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After the big trip They came, went... and did it! But where are they now? DID that big trip change their lives? What to do with all the travel experience and how to use it? How to get a job afterwards! Was the trip the best - or worst - thing you ever did?
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  #1  
Old 12 Nov 2009
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Ever backpack after taking a big motorcycle trip?

So after riding through 15 countries and 2 continents I find myself wanting to travel again.

I'm ready to start planning another very long trip and my first intent is to do another motorcycle trip. This leads me to my question:

Have you ever gone back to backpacking after making a big motorcycle trip?

I started thinking of the carnets, the major logistics involved in shipping the bike, security, and all additional costs of motorcycle travel... and wonder what it'd be like to backpack. So if you've done it, what did you think? Did you miss your moto? Were you able to feel like you were traveling independently? For your next trip, you going back to moto?
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  #2  
Old 12 Nov 2009
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I had to 'backback' for a couple of weeks in Malaysia while I waited for my bike to turn up from Australia at the port.

After waiting 5 hours for a bus to KL (the first one was full), I couldn't wait for it to arrive!
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  #3  
Old 13 Nov 2009
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I mix it up a lot. Each has advantages, but there´s no doubt that once I´ve planned a bike trip I´m frustrated at having to shoulder a backpack while waiting for parts, repairs, shipments or etc. ç

Traveling alone, as I generally do, is isolating--think long hours inside my helmet listening mainly to my own thoughts. On the other hand, backpacking tends to land you where all the backpackers go, which might be a good thing were I still 22, innocent, full of hubris and incapable of imagining long, drawn-out futures. Oh, and also if I craved drunkenness and the company of drunks more than I apparently do: at this stage in my life, once a week or so seems to suffice.

Mileage varies.

Mark
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Old 14 Nov 2009
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All my long travels have been on a bike but i've considered backpacking as it's always seemed so much simpler and cheaper..

Then I think back to those buses full of 18 year old kids on "study breaks", 10 hour coach journeys to another tourist rip off destination, being stuck in overcrowded hostels near the bus stations...

Coming to think of it, it sounds like much MORE hasel without a bike.

I reckon having the freedom of your own transport is well worth the cost of shipping, carnets etc.

Anyway, how much can you experience a country with your face up against a bus or train window ?
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Old 14 Nov 2009
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oooh, interesting question... i only sit on the back, so its different for me, but i would hate having to lug a backpack after motorbike trip experience. i caught a bus recently when we left our bike behind for some stupid reason, and it was horrible, everyone sat on top of each other and earpiercinglyu loud music. the bike faffing still seems worth it, even with all the bureaucracy crud. even if it was just me on my own i'd get a scooter i think. (and then probably fall off and die). interesting to see what other people think tho? can you go back to normal wandering about??
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  #6  
Old 14 Nov 2009
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Quote:
Originally Posted by nico-la-vo View Post
oooh, interesting question... i only sit on the back, so its different for me, but i would hate having to lug a backpack after motorbike trip experience. i caught a bus recently when we left our bike behind for some stupid reason, and it was horrible, everyone sat on top of each other and earpiercinglyu loud music. the bike faffing still seems worth it, even with all the bureaucracy crud. even if it was just me on my own i'd get a scooter i think. (and then probably fall off and die). interesting to see what other people think tho? can you go back to normal wandering about??
Don't sell yourself low !!

I think it's harder and braver to ride pillion than up front !
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  #7  
Old 14 Nov 2009
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Me and the Girlfriend are going on a little backpacking tour this winter, so I spend a bit of thought on this very same issue. Sure enough the term 'Backpacking' brings images of gap year tipes, drunks and boring tales of youth hostels to mind.

But then again, thinking about motorbiking one might as well think about mid 40ish Lawyers and Accountants riding to their coffee break on underridden and overpayed harleys. Image is just not important, what you do with your spare times and ressources is!

So when we (seasoned, experienced and weathered travelleres, that we are) say backpacking we just mean travelling without much of anything and especially without our own means of transportation and relying on local infrastructure instead. So:

Quote:
Originally Posted by tedmagnum View Post
Then I think back to those buses full of 18 year old kids on "study breaks", 10 hour coach journeys to another tourist rip off destination, being stuck in overcrowded hostels near the bus stations...
This has nothing at all to do with how you travel and all with what type of trip you are doing. Never met the guy on a shiny new motorbike traveling between overpriced hotels and hanging out with foreigners?

So wether your trip is just an exercise of endurance and socializing with other westerners or a remarkable experience does not depend on the means you do it with, but on how you do it.

Backpacking, Motorbiking, Kajaking, Walking, Sailing, Pogo-Sticking, whatever floats your boat!


