If you’re planning on going on a short motorcycle trip abroad where you rent a bike locally or go with an organized tour, packing can still be a headache. You’ll need much less than you would on a long trip on your own motorcycle, but you’ll still need the basics. I’m on the road permanently, but recently, I had to do a quick fly and ride to my first ever cross-country rally in Portugal for a few days. My luggage was what you see in the featured image I took before the trip, plus my CamelBak, which acted as a backpack. It was more than enough. In fact, I threw my CamelBak away before I boarded my flight home because a)it was trashed and covered in mud and grime after the rally, and b) turns out, I didn’t really need it, not as a backpack anyway.
So here’s what to pack for a fly and ride if it’s short notice and you’re on a budget.
Keep It Simple
It’s tempting to overthink what you might need, and as a result, you overpack. To avoid it, keep it very simple. Whether you’re going to some exotic, far-flung place, or just across the country, you’ll still only need the same basic things. Your toiletries, a change of clothes (pair of pants, couple of T-shirts, a warm layer, underwear, couple of pairs of socks, flip flops or sneakers), your phone and charger, your meds if you’re taking any, some Ibuprofen just in case, your passport, and your wallet. That’s it. Anything else is an unnecessary luxury. If, once you arrive, you realize you forgot your contact lens solution, your sunglasses, or your earplugs, guess what – you can buy that locally. Yes, even in Bolivia or Kyrgyzstan. If you’re flying in, you’re going to land in a big city (at least for a connection), and big cities have shops. The world is a lot more developed than we sometimes think.
Wear Your Gear
If you’re going on an adventure tour, just wear your gear on the plane and carry your helmet with you. Not the most comfortable thing to do, but if you’re on a budget and don’t want to check in any luggage, that’s the way to go. Once you board the plane, you can take your heavy boots off, or at least loosen the buckles to make it more comfortable. Open all the vents in your suit to keep cool. Yes, people are probably going to stare; just tell them you’re a nervous flyer and enjoy the fact that you’re not paying any checked luggage fees or have to wait to get your bag off the luggage belt once you land. Freedom!
For Portugal, I wore my riding suit and boots on the plane and carried my Mosko Moto D-25 Scout duffel bag as a carry-on. No checked luggage, no fuss, no muss. Added bonus: with just your carry on, you can make tighter connections, which may help you save on flight costs. Note to self: wash your gear after your ride if you’ve been traveling off-road. If there are no laundry services to be found, at least hose it off when you’re washing your bike. The flight attendants and fellow passengers will appreciate that.
Depending on whether you’re just renting a bike or going on a tour, you might need some extra stuff like a GPS unit or perhaps some tools. Still, try to keep it to a minimum. Don’t take all your electronics with you – a phone and, if you need it for work, a notebook laptop are more than enough, and you can use your phone for navigation. For tools, pick up something tiny and compact like this modular tool kit.
If your riding gear isn’t waterproof, get something that’s lightweight and packs small, like Frogg Toggs.
One Luxury Item Per Trip
Everyone has a few things they feel like they just can’t live without. For me, it’s my laptop and my coffee, so I have my large Think Pad and a small (but still sort of ridiculous) French press. That’s two luxury items right there, and I’m okay with that because again, I pretty much live on the road. For the rally ride, though, I left the French press on my bike – after all, Portugal has great coffee, and I can splurge on cafe espressos for a few days. So, if you’re just going for a quick fly and ride, only allow yourself one luxury item. It may be your Kindle, your sturdy hiking boots, your hairdryer – whatever it is, take it with you, but it has to be only one thing. Otherwise, you’ll fill your suitcases before you know it, and now, you have to lug your carry-on bag, your helmet, and your checked baggage with you.