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-   -   First "get away" in Americas planning (http://www.horizonsunlimited.com/hubb/route-planning/first-get-away-americas-planning-61820)

AnjinSan 10 Feb 2012 07:30

First "get away" in Americas planning

I am from Europe. So far I've only traveled by motorcycle on my continent. I am planning for a longer trip with my bike in Americas (rather ambiguous but I will explain below).

The things I will have to work with:
- approximately 6 months of leave from work. Could be a more could be a little less.
- starting date is June or July 2012.
- I will be traveling on a DL650, 2up with my wife (yes, not only she likes motorcycles but also wants and supports this big "go away trip" :) )
- no "required" destination or place to see. We want to remain flexible in planning the trip ( hence asking for help here)
- the budget would be rather tight. I would say around 14k so far. We will have to rely for sure on CS, free camping and so on in order to stretch the cash as much as possible.

The ideal option would be to :
-fly to N.America, go to Alaska, then go all the way down to the tip of Argentina.

Now, the (rather general) questions:

Big question is:
Would 6 months suffice for this? I do not want to be in a hurry but I also do not want to spend weeks in one place.
For Europe 6 months could be an "eternity" (meaning I could travel all over the continent and plenty. It would also be very expensive... But Americas... I have no idea :(

So presuming I would have 6 months, should I try to reach for the whole "way down" or should I just settle for N.A. C.A. or S.A.?

- for example, since I do not have a lot of cash, it would make more sense maybe to just fly to S. America. This should be cheaper once I get there ( from what I've read here) but on the other hand shipping me and my bike there and back is more expensive than shipping to N. America.

Second big question:

- should I be worried that my time frame (6 months starting in June or July) is not the best time frame for Central America and S. America?
What would you advice regarding traveling in august for example in Central America? Is it doable/enjoyable by motorcycle or is just very veeery wet ?

I realize that my questions might be "basic" for more seasoned riders on those parts of the world. But, taking in consideration the details I've provided at the beginning, what would you advice?


markharf 10 Feb 2012 08:26

Of course you should take more time if you can, and bring more money while you're at it. This aside:

Your timing is good: Alaska in June or July, Ushuaia in December or January. You'll have to move at a steady pace, but you'll have enough time provided you don't take too many side trips or get too distracted. You'll want to start fairly close to Alaska--Seattle or Vancouver rather than, say, Atlanta or Halifax. You'll want to be sure you're both planning to move steadily--this means riding most days, for quite a few hours each day. If one of you is miserable, the other will be too.

Your budget.....well, 14k in what currency? Euros? Dollars? Kroner? Does this need to cover your airfare to North America? Shipping the bike to North America? Shipping the bike home? Your airfare home?

You said your traveling budget includes some camping and couch surfing. That being the case, US$14,000 will stretch to cover your trip excluding your own airfare and bike shipping at beginning and end. 14k euros might cover shipping and airfare as well, depending on whether the euro nosedives between now and then. But costs are ridiculously variable between one rider and the next. Fuel costs might go up substantially too.

Hope that's helpful.


pecha72 10 Feb 2012 09:17

I´m no expert on the Americas, been there a few times, but I think here you can get better informed answers, than I can give about timing, etc. in that part of the world.... But regarding the timeframe: yes I think it should be fully possible ride from Alaska to Tierra del Fuego in 6 months. An organised group from my country actually did it in 2,5 months a couple of years ago (and it´s been done even a lot faster – but I´m not saying, that I would want to do it in just 2,5 months or faster!)

If you´ve already travelled a fair bit with the bike, then you´ll know, how much there is to see and do pretty much everywhere, most of which you will miss, if you just ride through a country. Getting deeper into the sights, culture, people, food, will take MUCH more time. And on a trans-continental trip, you might simply want to just relax somewhere for a few weeks sometimes, because covering the long distance might eat your energy, and you´ll need to ´charge´ your batteries. On this particular trip, transporting the bike across the Darien Gap between Central and South America is going to take some time, too.

Taking these into consideration, personally I would prefer to have a bit more time to do Alaska to TDF... but if I really didn´t have more than 6 months, and really wanted to do it, then for me it would be an acceptable compromise. The pace at which people like to travel does differ a lot, though, so I can only speak for myself.

