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Discussion Starter #1
Didn't see a thread like this and, who knows, maybe it could become a sticky with enough input.

What is your best advice for a trip of any length - be it a day ride, multi-day road-trip to a rally, or several-week journey - what did you wish you would have brought, known, or done differently?

Also, since experience is the best teacher, this can be a place to share stories, too, rather than just packing lists and do's and don't's.
Share your horror stories, your biggest lessons learned, or share some great experience that resulted in something that became an intentional goal of follow-on trips. Tell us about your fondest memories or the one's you can only laugh about now.

And, of course, pictures from the road.
 

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I'm from Pennsylvania and to-date, I've only done long day trips, a trip to the west side of the state for a rally with a riding group, and a trip to Ocean City for Bike Fest/Delmarva Bike Week.

The trip to Johnstown (near Pittsburgh, PA) I just had saddlebags, which worked out fine because it was just me. Here's what I learned:
o Sun screen. Thunder in the Valley is the last weekend in June. It was hot, the wind on the bike felt great, and you didn't know you were burning until you stopped.
o We only went for two days and it was only me, but a trick I learned in the Army has helped on several trips: Ranger-roll clothing. It'll save you space.
o Choose the group you hang out with carefully and don't be afraid to separate for your own enjoyment - sometimes less is more. Some of our group were old fuddy-duddy's who were scared of the biker night life and didn't like the heat during the day. They prevented us from getting to the night time festivities and wanted to go to the hotel 2 hours after we got there. They did the same when we visited the 9/11 memorial in Somerset the next day - hour there and they were ready to leave.

Trip to OC Bike Fest:
o Stop early, stop often. Maybe some of the multi-day trips would require more of a rigid dedication to seat time, but OC is just a 4 hour trip for me (190 miles). The wife and I took our sweet time getting there, stopping every 80-90 miles. I planned two stops, both at gas stations so there was sure to be bathrooms and snacks. When we got to OC we were in great shape to sit in the stop and go traffic heading over the bridge into OC. Plus it allowed us to take a very low-stress approach to the whole experience and an opportunity to talk and enjoy each other.
o What don't you need! This time I was rolling with the wife and I had my sissy-bar with luggage rack added to my saddle-bags for storage space. We communicated with our AirBnB and I talked with my wife to be sure we were only burdening my bike with what we NEEDED, ex. - the place we stayed had a hair dryer, so that stayed home, lol. Regardless, this was only a 3-day trip and we were still packed full. Partly because of the time of year, the morning temps were still chilly so extra layers were needed. So, definitely decide what can stay at home before realizing you don't have anywhere to put your jacket when the temp warms up.
o Go to the biker bar. Went to a place called The Oasis based on advice from other people. It was every stereotype and we had a blast. Decent music, scantily clad women - some you wanted to see, most you didn't, lol - and a drunk midget. Got a bottle-opener key-chain with a picture on it with all of us from the trip. Good times.
o Ride through the storm when practical. If the storm isn't gale-force winds or hail, keep riding. We hit storms on the way back home. We saw people huddled under bridges and I thought about pulling our group over, but we were already wet and it wasn't so bad that you couldn't see by keeping the speed down. We road in one end and out the other in probably 5 minutes and it was back to sunshine and clear skies. By riding through it, we ended it faster and added nothing to our commute. We road through two storms like that on the way home, both quick, and it didn't effect our commute time one bit. Meanwhile, the other folks probably added an hour or two to theirs.

General advice:
o Dress warmer than you think you have to. Don't base it off what you can tolerate. Realize that when you get to your destination, you still want to enjoy yourself and your body temp will have been dropping over several hours. You'll want to downgrade later, but you might be stuck being layered up for the rest of night and unable to get warm if your core temperature drops too far.
o Have a face shield option. Rain is like needles at anything over 10mph.
o Take the back roads. Explore the "avoid highway" option on Google Maps. Sometimes it only adds a small percentage to your total trip. It your trip is an hour and it adds 30 minutes, then you probably just want the commuter route. But if your trip is 4+ hours, what's another 30 minutes when you avoid traffic jams, miles of straight highway and sun glare, and cagers trying to kill you? The payoff is usually some beautiful scenery, beautiful homes tucked away in some suburb, and sometimes you can find a cool hidden eatery, too.

