5 Ways to Transport a Bike: Getting to Your Bikepacking Trip

When it comes to shipping your bike for a bikepacking trip, it can be daunting to decide which method you should use. Below I take a look at the 5 main methods for transporting a bike for a bikepacking trip, going over each of their advantages and disadvantages.

1) Courier

A picture of a courier transporting a bike for a bikepacking trip

When thinking about taking your bike on a bikepacking trip, most of you will immediately think of shipping your bike via a courier. This involves packaging your item (as you would any other parcel) and then either dropping your bike off at a courier or having them collect it.


Ease of use

Provided everything goes well when using a bike courier (which is a big if), this method can be one of the simplest options. Simply drop your bike off, take yourself to the destination and arrive to find the bike there and waiting for you.



Shipping a bike via a courier can be an expensive option, with the average price of bike shipping domestically being $113 (if you use one of the 4 main couriers). This is much more expensive than many of the other options on the list.

If you want to know which of these couriers is the cheapest, then take a look at my article here which compares shipping rates for international and domestic bike shipping.

Risk of damage

Having to package an item and then allow someone else to ship it across the country is always going to be stressful. In reality, a courier is not going to treat your bike as well as you would, and there is going to be the risk that the bike gets damaged during transport.

While most shipping companies will offer insurance on more expensive items such as bikes, this will come at an extra cost and may be hard to get back if the courier has a stringent claims process (hint, take photos of everything).

Destination choice

When using a courier to ship a bike, you will need to have a location where you can ship the bike to. This needs to be nearby to your bikepacking trip. Often, hotels or B&Bs will allow you to send a bike to their location, where they can store it for you, but make sure to account for the price of a night’s stay at these establishments into your costs.

As well as this, bike shipping can be inconsistent, and so you may find that your bike arrives a few days early or late, which may cause issues.


Couriers require your bike to be packaged in a specific bike box, while these can be fairly easy to use, they add another expense to your trip and also require you to know how to partially disassemble your bike. If you want to know more about getting your bike into a bike box, take a look at my complete guide to shipping a bike here.

2) Plane

A picture of a plane transporting a bike for a bikepacking trip

Instead of getting a courier to ship your bike, many airlines will allow you to check a bike packaged in a bike box into the plane as you would any other cargo. This can be a good choice if you are already having to catch a flight to your destination.



Putting a bike onto the same plane as you is the quickest way to transport a bike for your bikepacking trip. Simply pack the bike, put it on the plane and then arrive on the other side. There’s also a great feeling of cycling out of the airport knowing that your adventure has already started.


Taking a bike on a plane is actually less expensive than you might think. If you are flying internationally, you will find that it is much cheaper than sending her bike via a courier. In fact, some airlines will even allow you to replace your carry-on luggage with a bike, which is a great choice as you likely won’t be taking a suitcase with you on your bikepacking trip.


Risk of damage

As with using a courier, taking your bike onto a plane also puts the bike at risk of being damaged. There are lots of large items of cargo in the plane’s store hold and so any bumps or knocks can be a risk. In order to limit your risk of your bike being damaged, take a look at my article here which takes you through the steps of packing a bike into a bike box.


Similarly to a courier, when packing your bike to be shipped as cargo on a plane, many airlines require you to use a bike box when checking in the bike. This creates an issue on the return journey, where you will have to find another box to ship the bike back.

3) Car

A picture of a car transporting a bike for a bikepacking trip

While it comes as a surprise to many bikepackers, most bikes will fit into most cars, even without a bike rack. This means that provided your bikepacking trip is not too far away, using a car to transport your bike for your trip can make a good choice.


Good for transporting multiple bikes

As stated above, a lot of cars can fit a bike into the trunk or over the back seats. In fact, some cars can hold as many as 3 bikes without an issue. This means that if you plan to ride with a group of friends on your trip, this can be a good cost-effective way of transporting multiple bikes at once.

