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Route Planning Where to go, when, what are the interesting places to see
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Old 3 Jul 2010
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Join Date: Jun 2008
Location: Tucson, Arizona USA
Posts: 82
SeanF's RTW Planning Brain Dump: Route

My thoughts and intentions for the route of my RTW ride.
(All money & costs are in US dollars, unless noted otherwise)

Quick info
  • Departure date: Aug 1, 2010
  • From: Silver City, New Mexico USA
  • General route: From USA -> Canada -> N Asia -> Middle East -> Africa to bottom -> S. America -> C. America -> USA
  • Intended trip duration: 1.5 years
  • Budget: $30/day for basic living expenses
  • Mileage goal per day, average: 100 miles
  • Conveyance: 2008 Suzuki DR650
  • US Passport holder
This thread will will be a brain dump for the route planning of this trip. There will be threads for:
  • Bike mods
  • All the crap I'm bringing & why
  • Route reasoning and variations (No, I don't hate Europe, Australia or SE Asia). I'll talk maps & guidebooks here as well.
  • Medical (vaccinations, 1st aid, preventative measures & items).
  • Required bits of paper (Visas, vouchers, insurance, carnet, passport, IDP, etc)
  • Logistics - wrapping up the home life and all of the other unfun stuff no one thinks about when dreaming up a plan like this
  • Money & costs - How much, where I'm stashing it, dire predictions
I'm going to throw around phrases like carnet, visa, LOI, VOA, and IDP without defining them. If those look like gibberish, spend some time at Horizons Unlimited and/or pick up the excellent Adventure Motorcycling Handbook by Chris Scott. Two excellent resources for people who grin reading threads like this one, but are hungry to learn more.

Also note
There will be an online journal, somewhere and somehow. It is not set up yet. TBD.

Last note, promise
This will be mirrored at ADVRider.com.

Route discussion

Intended route. Will go in a westerly direction, ie. to Russia first.
(I'll only include a few of the western US states, and a tiny corner of Canada -- enough to get from New Mexico to Vancouver, B.C. by an interesting route.)

Why this route?
  • My already-distressed dollars will go further outside of Europe, Japan, Australia, Canada, and the USA. So they're out (the latter two as much as possible).
  • For a US passport holder, some countries are impossible (or very difficult) to enter legally (N Korea, Algeria)
  • Other countries are difficult ($) to enter with a vehicle (China, Iran)
  • Still others are a bit too exciting for me (Iraq, Afghanistan, Somalia)
Why west?
I wanted to leave during the summer, especially THIS summer. Summer through Mexico & Central America didn't seem like a great idea. Plus, the visa for Russia must be had in advance, and uses fixed dates for entering & exiting the country. The Kazakh visa must also be had in advance. I would rather deal with these up front, and leave visa-free Americas for the last leg of the trip.

Potential route variations & brick walls
  • N Asia: Kyrgyzstan & Tajikistan were on the route, but with the current political upheavals, they are out. But I am watching the situation.
  • Middle East 1: I investigated transiting Iran with a motorcycle. For a US passport holder, a guide is required, and since I'm on a moto, I would have to pay for the guide's vehicle in addition to guide service. Two quotes for around $300/day put it out of the running.
  • Middle East 2: I would like to transit Saudi Arabia to UAE, and go on to Oman and Yemen. I think the chance of getting a Saudi transit visa is very slim, but the only cost is mailing the application and visa, and return postage (about $10 total). I'll know in a few days. Update: Transit visa denied. Reason given: "We don't do that."
  • Africa: If (Middle East 2) becomes reality, Egypt and Sudan are out, the absence of the former making a big difference to the cost of the carnet. There are mixed reports on the Sudan visa being obtained in Egypt, could be headache-y.
I have maps by Freytag & Berndt, Michelin, and Gizi. Obviously I haven't yet used these in their respective counties, so I can't speak to their accuracy, but I'll share my initial thoughts on them. The Michelin maps are thin, and I think they'll be torn before I leave. The F&B are a step up in paper quality. The Gizi are great quality, and beautiful. The physical map of Mongolia could be framed art. Gizi could make a map of New Jersey look great. I have had good results ordering through Omni Map. After your first order, they give a coupon good toward your next order. So pace yourself.

I'll talk about GPS stuff elsewhere.

I have a stack of Lonely Planet books. Other than Ride Reports, and other forum postings with current/real time info (the HUBB is the best for this, by far), I found that LP covered my route the best. I don't love everything about them. One great thing LP offers is the option to purchase & download PDFs of only the sections you need from a book.

Last edited by SeanF; 6 Jul 2010 at 17:42.
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Old 31 Jul 2010
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Good luck, Sean.
Paul "Every county of England, every country of Europe and every (part of every inhabited) continent of the Earth" 83% done!
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Old 1 Aug 2010
T.REX63's Avatar
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Join Date: Mar 2010
Location: Atlanta, GA / USA
Posts: 297
Hey Sean, I am enjoying your 14 page thread over on ADVrider a great deal. Everything well thought through and good points are being brought up. I'm surprised there is not more feedback coming from this esteemed group...

Save travels

"Hey, ...I'm just ridin' shotgun"
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Old 2 Aug 2010
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Missed that. Saw his wanna cat thread though.
Paul "Every county of England, every country of Europe and every (part of every inhabited) continent of the Earth" 83% done!
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Old 2 Aug 2010
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Location: KL, Malaysia
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"Other countries are difficult ($) to enter with a vehicle (China, Iran)"

Its not hard or expensive to enter Iran with a vehicle, however I think those from the USA might generally have issues getting a visa issued.

My little Vid: India/Pakistan

Suzuki DR650 SE: Ride it like ya stole it. Oh, somebody just did...
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