Go Back   Horizons Unlimited - The HUBB > Planning, Trip > Route Planning

Route Planning Where to go, when, what are the interesting places to see
Contact Overland Solutions for all your custom modifications and setup for overland travel.

Calendar Contest Voting is now CLOSED. Results to be posted shortly.


Reply
 
LinkBack Thread Tools Display Modes
  #1  
Old 13 Mar 2011
Registered Users
New on the HUBB
 
Join Date: Mar 2011
Posts: 7
Advice on first ever trip abroad (Europe)

Firstly hello everyone, I have been a lurker for a long time and I've have found all the stories very inspirational and have at last plucked up courage to go on a trip myself.

Reading all your rtw adventures i guess my adventure is a little lame but for me its a big step into a new world!

So do you have any ideas where I might go based on the following.

I will be riding my beloved Vespa GTS 250cc which will happily sit at 70mph.
I will be going in May from Friday night for 8 nights.
I will firstly be going to the Hook of Holland and into Amsterdam.
And my way home will be Calais back to London.
I will be staying in hotels, hopefully as cheap as possible.

I'm thinking Holland (at least Amsterdam , Germany (though i think the great roads are to far away), Brussels - Bruges, France - Dunkirk, not sure where else? Or what I'm missing?

I would be happy to ride around 100 - 150 miles a day and prefer if it was a fun ride.

Happy to go on the motorways when I need to get somewhere but would like some nice roads to ride on based bearing in my I have a scoot.
I do love the twisties be it country roads or just riding along the coast.
On occasion i'm happy to go through a jammed pack city as its fun to filter through, though not for to long though!

I would like to stay in some nice cities, Koln ? etc? and do a little sight seeing during the day their or elsewhere and at night have a little drink, live music and maybe the odd night at a club. I'm ready to meet some sexy European ladies lol

I wanted to see some of the historic war memorials etc in France.
I wondered if I could get to the Nürburgring ring and hire a car or brave it on the scoot - now that would be legendary if I survived.

It would be nice on occasion to stay at biker, scooter hang-outs?

Sorry for the long mail, but don't laugh I'm so excited, i know its not rtw!

Any suggestions or comments would be great.

thanks
__________________
Vespa GTS250
Reply With Quote
  #2  
Old 13 Mar 2011
*Touring Ted*'s Avatar
Contributing Member
Veteran HUBBer
 
Join Date: Jul 2005
Location: Wirral, England.
Posts: 4,284
Just pack your scoot and ride bro !! It will all be gravy !!
__________________
www.TouringTed.com
1994 XR650L
2001 NX650 Dominator.

BMW Dealer Technician
Welder/Fabricator

Ushuaia - Colombia 2007/8
UK- South Africa 2010/11
India 2012
Yukon 2012
South America 2014
U.K - Magadan 2015
Reply With Quote
  #3  
Old 13 Mar 2011
palace15's Avatar
Registered Users
Veteran HUBBer
 
Join Date: Feb 2005
Location: LONDONISTAN, England
Posts: 1,037
Quote:
Originally Posted by *Touring Ted* View Post
Just pack your scoot and ride bro !! It will all be gravy !!

As ted says, and at least you are planning on comfortable daily mileages, don't forget to post a trip report when you return, travelling is not all about RTW.
And to the HUBB
__________________
'He who laughs last, was too slow to get the joke'
Never confuse the map with the journey.
Reply With Quote
  #4  
Old 13 Mar 2011
Gold Member
Veteran HUBBer
 
Join Date: Jan 2002
Location: Toronto, Canada
Posts: 867
Hi Dave:

Congratulations on getting started on the first step, which is making your plans.

Although I ride a Honda ST1100, I don't think you will have any problem at all doing your tour on a 250 cc Vespa. The only practical restriction you will face is that you should plan to stay off the motorways - not because your scooter won't do 70 MPH, but because it will be kind of 'wound out' at 70 MPH, and it is no fun riding a motorcycle that is 'wound out', regardless of whether it is a Vespa at 70 MPH or a ST 1100 at 135 MPH.

Besides, motorways are the antithesis of enjoyable motorcycle touring - there's nothing worth seeing on a motorway, and everything that is enjoyable and worth seeing is on the secondary and tertiary roads. I only use motorways to transit between two points that are far away (e.g. Switzerland to Saxony if I am going to visit the Dresden area, for example), I never ride motorways once I get to my area of interest.

