RTW planning is a funny thing. Are you circumnavigating the world, or trying to ride on every continent? How much time do you have? What do you want to experience the most?
Whichever way you look at it, most RTW riders are chasing something: the destinations, the glory, the adventure, or simply, the dream. But when it comes to planning, setting your priorities is the first thing to do: it will make the rest of the logistics a lot easier.
So here are several different ways to plan your RTW if you’re still undecided or just need some inspiration.
Chasing the Destinations
This is by far the most popular and perhaps easiest way to plan your RTW ride. The most popular RTW routes are New York – Vladivostok – New York, Alaska – Ushuaia, Nordkapp-Cape Town, and Sydney – London. If the traditional RTW routes and must-see places are your thing, this can be a great way to plan your ride. You can mix and match these routes any way you please, or simply stick to the good old circumnavigation route riding West from New York and arriving from the East (New York, Anchorage, Vladivostok, Lisbon, New York).
The bonus point is that since these routes are popular, you’re more than likely to meet other RTW riders along the way, and it’ll be easier to ship your bike to and from the “regular” ADV destinations. Major ports and cities are also great for parts, mechanics, and travelers’ meets.
Chasing the Summer
If you’re all about the ride and less about the destination, chasing summer is another great way to plan your route. Keeping in mind that the seasons are reversed in the southern hemisphere, all you’ve got to do is time your ride accordingly, enjoying the summers in the North and winters in the South. If you miss the season window, you can always hang out in either hemisphere longer, or travel laterally for a little while. Other than the seasons, you’re not limited by anything and can crisscross the continents and countries any way you like.
Timing is everything with this approach, so be sure to check summer/winter seasons as well as rainy seasons around the globe.
This is a fun one: ride RTW and chase the big cross-country rallies as you go along.
Baja and Sonora in North America, Atacama Rally in South America, Serres Rally or Hellas Rally Raid in Europe, several big desert rallies in Africa, Silk Way Rally in Asia – and Rally Dakar in Saudi Arabia if you feel up to it. Here’s a handy list of cross-country navigation rallies worldwide – pick out the ones you’d love to see, and design a route following the major racing events. Who knows, you might end up racing rallies yourself ,or perhaps moonlighting as a support crew member or mechanic for one of your rally favorites.
For some, it’s about the ride and for many, it’s about the people. The world is growing smaller and smaller, but there still are plenty of unique places on Earth where people have a different way of living. If you dream of sitting around a campfire with the nomadic shepherds of the Balkans or the gauchos of Patagonia, diving for lobster with the Guna people in the Caribbean, hanging out with the Mongolian horsemen, or experiencing the zen culture of Bhutan, do your research and plan your trip based on the different cultures and people you’d love to learn more about.
If you have plenty of time, this can be easily combined with chasing the summer or destinations, just with an added cultural twist.
Improvising On the Go
This one’s my favorite, as I’m rather useless at planning anything over a week. In fact, my RTW ride got so scrambled and random that I’m not even sure I can call it a legit RTW anymore; at this point, it’s more of a colorful chaos of overlanding, racing, traveling, and cultural experiences. Sometimes, I’m on the road for a week, then stop at some location I get intrigued about and explore it in-depth while getting work done. Sometimes, I’m chasing or racing a rally, training, or trying to figure out how to fix a leaky sprocket seal with a hammer and some duct tape. And most of the time, I’m just trying to avoid winter, high motorcycle shipping costs, and bad coffee. I’m in no rush to get anywhere in particular because I’m aiming to get everywhere, and since I am virtually homeless, there’s no return date (or destination, for that matter). The improvisation method works best if you have lots of time – if you’re on a tight schedule, this might not be for you.
Are you planning a RTW? How do you decide about your routes? let me know in the comments below.