If you want to take learn whether or not your car can fit multiple bikes, take a look at my article here where I review the most popular models of cars and look into the best way to fit the most bikes into the trunk.

Bike racks can be cheap

Even if you have to invest in a new bike rack for your trip, this can still be cheaper than the price of shipping a bike via courier. My 2022 bikepacking car rack guide contains suggested racks from as low as $50, almost half of the price of shipping a bike domestically.


Car racks can be complicated

While certain car racks can be cheap, they are often very confusing to use. Not only is setting up the rack itself confusing but putting the bikes onto the rack can be just as much of a challenge.

If you also struggle with this, then take a look at my articles on how to set up a bike rack or how to put a bike onto a bike rack.

Not good for non-circular routes

Given you have to drive to a destination with your bike, and then set off on your trip, this makes using a car to transport your bike a poor option if you will end your trip at a different location than where you started. If this is the case, you will then have to use one of the other methods on this list to ship your bike back to the car where you started, kind of ruining the point.

Have to leave your car at a destination

Not only is having to return to your car after the trip a nuisance but having to leave your car somewhere for multiple nights in a row can be dangerous. Depending on where you leave your car you are at risk of it being stolen on broken into.

Fuel costs are rising

Driving is becoming more expensive with the rising price of fuel, make sure to account for the total (there and back) fuel costs of using your car to ship your bike, and account for these if money is one of your main deciding factors.

4) Cycle

A picture of someone cycling to their bikepacking trip

The best trips start when you walk out of the door, or should I say pedal. My favourite types of bikepacking trips are the ones where I am able to cycle directly from my front door, meaning I waste no time transporting myself or my bike before I get out and on the road.



I think we can all agree, having to package your bike, or pack it into the back of the car is no fun. Being able to head straight out on your trip gives a great sense of freedom, and is one of the main reasons that so many people enjoy S240 (Sub-24 hour Overnighter) trips.


Obviously, if the moment you set out of your front door you are on your bikepacking trip, then the cost of transporting your bike was nothing. Planning a trip this way can save you lots of money.


Can take a long time

If you have a specific destination in mind, cycling all the way from your house can make the trip longer than expected, especially if the destination is further away than you might normally plan to cycle for.

This might mean that you are able to have fewer bike-packing trips per year (for example if you are unable to get much time off from work).

Have to stay close to home

As well as trips taking longer, some trips will be completely impossible if you want to be able to cycle from your front door. You must take this into account when planning your bikepacking trip.


A picture of a train transporting a bike for a bikepacking trip

Certainly in the UK, the use of public transport (for example trains) appears to be growing. This could be due to rising costs of driving or flying, or just people picking more environmental options. Either way, transporting your bike on a train is certainly an option you should consider.


Some trains are built for bikes

Certain trains (particularly those in Scotland), have been revamped and are now designed with bikes in mind, having bike-only carriages, e-bike charging ports and bike frames to lock your bike directly.

Take a look at the video from GCN where they set out on a bikepacking trip using a train.

Cheaper than flying

Travelling via a train with your bike is likely cheaper than using a plane (again this will depend on where in the world you are). On top of this, there will be no extra costs to take your bike.


Some trains do not allow bikes

While some trains are designed with bikes in mind, others are not. Make sure to check if you are allowed to take your bike onto the train you have booked, as you do not want to get stuck with a ticket officer telling you that you have to get off.

Can be hard on busy trains

Even if you are technically allowed to take your bike onto a train, you will need to take into account rush hour and busy periods on trains. Taking a bike during these peak times can be more stressful and make your journey longer.


A picture of a bike on a bikepacking trip

As you can see, you have multiple options when it comes to shipping your bike for a bikepacking trip. Just make sure to pick the one that is right for you.

Joe Dalloz

Hi! I'm Joe a 30-year-old doctor, cyclist, and bikepacker who's spent thousands of hours in the saddle and written hundreds of articles about riding bikes!

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