How to plan a long, international tour?

Discussion in 'Trip Planning' started by Guy Jinbaiquerre, Nov 20, 2008.

  1. Guy Jinbaiquerre

    Guy Jinbaiquerre Monorail Conductor

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    (MODS: If this should go in the "General Advice" sticky thread, please feel free to move it... sorry for any inconvenience)

    Hey all,

    I have been touring around Japan for a few years now, but nothing very long. My longest trip was about 2,000km over 4 days, and all on asphalt.

    As a long-term goal, I'd like to do a much longer tour across several countries. I wouldn't be leaving any time soon; it's something I could work up to over time, plan for, and set off on maybe a year or so from now.

    I'm thinking about 25,000 kilometers, about 3 months, around Asian and eastern Europe. The goal at this point is to start in Tokyo, head west until I can cross the bridge over the Bosporous in Istanbul from west to east, and then east back to Tokyo. I call it "Wrong Way Round". :lol3

    Here is the general idea:

    [​IMG]

    The blue line represents the route with the fewest border crossings. The red lines show alterate routes that are either more direct, or include more countries that would be nice to see.

    Note that both routes avoid places where fighting is going on or may flare up again, including Georgia, the Kashmir region, Iraq, Pakistan, and Afghanistan. I might also cross Myanmar and northern Thailand off the alternate route list, depending on the situation there. Finally, I am completely ignorant about whether there are any problems on the Turkish-Iranian border. If it isn't safe to go there, I will need to re-think that whole leg of the trip, since you pretty much have to go thorugh Iran if you're heading east from Turkey.

    I know there are a lot of things I would need, like:

    -- A dual-purpose bike (I only have a road bike now)
    -- Tools and spare parts
    -- Reasonable ability to repair the bike if stuff breaks
    -- The right gear (clothes, camp stuff, luggage, etc.)
    -- Visas and carnets
    -- A route that considers road conditions, gasoline, dangerous areas, etc.
    -- First aid equipment and training
    -- Guidebooks
    -- A Navi system loaded with the right maps
    -- Plans for how to get medical assistance if I get hurt or sick
    -- Money, or access to it
    -- Probably a riding partner, so one of us can get help if the other is messed up.
    -- A fucking clue :evil

    ... and probably lots of other stuff. Any general planning advice for this kind of trip would be appreciated!
    #1
  2. kobold

    kobold Been here awhile

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    As far as I know there hasn't been any problems in Turkish - Iran border. Lots of people use that border daily. You can get recent news from countries and many info about countries at www.horizonsunlimited.com. (kinda RTW motorcycle forum)

    Cheers
    #2
  3. Guy Jinbaiquerre

    Guy Jinbaiquerre Monorail Conductor

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    Thanks for that link, I will definitely be reading up on stuff over there. At the same time, I'm kind of used to ADVrider, and I'm looking forward to someday posting about this trip in the RR forum here.
    #3
  4. bert333

    bert333 Adventurer

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    1- Unless you have 1000's and 1000's of dollars, huge amounts of time, a guide, Chinese plates (no bike over 125cc) etc etc, crossing China alone on a motorcycle is virtually impossible.
    2- You cannot overland between Thailand and India - you cannot cross Myanmar on a bike


    Horizons Unlimited is still the best source of info
    #4
  5. Guy Jinbaiquerre

    Guy Jinbaiquerre Monorail Conductor

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    Well, I have no idea about Myanmar (I can just skip it anyway), but I do have some experience in China:

    [​IMG]

    That was a lot more than 125cc, I can tell you that. There is also a Harley dealership in Beijing. And then there's this guy, right here on ADVrider. Plus I know a place there that offers guided tours from Beijing to Tibet; I'm sure they can smooth out any bureaucratic hassles.
    #5
  6. Cooltours

    Cooltours Rider of passion

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    Try contacting my friend Akira. He has done it same way round from same town starting, documented in "Akira goes West". He has long time not been online here but maybe you're going to try pm'ing him.
    #6
  7. Guy Jinbaiquerre

    Guy Jinbaiquerre Monorail Conductor

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    Awesome RR by Akira! Sounds like China is going to be the big hassle of the trip. I will need to talk to the moto tour guide company and see what they can do. When I was there, they told me they rarely get stopped by officials, but when they do, they can just BS their way through. Even got them to overlook a dude with no driving license!
    #7
  8. Jeff Munn

    Jeff Munn Just along for the ride..

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    Guy,
    That is one ambitious trip. I congratulate you on your dream. Deciding to do something is the hard part. Actually doing it is easy once you've made up your mind.

    Last year I did part two of your trip. I started in England, rode down to Istanbul solo, then helped guide 20 riders from Istanbul to China. It is do-able by yourself, all perhaps except the China part, unless you are willing to buy a bike there and sell it before you leave. But that's a whole other kettle of fish. It is technically possible to get a foreign registered bike into and out of China, but it is EXTREMELY expensive.

    [​IMG]

    The biggest issue you'll face is getting the visas. That can take months, and must be done ahead of time for most of central Asia. Most of those countries will not allow visas to be obtained at the border. I'd contact an international tour agency like MIR to see if they could help with the process. It will be expensive.

