Once she had arrived and settled at her undisclosed location, Mom quickly realized that she wanted a bike for getting around the base. While she could purchase a larger men's frame bike from her small base exchange, she doesn't feel comfortable mounting and dismounting with a high horizontal top tube. The base exchange could not order her the step-through women's model of the same bike due to some import restrictions. These same restrictions also prevented her from purchasing a bike online and having it shipped directly to her APO address. Plus there are other restrictions specific to certain APO zip codes, so most retailers won't (can't?) do it.
But I can mail her care packages! And what better treat to receive than a bike? Mom thought a folding bike would be well sized to her stature and small living quarters, so I found the best deal I could on a single speed folder, which at the time was this Dahon Boardwalk from Performance. It was on sale and I saved roughly the cost of having it delivered to my house. The local Performance store may have had one in stock, but I also wanted the box and the packing materials. These folding bikes are shipped with some plastic covers for the hinges that were nice to have considering the distance this box would ultimately be traveling.
I then went to my local bike shop and assembled a basic tool and accessory kit for Mom's new bike: spare tube, patch kit, hand pump, lock, head light, multitool, tire levers and chain lube. I threw in a handful of cable ties and some clean rags, too. I reinforced the box and repacked the bike with the accessories. I biked it to the Post Office on my Xtracycle. Bike, bike, bike.
Sending a folding bike with 20" wheels (or even 16" wheels) becomes critical if you are trying to do this on a budget, or at all. The total cost for the bike, accessories, and Priority APO shipping was about $500. Mom was more than willing to pay this price for the convenience of having her own reliable transportation.
Mom is now happily bike commuting to work at the hospital and running errands around the base, which apparently is far better than walking or taking the shuttle bus.
Have you needed to ship a bike to your deployed service member? How did it go? I'm hoping that this will help someone in a similar situation. Mom says one of her co-workers rode her folder and already plans on getting one, too!