Plan your trip!
Have you been dreaming of a motorcycle trip to distant climes? Heading to the markets of Marrakech, tackling the Karakoram Highway or cruising the Pan American to Tierra del Fuego? But you have questions: Where and when should I go? How much will it cost? What happens if I get sick? What about the paperwork? And what the heck is a carnet de passage, anyway? This section will help you to answer these questions and many others, and to plan your trip, whether it's just to the next state or country or all the way around the world!
What do I need to know?
Lots! But not nearly as much as you might think. Many people are put off because they think it's so hard, and there is so much you need to know, so much planning and preparation, that they get bogged down in the morass of information they THINK they need, and never do it, because it just seems too hard.
The truth is it's actually pretty easy - anyone reading this, with a valid motorcycle licence, and ANY motorcycle, can get on it and ride around the world. It's BEEN DONE! We know people who got their licence's weeks before leaving, and made it all the way around. Tiny women, grandmothers and grandfathers, pensioners, big husky guys, fresh out of school kids, all have done it.
Having said that, here are a few things you should do to make the trip easier, safer and more fun.
- Read all you can about the places you want to visit, and make a list of all the interesting things, places and people you read about. Read Lonely Planet books on the area you want to go to. You can't carry half a dozen LP's, they weigh a ton, so don't be afraid to tear out pages of interest.
- Learn map reading - take an orienteering course so you've completely comfortable with maps and compasses. Carry two compasses.
- Take a First Aid course. Knowing the basics could be very valuable. St. John's Ambulance does a great course. Put together a good medical kit.
- Get a thorough medical checkup.
- Get all the right jabs/shots well in advance. Some are done over a period of a couple of months - you don't want to leave it till the last minute.
- Take a course in motorcycle maintenance if you're inexperienced. Just knowing the basics could save a lot of trouble and expense. You don't need to know everything, just enough to have an idea how to get it going if it breaks. Visit your dealer and persuade him to let you watch and talk to the mechanic when he services your bike. Offer to pay extra for the privilege - you're a pain in the neck to the mechanic! A six pack for the mechanic helps... ;)
- Take a rider training course. Anything from basic "how to ride" Beginner courses, refreshers, advanced skills, and off-road courses are all of huge benefit to you, no matter what your skill level. I always recommend at least one refresher course, and if you're not a very experienced off-road rider , strongly recommend an off-road course. Even experienced off-road riders aren't usually used to a fully loaded touring bike on dirt. With a rider and passenger, you can easily be well over 1000 pounds (450kg), and all the off-road skills in the world won't help if you make a mistake and it starts to go over. A good course will help you avoid painful mistakes. BMW runs a very good course in Hechlingen, Germany, which is highly recommended. Another course I can recommend for North Americans is by Rawhyde Adventures. And if you mention Horizons Unlimited, you get a US$100 discount on his full 3 day course.
- Make sure you're insured in the event of an accident. Go to http://www.carolenash.com/ for more information in the UK.
- Finally and most important, is to read Horizons Unlimited! The world is changing constantly, and whatever you know today is out-of-date tomorrow.
- The HUBB will keep you posted on changes, and you can always ask if in doubt, and get fast answers to most questions from someone who really knows, cause they were just there!
- The HU Travellers Newsletter will give you a ton of inspiration and information on what travellers are enjoying, the problems they had and how they solved them along the way.
- Check out the Communities too, there's over 700 in 110 countries, and all those people joined because they love motorcycle travel, and really want to meet travellers from all over the world. They aren't there just to help in case of emergency, they want to meet you and say hi, and show you their town. Take advantage of that, you'll be glad you did! And when you get home, start or join a local Community for your area.
There is a wealth of information available, but it's often hard to find, locked away on this website in travellers tales, the e-zine and the HUBB, as well as other websites and just in peoples heads.
We have and will continue to put a lot of the information in ourselves, but we can't do it all.
And that's where you come in. Many of you have been there, done that, got the T-shirt. So how about passing on the information? If you see a topic that you'd like to contribute to, let me know, and you can help everyone by writing the story! There are forms, like the Bike Shipping Form, which make it easy for you to enter info and us to update the site.
You could be an expert on tents, or work for the Automobile Association in your country and know all about Carnets, or know all there is to know about maps, or GPS, or who knows what else. We can use your expertise!
As you look through these pages, if you see that something is missing, please let us know so we can add it to the list.
Thanks, Grant & Susan
Make your dream a reality - start your planning!
- Why a Bike?
- Country Information
- GPS Routes and Tracks
- Budgeting for your trip
- Paperwork for you and your bike
- Carnet de Passage Explained
- Sample Medical Kit
- Planning Schedule
Shipping the Bike
Resources and Links
Horizons Unlimited presents!
The Achievable Dream 5-part series - the definitive guide on DVD for planning your motorcycle adventure. Get Ready! covers planning, paperwork, medical and many other topics! "Inspirational and Awesome!" See the trailer here!
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Hosted by Grant and Susan Johnson, RTW 1987-1998
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