    Second, there is an alternative to crossing thru Iran. You can go to the port of Baku in Azerbaijan and try to catch the twice weekly rail car freighter that sails across the Caspian Sea between Baku and Turkmenbasy, Turkmenistan. It is not a passenger ferry, but a freighter, however they do carry the occassional passenger and motorcycle for a small fee. :D

    I'd be happy to try to help you out in any way I can. Knowing some Russian is critical in central Asia because it is still the most common language. On this trip, no matter the route you take, it would be wise to learn.

    Good luck.
    jeff
    #8
  9. Guy Jinbaiquerre

    Guy Jinbaiquerre Monorail Conductor

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    Thanks for the tips, Jeff.

    This trip is still in the "idea" stage, but right away I can see the big problems are going to be:

    (1) lining up all the visas & carnets
    (2) my complete lack of Russian (except da, nyet, strasvitye, and dasvidanya)
    (3) getting the okay to take 2 months unpaid leave from work (plus 1 month vacation time = 3 months tot.)
    (4) saving up enough money not just for the trip itself, but also to afford two months of living expenses back home (mortgage, car payments, etc.) with no paycheck coming in.
    (5) getting my wife okay with the idea of me going on the trip

    It's going to take a long, long while before I get all that squared away, but after all that, the actual riding should be no problem! Also, I have done some net research and yeah, Burma/Myanmar is totally out of the question. I guess I'll stick with China for that leg of the trip. Still have to see about the registration paperwork and costs, though...

    I'll post progress updates in this thread, but I am just warning anyone following this that it will be at least a year, and probably quite a bit more, before I actually set out on this thing. I am sure I will learn a lot along the way.
    #9
  10. bananaman

    bananaman transcontimental

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    Change the word 'problems' to 'opportunities,' and you'll be fine.
    #10
  11. Guy Jinbaiquerre

    Guy Jinbaiquerre Monorail Conductor

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    I've been going through all my old subscribed threads to see which ones I can delete the subscriptions for. This one has been around for a while with no updates... but I still want to do this ride!

    Over the past few years, I've made some good background progress.


    • I have a R1200GS ADV, which is better suited for the trip than my old Honda road bike (although a lighter bike might be even better than the GS, depending on what kind of terrain I'd be on).
    • I've done a lot more riding, on- and off-road
    • I've done my first international trip, from Japan to Russia (just Sakhalin island, not the mainland) and back.
    At this point, the only issues in my way are (1) money, and, more important, (2) time. Not just time away from work, but time away from my family. Aside from my wife, I also have 2 young kids now and I don't think I could just tell them, "Hey, Daddy's going to be off riding his motorcycle for a few months, see ya." (And my wife also wouldn't be thrilled handling everything by herself while I'm away.)

    So my plan now is to keep this trip on the back burner until the circumstances line up right. Like, maybe when my kids are old enough to go to sleep-away camp for the summer or something.

    Until then, my advice to anyone who has the ability to just get up and go on a trip like this, but isn't sure, is this: DO IT. Do it NOW, before financial and family responsibilities tie you down.
    #11
  12. Pecha72

    Pecha72 Long timer

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    But you´ll need a second mortgage to pay for that service..?
    #12
  13. ta-rider

    ta-rider Returned from Africa

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    Hi,

    You have allready listed all the importend parts. Find out about the visa situation for each country...research the GPS Position of the embassy were you want to get the visa from.
    For Asia get a Honda 125ccm bike because everybody is riding 125er there and the parts are easy to get.
    Get a Garmin GPS and load the maps from openstreatmap onto it.
    Read other peoples travel reports :)

    http://afrikamotorrad.eu/?report=en_transafrika

    Travel save :)
    #13
  14. Witold

    Witold Been here awhile

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    What you can do is monitor airline sales and do some short fly&rides. You have about a dozen countries "close" by where you can rent motorcycles quickly and cheaply. Just research the best rental bike options in a given country and take the flight. You would be surprised how good some of the rental options are, and there are more and more mid-market options available each year.

    You will miss out on all the border-crossing "fun", but these sorts of fly&rides are logistically very easy, very cheap, and you will have plenty of fun and adventure.
    #14
  15. Pecha72

    Pecha72 Long timer

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    From Japan, my #1 option for a big trip would be to cross into Russia in the summertime, and then head towards Europe, possibly taking in also Mongolia and/or the Stans (Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, etc). There are no mandatory shippings, and also no carnet required to do the whole route all the way to Europe. China is a pain in the *ss with your own vehicle, tough to organise the crossing and guide, and pay big $$$$$, especially if you´d want to cross the entire country. Burma, who knows, might open up for foreign vehicles some day, but let´s say I would not hold my breath.

    My second option would probably be to airfreight the bike to India, and then set off for Pakistan, Iran, Turkey and Europe from there. But for that, the carnet will be needed. And third option would be airfreight to Thailand, and then head to Australia, but once again, Indonesia and Australia require the carnet.
    #15
  16. acejones

    acejones Long timer

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    You're back after a four and a half year absence and still haven't done the trip ? Come back in another four and a half and update us.
    #16