Story time:
The cool thing about OC Bike Fest is there are plenty of people there who aren't bikers and had no idea this weekend was Bike Fest. They're there with their friends, girlfriends, or families for one last vacation in September. So, you basically are part of a show - some people hate it, but most are totally blown away with the spectacle of 100's of bikes riding in every direction and filling every parking lot. The 5 of us (two couples and one solo) went to Fish Tales to eat dinner one night and while we waited to be seated we were drinking at the bar. Four very drunk housewives started talking to us, especially my friend - a good-looking, muscle-bound, 6'2", tatted biker. They were being being overly chatty and asked us if we rode - to which I was thinking, "no, I wear jeans and boots in 80 degree weather because I like ball-sweat and the leather vest is for show." Clearly they were fascinated by the bike culture and one made the comment, "my husband used to have one, but he sold it." She made this comment in a roll-your-eyes kind of tone and then asked her husband what the bike was he used to have. That's when we realized these four ladies were there with their husbands, hitting on bikers right in front of them. The guys were a stereotype and I hardly felt bad for them. They were more interested in the golf on TV than their wives - I mean, shoot, we didn't even realize they were there until the one woman said something - sitting there dressed in there polos, khaki shorts, and New Balance shoes. About this time, our buzzer went off and we went to be seated and parted ways with our new friends who wished us well.
Moral of the story: the guy with the bike can steal your girl ;)
 

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I've picked up a few things for week/two travelling over the past few decades with limited packing space, two-up. First, if you can afford it, I suggest a Bushtec for really long trips. It sure does make packing so much easier.

However, even if you do have plenty of space, one thing that I do is take my old, CLEAN underwear and socks along for the ride. If I know I'm going on a long trip, I can plan for that months in advance. When I notice some wear/tear on the old drawers and socks, I put them (CLEAN) in a box for the upcoming adventure. At the end of the day of riding, I can throw the socks and undies away, don't have to worry about washing them or repacking them for future washing. I take enough for the entire trip and, at the end, I don't have near the laundry OR stinky, sweaty undergarments to sort through.

I've adapted this for the past few trips to include old blue jeans and cheap t-shirts. One can purchase a bag of good, quality t-shirts at the local big box store for pennies. I get a set of 6 for not quite $5. I wear them for the day and in the trash they go with the socks and underwear at the end of the day riding. Next day, clean (but disposable) socks, underwear and t-shirt. Also, with the cheap t-shirts, if you don't have a lot of packing room, you can get enough for the first few days and swing by Walmart for another few days set.

Another thing this allows for is more room for items purchased along the journey, if you do that sort of thing.

We tried the "shipping all the dirty clothes home via UPS/FedEx" on one two week trip to Alberta and B.C. That didn't smell too good when we got home and that box arrived...:sick:

Plan meals where you eat a decent breakfast, healthy snack for lunch and a decent supper (or dinner, depending on where you-b from). You don't want to be out in the middle of the Summer heat on a 500 to 600 mile day on a full lunch tummy...ain't no fun.

If you are going to a destination where lots of folks are going also (Sturgis or Daytona comes to mind), I plan each travel days trip out and back where we have a specific destination and reservations at said destination each evening. I have the route and mileage for each day planned along with those reservations. It's not as bad these days where most folks trailer their bikes but "back in the day", it was tough getting reservations, specially the closer you get to the end point. It's probably not as needed today but the routine stuck and I still practice it.

Enough from my ramblings. I'm no expert on long travels but I have quite a few under my belt and these are some of the things that help me. Hope they come in handy for somebody else, too.
 

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I'm going to add the obligatory safety post... because I've been working from home for 2 months I'm bored!

I'm going to post a link on hot weather riding. It's going to contradict a lot of what some people may believe. I save this link a couple of years ago because it actually makes sense. These long trips all seem to happen in the warmer months so I figure it applies.


The gist of the article is once the air temp gets into the 90's, you are far better off covered up than in a t-shirt, etc. Never mind the safety issues of sliding down the pavement in a t-shirt. Also sunblock has been shown to also interfere with sweating by blocking pores. And ya, I'm one of those guys who'll wear my mesh jacket, kevlar lined jeans, gloves, and boots with a full helmet even when it's 100 degrees outside (or I say the hell with this and take the car).

Other than that all I can say is hydrate hydrate hydrate. And not just water and coffee, gatorade or other electrolyte replacement drink is a must.
 

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A couple things I've learned (the hard way):

1. As said above, it's better to be dressed too warm than to be too cold. From a safety perspective I'd rather be a bit on the warm side than risk my limbs getting numb. Been there and done that, not a good thing. You can always take layers off.

