Motorcycling tours & road trip tips
Road-trip tip rule number 1. We all know it! – travel light & self sufficient
Most of these tips have served me well, wether it’s taking a drive through UK, a business trip commuting through rush hour traffic to London, or an overland expedition. It never ceases to amaze me just how ill-prepared many motorists are when they just jump into their cars, or mount their horses and motorcycles!
Save your money or save your life
If it’s scorching summer time, or freezing winter, you still need to have some basic travel preparation on any journey. At worst it will save you money and improve your comfort, at best it could save your life.
Travel items for a road trip, or motorbike journey 10-10,000 miles
I think we actually only use 90% of the clobber we take on trips, 5% of the time!
Keep things simple and compact, plus leave some spare space to think & work.
75% of the time, you’re driving or riding, you can’t actually use most of that stuff! 20 % of the time you’ll be eating & drinking! and It goes without saying THE SINGLE MOST IMPORTANT THING you will carry is: 1st Aid, hygiene and water.
Carry an ability to make some simple food and drinks on the road. A petrol stove / small pan or kettle – I love mine, I get a nice fresh, quick, cheap coffee and simple hot dinner, noodles etc anywhere, anytime. I use mine constantly even traveling in the UK and USA. Much prefer making a brew up in a nice quiet, scenic spot, on the road, rather than someplace that’s crowded and overpriced. Plus, you know the hygene is good when you prepare it yourself.
Add a thermos cup and smalll travel flask and it can keep you warm & happy in far away places! I often make a hot coffee & stick it in my tank bag each morning, you can’t beat having a nice hot coffee on the go:) For camping and pit stops, the light weight titanium travel cups work well, they’re insulated & stop your hands burning with hot coffee.
Carry a small Ground sheet to keep you off the cold floor and also doubles up as a great emergency shelter, using some elastic cords or bungees. Wether you are stuck on the hard shoulder of highway M1 or in the China Gobi desert, it makes a shady spot, or in a storm keeps you dry while fixing a puncture. Also handy to get dressed in the dry after packing up a tent, if it’s a wet moring after some wild camping.
Travel cash; even at home! or in the local currency, cash is king, the US$ dollar is convertible in most parts of the World. If there’s a power outage, your credit cards won’t work, even at home! If Mastercards system goes down, people can even get stuck at the highway toll booths!
Foreign Currency: from Hungary onwards it is best to obtain extra local cash from either an ATM, or a streetside currency exchange kiosk, as well as taking a small supply with you. Outside of Europe, I would generally only changing a small amount on the actual border crossings, because it’s usually not the best exchange rates on borders or airports, or any ports) The best rates are usually at the smaller currency kiosks in towns and cities, where there’s more competion for your travel business.
WATER you won’t last long without it. Always worth carrying an extra supply, anywhere, anytime.
A lot of the time you can be travelling in quite extreme high temperatures, even at home, plus if you stop in a desert region, you will soon use 2 litres of water. Always try to carry at least 2 Litres per person. I generally carry 2 litres on a bike, or much more in a car or truck. On motorcycles I’d suggest carrying the bottles on the top of the side luggage boxes, plus personally I also carry an extra 500ml on my bars or tank bag, or use a camel back water holder, lots of riders swear by these.
Health and Hygene overlanding road trip travel tips
Well nowadays we all know much more about this close to our daily routines! it’s still always worth remembering, the First Aid for good Hygiene is hand sanitiser, plus remembering to use it often!
Also carry what you know ‘how to use’, or what you’re familiar with using. Keep lotions in small containers, becasue you can always top-up anywhere on the way, everywhere sells lotions & potions!
Bike or luggage lock – medium size plastic coated, locking bike to post/other bikes, locking valuables in hotels, helmets etc Most places on the trips are quite secure, especially in eastern Europe and Asia. (UK is about the worst place for crime/ theft etc)
Two essential items not to forget; a small torch, or head torch and a penknife or multitool. Always handy, even at home.
Favorite lightweight travel garment is the Marino Wool shirt, I never leave home without one! so light, comfortable, they never seem to get dirty and sweaty, very very easy to wash and dry in 5 minutes.
Luggage tips for travelling light
Clothes take up most of the luggage space.
For long motorcycle trips, I pick kit that can do more than one job. I would take a Merino wool baselayer, an armoured gortex jacket and trouser with plenty of pockets. A heated jacket liner saves loads of time taking off and putting on layers. Lightweight waterproof enduro type gloves and lightweight waterproof oversuit. Flip-up lid and spare visor for the helmet. * top tip – strap it to the motorcycle handlebars, under the windshield, tucks nicely out of the way, otherwise it’s a tricky item to store in your luggage and you won’t want to scratch it.
Good quality waterproof boots and a spare pair of gloves. (1 warm fully waterproof + 1 light weight & cool)
Top tip for travelling light; get an airtight small stuff bag; place your clothes together and roll them up as tightly as you can. Place in stuff bag and then roll that up as tightly as you can, squeezing out all the air. You’ll be left with A/ real small cloths luggage bag B/ no air, which helps keep cloths fresher C/ no need to worry about ironing! D/ more space to have fun on your adventure.
One travel bag that does it all on the road
Another top road trip tip; Have a main travel Grab-bag; It’s your 1 main bag which can contain everything you would need if you had to leave in a hurry. I have 1 bag (on a bike it goes inside 1 of the metal boxes), it holds; cloths, 1st aid, wash-bag, paperwork, plus some spare space. Heaven forbid – but if there’s an incident and you need to leave bike and luggage boxes in situ, it means you can quickly gather the key things you need to travel & carry in 1 bag. It’s also handy for hotel nights and even camping, its the 1 bag that goes literally everywhere with you.
I also find that this a useful excersize for making me think about a/ what I really need, b/ what I could manage without c/ what I’d not miss if I had to leave it behind. It helps stop taking too much stuff as well as making you re-consider carrying all those pricy electric items & Leica’s!
Bonus tip – don’t forget your sunglasses, especially when riding east ever-day, it’s worth having a spare pair!
If you’d like to enjoy a motorcycle touring holiday riding through several European Countries, exploring the local cultures as well as the best motorcycling roads, without carrying all of the luggage and back up kit yourself, you might like to take a look at my east Europe tour, it is scheduled to ride each May and September time, in my experience, those being the very best times to travel in eastern Europe to have the best chance of good weather, warm but not so scorching!
For more information about what to take and more importantly, what you can leave behind! I have included a whole detailed list of all the extra motorcycle tour support items and services that I include on a Motoexplorers adventure.
You can’t beat having your own frying pan also!
Anything else you would include yourself? leave me a comment and it can be added, THANKS.