It’s that time of the year again when Topbike does what is affectionately known as ‘The Big Pack’. In brief this involves boxing up bicycles and then stuffing everything in that absolutely can’t be replicated in Europe.

Some plusses and minuses for us this year:

On the plus side: We only have three bikes (last year 5 bikes)

We have the early bird tickets with Emirates (30 kg in economy)

*Betty Olle weighs 1/7 of my weight and her fare is 1/10 but she gets 1/3 luggage allowance ie 10 kg extra!

(* also in minuses). I reckon a baby is an absolute luggage SCAM. My suggestion, book in a baby, pay 10% fare, get the extra 10kg, then say at the counter that your (imaginary) baby was sick and couldn’t fly. I don’t know why more people don’t pull this one.

We no longer have the TV show so that saves carting around cameras mics etc etc.

On the minuses: Betty is only 1/7 of my weight and costs 1/10 of my ticket but bloody hell she uses a lot of stuff. I’m sure if we did a weigh in per person she has gone over her 10kg and pinched some of my allowance.

Anyway this picture of Dave pretty much summarises the way to pack with a bike. The cardboard boxes protect the bike well and are light, then your other stuff can be separated with cheap webbing bags (buy at Mountain design or Katmandu type stores). You have to weigh the hand-luggage these days as the airlines are mostly onto every single trick, although someone did tell me that they know of a person who wore their ski boots as anything worn could not be weighed into the baggage allowance! (If anyone can verify this story please email me).

Our luggage leaving Aus was about 70 kg checked and 7 kg each carry on. I reckon most of the weight (apart from the three bikes was in chargers!)

* post note, we ended up paying about $200 excess, just for one leg after stopping off in KL and picking up another 10kg. We avoided a huge charge as we upgraded the last sector with points.David Olle weighs in for travel

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An Australian company, Topbike has a fully equipped European base and its own fleet of high quality hire bikes. We specialise in quality cycling tours with small groups and are famous for looking after our clients.

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