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Route Planning Where to go, when, what are the interesting places to see
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  #1  
Old 15 Jun 2010
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Loose and dirty...looking for advice

Hi All,
I want to test out few ideas and ask the experts for some professional critiquing. I know there are blind spots I’m not considering…

Before business, I want to give a big thanks to Grant and Susan and the members of both HU and ADV Rider. The ride reports were a source of inspiration and the Achievable Dream DVDs helped strengthen my resolve when doubts began creeping about.

After planning and saving - mostly saving - for about three years, I’ll be ready to depart on an open ended trip mid-2011. I’m 27 yrs old, from the States, and spent the last several years in Europe and the Middle East. My budget will fund a trip for ~2 years and leave a financial safety net afterwards.

I fell into the trap of micro planning early. Weighing the value of magnetic oil plugs, various types of DSLRs & GPSs, personnel protection equipment, soft saddle bags vs. hard panniers…Not to mention choosing the bike! I got fed up with endless possibilities and let it drop for a few months. Recently I began to streamline criteria – cut to the bone of what is important and what is glamour.

- Travel light - bike and gear.
- Modifications to bike for safety only: brake lines, headlight and taillight visibility, loud horn, hand guards. I splurged on personnel protection equipment; body armor, jacket, pants, boots, gloves, ear plugs, and helmet.
- Take a vacation from my vacation. One day off for every three days on and at least one week a month to relax at an intriguing location.
- Be off the road by late afternoon and no night driving.
- Paper Maps and Serendipity. GPS for geocaching and geotagging only.
- Med Jet and catastrophic health insurance.
- Several independent bank accts with no withdrawal fee, conversion fee, or transaction fee debit cards. Several credit cards covering Visa, AMEX, and MasterCard.

Tasks I still have on my ‘To do’ list:

- Mechanical competence beyond changing the oil, patching a tire, fixing a chain. I would like to trouble shoot a faulty transmission and electrical system.

I’ll begin on a 2006 Suzuki DR650 with soft saddle bags. I have two scheduling restrictions. Numero uno is to cross into Mexico ~Oct.’11 and go south. The second is to spend a winter in New Zealand, roughly May to October, as a ski bum. If anyone has any advice for jobs in or around Queenstown during ski season, I would much appreciate it! The rest of the trip I will follow ‘Summer’.

After spending hundreds of hours staring at maps, marking ‘must see’ locations on Google earth, and planning various routes - I’ve come to the conclusion that I don’t want a definite route. Nor will I ship the DR650 when I cross water. When I hit water, I will sell the bike, and choose my next destination based on weather, the price of the plane ticket, and ease of purchasing a replacement bike.

A plan only lasts until the first shot is fired, so here is my plan: North America – South America – Australia/New Zealand – Asia – Sub Continent – Europe – Africa. Will I end up following this route? Probably not…

I may take a hit each time I sell a bike, but probably not as much as shipping a DR650 each time I cross water. The legality of registering the bike, picking up insurance, and the pain in the ass factor is the only issue I see with this approach. Then again, that might be half the fun…Any war stories or opinions?
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Old 15 Jun 2010
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Sounds like you got all bases covered...

You will learn more just being on the road for a few weeks than months of reading other peoples experiences.

Just do it..........
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Old 15 Jun 2010
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You have obviously done serious homework. I love your plan and "loose and dirty" approach. Only way to go, IMO. Taking breaks en route is a big PLUS ONE, IMO.
You sound like retired military?
Shipping bikes is a pain but as you know, buying locally can cost a bit. Getting any bike ... even an Aussie based bike ... into NZ can be tough from what I've read here. They must object to Tourist generated hard currency?

I'd be open for changes and mixing things up. You've got a year to let things simmer and maybe do a few short shake down rides.
All the best!
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Old 16 Jun 2010
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Ride slow and stop for photos.
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Old 17 Jun 2010
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Retired in Central America

Sounds like you are going through the same type of planning I did the past year.

I left the states in April on a KLR650 that I had been preparing for the trip. I am in Guatemala now trying to learn at least some 'hotel Spanish'. I will stay here or in Costa Rica until 2011. Hopefully by that time my Spanish and finances will be good enough for South America.

My timetable may not be the same as yours, but stay in touch if you are looking for a riding partner or just some advice as you pass by.
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Old 17 Jun 2010
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My route changes on a daily basis. On Monday Thailand is my top destination and by Wednesday I can't wait to visit Africa!

Not quite ex-military would be a true statement. I've heard due to that reason I may not be able to secure visas to some countries. Has anyone had experience with this?

Quote:
Originally Posted by bikerrbk View Post
I left the states in April on a KLR650 that I had been preparing for the trip. I am in Guatemala now trying to learn at least some 'hotel Spanish'. I will stay here or in Costa Rica until 2011. Hopefully by that time my Spanish and finances will be good enough for South America.

My timetable may not be the same as yours, but stay in touch if you are looking for a riding partner or just some advice as you pass by.
Excellent. Are you working in Costa Rica?
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Old 17 Jun 2010
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No work for me. I retired early and will be scrapping by on a small pension until SS kicks in ina few years.

How would they know you are ex-military? Is it on your Passport?
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Old 17 Jun 2010
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Visas and entrance into certain countries are becoming more difficult and costly for US citizens. These changes in policies are often reciprocity to our own immigration policies, which are now very restrictive. Tit for Tat.

Mostly its about money. Like Bolivia. They now want a $100 premium for US Citizens to enter. Some other countries have adopted similar fees for US and other nationals. Some require lengthy waits at embassies, and some will reject US applications out right.

Passport should not reflect any military attachment, no one will know unless they have more advanced intel or you show them Military ID. (I would NOT recommend this!) If you have a red US diplomatic passport, then no worries. They won't screw with you.

I have no idea the current situation for US citizens in the middle east, Pakistan, India, the Stans or Africa. Not my purview ... but doesn't look good. We all need Swiss Passports! Ah, Red Cross! Welcome!
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Old 19 Jun 2010
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I definitely won't be advertising that I was in the military and there are no markings per say in my passport...one look at the entry and exit stamps in my passport and you may conclude that something isn't quite right and make a stab at military affiliation.

There have been a few reports of an individual discharged/retired from the military being denied entry to countries that have 'spy' paranoia. No problem though, cross that bridge when it comes.

I think that any US citizen that wants to travel in the future should probably try to get a second passport quick, fast, and in a hurry. It's painful enough right now...with the Dept. of Homeland Security tightening up, gaining visas will only get more difficult/expensive under a US Passport.
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