2. Don't plan your whole trip based on some assumption that you can do 500 miles in a day for a week straight (or whatever your one-day limit is.) Once you've had a couple high-mileage days in a row, you're going to be more tired than you realize, and you'll start enjoying it less, and might start making minor mistakes. It's important to know the signs of fatigue and be willing to admit to yourself when you've hit the limit. After 2 or 3 long days, you need to rest up and recover.

3. Try to have a destination in mind and reservations already made, especially on long riding days or at crowded destinations. Try to avoid rush hour at all costs, especially the evening rush. I like to know where I'm going and know there's a parking place waiting on me there. The last thing I want to do is do a 400 mile ride and then end up having to search all over for parking or deal with heavy traffic on the way in. That's a recipe for a fatigue-induced mistake.

4. Pack less. Being on a motorcycle is a lot like being on a horse, and especially if you're riding solo, it's a sense of self-reliance that I really enjoy. If you have to bring the kitchen sink with you, you miss out on the experience. I don't want to be inconvenienced, but do enjoy being minimalist in what I take. Regardless of the length of my trip, I only pack enough for 3-4 days. I'll find a laundromat or use the hotel laundry one evening whenever I run out of clothes. Toiletries, same thing, if I run out I'll find a drug store. My motto when I close the door to head out is "if I forgot something, I can always buy it".
 

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If you do long distance riding and your ride uses tubeless tires a tire plug kit with a small compressor is a must IMHO. I know lots of people use Ride-On tire sealant or other such products but they can fail. Been there-done that. Case in point. In 2018 Jr. and I were riding the mountains and twistys in Ga, Va, NC and Tenn. He had a flat on a side road off the Cherahola Skyway out in the middle of nowhere. No phone service, no traffic, nothing. (Music from Deliverence was playing in my head. 💀) If not for the plug kit I carry who knows how long we would have been stuck or how much it would have cost to get his bike out of there. We were able to get back to civilization that day and get him a new tire the next to continue our adventure.
 

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Some good stuff here I’d like to expand on.

On hot weather...

Stay on backroads, not just for scenery, but because it makes quick stops so much easier. Getting stuck in traffic on an interstate is brutal, where on a backroad you can just pull off to a little convenience store for an extended break.

I am big fan of full-sugar Gatorade. Every hour or so, stop, drink a liter or more of fresh cold water, and get cold gatorade. I’ll pack any leftover Gatorade and bring it along to the next stop. Drink way more than you think you need, before you’re thirsty.

Bring a bathing suit and camping towel. Nothing like a quick dip in cold river, halfway through a 12 hour day. State parks are your friend, they’re everywhere, and easy to find.

Get summer gear and don’t overlook the color. None of my summer gear is black - it’s all grey, tan, brown, white, etc.
 

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All of the above. My brother and I did Route 66 from Chicago to Santa Monica (Started in Toronto Canada) in two weeks. Same pair of jeans start to finish, shorts at end of day. LESS is more. Hydrate often and do take the old roads when possible (passable). Enjoy the ride and be flexible on where you NEED to be at the end of the day. We often found ourselves way behind or way ahead of where we thought we would be on a given day.
 

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Great thread idea!

My input:

Before a long trip, check everything on the bike. Everything.

Story behind this tip:

On a three state trip with my best friend. (Riding his Yamaha's). My buddy is not a mechanic type, but made sure the oil was changed and tires were good prior to the trip. Packed the bikes to the brim, and set off.

We were 200 miles in, an hour away from our first overnight camping stop (cowboy steak place). Just finished a stretch of straight road where we were "allegedly" over 100mph when we slowed to make a right turn onto the final stretch. Rear wheel on the bike I was riding locked up at 30 mph. Left a real good skid mark. Luckily somehow, I kept it upright and dragged it to the shoulder. Ended up losing 4 hours and having to get it towed 50 miles back the way we came.

On that spirited jaunt, one of the rear brake caliper bolts fell off, and other was loose. When we slowed and turned, the caliper rotated, locking against the brake rotor.

The one man shop came in after-hours and had us going in about 45 minutes, and tried unsuccessfully to under charge us.

