If there’s one thing I’ve learned from five years on the road as a two-wheeled hobo, it’s that you can’t plan for everything. There’s a fine balance between preparing and obsessing over the “am I ready?” question, and to each rider, that balance is in a different spot on the spectrum. Anywhere from six months of thorough preparation to “nah I’ll just wing it” works, one way or another, but at the same time, you can make your life on the road easier with just a few simple tricks.
Here are some of my favorite RTW life hacks.
However meticulously you plan your route, stuff’s going to happen, and it’ll mess up your day. Road closures, landslides, flat tires, roadblocks, your navigation device dying, detours, genius ideas a la “oh I’ll just ride another sixty miles, I’ve still got daylight” resulting in you plodding painfully slowly along a muddy track in pitch black darkness… But you know what’s worse than having an unexpectedly long day on the road? Having a long day and starve.
Traveling RTW, you might end up in places with no shops, restaurants, or gas stations, or arrive so late everything’s already closed, or any combination of the above. And that’s where the beef jerky comes in. Buy some and pack it away, somewhere where you won’t touch it for a while. And then, when you’re someplace remote and so hungry you could eat a cow – ta-da! – there’s beef jerky in your tank bag.
You can also pack some nuts, protein bars, string cheese, and so on to make it a meal. But do pack it – you’ll thank me later. Seriously, you will.
Putting Waterproofs On
You know when you’re riding along and you realize those black clouds ahead probably mean rain, but you just don’t feel like stopping and putting your waterproofs on?
Stop and put your waterproofs on.
And, yeah, there’s probably some weird Murphy’s law for motorcyclists when it comes to bad weather: if you see it’s about to rain and put your waterproofs on, it won’t rain. If you see it’s about to rain and don’t put your waterproofs on, a torrential downpour is about to hit in three, two, one… Voila – you’re soaked through.
Yes, it’s a pain to stop and layer up, but it’s even worse to get wet, especially if you plan to camp. The smell of wet bike gear in the tent in the morning, anyone?
Even if you’re one of those super hardcore dudes or dudettes who patch tires with sewing thread made from a deer’s tendon, can fix a blown shock with some rubber and duct tape and kill their own food, little luxuries on a long RTW trip can make your day. We all need a little comfort sometimes, so stop worrying about being a kosher bare bones adventurer and pack a few items you know you’ll miss.
For me, it’s my little French press mug, a bag of good coffee, an inflatable pillow, a collection of essential oils and supplements, and a tiny bottle of perfume. For you, it may be something else, but the point is this: it’s nice to have those few little items handy when you’re needing a bit of a pick-me-up on the way.
Taking a Break
If you’ve been on the road for over six months, chances are, you might encounter something called travel fatigue. As the novelty of your RTW trip wears off, you realize you’re doing the same each day: get up, pack up, and ride. At some point, that may not be enough any longer.
It’s totally OK to stop somewhere and recharge. Get a nice AirBnB and take a pisco sour making class, chill out at a jungle lodge, go diving – do whatever you need to rest up, regroup, and hit the road again. And if all fails, just fly home for a week or two. Seeing your loved ones at home can be a huge boost for morale!
Packing Extra Essentials
On the road, I always try to have extras of a few essentials. Extra mini-tubes of toothpaste, mini shampoo bottles or packs, lady products, tiny bottles of hand sanitizer and packs of wet wipes are my go-to. Each time I’m in a sizeable supermarket, I stock up on these things and then hide them among my luggage, usually to be forgotten. But then, when I find myself camping somewhere or staying in some basic homestay in the mountains, and there’s no soap or no running water, I think to myself, man, this sucks – I wish I’d packed extra wet wipes… oh wait! I did!!!
It’s the best feeling ever. So just stock up on those little essentials and forget about it until that fateful day when you run out and surprise yourself. Feel free to feel adequately smug once that happens.