Author Topic: Best way (cheapest) to get bike and gear to the route start  (Read 10203 times)

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Offline golferdevo3

Best way (cheapest) to get bike and gear to the route start
« on: November 16, 2011, 09:25:03 am »
I plan on leaving St. Augustine right around January 10th and am trying to decide the best way to get all of my stuff there.  I will be leaving from the RI area.  I found a cheap plane ticket, but what's the best way for the bike?  Thanks for the help!

Offline John Nelson

Re: Best way (cheapest) to get bike and gear to the route start
« Reply #1 on: November 16, 2011, 09:36:44 am »
It's best to price out airline bike fees before buying your ticket. Consider the cost for you and the bike together before deciding which is the cheapest flight. Often times the cheapest ticket for you is not the cheapest solution when also considering the bike.

Depending on what airline you use, you may find that it is cheaper to ship the bike using UPS or FedEx. Make sure you keep the container within the size and weight restrictions for "ground" shipments because "freight" shipments can be four or five times more. Ship the bike to a bike shop or a friendly local about a week ahead. A disposable container (i.e., a box) is usually preferable to a hard shell, which becomes a problem for one-way tours.

Other possibilities are Amtrak (if you have baggage service at both the origination and destination) or a bus company. One-way car rental is also popular.

Panniers and gear can be packed into a duffel bag or old suitcase and sent as checked luggage. I prefer a disposable duffel or suitcase from a thrift store so I don't have to carry it. Avoid packing a lot of gear in the bike box if it will be subject to TSA screening, or avoid making your bike box too heavy if shipping UPS or FedEx.

Your handlebar bag can serve as your carry-on--just make sure you don't put any TSA-prohibited items in it.
« Last Edit: November 16, 2011, 09:38:49 am by John Nelson »

Offline staehpj1

Re: Best way (cheapest) to get bike and gear to the route start
« Reply #2 on: November 16, 2011, 10:05:39 am »
I plan on leaving St. Augustine right around January 10th and am trying to decide the best way to get all of my stuff there.  I will be leaving from the RI area.  I found a cheap plane ticket, but what's the best way for the bike?  Thanks for the help!
I suggest flying Southwest or Frontier.  They will offer good rates for flying with your bike.  I like to ride out of the airport so I usually fly with my bike.  Southwest charges $50 for the bike.

On the way home I usually drop the bike at a bike shop and have them box and ship it to my house.  The total cost is usually $100 or so ($40-60 for the bike shop and $40-60 for UPS or FedEx).  You can box the bike and ship it yourself, but I have found that the bike shops get a better rate from UPS or FedEx than I do.

You could also ship the bike to your starting location, but would need to arrange a location to ship to (a bike shop, hotel, warmshowers host, or pick up it from UPS or FedEx location maybe?).  I have never done this though.

Oh and Amtrak will ship too whether you ride with Amtrak or not.  I have never used Amtrak other than when I traveled by train but found them great to deal with as far as taking a bike along.  I think the box was $15 and the charge $10 or maybe the other way around.  The box was huge so only very minimal dis-assembly was required (just take off the pedals, turn the bars, and roll it in).

Offline PeteJack

Re: Best way (cheapest) to get bike and gear to the route start
« Reply #3 on: November 16, 2011, 10:35:37 am »
+1 for Amtrak

Their huge boxes are great. No taking wheels off, just remove pedals, turn the bars sideways (on my Trek520 I actually had to disconnect the bars from the stem to squeeze it in) and roll it into the box. I've always found Amtrak staff to be very helpful Remember to empty your water bottles. If you are coming back from a long ride consider spoiling yourself and getting a sleeper, I did from San Diego to Seattle and don't regret it.

Offline Grumpybear

Re: Best way (cheapest) to get bike and gear to the route start
« Reply #4 on: November 16, 2011, 12:54:41 pm »
The cheapest way is a bus ticket, it should cost you about $90 bucks if you buy it in advance. Of course you'll be sitting on a bus for a day and a half. Check out the luggage restrictions. If you pack it right you could probably get away with less than $10-$20 extra. You have to load the luggage yourself, but as far as I'm concerned that's a good thing.

If you are touring with other people from RI. Then renting a passenger van might work out to be less. Most rental places will let you pick up in one state and drop off in another, if done at airports. Depending on how many people and how good you are a stuffing things in small spaces it could work out cheaper, faster, and more fun than a bus.

Offline golferdevo3

Re: Best way (cheapest) to get bike and gear to the route start
« Reply #5 on: November 16, 2011, 01:17:29 pm »
Thanks for all the helpful info!  I will be traveling and riding the tour myself to raise money for a non-profit my good friend works for.  I have looked into Amtrak but for some reason the station in Providence, RI doesn't have baggage so I would need a ride to Penn Station in NY.  Both Amtrak and Southwest go into Jacksonville, so I'll have to get to St. Augustine, about an hour away in a car.  I plan on calling Southwest today, thanks again for the help!