By that time it was really dark, and the place we were going to was now closed. Grabbed a bite to eat then camped in a church parking lot. It was really cold (30 degrees) but the whiskey we brought with us made it bearable. (Consider this my confession for night drinking in a church parking lot) Slept good, until the sprinklers spoiled the peaceful camping in the middle of the night

Made for a great memory and story, but would have rather made it to the original planned destination. Ended up changing our planned route and doing California, Oregon and Nevada for the street vibes bike festival in Reno.

Moral of the story: check EVERYTHING!

Side note: also make sure you secure packed items very well, as they can come loose. When we were coming in to Nevada, a hatchet (we were camping after all) dropped off my buddies bike in front of me, bounced and came spinning in the air toward my head! Good thing I packed extra undies on that trip.
 

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A few more things came to mind after my last post. If you’re planning to ride in high altitudes in summer be sure to bring some winter gear. 10k feet up can be very cold. Mt. Washington in New Hampshire (6700 or so ft) was 80 at the base and in the 30s on top during Laconia last year. Being hydrated at higher altitudes is VERY important. The higher up you ride the more important it is. Aspirin is also a good way to help mitigate altitude sickness If it strikes you. Riding at high altitudes is much harder on your bike so make sure your tires, brakes, belt and controls are in good shape. Most of all, be safe and have fun.
Edit. Good advise from above. Check EVERYTHING and then check it again before you leave.
 
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Longest street ride is from Los Angeles to Vegas.

On a '19 chief....definitely found out I need highway bars and a backrest. I couldn't stretch out for nothing!

That's my advice lol
 

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A rule of thumb in hot weather is when you stop for fuel and don't feel the need to take a leak your not getting enough fluids. A tire plug kit and can of air will get you off the road with a tubeless tire. Check your bike over every morning to be sure everything is okay. Pack enough clothes for 3 or 4 days. There are laundry mats most everywhere. Carry a few cable ties in your tool kit. Let somebody know your route. Let them know when you get to your destination. I use a SPOT tracker. I have been from Maine to the west coast 3 or 4 trips and a trip to Alaska by motorcycle. Start early in the morning and stop early at night to get a motel.
 

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Someone mentioned "Avoid Highways" and google maps. I'm still working out the best way to route plan, and it seems there's no one good solution. But I've stitched together a few things that will help.

The best way is to actually travel with two GPS units. Put one in "avoid highway" mode, this will be your main one. The other, set it to the fastest route, allowing interstates. This is your backup.

Now the useful part - switch between the two on the fly by simply ignoring one of them. Much safer than messing around with a touch screen while riding, and less annoying that stopping.

Need to make up a bit of time? Lots of traffic on the surface roads? Just feel the need to go fast, or get cool air? Nearing the end of your trip, and main unit is sending you through some really bizarre places? Just starting out, and bored with your local back roads? Follow the backup.

I prefer standalone units, but a phone works too. You can easily find obsolete phones/GPSs for free or dirt cheap, many have lifetime maps. This is easier if you have a passenger or friend running the second unit, as they can take over navigation for a bit. If I'm alone I set my phone to be the backup.

Now the fun part. On the main one, zoom the map out and look for secondary routes that roughly parallel your existing route. If one looks interesting, hop on it! If it sucks, switch back or follow the backup unit. I've discovered some amazing dirt roads and views this way that no GPS would ever find.

Next up... planning fun rides.
 

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I’ve been running coast to coast for many years now. I pack for Alaska clothes wise. Mother Nature can be a pretty nasty ***** when she chooses to be. Just because it’s the middle of July means nothing. Between elevations up to 14,000 ft and temp drops in low 50,s running thru the Midwest in July. Go prepared for it all. I don’t camp anymore so if I’m touring in popular areas like Glacier or Yellowstone Moab etc I always make sure I have reservations prior anymore. I’ve seen to many riders roll into popular scenic areas and nothing available.
 

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1) If you don't want to throw away your clothes, wool socks are awesome for traveling. I also wear drawers made by Obviously, which is an Australian brand. They are made from bamboo fibers and last forever (some pairs I have had for 5 years). Both socks and underwear can be washed out in the hotel sink and dried overnight. Cotton t-shirts can also be washed and dried. The same pair of jeans can be worn on multiple days. For example, I would wear my riding jeans on the ride there and back, and a 2nd pair of jeans while at the event.

2) Pack rain-gear that fits over your riding gear. Last summer, I had to stop and pull on my rain gear. The jacket that I had with me had a rain liner, so I had to pull under an overpass, remove the jacket, install the liner, and put it back on. While doing so, the sleeve of the jacket (textile) touched the exhaust and melted a bit.

