Welcome to David’s handy hints when travelling on a motorcycle tour in a foreign country.
Before you travel.
o Your Passport should have more than six months before it expires.
You can use your passport throughout this period, subject to meeting the visa and immigration requirements of the countries you wish to visit or transit. Some foreign governments require visitors to carry passports with at least six months of validity beyond their planned stay. You may be refused entry if you do not comply.
Source: Australia Passport Office.
o Travel Insurance. Ensure the insurance policy you purchase covers you when riding and if there are any conditions, i.e., engine size, age etc.
o Riding / Driver License. Ensure your licence is valid for the country/countries you plan to ride through. Do you require an International Driver’s permit?
o What luggage allowances on the airlines are you flying on? Excess baggage is expensive.
o Airline tickets can be stored electronically* and/or printed. You will normally require your reservation number when you check in for your flight.
o Passport with all entry requirements completed where possible. Such as visas and, in the case of the USA, an ESTA (‘Electronic Systems for Travel Authorisation’).
o Passport and copy/ copies electronic* and/or printed in case you lose your passport.
o Cash, there may not be an ATM (‘Automatic Teller Machine’) where you stop to purchase something. The easiest way is to carry a cash card which is a debit card. Use the one you can load local currency onto, as you know the conversion rate when you loaded it. Using an ATM, ATMs normally charge a fee or percentage of the withdrawal amount to obtain cash.
o Credit Cards. Check that the credit card does not incur fees when purchasing items or currency in another country. You can advise your issuer, usually your bank or other financial institution, what countries you will visit as a security measure. Credit cards are often used as a holding measure for vehicle rentals or when checking into a hotel. You can also use them to keep your cash reserves. Keep a photocopy of your card in the event that it gets lost or stolen.
o Driver’s license and copy, either electronic* and/or printed
o Health information – Have your doctor provide a list of your medications and the reason you take them.
o Whom to contact document with ICE (‘In Case of Emergency’) contact information. Have a printed copy, as your phone may not be accessible.
o Copy your Travel Insurance or at least the policy and Insurance contact numbers.
The airlines divide your luggage as hand carry-on and checked (checked in) luggage.
As weight is an important consideration for an airline when operating an aircraft, your checked luggage will be weighed, and your hand carry-on luggage may also be weighed. Check before you travel what requirements the airline you are flying with has in this regard to the weights.
Electronic devices and batteries. These must be in your hand carry-on. Check with the airline regarding this.
On tour, the weight is not the concern, but the size is, as there are two places your luggage will be carried, on the motorcycle with you and in the support vehicle with everyone else’s luggage.
This is dependent on where and when you are on tour.
o Your jacket should suit the conditions but must be protective; the material is your choice. I suggest wearing the jacket onboard your flight as clothing is not weighed. You can stow it in the overhead locker or under the seat in front of you once you are on the aircraft.
o Your helmet should be approved for the country you are riding in. Taking your own helmet has advantages such as fit and comfort. You can rent from the operator or buy a helmet locally.
o Some riders have communication and/or video equipment attached, requiring them to take their own helmet.
I always pack my helmet in my check luggage, filling the cavity with soft clothing and pack around it with other clothes to stop it from moving, as I do not want the visor scratched in transit. Consider getting a helmet bag/cover.
o Trousers should be protective, at least covering your legs and of heavy material or Kevlar lined. Wear the heavier pair on the flight; again, these are heavy, and your clothing is not weighed.
o Gloves should be suitable for your riding conditions- summer weight, winter weight and waterproof.
o Boots should cover the toes and your ankles. Besides protecting the tops and bottom of your feet, they can protect your shins from things thrown up from the road.
o Socks (riding) can be woollen or cotton, as I find the natural fibres work best.
o Wet weather gear. This can be light. Its purpose is to stop you from getting wet. The protective clothing underneath takes care of the rest.
o A hydration pack or water bottle is important to keep your fluids up. Remember, when flying with these, they must be empty.
o Some riders also use earplugs.
Layering is the best way to describe what to wear under your riding gear. T-shirt then jumper or sweater, if it’s winter thermals with shirt then jumper or sweater,
o Lightweight towel. For when you have a break and want to dry off.
o Bandanas are a good idea as they insulate your head from the helmet’s interior and go a long way to keep you cool.
o A buff can protect your neck from sunburn and be used in dusty conditions.
Keep it light and easy to maintain. Cotton does not dry quickly.
o Comfortable shoes for when you are not riding.
o Swimwear, after a hot day’s ride, a cool-off in the hotel pool is very relaxing.
o Pullover/jacket in case the temperature cools.
o Shorts in case the temperature warms or you want your legs to have some air and light.
o Casual shirts & pants. Remember to keep your luggage light, so don’t pack your whole wardrobe.
Most hotels and motels have laundry or laundry services.
Toiletries and Medications.
o Medications, ensure you have a sufficient supply of your prescription medication; also, carry your prescriptions if you lose your medication/s and need more. Putting these in your flight hand carry-on ensures you always know where they are, as your checked luggage might not arrive with you.
o Toiletries. Most hotels do supply soap and shampoo. Take what you would normally take.
o Hand lotion.
o Hand sanitiser.
o Sealable plastic bags.
o Spare glasses or contacts. Maybe your glasses’ prescription.
o Insect repellent.
o Moist Wipes. To clean your hands or just to wipe your body.
Electronics and associated equipment.
o Charger/s for your phone, camera and any other electronic equipment you use. Check that the power supply required is the same as the country or countries you are travelling in.
o Adaptor for the power outlets and the plugs you are carrying.
If you have a few items, you could take a power board. Plug it into the outlet with your adaptor and use your normal plugs and chargers in the power board.
o Ensure you carry the connectors for your equipment. Different makes and models use different connectors.
o Battery packs to recharge your equipment when you cannot access a power outlet.
o If the motorcycle has a power outlet, i.e., cigarette or USB, take a plug that can go into it to charge your equipment whilst riding.
o Set of memory cards or USB sticks if you take a lot of photos or videos, and also the means to connect these cards to your devices.
o Travel Tripod and selfie sticks if you plan on doing videos or selfies. Someone on the trip with you will normally take a photo if you ask.
There are three ways to go. Use your normal phone and have phone, text, and data (internet); check with your telco to see if they offer this and at what surcharge; if you want to use your phone and text only, contact your telco to have it turned on but turn off the mobile roaming on your phone, again check with your telco for the best option. The next is to buy a short-turn sim card for the country or countries you are going to ensure they offer Unlimited data and phone services, and you can create a hotspot from the phone, as you can then link your other phones, tablets and laptops to it. Some of these sims have a surcharge to phone home to Australia. Check if your phone is capable of having two sims. If not, use an old phone or buy a cheap one capable of doing what you want. The last is to have peace and quiet with no phone service. Use Wi-Fi (often supplied at the hotel or motel) and an app, i.e., WhatsApp or Skype, which will allow you to contact those you wish to; make sure they are using the same app, and maybe test with them before you go.
*Electronic storage is on your phone and/or tablet.
The most important thing to pack, which weighs nothing, is a sense of humour, for as Robbie Burns wrote, ‘the best-laid plans of Mice and Men often go astray’ and when they do remember what happens as they make the best survival stories to tell your friends.
Please be mindful that the above is just a guide taken from my travels; there are things you will take and not.
Yours in motorcycling,
Ride The World Motorcycle Tours.
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