Heading out on a US highway by motorcycle is the epitome of freedom. Traveling light, open to the elements and discovering one of the most vast and varied countries on the planet is a dream come true for many motorcyclists. Here are six tips for getting the most out of your road trip adventure:
1) Choose Your Bike Wisely
How long you’re traveling for will determine whether it’s cheaper to ship your bike over to the States or hire one when you arrive. Hire rates average at around $100 to $180, plus fees for insurance and helmet. Pick a bike that’s appropriate for your ability and the terrain you’ll be crossing. You don’t want to go for the biggest and most expensive option just to find it’s a real monster to manage.
2) Pack Sparingly
The space on a motorbike is limited. And you’ll be unpacking and repacking your stuff every day so only take the essentials. A few things you won’t be able to live without include good maps, rain gear, earplugs, sunscreen, torch and insect repellent. The weather across the US can vary wildly, particularly if you’re traveling from north to south, so think carefully about the clothes you’ll need. And if you’re traveling for an extended period, you may want to rent a storage space on a site like Spacer to store your most valuable goods before you leave on your trip.
3) Ask the Locals
Local residents are a great resource and usually a pretty friendly one. They’ll be able to tell you about the quality of roads up ahead, the nearest campsite and the best place to grab a bite to eat. Local radio is also really useful for weather reports, particularly if you’re traveling in snowy conditions or through tornado country.
4) Pick Your Riding Partners Carefully
Going on a road trip across the US is sure to be an incredible experience. It’s also likely to be too cold, too hot, too tiring and pretty intense at times. Pick riding partners who you really get along with and who you think will work with you rather than against you during the tough bits. It’s a good idea to travel with someone who has the mechanical know-how and put a plan in place for if you lose each other on the road. And if you’re traveling this road trip alone, take a good book and great playlist to keep you company.
5) Pick a Great Itinerary
The US is big. You need a minimum of two weeks to travel a basic itinerary. Route 66 is an obvious choice with plenty of charms along the way. Highway 1 takes you down the Californian coast and provides lots of exciting bends and spectacular ocean views. Route 129 starts in Knoxville, Tennessee and travels on into Florida. This road is famous for an 11-mile stretch called “The Dragon”, which boasts an incredible 318 bends. Whatever route you travel, be sure to fill up with petrol regularly as gas stations can sometimes be few and far between.
6) Record Your Journey
Chances are this will be the journey of a lifetime and you’ll want to remember every little bit of it. Take a journal and make a note of the places you visit, snap away with your camera or, if you’re more technically minded, blog or vlog your travels to share with the world. Planning your journey is really exciting. But not half as exciting as starting the motor for the first leg of your trip, knowing there’s a heap of beautiful scenery and incredible driving just waiting to be discovered.