Cycling holiday newbie - how to pack?

Going on an international cycling holiday later this year and we are renting bikes at the destination. We’ve never taken a cycling vacation outside of local driving distance. This may be a silly question but I’m just not sure how to pack all the things we need and keep it somewhat compact for international travel. I know what to pack (although Mr. F and I are in disagreement as to whether power pedals are really necessary) but between helmets, shoes, seats, etc. it’s taking up a lot of room very fast. And I’m afraid to put too much in checked baggage in case it gets lost. Any helpful tips and tricks? I’ve seen lots of tips for packing things along with your bike to save space, but not for packing in luggage. Thanks!

Pack your shoes, helmet and pedals in your carryon bag…worst case scenario you can get a cheap pair of shorts when you get to your destination but still get some rides in before your lost luggage arrives.

Kit it self can dry quickly, so minimize how many jerseys / shorts you bring…wash them when you take a shower and hang them to dry and you’ll be ready by the time you need them.

Roll your kit pieces when packing them vs. folding them…takes up less space, especially bibs.


Huge game changer. Put a towel on the floor. Take the bibs you washed in the shower and lay them on top of the towel. Roll the towel up. (If the towel is big enough, fold it before placing so you get twice as much cloth between each layer). Walk on the towel. This squeezes a TON of water out of the bibs and into the towel so they hang dry much quicker. Now you can pack less pairs of bibs.

Bring layers, not big heavy pieces. You can wear many layers or just one, but it reduces the volume in your luggage.


Helmet, shoes, pedals (yes power pedals are neccesary), garmin etc. all in carry on. Take at least one full kit in carry on as well. Helmet can clip to outside of a rucksack, i also have neatcleats to clip shoes to outside of a bag.

when i pack my kit i put a base layer and a pair of socks into a jersey pocket, i then place the jersey onto a pair of bibs and then starting at the legs fold an roll the kit into a sort of sausage shape and then use the bib straps to kind of tie it all togeather. Then you know that one roll (or sausage) is a full kit.

remember if you’re out cycling all day then you won’t go through nearly as many ‘normal’ clothes


Wouldn’t bother for rental bikes. If you crash, just take the bike back. Hard to know what exact frame model you get anyway.

I’d pack a small pump and multitool though. Don’t take co2, you’ll likely not be allowed to take them on board. Basically I’d take the things you’d normally puto your bike for a ride, apart from those that are bike-specific and wouldn’t be much use on a different bike.

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Oh, also this:

Really? Unless you’re very picky about it, I wouldn’t bother.

I’d take stack and reach measurements, and seat height, of your bike at home though, so its quicker to set up the rental bikes so they feel good.


You’re right. I missed that part since they talked about packing things with bikes.

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+1 for the CO2… we always forget it’s in our packs and it gets confiscated at the airport.


I’ve only been stopped once for CO2 cartridges and that was coming back form The Rift 2021 in Iceland…and I fly a fair amount with my bike (3 trips so far this year alone, including one to Taipei)

That said, they are definitely on the No-No list.


Think of things the bike shop will have that are not pricy. Water bottles and drink mix/gels come to mind. They will probably have a bike saddle bag with a tube, tire irons and air.

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They are indeed, but I saw a youtube vid that reckoned it was something like the plane had to be flying 40x higher before it was an actual problem!

This really does work btw!


It’s worth noting that co2 is allowed in Europe. Specifically upto 4 canisters upto 28g each.

You should take them carry-on to avoid getting your suitcase opened and to give you a chance to explain their use.

I get stopped maybe 50% of the time with co2 canisters, then it’s generally just a case of showing them the regs or waiting for them to go check themselves. I’ve not had them taken off me yet.

Whether it’s worth it to avoid just buying some more at the other end is another question. For me, it’s the convenience of not having to go buy some, but if you’re renting a bike it’ll either include them or they’ll sell you some.

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How stable is the climate of your destination? If its likely to be good weather you can get away with packing some light weight jerseys and gilet with some back up thin arm warmers/ leg warmers and emergency rain jacket, if it its more variable you’ll need to pack more and possibly bulkier gear. Some folk are very attached to their particular saddle and its a must for comfort but I wouldn’t be one of them. With big changes in climate and elevation when I go abroad I don’t know how usefull a powermeter would be (I’ve always went of RPE/ HR when I’ve went abroad) but if you are taking pedals anyway (usually the requirement of a hire company) taking them won’t make much difference.

We did a trip to Italy a few year ago and this worked well for us…

  • No checked luggage. Just the max size luggage for overhead, plus the max size additional carry-on. We have nice Osprey backpacks that are max overhead size, plus small duffel bags for under the seat. Easy to carry between airport and taxi, or train station to hotel, or whatever. So much better than roller luggage which is a total PITA in Europe unless you have a car to get everywhere. Most people overpack anyways - you really don’t need more than ~3 days clothing, if that, just wash stuff in the sink.

  • Minimal cycling kit - plan to wash it every day instead. We took one set each. If this is a tour, they probably offer daily wash at the hotel. Or, wash yourself and use the towel suggestion above.

  • We did NOT bring our own saddles - our daily mileage was ~50, so figured we’d just make do with whatever was on the rental bikes.

  • Don’t forget you CANNOT bring CO2 in carry-on, so either buy a few cartridges at destination or pack a mini pump. Check with rental company to see if a repair kit/saddle bag is included. If you’re doing supported rides, you need way less emergency repair kit.


Mini pumps are infinitely better than CO2 cartridges. [insert change_my_mind.jpeg]


Just buy a life vest… then you can carry your co2

“You may bring a life vest with up to two CO2 cartridges inside, plus two spare cartridges in your carry-on or checked bag.”


LOL. That’s awesome.


I have one of those too. It’s really nice to be able to detach the one pack for a daypack too.

Also, I know it doesn’t apply in this case because they’re renting, but when you’re traveling with a bike case, it’s nice to have everything else on your back, so you’re not trying to roll luggage AND the bike bag…and get them all on the car rental bus or train.

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