For some reason, when people hear I learned to ride a bike in Peru in two hours and took off on a cross-continent journey across South America, usually say the same thing: “but don’t you need experience for that sort of a ride?”. How else are you supposed to gain experience, if not by doing? Granted, solid bike training helps, as does knowing languages, having some savings, and a general direction of where you’re going. But experience, kickass riding skills, or money isn’t the most important thing on a long overland trip. The most important asset on a long motorcycle journey is flexibility.
Plans Fall Apart
Just like with everything in life, it doesn’t matter how well you plan – it’s impossible to prepare for every eventuality out there. You simply can’t foresee all the rainy seasons starting too early, all the breakdowns, all the personal situations, so while it’s good to be prepared, it also pays to be flexible and change your plans as you go along. Can you ship your bike to Africa and ride there instead, if a good shipping option to Australia has just ended and you can’t afford air freight? Can you stay longer in one or two countries and wait the winter out, instead of rushing through South America to get to Ushuaia within a few weeks? The more flexible you are, the less stress and money the trip will cost you.
The World Changes…
Visa regulations, international relations, civil unrest – all of these things can change while you’re still on the road. Can you change with them? Being flexible doesn’t mean stopping or turning back (unless you want to), it simply means finding creative solutions on the spot.
… And So Do You
Somewhere along the way, you might realize that just traveling isn’t enough anymore, and take up another project while still on the road. Or, you might realize you want to travel indefinitely and need to figure out a way to create some income while still moving. Or perhaps you’ve had enough already, even though you’re not even halfway into your trip.
That’s OK. You decided the rules of the game, which means you can change them, too. Do what feels right, and keep going in whichever direction you’re drawn to.