Motorcyclists share at least one common trait - They are free spirits. I once met a group of French moto-riders on the road who were wise enough to understand that being independent does not necessarily mean they were that different. They fully comprehended the fact that setting out on a road trip without a good plan to follow, could likely result in aimless wandering and a serious case of the doldrums coupled with road exhaustion. They knew the benefits of having a plan and that it would present them a greater chance of making the motorcycling trip of a lifetime. They would be building fond memories packed with good times and adventures. They set and followed a great trip plan, and that let them enjoy all that there was to see along the way.
Here are some tips I picked up from these seasoned riders that will help you to plan the best possible motorcycle road trip, so you can have the fullest possible experience and memories to share for years to come.
#1 Pinpoint your interests when making your plan
What are some of the places you want to visit? What are some of the things that you want to do? Now is the perfect time to build a stop at some place you've dreamed of going into your trip. For example, if you're interested in Mardi Gras, plan your trip itinerary so you'll end up in New Orleans the week of the event. If you're a Civil War buff, roll through an area where they're having a re-enactment. Regardless of your interests, it's quick and easy to get online and find attractions and events that are scheduled to be held on your route. Sturgis is only once a year.
#2 Have your safety plan in order
A good safety plan can help ensure that you are covered in case you run into problems when on your trip. The first step is to pack everything that you will need when you're on the road. This includes safety gear, personal items, identification and a way to contact help if it is needed. You can read the article "Essential Motorcycle Gear" to get an idea of the things that you should take along with you. It's also a good idea to write out your itinerary and give it to someone at home that you trust. Arrange for periodic check ins. This can be a life saver if you become injured or break down in a remote area. Your contact person will know that there is a problem if you fail to get ahold of them. They will know approximately where you are so you won't be stranded for long.
#3 If your destination is far away, consider a shipping or a rental agency
For distant journeys you may want to take a flight to your original destination to start from a specific place. You can either use a rental agency to rent a motorcycle for your trip, or you can have your own bike shipped out to you. The prices range from one agency to another and restrictions may apply so it's a good idea to check out your options well in advance of the date you're planning to leave. This is more for a one-way trip type of experience. Similarly, you can have a restock of supplies like fresh clothes shipped to halfway point at a friend of family members place. Should you choose not to pull your motorcycle trailer behind you, you still have some fresh clothes to wear.
#4 Plan trips that are within your riding abilities
Whether you are an advanced rider or a beginner, it's important to realize your limitations. Some areas may have trickier riding conditions such as mountain passes, dirt roads, freeways, ice, snow, rain and wind. It's best to make sure that you are ready to handle any conditions that may occur throughout your itinerary. If you're not sure, check out the route online to get an idea of what you may run into in your travels.
#5 Figure good timing into your plans
Timing is important for several reasons. First of all, the time of year and weather conditions are considerations. What kind of elements will you be exposed to? Are you fully prepared for what you might encounter? Another timing consideration to be made is catching any special events or tourist areas. Are they going to be open and operating during your trip?
#6 Prepare your plans as though you will have down time
Keep your schedule a little loose as you never know when you could have a mechanical failure, an accident or simply just want to stay a little longer in one location. It's best to build a little slack time into your itinerary. If you feel like you have to stay on a strict schedule, then fall behind, you may end up being stressed out and not maximizing your enjoyment of the trip.
#7 Figure out if you're a solo rider or prefer to have company
Some riders like to hit the road on their own with total freedom from the opinions, riding style and potential lag in action that can come from riding with a group. Others prefer to have company and camaraderie when on a road trip. There is no right or wrong, just know yourself so you can make the choice that will allow you the independence and full enjoyment of the ride.
#8 Make a common sense budget and stick to it
Budgeting well helps you to know what you can afford and what you cannot. If you allow for more than what you plan to spend, you will probably be the better for it. Unexpected expenses can come up such as bike repairs, paying more for fuel and food, overnight accommodations, and the cost of any events or activities that you will be attending. Consider fees, admissions, and a higher price for concession food. In the event that you're robbed (or lose your fancy chain wallet), you'll need to have a backup plan for accessing funds when on the road. By taking all of these things into consideration when building your budget, you won't get stuck somewhere far away from home with no money.
#9 Set realistic daily traveling expectations
Plan on how much ground you intend to cover per day. Some days may be more than others. If you don't leave enough time for down time and other things that may come up, you may not get to do everything on your list. In addition, you won't want to feel rushed because trying to get somewhere in a hurry increases the chances of having an accident when traveling in unfamiliar territory.
#10 Have the time of your life!
This is the opportunity of a lifetime. You are hitting the road and realizing a dream come true. You can embrace your freedom and independence when on your trip while seeing places or things that you've been dreaming of for years. In addition, you'll see new sights, make new acquaintances, and rediscover a part of yourself you may have forgotten long ago.