ area. The airport website (aeroportodialghero.it: Bikers’ Assistance) talks about facilities for bike storage and assembly.
Airports that have no luggage storage facilities include:
- Treviso (but see the (see also other services below)
Major rail stations should have a deposito bagagli — prices mean that long-term storage would be prohibitively expensive.
There are some other private services that might be able to help:
- Apulia Bike Tours, based in San Vito dei Normanni near Brindisi, offer airport transfers and well as baggage transport
- Bags Free offer luggage storage and transport. According to their site (bags-free.com: Rome luggage-storage prices/ bike storage costs 10 euros a day. Their office is close to Termini station — so convenient if you are using a high-speed train service, or the Leonardo Express to and from the airport
- Trasbagagli are a cooperativa in Venezia offering luggage storage for 7€/day. They also offer airport transfers to both Marco Polo and Treviso airports
- Dynamo Velostazione in Bologna offer reasonably-priced secure bike parking and luggage storage, and they may be able to help you source a box. They also have space for self-service maintenance. The velostazione is a very short walk from the main rail station in Bologna, which is one of the country’s main railway hubs
Please get in touch if you know of other companies offering similar services who should be included in this list.