How to travel the world by motorcycle

So you are thinking of traveling overseas and you would love to do it from the seat of your motorcycle? Well, before you head off on the journey of a lifetime we have some great tips that might just save you a lot of money and stress in the long-term. Keep reading for details.

Make sure your bike is up to the task

You might have the sleekest-looking bike in your neighbourhood, but will it be any good at negotiating rocky uphill terrain, deeply rutted mud holes and badly pitted roads around the world? You will want a solid off-road oriented bike with good ground clearance, an engine powerful enough to carry you and your load with ease, but that will still give you good mileage out of each tank of gas.

You will need big, strong wheels and tyres that will endure the difficult places, and with great suspension to make the ride easier. A good (anti-lock) braking system will help keep you safe, and cruise control will be a blessing on those long roads. Both a GPS and waterproof maps can save you a lot of hassle and lost time.

Lay out all the stuff you plan to take – and then throw half of it away

That’s right. Your bike is not that big and it and your back can only carry so much weight when riding for hour after hour. Try and take it all and you will only end up tossing it somewhere along the way, so save yourself a lot of backache now.

A wise investment before you go are good luggage racks to ensure you maintain your centre of gravity, with water-proof bags to carry your essential clothes and other items.

Upgrade your tank to travel further with less stress

Sometimes you just never know when you are going to come across your next gas station, so a wise move before going is to get a bigger tank.

If your own brand doesn’t sell them, hit the Internet as a number of companies are now providing this option for other bikers.

Think about which way around the world you wish to travel

Anyone who has spent the day riding into the sun will soon tell you not to travel the world with the sun in your face! Plan your trip so that you are riding in a direction or at a time when you don’t need to plaster your face in sunscreen every day and be blinded by the sun.

You want to enjoy the trip and enjoy the views, so do your research before you go.

Know the relevant laws of each country you plan to ride through

After all the hard work of planning this trip you don’t want to get yourself arrested because you swam nude in some lake, lit an open fire in the open bush, inadvertently insulted someone, or took photos of government buildings.

Some countries have very complex and confusing legislation that might be very different to your own and can get you into trouble if you are not careful.

Get that butt ready for long-distance riding

As any old cowboy will tell you, spending too long in the saddle is a pain in the butt! Literally. So as you begin planning your trip, think about your own level of fitness, especially your neck, arms and hands, back, legs and butt.

Get out the pushbike and start to accustom your body to uncomfortable seats and start to increase your overall level of fitness. Start doing long rides on your motorbike and maybe even hit the gym to build up your gluteal muscles.

Check where you can get spare parts and be prepared to carry some with you

The real advantage to riding well-known brand motorcycles (like a Kawasaki KLR650 or BMW R1200RS) is the availability of parts around the world. If you ride an unusual brand you could find yourself in real trouble if breaking down in the middle of Tibet for instance.

Even with a popular brand it might still be wise to carry some parts that are the ‘weak links’ if you like on your particular bike. Hopefully some of the reasons for choosing your particular bike are that it is reliable, strong, and easy to maintain and repair. And always carry a basic tool kit to get yourself mobile again.

And keep in mind that a single cylinder bike is usually cheaper and easier to maintain and repair than bigger bikes with multiple cylinders.

Avoid travelling at night

Not only can’t you see the potholes in the road, you also can’t see livestock wandering across your path. It is also a favourite time for less than honest folks to waylay travellers and rob them blind. So keep to travelling only during the day and know how far away your overnight stop is at all times.

Wear the right protection, and for the right climate

Skin and bones don’t go well on most road surfaces as most of us know, so try to wear the best protection you can afford just in case you come off your bike. But remember that you may be travelling from sleet and snow to tropical rain forests, so be wise in your choice of coats, gloves, trousers and boots.

Check you have appropriate and adequate insurance when overseas

This is one of those things often overlooked when taking a bike out of the country, and many domestic insurance companies will not cover you when travelling overseas. Check with your regular insurer to see what is and isn’t covered under your policy, and then make appropriate enquiries to obtain the right level of travel and international motorcycle insurance for your needs.

And read the small print before getting on your bike.

If you don’t speak the language, get an app that does

There are a number of apps available that will allow you to translate your voice into another language, and while it may not be needed, why take the chance. Pointing and gesturing only goes so far and if you have just done a piston, you need to be a little more detailed than pointing and grunting.

Plan your budget, accommodation, laundry, meals, and coffee breaks before you go

This might seem extreme, and we are not suggesting you need to be silly about it. But you will need to either budget for them or be prepared to carry whatever you need with you. Will you have room for a tent, washing powder, sleeping bag, stove, cooking equipment, etc on the bike?

If not, can you afford some low-budget accommodation where they do meals and allow you to do some laundry? Either way, you will need to know what you will be doing each day and night of your trip.

If you rely on the Internet and connectivity – get over it

Unless you can afford the very best in satellite phones, you will probably be travelling to places where the Internet is just not available. So get over it, and build that into your planning. What will you do if you break down or need to contact family and your smartphone does not work?

Think about it before you go.

Have a backup plan

Always ensure that someone back home knows where you will be at any given point in time. Make sure that person is reliable, has copies of all your essential paperwork (including a will) and can take appropriate action if you don’t check in regularly.

Perhaps plan to go with someone else so there are always two bikes in case one breaks down or has an accident. All of these things need to be decided upon before you go, so that you really can have an awesome one-of-a-kind world trip on your bike.

Living each adventure, 
Christine and Trevor

Empowering people to live a healthy, active, authentic and fulfilling lifestyle.
Adelaide, South Australia.

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DISCLAIMER: This article is written for informational purposes only and is based on Christine and Trevor’s own life experiences. No food or drink featured on this site should ever be consumed or handled if known or suspected allergies exist. Nothing featured here should be taken as medical, professional or legal advice. It is always recommended that you consult the appropriate professional before changing any routine or adopting any new procedure. 

How to travel the world by motorcycle
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