Considering that you have 7 days available, I suggest that you concentrate on doing one or two regions only (e.g. Flanders, Bruges, Dunkirk) - drop Germany off your list, it's a bit too far away. Nürburgring is way too far away.

The problem with being too ambitious about hitting a large number of destinations that are spread far apart in a short period of time (7 days) is that all you wind up with at the end of the day is a sore butt, a dirty windscreen, and an empty gas tank. I have spent a month or so riding in Europe every summer for the past 10 years, and without a doubt, the days that have been most enjoyable have been the days that I have covered 200 km (120 miles) or less on the odometer, and probably 100 km (60 miles) or less straight-line distance. Those are the days when you just poke along on the secondary or tertiary routes, get off the bike frequently for a coffee, or a meal, or just to look around, and check into a simple hotel or pension around 5 or 6 in the evening, rather than riding late into the night. Likewise, the days that have been the least enjoyable have been the days when I rode at highways speeds for 6 or 10 hours and covered a lot of miles. I once did Luxembourg to Poland in one day - but I can't tell you what I saw between those two points, other than a yellow stripe on the road directly in front of my motorcycle.

So, to sum up, my suggestion is that you get off the ferry at Hook of Holland and turn south - poke your way through Rotterdam (if you like big cities), head down towards Antwerp, then perhaps Gent - Brugge, Diksmuide, Ypres, perhaps even Vimy, then head back northwest to catch the Calais ferry.

A route like that would give your tour some congruity and a common theme. You would see 3 different countries and a whole lot of different cultures, but you would not be 'transiting' (riding at highway speeds on a motorway) all the time - instead, you would have the luxury of poking along the secondary and tertiary motorways.

Also keep in mind that it is not sensible or realistic to plan to ride every day. You are going to encounter some rainy days, or some windy days, or some days when you just want to stick around wherever you are and explore. So, out of 7 days total, plan to actually cover ground on only 5 of those days. If it turns out that you experience 7 consecutive sunny days, great, you can use the two extra days to do 'hub and spoke' exploration from a central place, and return to sleep in the same bed two nights in a row (saves all the headache of packing, checking out, finding a new place the next day, etc.)

To assist you in planning, I suggest you get a Michelin map of the Benelux region. I find that Michelin maps are the best for pre-departure planning.

Michael
Reply With Quote
  #5  
Old 13 Mar 2011
Registered Users
New on the HUBB
 
Join Date: Mar 2011
Posts: 7
Thanks for the suggestions so far, please keep then coming.

Also I know I said Amsterdam but what if I gave that a miss and started and finished in Calais, would that change the options I had available?

Michael, great reply thank you for the time you took to write it.
You have mentioned some very good points, I assumed I would be riding every day and didnt even think about the weather! Now for an English guy thats a school boy error as thats all we are supposed to talk about lol.

I will google all the places you mentioned and see what they look like and see if I can pick up the map you mentioned.

I do have a few questions,

Are there any good roads to ride on or I'm i totally in the wrong area? Or do I set a destination on the gps to avoid motorways and off I go. I can use the map to get an idea but my memory of where to head is really poor also I would be happy to go off the route if I have the reassurance of the GPS to help me if I got lost.

Are there any other places worth riding to or places to go if I do have these '2 days spare' dependent on weather.

In regards to hotels do you think I can just ride to each place then look for a hotel or do you suggest that I book a hotel from an internet cafe before leaving each town as its my first trip?

I see you mentioned about 7 places, is it the case of staying in each or are some of them just for a few hours wander around before moving on?

I've never been one for doing anything solo so I wont feel comfortable initially but will also enjoy the challenge. Do you think I will end up chatting to people as I go around, any tips?

Thanks guys
__________________
Vespa GTS250
Reply With Quote
  #6  
Old 13 Mar 2011
Gold Member
Veteran HUBBer
 
Join Date: Jan 2002
Location: Toronto, Canada
Posts: 867
Hello Again Dave:

Concerning route navigation, I suggest you get an inexpensive GPS and affix it to your handlebars in such a way that you can easily refer to it. You don't need to spend a fortune to do this. Then, get some kind of plastic cover (those sold to the sailboat crowd work great) that can hold a folded-up map. You then decide where you ultimately want to go that day, set the GPS to "avoid motorways" and "automatically re-route", and then head off down the road.

If you see somewhere / something / some route that looks interesting, just follow it. The GPS will then try to re-route you towards your destination - you can either ignore it or follow it as you wish, depending on how much you are enjoying the road you are presently on. The position depiction of the motorcycle on the GPS will enable you to spatially orient yourself to where you are on the paper map, and that in turn will give you all the confidence you need to do your navigation. Keep in mind that the whole purpose of the trip is exploration, not arrival at a destination. Therefore, except for the last day when you need to turn up at the Calais ferry terminal, it really doesn't matter what route you take on your trip.

