I always begin my touring rides at a hotel near the airport so I ship to the hotel.
What I've found works best for me is packing the bike up myself at home then shipping the bike (via BikeFlights and FedEx Ground) to the hotel at the start of the ride to get there a few days ahead of me. Marriott at least has always been accommodating with this sort of thing. Not sure about other brands. This requires self-assembly after unpacking but if you're up to that then you won't have to coordinate your arrival during bike shop business hours and it will save some $.
If you're cool with some dissembly/re-assembly there are some good YouTube vids showing how to pack a bike properly for shipping. There's more to it than simply throwing the bike into the box but it isn't difficult.
At the other end of the journey I have found it best and easiest to end at a bike shop who can pack and ship the bike for me and I make the BikeFlight arrangements and print shipping label for them (at the hotel) so I'm sure it's done right.
I've never tried to check bike as luggage on the airlines but have heard TSA has been known to pull the bike out of the box and not repack properly. I have avoided checking via airline.