Planning

you either enjoy planning or you don’t. my old man always felt for him as though it was part of the journey, and I haven’t fallen far from that tree. others just don’t do planning. whichever category you fall into, I'd recommend at least a little planning. spend time looking at the sort of journey you want to make. on road? off road? a few days, a few weeks or a few months? what is your budget? will you be going alone, with a partner, or as part of a larger group? what will the weather be like where you are going?where will you be staying, hotels, b&b's, camping, friends. all these things dictate how much the trip will cost you, and what sort of journey you have. my best advice it to put time into planning, and use all the resources you have at your disposal, the internet being the best and easiest to access. below are a few links for specifics you may need:

POI's for everything from speedcameras to campsites, to mechanics – www.pocketgpsworld.com

Forums for advice – www.advrider.com

Adventure Motorcycling Handbook (http://www.adventure-motorcycling.com/edition5/index.htm) ideal for checklist, good advice, documentation required, etc…

 

Example Checklist:

Documentation

Passport

Driver License

V5 / Ownership documentation

Credit Card

Carnet

International Insurance

Breakdown cover

 

Camping

Tent

Sleeping Bag

Ground Mat

Stove

Spork

Cleaning Brush

Washing up liquid

Foods

Maglite or similar

Gerber / Leathermans or equivalent

Nylon cord

 

Clothes

Tshirts

Fleece (to replace jacket liner)

Underwear

Very light shoes eg espadrilles

Shorts

Lightweight trousers

 

Bike Gear

Helmet

Touring Jacket

Touring Trouser

Boots (with good support and protection)

Basic tools inc allen keys, adjustable wrench, tire repair, fuses, hi-vis jacket, spare bulbs (required in some countries), elephant tape, insulating tape

 

Accessories

Bungees

Cargo net

Cable ties

Plastic sandwich bags

 

Electricals

GPS eg Garmin Zumo series or TomTom Rider & charger

Mobile phone & charger

Camera & charger

Intercom (if riding with others) & charger

 

Misc

washbag

first aid kit inc. plasters, tcp, anti-dihorea tablets, ibruprofen, paracetamol, antihistamine

loo roll

wet wipes

ear plugs

 

 

Going it alone?

this is a bigger decision than it sounds. going alone can be very rewarding. the sense of discovery is heightened, as is the sense of achievement, through success, and resolution of problems, and the cultural exposure, as it will be you and you alone that must communicate in different languages, and in different environments. however, the sense of isolation is not to be underestimated, it can detract from the trip too, with no-one to share that view, or day with. it will lead to a lot of soul searching, and "alone time". you will start out, as everyone does, suspicious of everyone, sure they will steal your bike / belongings when you are not looking, or are just out to mug you. you will feel like everyone is looking at you. in time, you will realise that people are just people, and are a lot more friendly than you might believe. breakfast on campsites with complete strangers families testify to this. people are even more welcoming when you ride, especially alone. they seem to sense the isolation, and exposure to the elements

alternatively, there is the option to go 2-up, which can drastically reduce the capacity of the bike to carry equipment, or to ride with a friend or partner, or as part of a group.the more of you involved, the less you will all have the same ideas and objectives for you trip, but the greater security you will have. additionally, your exposure to the places you visit will exponentially diminish the more of you there are, as the less interaction you will have with the locals. do not underestimate the potential for tensions, even in a small group, and plan for this. agree what you will do if this eventuality arises.

 

Equipment

your choice of equipment will always be dictated by your budget. shop around, look online, i bought most of my gear there, at vastly discounted prices. the best advice i can offer is, whatever gear you need, buy the best you can afford. but you will end up taking less than you think, much less. write a list of all the things you will "need". then cut it down to what you think you can carry. now half that!! it's good sense, honest. you cannot carry as much as you think, so really evaluate things on 4 levels. do you NEED it? howmuch does it weigh? how bulky is it? how much will it cost me to buy?

 

Vehicle

there are many many adventure / enduro / funduro / adventure sports bikes out there now. you have a good choice. some are more road oriented, some more off-road purpose built. if you are buying a bike for your trip, chose carefully. some are more roade bikes with pretensions of off road abilities, others can go round the world like the BMW R1200GS Adventure or the KTM 990. But don’t think you can't go if you don’t have a bike like this? My first trip was to the south of  France  on a Suzuki Bandit. Just look at Ted Simon or Che Guevara! once you have you chosen steed, pick you luggage well. hard panniers offer more security, and carrying capacity, but are heavier and very expensive eg Metal Mule & Touratec's Vega range. Alternatively, soft luggage is cheaper and lighter, but can be removed (not by you) from your bike with a pocket knife, and then your equipment is gone. this can often be alleviated by the "safety in numbers" principle of travelling in a group…

 

While you're there

try to take everything in your stride. on one trip, I had an engine warning light come on on day 1 of a 4000 round  Europe  trip. I fretted and worried, and spent an eveninggoogling mechanics and workshops that might be open in rural  france  on a Sunday (not likely) instead or enjoying where I was. the next day, over lunch, a friendly biker advised me my brake light wasn’t working – a blown fuse! more importantly, remember why you are there. you chose to do this, to take a different sort of holiday. it will be hard from time to time, driving rain, beating sun, stinging mosquito bites, sore arse, windblown, and exhausting. and if you are not smiling after all of that, then you probably are looking for a different sort of adventure. take pictures, take videos, do a video diary, post web blogs, all of these things you can look back on. ride safe… :)

 

 

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