Once you get the Michelin map of Benelux, you will easily be able to see where the interesting roads are - Michelin highlights the especially scenic roads with a green line down one side of the road. That will enable you to do preliminary route planning.

You asked if there are any 'good roads'. That is a very subjective question - do you mean a good road in the sense of the Sustenpass in Switzerland, where you have 10 hairpin turns every kilometer? Or a good road in the sense of one that is flat and straight, but leads you through a series of interesting villages in a fascinating and historical part of a country? So far as the latter is concerned, there will be no shortage of 'good roads' in the region your are planning to visit.

Concerning hotels, I never book ahead. Booking ahead means that you have to get to a 'destination' at the end of the day, and that creates stress. I just ride along and when I figure I have had enough riding for the day, I look around for somewhere to stay in the nearest village. You won't have any problem finding places to stay in the area that you are headed to. I usually stay in 2 to 4 star hotels. In the regions you plan to travel, there are lots of pensions, small village hotels, etc. - again, no problem whatsoever just showing up at the last minute and asking for a room.

You will have no problem striking up conversations, etc. wherever you go, be that in a hotel, a historical attraction, a cafe, whatever. One of the nice things about riding solo is that you can be as introverted or as extroverted as you want, depending on how you feel that moment.

In principle, avoid the tendency to 'overplan', which is a common error when people are planning their first motorcycle tour. If I was setting out to do what you are planning to do (Hook of Holland to Calais in 7 days), I would probably plan things in no more detail than the following:

Day 1: Explore Rotterdam. Maybe stay there overnight.
Day 2: Go south towards the Belgian border.
Day 3: Drift west towards the Diksmuide (Flanders) region.
Day 4: Explore Ypres, First World War historical sites.
Day 5: Explore more of whatever you found interesting on the first few days.
Day 6: Start heading towards Calais.

I'm not suggesting that you follow that itinerary, I'm just giving you an example of the (lack of) level of detail that I use when I plan tours.

Hope this helps,

Michael
Reply With Quote
  #7  
Old 14 Mar 2011
Registered Users
HUBB regular
 
Join Date: Aug 2008
Location: Hertfordshire, UK
Posts: 64
Quote:
Originally Posted by DaveLondon View Post

Do you think I will end up chatting to people as I go around, any tips?
Learn some French ??!!??
Reply With Quote
  #8  
Old 14 Mar 2011
Registered Users
Veteran HUBBer
 
Join Date: Apr 2008
Location: West Yorkshire UK
Posts: 1,172
There is a bit of a difference between Holland and Belgium and France that might be worth you knowing. Dutch geography means there are only two types of road, motorway and the equivalent of UK B-roads. France is bigger with a more widely spread population, so you have the N-Roads. These are the tree lines routes built by Napoleon for his armies. You get decently quick touring routes with traffic that isn't trying to do Autoroute speeds with the odd town to break up the journey. Belgium logically varies, the French N-roads filtering into Dutch motorways as they cross the country.

This means deciding where you want to ride and why. Holland and Belgium have the sights and cities (Amsterdam, Arnhem, Brussels, Waterloo etc.) while Northern France and the Ardennes has scenery, small towns with good food, empty roads etc.

Andy
Reply With Quote
  #9  
Old 14 Mar 2011
vdh-be's Avatar
Registered Users
HUBB regular
 
Join Date: Jun 2009
Location: Belgium
Posts: 81
Make a stop in Ghent on your way from Brussels to Bruges! You won't regret it.
Reply With Quote
  #10  
Old 14 Mar 2011
Contributing Member
New on the HUBB
 
Join Date: Jan 2011
Location: Gloucester
Posts: 4
I rode to the black sea coast in Bulgaria and back, did it in two weeks. My biggest mistake was that I planned the whole route!

My advice would be to make a list of places you want to visit and then just see how far you can get before you have to turn around. Some days you may want to travel the extra 50 miles other days you may only want to travel 50.
The most important thing is that you give yourself the choice to stop whenever you see something interesting.

One route I have always been thinking about doing is the western front from WW1, you can search the old images of the maps online and superimpose them onto a modern map, hey ho you have it preplanned.

There is always plenty of motels throughout europe that you can stop in and loads of campsites as well.

