What is a successful ADV trip? Answers may vary, but I have a feeling that most riders would agree on one thing: it’s the one that makes the best memories.
Not the one with the most perfectly planned route, farkled out bike, or the largest mileage. Certainly not the one that is easy, or predictable.
Regardless of whether it’s a weekend ride or a year-long odyssey, every successful ADV trip has several key components which make it unforgettable.
Here’s a list of mine.
In order to learn, you’ve got to do something you’ve never done before, or on a scale or level you’ve never attempted before. And in order to do that, you have to face discomfort. It’s different for everyone: the discomfort of being alone, of learning another language, of traveling slower than planned, of fixing a flat when you’ve no idea how, of having no privacy or space of your own, of riding off-road. For me, it’s riding off-road at speed (racing cross-country rallies) and being vulnerable. For some, it may be wild-camping alone, approaching people, asking for help, or tackling a treacherous mountain road.
Whatever it is, discomfort pushes us to grow, and victories over ourselves, even when seemingly small, make for the best experiences.
Immovable things break under pressure, flexible things merely bend – and bounce back. The less rigid you are in your planning, riding, and decision-making, the more freedom and wiggle room you have. Changing course, coming up with creative solutions, letting go of old images of yourself and adventure riding itself, and not being afraid to make a fool out of yourself every once in a while are all awesome tools to make the trip unforgettable.
Element of Surprise
With so much information at our fingertips, we can plan ADV trips down to incredible detail. There are websites and apps for routes and accommodation, languages and money, seasons and cultures and spare parts, the Ten Must-See Things and the Twenty Other Marginally Important Things; it’s only natural that we give in to this, because how can you NOT go to Machu Picchu in Peru, or the Salt Flats in Bolivia?
But if everything is always planned and calculated, is it still an ADV trip, or a packaged cruise on two wheels? Not that there’s anything wrong with cruise holidays, but “adventure” is synonymous with “surprise”, “the unknown”, and “discovery”.
Every once in a while, take a wrong turn, log off social media for a day, blissfully ignore route suggestions, don’t book a hotel for the next destination – and see where you end up.