3) When making hotel reservations, make sure that the hotel allows motorcycles on the premises. Also make sure that the hotel has a fridge in the room. The wife and I stopped at what was billed as a nice hotel, only to find that there was no fridge. I had to put the take-out food in a garbage bag with ice from the machine and leave it in the shower overnight. If you are planning on staying in hotels, plan your route accordingly, with plenty of time to get there. I usually try to get to the hotel around 3 or 4 in the afternoon. That way, I can check in, grab some dinner, wash the worst of the road crud off the front of the bike, and shower and relax before the next day's riding. Same thing with restaurants. I will pick a spot on my route and search for restaurants that are around that area. You can find some really good "mom and pop" places by doing that. Also, try to time your food stops with your fuel stops. Get there, fuel up, have lunch, relax for a bit, then get on the bike and go.

4) If you are riding through different countries, make sure to check the applicable laws. A couple of my friends found out the hard way, and it took them about 4 hours at each border at a country in Europe (I forget the name, but it was one of the small ones) to get through Customs. When the wife and I rode down to Czech for a fest, we discovered that CZ has a 0 tolerance policy for DUI...as in 0.00% BAC allowed. Fortunately, I had not started drinking yet. Make sure that you have the local currency. Fun fact: not everywhere in Europe accepts Euros.

5) Riding is about the journey, and the destination. You don't have to take the "back roads", so much as the secondary highways. For example, to go from my mom's house in Jacksonville to my old place in VA would take a little over 9 1/2 hours on I-95. By comparison, taking US-17 takes about 11 1/2. You might think that it would take longer, but the lack of traffic and hazards on the secondary roads makes up for the slower speed limits. Same here in Germany. I can bomb on down the autobahn at 120kph-140kph and get to Edelweiss in about 3 hours, or I can take the B-roads and get there in about 4 hours while enjoying some prime European countryside. Typically, the only time I take the highway is if it is the only route to get where I am going, I have a hard deadline to get there that the backroads cannot accommodate, or the wife says that she is tired and wants to get home faster.

6) Taking the backroads can take you through some beautiful forgotten (except by the locals) scenery. They can also take you through some sketchy places. If you are going to carry (as every Red-Blooded American Should!), practice your draw while wearing your gear. Make sure that you weapon of choice is accessible, and usable with your riding gloves on. Also remember that even the big twins can out-maneuver most cars and trucks. If you have to run, ride like the wind and look for places that you can go but they cannot. Make a quick u-turn and un-ass the area before they can get turned around.
 

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Discussion Starter #17
I always carry tools, leather jacket, good gloves, an Alaska Leather sheepskin for the ass, but the most important thing I carry on a trip is a small large caliber pistol. I carry a Bond Arms Snake Slayer .45 cal./.410 shotgun shell over/under Derringer... concealed of course!
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Just make sure you research the laws in the states you're going THROUGH, not just the one you are headed to. Unfortunately, we still don't have universal reciprocity in the U.S. and you can go from an upstanding, law-abiding citizen to a felon just by crossing a border. If you take the time to do the research it could be as simple as unloading and storing in separate saddle bags, but you could save yourself huge legal problems with a 30 minute google search.

My CCW is in PA. When I went to Ocean City, MD I didn't even bother taking my firearm because the bulk of my time would be in the communist state of MD. Some friends, my wife and I are looking at a trip to Ohio in the next couple years. I'll be good in Ohio, but at one point our route will go through VA/WV. We have reciprocity with WV, but just reversed our reciprocity with VA in 2018 and it's hard to find info on whether VA has reversed theirs in response.
 

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Just make sure you research the laws in the states you're going THROUGH, not just the one you are headed to. Unfortunately, we still don't have universal reciprocity in the U.S. and you can go from an upstanding, law-abiding citizen to a felon just by crossing a border.
Ain't that the truth, WB. TN's CCP is recognized by quite a few states but one state we pass through going to Sturgis is Illinois...they don't recognize anybody's. I just make sure to pass through following ALL traffic laws. I could go around but that routes us through Missouri and the traffic in that state scares the heck out of me every time. These days, I don't leave home without the piece in hopes I NEVER have to be faced with a predicament where I have to utilize it.

As with everything in this digital age, there are multiple apps that can assist and help keep you updated on current state carry laws and which state recognizes which other state.
 
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