Offline azbikerwa

Re: Best way (cheapest) to get bike and gear to the route start
« Reply #6 on: November 16, 2011, 09:56:34 pm »
I highly recommend contacting the Pirate Haus Hostel (www.piratehaus.com) located in St Augustine.  Cap'n Conrad is very helpful and made our arrival and gear setup a non issue.  We shipped our bikes and heavy gear (trailer and camp gear) via Amtrak to Jacksonville and flew Southwest (bags fly free) to Jacksonville.  Cap'n Conrad drove up and picked us up at the Airport and stopped by the train station to gather the bikes and drove us to the Pirate Haus (of course not for free, but very reasonable).  He took care of getting rid of the cardboard boxes and gave us directions for resupply items prior to our start.  He also offered to receive our bikes/gear if we chose to use FedEx/UPS.  All in all a very helpful group who also happen to be virtually on the ACA Southern Tier route. 

Offline valygrl

Re: Best way (cheapest) to get bike and gear to the route start
« Reply #7 on: November 17, 2011, 11:56:03 am »
DOn't call Southwest, use their web site, they have better fares on line.

If the airport is an hour away by car, it's a day by bike - just ride!

Offline adventurepdx

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Re: Best way (cheapest) to get bike and gear to the route start
« Reply #8 on: November 18, 2011, 07:50:44 pm »
Quote
I have looked into Amtrak but for some reason the station in Providence, RI doesn't have baggage so I would need a ride to Penn Station in NY.

Are you sure about that? The Amtrak website shows Providence as having checked baggage service AND bike boxes for sale:
http://www.amtrak.com/servlet/ContentServer?pagename=am/am2Station/Station_Page&code=PVD

And if for some reason the site is lying, I can think of a closer station than New York Penn that has baggage service: Boston South Station.

One thing to note, however, the last time I used checked baggage on the Northeast Corridor north/east of NYC, they only have one train a day that offers checked baggage, and it's an overnight train. So you might have to go down to the station a day early to pack and ship your bike, so your bike will be ready and waiting for you in New York where you'd transfer to a Florida-bound train. Don't know if that would be better or worse than getting a ride all the way to NYC.

Offline golferdevo3

Re: Best way (cheapest) to get bike and gear to the route start
« Reply #9 on: November 19, 2011, 07:38:23 am »


Are you sure about that? The Amtrak website shows Providence as having checked baggage service AND bike boxes for sale:
http://www.amtrak.com/servlet/ContentServer?pagename=am/am2Station/Station_Page&code=PVD

And if for some reason the site is lying, I can think of a closer station than New York Penn that has baggage service: Boston South Station.

Yeah it's weird.  The website says Providence definitely has checked baggage and I even called and they said bike boxes and checked baggage is available, yet when I go to the booking page for train trips...none of the trains offer checked baggage.  Couldn't get to the bottom of it either.  Good idea with Boston though...hate going north to go south but it would be closer.

I leaning towards flying Southwest and probably shipping the bike via Greyhound express packaging.  They seem to be cheaper than a UPS or FedEx, but still hunting which way is best for the price: ups, fedex, greyhound, or plane

Offline staehpj1

Re: Best way (cheapest) to get bike and gear to the route start
« Reply #10 on: November 19, 2011, 10:01:52 am »
I leaning towards flying Southwest and probably shipping the bike via Greyhound express packaging.
If flying Southwest, why not just fly with the bike?  For $50 the bike will be at the baggage claim rather than some bus station probably across town somewhere.  It is pretty nice to just ride out of the airport in my experience.

If not flying with the bike I would just pick the airline with the best price.  Remember to factor in baggage charges though.

Offline golferdevo3

Re: Best way (cheapest) to get bike and gear to the route start
« Reply #11 on: November 19, 2011, 11:15:01 am »
I leaning towards flying Southwest and probably shipping the bike via Greyhound express packaging.
If flying Southwest, why not just fly with the bike?  For $50 the bike will be at the baggage claim rather than some bus station probably across town somewhere.  It is pretty nice to just ride out of the airport in my experience.

If not flying with the bike I would just pick the airline with the best price.  Remember to factor in baggage charges though.

What would I have to do to the bike to get it in a correct size box?  I was hoping for minimal deconstruction too...but I'm being a little unrealistic i think

Offline staehpj1

Re: Best way (cheapest) to get bike and gear to the route start
« Reply #12 on: November 19, 2011, 04:14:31 pm »
I typically pack the bike in a box that new bikes come in.  I try to pick one for a larger bike than mine.  People do different amounts of disassembly.  The links below may help give you an idea of how to get going.
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=P2jCN2nVnNY
http://www.adventurecycling.org/features/boxingbike.cfm

Offline adventurepdx

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Re: Best way (cheapest) to get bike and gear to the route start
« Reply #13 on: November 20, 2011, 01:08:56 am »
Quote
Yeah it's weird.  The website says Providence definitely has checked baggage and I even called and they said bike boxes and checked baggage is available, yet when I go to the booking page for train trips...none of the trains offer checked baggage.  Couldn't get to the bottom of it either.

Train 67, a Northeast Regional, departs Providence at 10:22pm, arrives at New York-Penn Stn. at 2:20 am. Has checked baggage service. So you could get on that train and lay over for hours in New York, or ship the bike ahead of you, like a day in advance.

Offline golferdevo3

Re: Best way (cheapest) to get bike and gear to the route start
« Reply #14 on: November 21, 2011, 10:06:31 am »
Thank you for the info!  Just bought a plane ticket on Southwest so now I just have to choose the path for the bike...southwest, amtrak, greyhound, ups, fedex   thanks again for all the help!