Touring Tips

I’ve done a fair bit of touring now, including both islands of New Zealand, Tasmania, across the USA and mainland Australia.

I’ve put together a bit of a checklist for planning a long ride.

Tip 1

Use a GPS (this one has a wide screen and was a breeze to use) to navigate around cities and Road Atlas (Rand McNally Road Atlas) for outside cities.

This was probably the best tip I got for the ride – we used a GPS to get us in and out of the cities, and road maps the rest of the time.

That way, we lost no time trying to find our way in cities and were able to find the beautiful deserted country roads the rest of the time.

(Note: I had Harry hold the GPS and tap me on the right shoulder when I had to turn right, left shoulder for left and middle of the back to go straight ahead.  That was as much about giving him some control and feeling part of the navigation than anything else – worked beautifully.)

Tip 2

Get the right gear.  If you’re going somewhere cold, then get solid cold weather motorcycling gear.

Seems obvious, but a cheap pair of gloves can mean the difference between crashing and not.

Tip 3

Only pack what you really, really need.

On smaller motorbike trips of 12 days or less, I generally take the clothes I’m wearing and a couple of spare pairs of jocks and socks, and a pair of trousers.

I buy $2 t-shirts at Op Shop as I go.

You’ve got limited storage space – use it wisely.

  • Check out our Gear List here (with some tips – the one about putting your gear in a zip lock bag is the best/most convenient packing thing I’ve ever done.)
  • Here’s a neat Trip Gear Planner too.

Tip 4

Be realistic – on the ride across the USA I found myself doing a couple of much longer than expect days and riding at night (which I hate and is crazy dangerous).

Don’t be an idiot like me, plan enough to keep safe.

Tip 5

Ride your own ride, not the guy in front of you.

If the person you’re riding with is faster, let him or her go.

They’re comfortable at their pace and you’re comfortable at yours.

Some days people feel like going faster, other days they’re a lot slower.

Go your speed and enjoy the ride.

I’ve ridden with big groups, small groups, with 1 other person and by myself.  They’ll all great, just different experiences.

Tip 6

Take the time to check your motorcycle thoroughly before and during your trip.

A minor glitch can be a big problem and spoil your enjoyment.  Tyre pressure is the most important one people seem to overlook.

Tip 7

Don’t wipe bugs off your visor.  It smears them :o)

Clean them off with a sponge in a gas station.

Tip 8

It’s a journey, not just a ride.

On our trip I was very conscious that it was a journey. Shit happens and things go wrong.

No biggie – all part of the experience.

I can’t begin to tell you how much young Harry learned on this trip from travelling to dealing with strangers to negotiating to finding solutions for problems.

On reflection, he’s said the best parts were when we broke down in Death Valley and when we got lost!  All part of the journey of life.

Remember, if you’re a tourist you’ll “see” what you want to see.  If you’re a traveller, you’ll see what’s there.