Long distance motorcycle trip mistakes
There is an abundance of mistakes one does on the first long motorcycle trip, and although they can be pointed out, there is one main reason that makes the rest unfold.
We let ourselves be guided by our dream, and forget to bring it to reality.
Don’t take me wrong, there is absolutely nothing wrong with being dream fuelled, but when reality kicks in, some manage to handle it, some don’t, and that is when things sidetrack.
This being said, the most common mistakes for me are:
Not adjusting our dreams to reality
You have to find out what kind of rider you are before hitting the road.
Are you happy with a tarp and one old suit, or do you need a top of the line garment and a five star hotel every night?
Are you willing to cook yourself and eat canned food, or a stop at a restaurant twice a day is mandatory?
Do you favour more miles per day, or more hours of rest per night?
Knowing those answers and many more will be mandatory and key to solving many of the following mistakes.
Defining long trips for you
Define how many days, weeks, months, or years you want to stay on the road.
Decide how many miles you want to do per day, if you plan on sightseeing, or if you just want to eat miles day in and day out.
It is a common mistake to forget the day only has 24 hours, and that you need to ride, sightsee, eat, sleep, fix problems if they occur, and all of that while still having fun.
Plans are made to be changed, but it is important to have one to start with.
Not doing pre-trip runs
By far the best way to answer the questions above?
Pack everything you think you need, and head out of a weekend ride.
More often than not, riders come back from that weekend with quite a few things to say.
After making a few weekend trips, your setup and necessities will be more accurate, so now take a week’s trip.
This will help you test your setup on a more extended adventure, and whatever comes out of that test, will be very close if not on point with what you will need for any long trip.
Any experienced long distance rider will tell you that what you need for a week, is what you will need for ten years, with the only difference being that you will have to replace some items over time.
In the same token, many will also tell you that what you need today, is not necessarily what you will need tomorrow.
Over time we change as people, and as such, our needs and thresholds change as well.
Doing pre-trips before every trip, regardless of your experience, is always a great bonus, and a step many forget.
Packing too much and not knowing what to pack
This one is probably the most common issue and is easily fixed during the pre-trips.
To find what you should take, on the first-weekend trip, pack everything you think you need.
You will see that you will come home to remove more than half for the second trip.
By the final week trip, you will have it narrowed down, and it will be time to test it all.
It is key is to make sure you know how to use every single item you take with you.
There is no point on carrying tools and camp stoves you don’t know how to use, but sadly it is a very common sight amongst rookies.
Not taking good care of yourself
Life on the road is not the same as life back home.
is real, and drinking coffee, cokes, beers, or energy drinks will get you more dehydrated, sticking with water is something you don’t see many rookies doing.
Physical exhaustion is real, so making sure you rest enough, and accepting you have to adapt your riding distances when you don’t, is a pro manoeuvre.
Making regular stops regardless of tiredness, stretching and walking on those stops, checking your posture on the bike, and wearing earplugs, are also commonly seen attitudes from long distance riders.
Proper food intake is also key to staying healthy on the road.
Long distance riding is a marathon, not a sprint, so always remember that the world won’t end if you don’t hit your pre determined miles for the day.
What is important is that you are healthy and rested to start again the next day.
Respect your body, it’s the only guarantee you have that you will make it to the end in one piece.
Forgetting that things go wrong
So many riders are incredibly well prepared, but forget one crucial point, sometimes things go south.
They just do!
Food poisoning, a twisted ankle when visiting a sightseeing spot, a broken down bike, paperwork issues, the list is endless.
Make sure you have a backup plan.
- Medical insurance that will cover you wherever you are riding in the world,
- Enough money for a plane ticket back home if needed, and that includes recovering from exhaustion or just plain homesickness, not necessarily just for medical issues
- Copies of all of your paperwork on the cloud in case your wallet and papers go missing
- Having the open mind to take any hurdle as part of the experience
Some people need more, some less, but for me, that has always served me well as a backup plan.
Forgetting that the open road can be lonely
Usually, the first month of traveling is always the hardest.
You are adapting to a new lifestyle, and regardless if you are alone, with a couple of friends or your spouse, your friends and family stayed back home.
You will go from missing a simple chat, to wishing they were there to see and experience your adventure with you.
Some of us are more sensitive to those things than others, but it is crucial to be prepared to deal with it.
Skype, talking to people wherever you stop on the road, staying in a place for more than a few hours, and meeting other travellers on the road has always helped me a lot.
Others may have different workarounds, but loneliness will hit us all sooner or later, in one way or another, and it’s better to be prepared than to be surprised and decide to cut the trip short because of it.
Forgetting to have fun
This one may seem stupid, but there is such a high amount of inputs everyday you are on the road, that it can become overwhelming incredibly fast.
If you are starting to feel overwhelmed, and remember that during the first month that is very likely, take a step back, and reduce the speed in which things are happening.
Do 200 miles instead of 500, spend 3 nights somewhere instead of a few hours, allow yourself to soak in the local culture, do whatever you need, but remember that you are out there to have fun!
Sadly, many forget that part, and focus only on reaching the end of the day, or fulfilling their trips plan.
It is also important to remember that a long distance trip doesn't start the day you turn the key and go.
They start the day you first dream about it, so enjoy every second of that dream, and of the preparation stages before you actually hit the road.
Now that you are aware of the most common issues, its time to get ahead of the problems and start having fun!
I would also advise a read on a different article we put out a while ago that focus itself more on comfort tips regarding long driving.
I'm sure you will also get a lot of value out of that article.