Long motorcycle tours can be exhausting and exhilarating all at the same time. You could choose to take a trip with a bunch of friends over the weekend or even a long ride alone. But with a bike tour, you must be doubly sure that you’re packing right, especially if you’re going on a long tour.
There are numerous tours in the USA available for friends and family. Some include San Francisco tours, Alaska adventure tours, the Wild Western USA tour, the “LA To The Bay” tour and many more, depending on which area you want to visit in the States and who you are taking with you. While it might be relatively easy to pack for a normal city tour or a vacation, bike tours are a completely different thing. With a bike tour, you must be doubly sure that you’re packing right, especially if you’re going on a long tour.
Depending on whether you’re riding solo or with people, you can decide whether to skip or keep some items but it’s always good to be self-sufficient in most cases. Here are a few tips from contributing author Jessica D* on how to go about packing for your next bike tour.
Do not overpack
The golden rule for packing for motorbike trips is to ensure you’re eliminating unnecessary items because unlike cars, you’re going to have limited boot space on your motorbike. Packing five pairs of shoes when you’re going to be on the road, for the most part, wouldn’t serve any purpose and you already know that.
Pick a limited number of clothes and shoes, basic toiletries. Try packing stuff that can be disposed of after use so you’re lighter after every stop. Do carry enough innerwear for hygiene purposes though, since you’re probably going to be repeating clothes, and a strong cologne, in case there’s no option to wash your clothes.
Know the road
You’ve probably researched plenty about the place you’re visiting but it’s really important to know the road that’s taking you to it.
Ask around and get an idea of what the major stops on your route are, if there are any relatively abandoned patches on the way etc. This’ll help you understand what items you need handy – for example, how many juice bottles or water bottles you will require till your hit the first shop on your way so you can stock up again as required. This’ll also aid the first point – you won’t have to pack too much at the beginning, you can keep disposing of items and buying new ones.
Your motorbike has been your partner for a long time, and you ought to trust it. But, it’s always good to be on the safe side, isn’t it? Your motorbike could break especially when you’re on a long journey and you must be prepared to fix the common issues at least, so keep a motorcycle tool kit handy, just in case you end up stranded without any help.
Make sure you’re carrying a power bank so your phone has enough battery to make necessary calls as required. DO NOT forget a first-aid kit and basic medication – not presuming that something would happen to you, but even the best of us have their bad days.
All of this is especially important if you’re traveling solo because it might be hard to find someone on the road to help you out. It’s always better to be safe than sorry anyway.
Pack ride entertainment
If you’re taking a motorbike on a long route, you probably love riding anyway. But long rides, even car rides can get pretty lonely and mundane without some kind of background entertainment.
If you’re not particularly fond of traveling solo, it might be a good idea to have a pillion rider. Even if you are traveling in a group, it’s just a whole lot easier to speak to someone sitting right behind you instead of someone at some distance, who also has the road to concentrate on.
However, if you prefer to ride solo, it might be a good idea to make a playlist for the ride in advance and have some music on all through the way. Don’t forget to pack a Bluetooth headset with you that you can add to your helmet so you can listen to music or route directions from your phone navigation. You’re never going to run out of songs, and you won’t have to stop on the way to ask directions or constantly check your phone for it, so you have one less thing to worry about.
Keep a camera handy; you’re lucky if you have a fancy phone with an excellent camera. There are all kinds of views on the road worth capturing and you wouldn’t want to miss it.
It might be a good idea to pack most of your items in smaller plastic bags or travel kits instead of having them lying around loosely in the trunk of your motorcycle (Ziploc bags being particularly useful in this case). It becomes extra important to secure and seal all your luggage because you’re going to be more susceptible to the road conditions on a motorbike (speed breakers, pits, unkempt roads etc.)
Irrespective of what mode of transportation you’re using, always have your travel essentials with you. Stock up on cash for shops by the road where cards don’t work. Carry all your ID proofs and emergency kits and keep your phone charged at all times. And as well as you plan the trip, ensure there’s an element of spontaneity. Stop by at odd locations whenever you see something interesting and take a picture, greet strangers – they can turn out to be really helpful especially on solo trips. Enjoy and explore the journey – it’s always more memorable than the destination.
*About the author
Jessica is a traveler by heart. Along with frequently penning down her thoughts related to the travel experiences, she is an avid biker and an expert reviewer of motorcycle adventure products too.