Motorcycle touring is an exciting way for tourists to experience sights, sounds, wind, and landscape while having what often becomes a treasured and memorable adventure. Beyond the obvious visions that the term conjures in your mind, what exactly does motorcycle touring mean? Well, I’m glad you asked. However, there are no easy or right answers because the answers are as individual as each rider being asked.
In this article, we’ll take a look at the various types of tours as well as, the types of riders best suited for them. Tours are designed with the rider(s) in mind as the stereotypes of motorcycle riders continue to evolve. The current riders on the scene include beginners, single riders, a rider with passenger, couples riding together, special interest groups, as well as whole families. Of course, we can’t talk motorcycle tours and riders without discussing supplies and special equipment like, optimized motorcycles for long-range travel; luggage storage; tools and techniques; detailed preparation, such as, route plans that include location of food, gas, overnight stays, personal care of the riders, and motorcycle events along the way.
So, let’s pull the curtain back and take a peek inside the world of motorcycle touring.
When it comes to motorcycle touring, the world truly is your oyster. You can take a spontaneous motorcycle trip around your local or neighboring points of interest, or travel the globe motoring through exotic and foreign lands. At the end of the day, tours fall into three main categories: self-guided, guided and customized tours which can include elements from the first two categories.
Self Guided Tours
Total flexibility is what you get with self-guided tours. You can choose to journey on your own or with a group of friends or family without the accompaniment of a tour guide. The biggest pro to this option is that you get to choose your dates, times and points of departure. Getting to choose the duration of your tour is an added bonus.
Overnight tours offer accommodations and can often include a specified number of meals. Tours provide a suggested itinerary as well as, a package that may include a trip checklist and detailed route directions. When renting motorcycles, you should receive an orientation, detailing the safe operation of the motorcycle, its maintenance, and a complete tire repair kit. If you decide to take a motorcycle tour after arriving at your destination, check to see if they can arrange motorcycle tour day trips.
But, not having a tour guide riding with you does not mean you’re alone. Self-guided tours provide a motorcycle rental, along with the benefit of local travel experts’ knowledge of your trip and a detailed plan. These rented motorcycles may be equipped with luggage space, a mounted GPS pre-programmed with the route for each day of your tour and each night’s accommodation is pre-booked. It is customary to pay an all-inclusive price for motorcycle rental, GPS routes and accommodations, vouchers, prepaid cell phone cards, tire repair kit, and emergency kit. Mostly, the work is done for you. You can feel confident that you are seeing the best sites, riding the best roads and staying at the best biker-friendly accommodations each night. These tours are designed for you to just show up and enjoy your ride.
Is a self-guided tour right for you? To help you decide, here are some important things to consider:
You will be your own guide. The responsibilities of planning ahead, solving common problems, and having alternatives in case of unexpected situations are yours.
You’ll need to be flexible and patient in the event a wrong turn adds time to your trip. Being able to read a map and being comfortable asking for directions are skills that can help ensure a successful trip.
When traveling in an area with a foreign language, custom or culture it’s to your advantage to carry a phrase book and to know some conversational phrases to aid in basic communication. It is recommended that you research the customs of the areas you will be touring. Be aware of cultural norms and local laws to keep your tour safe and enjoyable.
You must be able to deal with things not going as intended.
If the above list doesn’t sound like a good time, maybe a guided tour would be a better fit.
Guided Motorcycle Tours
Guided tours are often remembered as trips of a lifetime; where the stories grow larger with embellishments over time. I would dare say that guided motorcycle tours are largely responsible for such rave reviews. With guided motorcycle tours, the adventure features a hero, YOU, a guide and/or porter who has the plan to get you safely through your journey to your destination.
So, you want to take a guided tour, right? Where do you start?
Memorable journeys start with the destination in mind. Because motorcycle touring is performed in many countries, like the United States and abroad. Take time to research where in the world you’d like to tour. Consider how many days you have for your tour, how you’d like to travel to your starting point, how many people traveling with you and don’t forget to decide if you’ll be renting a motorcycle or bringing your own.
So much to do… travel arrangements, packing for weather conditions, bringing the right gear, equipment, tools, selecting sites of interest, coordinating routes, calendars, event times and tickets. Oh, and let’s not forget, reservations for overnight stays, meals, parking, and fuel. Putting aside Murphy’s Law and assuming all goes well according to plan, you have a successful journey and reach your destination.
Guide and Porter. These are the professional, experienced tour leaders who have taken others on this path and are experts in all areas of your journey. The Guide is by your side as an escort throughout your entire adventure. They are your point-person for all your questions, special requests, emergencies as well as, any distractions that may arise. The Porter also accompanies you throughout and is always available for assistance. You usually find the Porter following your tour, carrying heavier items, and luggage.
Well, if you’re like me, you want to know what’s inside the guided tour. Let’s pull back the curtains and take a look.
Inside Motorcycle Tours
Earlier I mentioned that you should do some research. Your findings will enable you to develop your lists of must-have, absolutely not, and who thought that was a good idea. Many travelers use the services of a professional Travel Agent to assist them in finding the perfect motorcycle tour. Beginning with these focus points in mind, you’ll start to build excitement. This is the time to get creative in the specific elements you want in your experience. But, whether you decide to use a travel agent or do it yourself, the following information will be helpful.
Cancellation Policy and Insurance
Ok, so now that you know where in the world you want to go, when do you want to go? One thing to note is that most tour providers have fixed dates and times. So, be sure to understand if your tour provider has a flexible cancellation policy. Review their terms and conditions regarding refunds, postponements, and give special attention to payment due dates. When gathering this information, be thorough and consider as many possible situations as you can. Take note that situations or deal breakers may not always be your fault. Things happen. The need to invoke the cancellation policy may be caused by the tour operator and might be for something as simple as they have a minimum number of required riders. This is a good time to mention trip insurance. Once in a lifetime trips are extremely valuable and sometimes there are no opportunities for “do-overs”, hence, I strongly suggest that you protect your entire excursion with travel insurance.
Many tours will assist you with securing transportation for your motorcycle to their local airports. Make sure your communications are clear and you follow all instructions. It’s important to have a contact name and number should you need it. The travel industry has expanded its offerings to meet the requests of more and more travelers. Adventurers are now combining cruises that
Transport passenger’s motorcycles for on-shore excursions during the sailing.
To sum up, motorcycle touring is an exciting way to experience travel close to home or in faraway lands. There are so many options that you can coordinate in a way that includes all the elements you need to make your tour an adventure of a lifetime.