If you’re an avid rider but big international trips are over your budget, is backpacking the answer? And equally, could backpackers be the perfect candidates to convert them to the dark side and get hooked on motorcycling? Having done both, I think there are lessons to be learned from both worlds:

Backpacking and Zen

If you haven’t done much traveling before, but want to go on a long motorcycle journey, doing a week or two of backpacking abroad can be a fantastic experience to prep you for what lies ahead. Sure, as a backpacker, you rely on public transport and have less freedom, but you’re also much closer to the locals, and you learn to be patient and zen in no time. Delayed trains, smelly regional buses, noisy hostel dorm-mates, the joy of lugging a heavy backpack everywhere you go, the dependence on local transportation systems -all of this teaches to be patient, creative, and let go of trying to control everything. In addition, it’s a good exercise in budgeting, dealing with unexpected troubles, and finding a way to enjoy a new country while crammed in a chicken bus rattling down a copiously potholed road somewhere in Guatemala.

Stepping Up to Motorcycles

Here on ADV Rider, there’s been a long discussion on why young people don’t ride bikes, why they do, and how can veteran motorcyclists encourage more people to choose two wheels. Backpackers, it seems, are the prime target: they already have an insatiable thirst for adventure, want to see the world, and love being independent. I transitioned from a backpacker to motorcyclist in 2013 when a kind American motorcyclist donated a day of his time to teach me to ride and help me pick out a small Chinese motorcycle for my first two-wheeled adventure; I have no doubt more backpackers would take to motorcycles, if only we were willing to help more.

Whats’s your take?

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