Monthly Archives: July 2015

Choosing A Vacation Trip

Vacation Planning: Is It Right For You?    Choosing A Trip    Planning A Trip   

What You’re Looking For Depends On What You’re Used To

When many people plan a big vacation get-away, the first thing they think of is something that they’ve heard someone brag about… a trip to Bora-Bora, climbing a mountain… whatever!

Then they realize that they don’t have the funds, skills, interest or time to make that plan work, so they settle for a stay-cation.

In a previous post I discuss whether to choose a motorcycle vacation, now let’s talk about HOW to choose the right trip for YOU!

I see 3 approaches for choosing where to go. The first is to simply pick some place you’ve never been and head out. No planning, no worrying.. just go with the flow.  This is great for the type of person for whom facing the unknown is the fun part, but that is not the kind of trip I’m talking about here.

The second approach is to choose a destination where you will spend most of your time, and the motorcycle is simply your transportation there and back.Your planning will be limited to logistics, like hotels, gas, mileage, and possibly weather. Again, not the kind of trip I’m discussing here.

The third approach is to plan the trip, as opposed to just the destination, to do and see the things you enjoy.  A motorcycle vacation adventure can be a weekend, or a week (or more) long and give you the sense of adventure and accomplishment you are seeking.

I suggest that you start with an inventory of what you ‘have’ and what you ‘want’. If you live in the pine-forested mountains, the desert vistas of the Southwest may get your juices flowing. Or maybe the swamps of the Southeast. If you live in a crowded big city, maybe the wide open plains (with no people) are just the ticket.  Start with an inventory of what you  already have, then develop a list of what you want to experience.

    Here is my list from the Phoenix Valley of the Sun area:

  • desert plants on a flat desert floor
  • small but steep hills we call mountains
    What I love to experience:

  • cliffs & canyons (from the top) with big vistas, and canyons (from the bottom) with rivers I can ride next to
  • colorful, interesting rock formations
  • big vistas of undulating forested mountains and meadows
  • jagged coastline
  • twisty mountain roads and broad, and sweeping turns with great vistas
  • historical sites

You may have a different list if you live in a different location (or like different things), but the point is to go ahead and create your own list. Once you know what you are looking for, you may be surprised how easily you can plan a great adventure vacation, maybe in your own state!

Living in the Southwest gives me an unfair advantage, as almost everything I want is within 2 days ride, but their is nothing to prevent you from hopping on a plane and getting close to your destination to rent a motorcycle. Once you are on the motorcycle, your adventure awaits. Whether you want to ride the Pacific Coast Highway, tour the Grand Canyon, ride the Million Dollar Highway, Freedom Trail, or Tail of the Dragon… or make up your own dream ride… you can do it with a little preparation.

In a future post, I will discuss my methods for finding routes that optimize the things I like to do.

There are great rides in almost every state. The secret is to create your route by choosing things you love to experience (from your list) and go DO IT!

Choosing to Vacation on a Motorcycle – Is It Right For You?

Vacation Planning: Is It Right For You?    Choosing A Trip    Planning A Trip   

“Oh, I could never do that!”

How many of us give up our dreams because of that phrase?

Maybe you’ve heard it’s dangerous, or expensive, or time consuming, or …, or …

It does not have to be expensive, and the only special skills you need are the ability to ride a motorcycle and, most importantly, the right attitude!

Everyone knows that riding keeps you in touch with the changing environments you glide through; temperatures, smells, and increased visual range. Riding also establishes an immediate bond between total strangers at a restaurant, gas station, or hotel. When you ask someone about their bike it almost always turns into a great discussion. Whether it is about equipment, road conditions, places to eat (or not), things to see. Take an adventurous attitude and talk to the people you meet along the way!

The right attitude can also mitigate the ‘dangers’ you face along the way. There are real dangers to motorcycle touring, but approaching it thoughtfully should avoid the worst of the problems. There are environmental dangers, like weather (storms, heat & humidity, cold) and areas without services (hotel, gas, restaurants). There are personal dangers, like medical (conditions, medication refrigeration) and safety (traveling alone).

Environmental dangers can frequently be avoided with timing. Don’t motorcycle through Tornado Alley during tornado season. Don’t drive in the desert Southwest during summer. Motorcycle around the desert in Arizona in February and you will have a spectacular time! If you feel the need to go at risky times, reach out to locals who can help you plan your risk mitigation.

Personal safety is frequently the biggest issue holding people (especially women) back from motorcycle touring, but our aging population is pushing medical concerns ever higher.

Medical concerns might be as simple as keeping medications refrigerated, to availability of medical facilities, to health conditions that may limit mobility/endurance.  All of these can be addressed with a little planning and research on the internet. Keep your medical information on your phone with you by using a phone app that gives GPS-tagged messages to your emergency contact list.

Traveling alone can be a wonderful way to disconnect from a hectic day-to-day noise, but it is scary to some folks. “What if…” can keep people from taking that step into adventure, but it doesn’t need to. Anybody on social media knows someone who knows someone in virtually any area of the country.

One of the best social media applications for this particular purpose is Meetup.com. Join some motorcycle rider groups in your destination area and ask for help. You will be innundated with suggestions, and maybe people willing to ride with you.

As your mother told you, strangers are friends you haven’t met yet. With the right adventurous attitude you can visit amazing places, make new friends and memories that will last a lifetime.

So, which attitudes should NOT try motorcycle vacations?

  • Ugly American syndrome – if you feel the need to tell everyone why their location/lifestyles are inferior to your home location, please stay home
  • if facing some adversity (weather, road construction, schedule changes) along the way throws you into an emotional tailspin, please stay home
  • if you expect to be pampered, please check into a spa

The Proper attitude for a motorcycle vacation

  • you want to see something different, and meet interesting people along the way
  • you can accept that adversity is part of the adventure
  • you can be like a Boy Scout: be prepared, friendly, and cheerful…