Please oh please dont do what I did and overplan, in the end I had to ride straight through Cambrai (first ever tank battle and quite interesting)

Good luck and enjoy!
Reply With Quote
  #11  
Old 14 Mar 2011
Gold Member
Veteran HUBBer
 
Join Date: Jan 2002
Location: Toronto, Canada
Posts: 867
Quote:
Originally Posted by dp3190 View Post
My advice would be to make a list of places you want to visit and then just see how far you can get before you have to turn around. Some days you may want to travel the extra 50 miles other days you may only want to travel 50. The most important thing is that you give yourself the choice to stop whenever you see something interesting.
Amen. The above is extraordinarily wise advice.

Every year (bar 1) for the past 10 years, I've taken a month off and gone riding in Europe. The first few years, I used to plan things intensively - make up daily routings to load into my GPS, draw lines on the map with a yellow highlighter, etc.

Nowadays, I just say to myself "I think I will go and look at this country" (or, "This particular part of this country"), and when I have used up 2/3 of my planned vacation time, I turn around and go home. Life is so much simpler and more enjoyable now... plus, I spend less money replacing tires.

Michael
Reply With Quote
  #12  
Old 17 Mar 2011
Registered Users
New on the HUBB
 
Join Date: Mar 2011
Posts: 7
thanks for the advice, you have changed my perspective on the trip in a positive way. My plan of action so far is..

1. Buy the michelin maps and explore a little.
2. Buy a camera
2. Buy a long life battery for my GPS
3. Buy a waterproof bag and work out how to tie my car gps to my handlebars
4. Choose a start point of Hook of Holland or Calais.
5. Pick out a few sights I want to see and have some extras for back up.
5. Book my first hotel in advance and leave the rest to book as I go.
6. Go where I want, when I want and just ride, relax, and chill. No rush, no pressure, and little planning.

And my last questions if anyone know the anwers !
Is their anything I should take with me for a weeks travel? An yes I am taking spare pants lol

e.g. money, visa card , petrol can (i have a very safe 100 mile range). I heard lots of petrol stations are unmanned and dont take credit cards !!!

What breakdown service do you recommend?

Do I need to take hi viz and spare bulbs, triangle?

Do I need to alter my bulb and how?

thank you
__________________
Vespa GTS250

Last edited by DaveLondon; 18 Mar 2011 at 00:01.
Reply With Quote
  #13  
Old 17 Mar 2011
Registered Users
HUBB regular
 
Join Date: Mar 2011
Location: YORKSHIRE
Posts: 25
good luck with your journey!
If you need any inspiration, source a copy of "Vroom by the Sea" by Peter Moore - he travelled a lot of Italy on a 1972 Vespa Rally 200. Taking my copy with me on my forthcoming tour of Italy !
__________________
I am a traveller, not a tourist.
Reply With Quote
  #14  
Old 18 Mar 2011
Registered Users
New on the HUBB
 
Join Date: Mar 2011
Posts: 7
Quote:
Originally Posted by MedMan View Post
good luck with your journey!
If you need any inspiration, source a copy of "Vroom by the Sea" by Peter Moore - he travelled a lot of Italy on a 1972 Vespa Rally 200. Taking my copy with me on my forthcoming tour of Italy !
Thanks are you going on a scoot or a bike?
__________________
Vespa GTS250
Reply With Quote
  #15  
Old 18 Mar 2011
Registered Users
Veteran HUBBer
 
Join Date: Apr 2008
Location: West Yorkshire UK
Posts: 1,172
Headlight and tail/brake light bulbs are a must, forget the rest you won't get caught. I do carry a hi-viz vest for the hard shoulder and a FAK for my own use (hangover pills etc.), but leave the firefighting kit and things to get boy scouts out of horses hooves to truck drivers and the plod.

UK cards can be a PITA especially on a Sunday in rural areas where the petrol stations go automated from about 5.30 on Saturday. I carry enough cash for a days ride, fill up on Saturday and try to have a rough plan for getting where I want to be via the bigger roads. I've never had trouble finding fuel in sensible places. Faced with an automated station that won't play, just wait for a local and ask them to fill up for your cash. Horrible Gherkin etc. sell a nice little 500ml fuel can if you think it will be good for your mental health.

I used RAC for years, but recovery via your insurance can be better. They seem to argue less should you need a full recovery back home. Given the age and book value of my machinery, I just have a credit card with a limit big enough to hire a van. No point fighting with a company who'll want me to take a cheque for fifty quid and walk away.

Don't let this stuff worry you, this will be a great trip on the road to wherever you want to go.