Edit: Fixed a broken quote tag.
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  #8  
Old 14 Nov 2009
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[quote=buebo;264046]Me and the Girlfriend are going on a little backpacking tour this winter, so I spend a bit of thought on this very same issue. Sure enough the term 'Backpacking' brings images of gap year tipes, drunks and boring tales of youth hostels to mind.

But then again, thinking about motorbiking one might as well think about mid 40ish Lawyers and Accountants riding to their coffee break on underridden and overpayed harleys. Image is just not important, what you do with your spare times and ressources is!

So when we (seasoned, experienced and weathered travelleres, that we are) say backpacking we just mean travelling without much of anything and especially without our own means of transportation and relying on local infrastructure instead. So:

Quote:
Originally Posted by tedmagnum View Post
Then I think back to those buses full of 18 year old kids on "study breaks", 10 hour coach journeys to another tourist rip off destination, being stuck in overcrowded hostels near the bus stations.../quote]

This has nothing at all to do with how you travel and all with what type of trip you are doing. Never met the guy on a shiny new motorbike traveling between overpriced hotels and hanging out with foreigners?

So wether your trip is just an exercise of endurance and socializing with other westerners or a remarkable experience does not depend on the means you do it with, but on how you do it.

Backpacking, Motorbiking, Kajaking, Walking, Sailing, Pogo-Sticking, whatever floats your boat!
Well said !!
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  #9  
Old 15 Nov 2009
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Quote:
Originally Posted by tedmagnum View Post
All my long travels have been on a bike but i've considered backpacking as it's always seemed so much simpler and cheaper..

Then I think back to those buses full of 18 year old kids on "study breaks", 10 hour coach journeys to another tourist rip off destination, being stuck in overcrowded hostels near the bus stations...

Anyway, how much can you experience a country with your face up against a bus or train window ?
I´ve been on backpacking trips where no 18 year old has the imagination to even dream of going. You´re as limited as you allow yourself to be, with bike or backpack.

Personally, I find it frustrating that I spend most of my days now listening to my own thoughts, rather than interacting with local people the way I used to on local transport (which means cars, trucks, buses, donkey carts, camels, freight and passenger trains, and foot). You don´t get that with a bike.

What I don´t miss is waiting around in the hot sun in the center of little villages for the truck that might show up later today....or maybe tomorrow....or maybe not, who knows? But I take my impatience as a sign I´m getting old and soft. If I was still young and tough, I´d still be hopping freight trains and rampaging around the way I used to. I´d have a lot less baggage to worry about, too.

The takeaway lesson here is: don´t confuse the means of travel with the validity, authenticity or difficulty.

Mark

(From Nicaragua, where I´m paying twice as much for my hotel as I might otherwise, solely to insure safe parking for my bike)

Safe journeys!
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  #10  
Old 15 Nov 2009
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Quote:
Originally Posted by markharf View Post
What I don´t miss is waiting around in the hot sun in the center of little villages for the truck that might show up later today....or maybe tomorrow....or maybe not, who knows? But I take my impatience as a sign I´m getting old and soft. If I was still young and tough, I´d still be hopping freight trains and rampaging around the way I used to. I´d have a lot less baggage to worry about, too.
Thats more what I'm wondering. I guess what I need to think about as you're pointing out is if I have to tolerance/patience to use public transit/hitch/horseback.

I've just never backpacked since my "eurorail" trip 10 years ago (!!??!!). I think I'd be bored of a trip like that after a week, but you bring up a good point that just because I'm 'backpackin' it, doesn't mean I have to go from tourist bus to hostel to landmark. I can still mosey around like I do on a motorcycle.

It is just neat to hear what others have experienced with such transitions.. so lets hear your return to backpacking stories



(From Nicaragua, where I´m paying twice as much for my hotel as I might otherwise, solely to insure safe parking for my bike)

Safe journeys![/quote]
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  #11  
Old 15 Nov 2009
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hmm no maybe its true and its a question of image, which is of course total balls. maybe if i didnt have the whole gap-year drunken 18yr old image in my head, and i just went on without the bike it would be an even better experience. but i can escape the feeling that with a bike, the inbetween bits where there is no tourist infrastructure are the best bits, the bits where you ride through and stop in a village where no one has ever seen one of you before, and its ok to stare at each other etc. thats less easy (i think) when backpacking, because i tend to get lulled into staying in the tourist spots. if i was more disciplined i would get the 3rd class trains and the local buses, and stay in fleapits or at friendly peoples houses, but sometimes i havent the energy and resort to the comfortable option. on a bike you get thrown into situations more so theres no choice.
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Old 15 Nov 2009
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"The 18 year old gap year" is not through personal eperience, just what I saw when I passed through tourist hot spots on my travels. Anyone whos been to Ushuaia, El Calafate, or Iguazu will understand. (obviously other numerous places too).
I personally couldnt wait to get out of there let alone have to deal with them everyday.