A few years back, I rode from Finland to Australia with my girlfriend as a pillion (on a DL650 actually – you´ve chosen a great bike for 2-up, I think!) and we spent almost exactly 6 months, and did a bit more than 34000 road kilometers. Instead of 1, we had 3 mandatory freighting legs on our route, that ate up from that time (and I guess Alaska to TDF on the straightest route could be a bit shorter, something like 22-25 thousand kms, but any detours might quickly add to that considerably)... anyway, I remember thinking, that 8-9 months could´ve been sort of ´optimum´ for us for that trip, and the extra 2-3 months I would´ve spent by doing some longer detours in some parts, and also resting a bit longer in some nice places. But if we´d had unlimited time & money, which naturally we did not have, then it would have been easy to spend even several years doing that route.

Do note, that doing the Americas from Europe will be more expensive, than starting to ride from your own doorstep, because you will need to fly in and out (ok, there are some ship options, too, but I don´t think they´re much cheaper!) and if you take your own bike there, and back, that´s also going to add to your budget considerably.

Even though we went another way, in case you´re interested, there´s something from our trip here:
MOTO1 - Matkalla

AnjinSan 10 Feb 2012 09:48

Thanks for the replies guys.

@markharf you are right, that was my thinking as well: to try and fly in directly in Vancouver and take it from there. (I am in the process of finding a good deal for shipping)

@pecha72: you (and your trip) were one of the reasons I bought a DL650 last year. So even though you might not know it, your stories here on HUBB helped a lot. Thank you for that :)

both of your answers give me some hope. I was really thinking is not possible to do it from top to bottom in 6 months and was considering just choosing one or 2 of the continents.

So for now the points taken are:
- it could be possible to do it on 6 months and with 14k euros without going to extremes (in terms of raiding per day or frugality per day)
- of course more time and/or more money could be useful.
- the hole trip is possible and I am not completely crazy.

pecha72 10 Feb 2012 12:42


Originally Posted by AnjinSan (Post 366708)
@pecha72: you (and your trip) were one of the reasons I bought a DL650 last year. So even though you might not know it, your stories here on HUBB helped a lot. Thank you for that :)

both of your answers give me some hope. I was really thinking is not possible to do it from top to bottom in 6 months and was considering just choosing one or 2 of the continents.

Wow, flattering. Thanks! To be honest, I had my doubts about the DL650, but then actually learnt right here at the HUBB (well, mostly!), that despite what it looks like, it is in fact quite capable of doing trips of this caliber 2-up. (And I used to have an SV650 with basically the same engine, so I already had some idea, how bulletproof these bikes are.)

And there are other very good options available for 2-up, but for the same money, there certainly aren´t many. So I´m really happy, if I am now able to share that ´wisdom´... :rofl:

Yeah, the trip should be do-able in 6 months, just depends on what you want. Here´s a thought: maybe doing a shorter distance, and leaving the bike in some secure place, then flying home to earn some more money, and returning later on to continue, might also be one option? It seems a few travellers do even RTW-trips that way. If you plan carefully, who knows it might help you also to find the best timings with the weather, too. I think that´s one really important area, when you want to ride from 60-70 northern latitude, to about 55 southern latitude. There´ll always be every kind of weather imaginable between them!

AnjinSan 10 Feb 2012 20:53

Doing the trip in multiple stages (and leaving the bike there between) is not an option. After this "get away" I have other plans that maybe will come to life. So whatever we will manage to do, we will have to do it in the time (and money ) that we will have now. On the other hand I've only traveled in Europe so far and the trips were 3 weeks tops. - 2 weeks, 7000 km from Romania to Scotia ( that was on a SV650 :) ) - 3 weeks, 10000 km from Romania to Norway ( on my current DL650) The common thing that we didn't like that much on both these trips was the lack of time and the fact that on our ways back to home we were all the time against the clock. This we hope to change this time... And I recon that Americas will be quite different experience than Europe... hopefully a positive one!

markharf 10 Feb 2012 21:46

Just don't imagine that a three week trip is in any way comparable to a 6 month trip, or that mileage in Europe (including Eastern Europe) is comparable to mileage in Latin America.

You've got enough time and money. It's just that you don't have an excess of either, which means you'll constantly be making choices about where to go and how comfortable to be. That's fine, as long as you're both on the same page about it.

I took 4 months from Seattle area to Ushuaia. I hurried for portions, didn't hang out much, and missed a lot. Then I took another 8 months riding home again; I hurried for portions, didn't hang out much, and still missed a lot. It's all about priorities and making clear choices, mixed with a certain amount of luck and going with the flow. The one piece which is probably not worth risking is your relationship with your S.O. This part, too, is going to be different on a longer trip.

