I have always found cardboard boxes at the final destination of a long bike tour. Some suggestions (most should apply to Europe also):
Matteress, refrigerator, furniture store. My best find in Fairbanks Alaska was to go to a Office Supply Store (Staples or Office Depot etc.) and buy a set of heavy clear packing tape then request a "visit" to the back shipping area for some free cardboard. Thus equipped, I then pedaled to the Fairbanks Alaska Airport. Airport "finds" in terms of cardboard is usually slim, but occasionally you can find a discarded bike box. Don't count on just an Airport for your boxes as the ride back to town to find another source is quite a hassle.
Even in a pinch I have assembled many small boxes into what I needed. The key is to have enough tape and buy the good stuff not the cheap stuff. The durability, strenth, and ease of taping makes the name brand (3-m) tape worth the extra expense.
BTW Home Depot is good source of tape and cardboard.
I mentioned in earlier postings to encourage Bike shippers to "think outside of the box", I have found that a well packed frame (usually with fork also removed) with a separate box for the wheels and touring gear fits on the usual conveyor belt. No special handling means no extra charges (this is before they charge extra for everything started recently with many Airlines).
Keep in mind always call your package "excercise equipment" as to declare it a bicycle is to have instant fees...
Still Out There Touring,
USA, North America
> This is a 'sort of' on topic question for any who have shipped bikes for
> riding to/from Europe fairly recently and sent here to glean info from ou
> r European colleagues.
> I'm in the planning stages of retro-randonneuring trip from Amsterdam (Sc
> hiphol/Hoofddorp) to London. I'm riding a 1974 Gazelle-built Raleigh Gran
> d Prix (GN400029).
> I'm wondering what experiences others have had with various methods of sh
> ipping for riding (as opposed to sales). I have a hardshell carrier (Thul
> e-like), but how to get it from Amsterdam to London for the return? I cou
> ld use a regular cardboard bike box, adding pipe foam or bubble wrap in p
> acking, ditch the box on arrival and then see about repacking in London,
> provided I can find a bike shop that has boxes to dump. I could use the h
> ard case and then ship the case from AMS to LHR (or fwd to the hotel - UP
> S?, DHL?). Fly with it in a bike box, and pre-ship my hard case to be hel
> d at the London hotel for the return?
> Anyway, the current idea is to have the bike, a few spare tubes, & minima
> list (for re-assembly) tool kit as checked baggage, with the panniers as
> carry-on. Spending a few days riding through Utrecht, Holland, Zeeland, t
> hen Flanders, France, and taking a ferry from Dunkurque (or Calais?) to D
> over. Then, depending on weather and time, may wander into London the lon
> g way 'round through Cambridge & Oxford (my daughter is my probable ridin
> g partner and is a Tolkien fan).
> Any suggestions or ideas would be welcomed as I pull the plan together an
> d try to take advantage of some of the travel deals airlines are offering
> this winter.
> Given the nature of the question - KOF bike, not-so-KOF topic - replies o
> ff list to email@example.com, please.
> Best regards,
> Bob Hillery
> Stratham, New Hampshire, USA
> (on an indoor trainer today w/ -14C/7F in New Hampshire)