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My preference is to take my bike on the plane with me (on Frontier or Southwest), assemble it in the airport and ride out the door. On the way home, it depends on whether I have a friend with a car who can drive me to a bike shop to get a box, and then the airport. If I do, I'll bring it home the same way. Otherwise I'll ride to a bike shop, have them do the pack and ship, and take public transportation to the airport.That is my preferred way to get the bike to the start of the tour.
What does get expensive is the way I do it and described. Shipping your bike to a shop ($150 as I carry more insurance than you do), having the shop put it together (usually $75), if the shop hangs on to the box I normally give them $50 for their trouble, shipping the empty bike box to the new shop ($50), having the shop at the destination take apart my bike and pack it as the box will regularly arrive after I do and in anyway I usually have them clean it after the big trip so thats $75-100, and then ship it home is another $150.