Andy
Reply With Quote
Reply


Currently Active Users Viewing This Thread: 1 (0 Registered Users and/or Members and 1 guests)
 
Thread Tools
Display Modes

Posting Rules
You may not post new threads
You may not post replies
You may not post attachments
You may not edit your posts

BB code is On
Smilies are On
[IMG] code is On
HTML code is Off
Trackbacks are On
Pingbacks are On
Refbacks are On


Similar Threads
Thread Thread Starter Forum Replies Last Post
First Trip Advice richard86 Route Planning 4 22 Jun 2010 14:38
Summer Trip through Europe Sweden and maybe Russia...ADVICE!!! Tris Route Planning 3 12 Mar 2010 11:29
First trip abroad, a weekend in normandy. iand Europe 22 2 Feb 2009 17:31
RTW Trip - NEED Help and Advice AndyWx Route Planning 30 30 Nov 2008 21:58
Europe / UK Trip advice wanted. Route Planning 5 14 Jul 2001 00:14

 
 



HU DVD Spring Special!

Buy the Achievable Dream Collectors Set and get Road Heroes Part 1 FREE!

Achievable Dream - The Whole Enchilada!

Cooped up indoors in crap weather? Binge watch over 20 hours of inspiring, informative and entertaining stories and tips from 150 travellers! Check it out at the HU Store! Remember to order them both and use Coupon Code 'BoxSet+' on your order when you checkout.


What others say about HU...

"I just wanted to say thanks for doing this and sharing so much with the rest of us." Dave, USA

"Your website is a mecca of valuable information and the DVD series is informative, entertaining, and inspiring! The new look of the website is very impressive, updated and catchy. Thank you so very much!" Jennifer, Canada

"...Great site. Keep up the good work." Murray and Carmen, Australia

"We just finished a 7 month 22,000+ mile scouting trip from Alaska to the bottom of Chile and I can't tell you how many times we referred to your site for help. From how to adjust your valves, to where to stay in the back country of Peru. Horizons Unlimited was a key player in our success. Motorcycle enthusiasts from around the world are in debt to your services." Alaska Riders


contest pic

10th Annual HU Travellers Photo Contest is on now! This is an opportunity for YOU to show us your best photos and win prizes!

NEW! HU 2014 Adventure Travel T-shirts! are now available in several colors! Be the first kid on your block to have them! New lower prices on synths!

HU 2014 T-shirts now in!

Check out the new Gildan Performance cotton-feel t-shirt - 100% poly, feels like soft cotton!


What turns you on to motorcycle travel?


Global Rescue, WORLDwide evacuation services for EVERYONE

Global Rescue is the premier provider of medical, security and evacuation services worldwide and is the only company that will come to you, wherever you are, and evacuate you to your home hospital of choice. Additionally, Global Rescue places no restrictions on country of citizenship - all nationalities are eligible to sign-up!




New to Horizons Unlimited?

New to motorcycle travelling? New to the HU site? Confused? Too many options? It's really very simple - just 4 easy steps!

Horizons Unlimited was founded in 1997 by Grant and Susan Johnson following their journey around the world on a BMW R80 G/S motorcycle.

Susan and Grant Johnson Read more about Grant & Susan's story

Membership - help keep us going!

Horizons Unlimited is not a big multi-national company, just two people who love motorcycle travel and have grown what started as a hobby in 1997 into a full time job (usually 8-10 hours per day and 7 days a week) and a labour of love. To keep it going and a roof over our heads, we run events (22 this year!); we sell inspirational and informative DVDs; we have a few selected advertisers; and we make a small amount from memberships.

You don't have to be a Member to come to an HU meeting, access the website, the HUBB or to receive the e-zine. What you get for your membership contribution is our sincere gratitude, good karma and knowing that you're helping to keep the motorcycle travel dream alive. Contributing Members and Gold Members do get additional features on the HUBB. Here's a list of all the Member benefits on the HUBB.



Books & DVDs

amazon

All the best travel books and videos listed and often reviewed on HU's famous Books page. Check it out and get great travel books from all over the world.


Motorcycle Express for shipping and insurance!

Motorcycle Express

MC Air Shipping, (uncrated) USA / Canada / Europe and other areas. Be sure to say "Horizons Unlimited" to get your $25 discount on Shipping!
Insurance - see: For foreigners traveling in US and Canada and for Americans and Canadians traveling in other countries, then mail it to MC Express and get your HU $15 discount!






All times are GMT +1. The time now is 04:46.