Good luck!


simmesim 11 Feb 2012 19:59

6 months and about 30.000 kilometers means you will have to drive around 165 kilometers a day. That sounds like nothing but you will have to make difficult desisions
but just go for it

eljulian 12 Feb 2012 10:14


Originally Posted by markharf (Post 366808)
It's all about priorities and making clear choices, mixed with a certain amount of luck and going with the flow.


AnjinSan 13 Feb 2012 08:32

I've calculated around 270 km/day (considering 6 months and 8 "non riding days / month ").
I think it is a little bit too much because, as you've also said, I am not expecting to be able to do the same milage in S.A. as I was doing in Europe. (and that is a good thing, I do not want to just rush it there)

So I'll try to keep an open mind about the trip, and not set myself a goal of reaching TDF. Instead I will just start in N.A. and focus more on the trip. And whatever location I will be in after 6 months (be it Peru, Ecuador or even "just" C.A.), I will be happy for the experience.

There are more important things in life than just a "fixed" destination and the journey itself is one of the, even tough it will lead us to a different place than the planned one.

Until my actual departure date, there are so many things to put together and being the first time for us, this will be an interesting (and hopefully fun) experience by itself.

Thank you again for all your help and advice. It is very much appreciated!

Road Hog 15 Feb 2012 16:32

Six months is doable if that is the time you have. Best to ship into Portland Oregon or Seattle Washington or Vancouver BC. I have always got a place to camp and sometimes a bed in Southwest Washington. Let me know what else you need and we will make it happen. So many people have helped me out on my travels and the only way to repay them is to pass it along so don't be reluctant to contact me.

rtwpaul 20 Feb 2012 00:47

i did the trip you are talking about and a lot more in 5 1/2 months last year, you can read my blog here on ADVrider

Off the grid for a while: 16 Countries-31 States-9 Canadian provinces-30,000 miles + - ADVrider

i ended up doing 38,000 miles in 5 1/2 months starting in Ushuaia and starting south to north but you get the idea

you might want to read this report to also on ADVrider of a way to get home from Argentina, so you don't need to rush your ride this is the link for the RO/RO ferry info but his ride is the same direction as yours north to south

Jammin thru the Global South - Page 67 - ADVrider

BTW your money is enough, Canada will be the most expensive country, 14K euros is enough for a year on the road how i travel, remember to book your crossing of the darien gap early enough to get a space on a boat or get a good deal on a flight

AnjinSan 21 Feb 2012 11:00

@Road Hog: My plan for now is to travel to Calgary or to Vancouver in order to get a good starting position.

Thank you for the offer. I will sure try to at least say "hi" when I'll be in the area ( I presume I will pass through Washington :) )

@rtwpaul: thank you for the links. They are good reading material with all the snow that we have now outside!

I will try to camp as much as possible in Canada and SUA. I am quite afraid of bears... but I hope I will manage to get over that.

markharf 21 Feb 2012 17:09

Dealing with bears while camping in their homeland is a skill much like any other: you collect valid information, learn certain protocols, and then are fine unless extremely unlucky.

There have been posts previously about this. FWIW, I recommend reading "Bear Attacks" by Herrero for a non-hysterical point of view, then reading the free information and maybe attending the free lectures available at any of the major parks in places where there are lots of bears. Basically, you keep a clean camp, don't set up your tent in the middle of any of their main pathways, and avoid sneaking up on them along the trails and you'll be fine.

I've done it lots, for many years. So have others. Don't get bamboozled into thinking you need advanced weaponry or sleepless nights.



Gsswede 26 Feb 2012 13:40

Take the Maritime Highway fr Bellingham /south of Vancover/ upp to Whitter, Alaska, four days with some nice stops and the possiblity to meet new friends. You can either tent on the deck or crab a chair to sleep in.
Down to Homer, nice halibut, Anchorage, Hatchess Pass, Deanli, Fairbanks, Proudhoe Bay /on the way up The Town of Wiesman, nice place to stay population: 14 people + you/. On the the way down, Top of the world,Watson Lake, stay at the former fligtbarracks. very nice host. Cassier Hghw., Stewart/Haydn, watch up for the Bears, Okanaga Vally and try some god wines, then either follow the Rocky M, Yellowstone or Hghw.1 down to the border of Mexico.:mchappy:
I´will be leaving San Diego beginning of okt for South America on my GS1200

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