A motorcycle road trip in a different country is a unique opportunity to experience a local culture entirely different from yours, at your own pace and in your own style.
To help you gear up for this once-in-a-lifetime experience, here are a few things to keep in mind when planning your first road trip abroad.
Plan the location in advance
Planning your first motorbike tour can be hard work, particularly if you’re not familiar with the location, the culture or the terrain of your destination.
The location of your road trip is indeed the most essential aspect of your journey overseas. Take the time to research the best international locations and check how much each would cost, along with the difficulty level, the local climate, and safety arrangements for travelers.
Next, research different routes in the area and pick one that’s a good fit based on your experience riding such terrains. Decide the start and end points of your trip as well as all the halts.
In addition, you would need to take into account factors such as the type of motorbike you want to rent, accessibility of the route you’ve chosen, safety, accommodation, food, medical care for situations such as acute mountain sickness (AMS), and other essentials, so that your adventure can go as smooth as possible. If you are not used to riding for hours on end, spend a few weekends practicing to get used to the strain.
If you don’t want to go through so much trouble planning and organizing, skip the DIY and explore fixed-departure biking trips with a company that specializes in theme tours in your preferred location.
Familiarize yourself with your route
Especially when going to a country you’ve never been to before, charting your route in detail will play a big role in helping you prepare for the trip. Even if you’ve decided to take a guided motorbike tour, find out more about motorcycle expeditions in the area and routes favored by most travelers.
In addition, while you can carry some amount of food when heading into remote areas, finding fuel or a place to sleep can be a challenge. It would be ideal to pick a route that gives you the best of both worlds—a few days of rugged camping by the roadside interwoven with local accommodation with a much needed warm shower and a cozy bed. This way, you’ll keep yourself from getting exhausted or disinterested in your long-awaited motorbike expedition. So choose a route that best fits your experience and interest.
If you prefer someone else to do all the thinking and planning while you can focus on the sheer anticipation of riding the wind in an exotic locale, get in touch with a motorbike tour company that offers a good range of pre-designed tours in different locations across the globe.
Explore a fixed-departure motorbike tour
Whether you intend to go solo or with a group of friends, booking an overseas motorbike road tour with a professional organizer has several advantages, particularly when it’s your first such trip abroad.
First and foremost, a professional motorcycle tour company will have the resources and the know-how to manage all the essential and potentially risky elements of your trip. From arranging the motorcycle you’ve been dreaming to ride to ensuring your health and safety, you won’t need to worry about anything and can focus entirely on your riding experience.
Second, the tour company will have locals taking care of your basic needs such as food and shelter, as well as experienced local guides to advise you on the terrain, the ideal daily distance to target, unexpected weather changes, and so forth.
For these reasons—and to make the most of your time and money—you may want to travel with a reputable Motorcycle Tours Peru organizer, for a road trip that’s safe, memorable and free of the usual hassles.
Get to know your ride
Even if you’re new to riding long distance on a motorbike and may have local help available, you must learn how to make emergency repairs and do basic maintenance just in case you’re stranded at a remote location.
Especially if you’re going to be travelling in the hills, take the time to learn more about the terrain and riding conditions and learn how to fix minor issues with the bike you’ll be using. This way, you’ll be better prepared for the ride and won’t be too dependent on others. Even if you’re using a tour organizer, make a list of the tools you’ll need to carry and ensure that they’re part of your toolkit before you begin your trip—being self-reliant and responsible are essential traits of any adventurer who takes his riding seriously.
Each road trip will teach you something new, but educating yourself on the important aspects of a long-distance motorbike journey will enhance your experience and make you more confident for the next one.
Carry proper clothing and safety gear
Whenever you’re going for an outdoor adventure trip, checking the weather forecast and packing accordingly should be a key part of your planning and prep, regardless of where you’re going and what mode of travel you’d be using. If taking a guided motorcycle trip, the tour company will do all the groundwork for you, suggest suitable travel dates and guide you regarding what type of clothing you should carry.
If going on your own, remember to carry appropriate safety gear, weather-proof clothing and essential tools, and learn how to avoid falling sick. Some essentials (that you’ll need for sure regardless of the weather) include a good pair of gloves, sunglasses, a nice protective jacket with ventilation, a bodysuit with padding, a good pair of waterproof boots, earplugs to cancel noise while riding, and, of course, a strong and sturdy helmet.
Aside from these, you’ll need to pack a sleeping bag and tent if you intend to spend a few nights under the stars, food and water, local currency, a portable power bank, a headlamp, and a first-aid kit. Again, if you prefer it lightweight and carefree, let your adventure company take care of the paraphernalia.
Safely pack IDs and other documentation
If you’re going to be touring a restricted area, such as a national park, find out in advance if you’ll need a special entry permit. Check if there are any travel or other restrictions for tourists to avoid getting surprised when you get there, and purchase adequate insurance to safeguard yourself against medical or other emergencies in a new country.
Aside from your passport, remember to pack your drivers’ license and an additional photo ID. Don’t forget to make photocopies of each identification proof and pack the originals and the copies separately.
If taking a fixed-departure tour, you may want to ask the tour company if they’re authorized to conduct the trip and have the necessary permissions from the local authorities. For instance, a special permit is required to enter the Great Himalayan National Park (GHNP) in the Indian state of Himachal Pradesh, which the organizer should obtain in advance.
Take your safety seriously
A motorcycle road trip with your buddies is indeed about living in the moment and enjoying a few days of unstructured lifestyle in a remote and unfamiliar setting, but if you ask any serious rider who does this often, they will tell you that safety is an inherent feature of their travels.
Safety, in this case, is not only about wearing a helmet at all times. It involves a lot more, especially when you’re a non-national who’s not familiar with a place.
A basic rule is to follow traffic rules and local laws, customs and traditions to avoid getting into trouble. Avoid riding during the night whenever you can, especially when you’re on your own in a far-flung area away from civilization. Adhere to speed limits and never, ever get tempted to drink and ride, no matter how confident or charged up you feel at the moment.
Last but not least, trust and befriend the locals—it will help you feel less anxious in a new setting.
Experience your environment
When you’re out on the open road, you have the unique opportunity to have a multi-sensory experience of a lifetime. As opposed to other modes of travel, a road trip on your own vehicle gives you a chance to experience local life at your own pace. You can halt when and where you want, take a detour, or not stop for hours on end.
To experience the true spirit of a place—where you may not return ever again—let go of distractions such as social media, text messaging and even music while you’re riding. Instead, allow your eyes and ears to take in the new environment at its authentic best, so that you’ll have real memories of the place instead of a hoard of digital photos.
It may be difficult, but once you disconnect from the digital world, you won’t miss it much, either on or off the road.