I'm mainly just really passing on experiences of friends and acquaintances who started off backpacking in South America, Austrailia etc and after meeting a couple of bikers started looking for bikes themselves as they felt it was very difficult or in some cases impossible to get off the "road more travelled"..

They were bikers at heart and very frustrated with being stuck on the tourist buses to get around.

I don't think id feel safe hitching hiking in foriegn countries to be honest !

I've been on a bus or train and zipped past some really really cool places where a backpacker would pretty much have no chance of getting to without a few days car hopping with drunken locals, waiting in a dead end town waiting for the bus that never comes and no idea if you could even get back after a night or 2 camping. etc etc !

Still, no way impossible just much more of what I consider to be a ball ache !

Havn't you ever been buzzing down a road, seen a sign for something odd or interesting and just turned the bike around ???

I have to agree with nico-lo-vo !!, it takes alot of motivation and energy to do that without your own wheels. Probably the reason most of us use bikes and use a motorcycle travel website !!
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Old 15 Nov 2009
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I don't think I could do it long term. Too much forward planning around buses/trains/blagging lifts. I stay in youth hostels with my motorbike and pity folks who leave early to get a train/bus and then spend all day on the damn thing until they get to somewhere at night. Freedom is waking up, picking a scenic road on a map, and only worrying about how much petrol you've got.
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Old 15 Nov 2009
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I spent a couple of weeks backpacking round Japan with my son back in July. The first thing I realised was that I'd forgotten was just how heavy and unwieldy the d*m rucksacks were. You were not welcome getting on a crowded train or a bus with them and the thought of walking any distance with them in Japanese summer heat and humidity soon went out the window. Loading it all onto a bike when you come out of a hotel in the morning seems a much better idea.

Getting to Japan was easy though - buy a ticket and turn up at the airport. Find somewhere to stay on Hostels.com. Going there by bike would have taken a bit more than the time we had to say the least. Same thing for our previous trip to China. Without Charlie Boormans contacts there wasn't much chance of getting hold of a bike either (even though he arrived in Tokyo two days before we left- you'd have thought he could have passed on his cast-offs. Thanks Charlie!).

For me traveling by bike is a much better idea when it's practical. Yes you have the hassle of security, extra paperwork, worry about accidents / injuries /breakdowns etc but all of these are outweighed by the convenience of being able to go where you want at your pace. I've both backpacked and biked round West Africa and of the two the bike trips were more enjoyable but the backpacking did have its moments - the very pleasant afternoon I spent at the side of the road taking tea and talking to the locals and fellow passengers while the bus driver went 30 miles on a donkey to get a spare part for the bus wouldn't have happened if I'd been on the bike. Neither would my masterclass in how to pick peanuts without getting stung by scorpions have happened without another bus breaking down.

On the other hand spending 24 hrs on (yet another) bus watching a crack in the roof slowly open because too many goats have been loaded onto the roof whilst wondering if it's the gradually worsening intestinal problem or the roof collapse that's going to get me first made me appreciate the bike.

Backpacking - that is moving around a country by public transport carrying all your possessions with you - is harder than it appears - and it gets harder as you get older. Not only physically but also in the way people relate to you. I'm well into my 50's and I was getting some very strange looks from the locals in Japan, looks that my 19yr old son didn't get - a sort of "you're old enough to know better"
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wondering if it's the gradually worsening intestinal problem or the roof collapse that's going to get me first made me appreciate the bike.
Hahahah. Bouncing along a dirt track in the back of a crowded West African bache while everyone tries to evade the streams of goat urine coming from the terrified animals on the roof....that´s life at its finest, fer sure!

My personal theoretical overview says that the more I am in control, the fewer real adventures I tend to have. ¨In control¨in this context means carrying credit and ATM cards, bringing my own vehicle, knowing where I´m going, speaking the language, and in general having backup systems in place in order to deal with whatever might transpire. You might think that your ability to turn your bike around and investigate that little town represents adventure, but my view is that this is precisely the absence of true adventure, because it remains under your control. The fact that I´m increasingly old and lazy doesn´t alter the cause and effect relationship between safety, predictability and sticking with what I can control....and boredom.

OTOH, adventure is where you find it--and it´s primarily internal anyway. I don´t mean to present a one-sided picture; it´s just that sometimes I think we need to face up to the fact that we´re all busy trying to control everything in our lives, then wondering why none of it seems to fulfill us anymore.

Or maybe that´s just me.

I´ll repeat, though, that you can easily do wild and exciting stuff as a backpacker. To those archetypal 18 year old gap year backpackers, this might mean drinking to the point of insensibility, then trying to pick up local women in between vomiting in the gutters in Riga or Prague (to pick a few places, not at random). To me, that´s not reall where it´s at.

enjoy,

Mark

(old and lazy and motorbiking towards TDF in an entirely predictable, controllable manner....more or less)
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