Your Bicycle: One of the first questions people ask me is what about my bicycle. Can I take my own? I have always taken my bicycle with me when I have taken a cycling vacation in Europe. Most airlines let you check your bike as a piece of luggage. You are generally allowed two pieces of luggage. One bag for your stuff and one for your bike. Airlines provide very heavy poly bag to ship your bike in. I have done this 10 - 15 times and have only had slight damage to my bike once. You must take the pedals off and loosen the goose neck so you can rotate the handle bars so they are parallel to the bikes frame. If you have handle bar extensions then you should loosen & rotate the handle bar so it falls in line with the frame of the bike and makes the width of your bike as narrow as possible. You should remove the front tire and using bunji cords or soft rope to fasten the wheel to the middle of the triangle of the bikes frame. I usually fasten a piece of foam over the gear changer to help protect the changer from any damage. I fasten an identification tag to the frame of the bike with information on my destination just in case the information is pulled off the outside of the poly bag the bike is packaged in. The bike is then put into the heavy poly bag and taped closed with heavy packing tape. You must take the bike to the special care baggage check -in when you get to the airport and they will put it on board the plane. Make sure you keep the bag and that you take some extra tape so you can repackage the bike for the trip home. You must also remember to bring the tools you need to reassemble your bike when you get to your final destination.
Even though I have never had a problem you must make sure your bike is as secure as possible while you are traveling. I have a seat cable on my bike which secures the seat to the frame so that I don't have to take the seat off every time I leave my bike. I also take two additional locks so that I can lock both the front and back wheels to the bike frame. Most important of all I have taken out a rider on my home insurance policy in case my bike is stolen during my trip.
I have several bikes that I ride but the bike that I have found best for this kind of trip is a mountain bike that has "Town & Country" tires. The wide tires provide a softer ride and work better on the country roads and cobble stone streets. The wide range of gears makes the hills and flat portions of the trip equally easy to deal with. My bike is fitted with an seat stay rack, side panniers and an rackpack. I also have a handle bar bag with a waterproof map display. I have two frame mounted water bottles and use a MEC mountain fountain standard hydration system. My bike doesn't look really fancy so it is less likely to be stolen.
I carry a basic tool kit, for minor repairs, a couple of spare inner tubes and a half a dozen extra spokes just in case. I have removable front and back battery operated lights for night riding and reflector bands that wrap around each leg at the ankle.