One of the greatest freedoms in life is going on a long motorcycle ride, especially when the destination is somewhere off the beaten path (even better if it's also off the grid).
But as anyone who has done a long trip will tell you, unexpected surprises-both good and bad–always happen, so it's best to be prepared.
Here we present to you a motorcycle trip checklist of the 11 essential items you should pack if you're going on a long road trip.
Clearly, this list could be comprised of far more than 11 items, but there's something to be said for packing as light as possible.
We'll skip over some of the obvious items like luggage because we'll assume you already know you're going to need some form of luggage to carry everything. Here are easily forgettable things, but also very crucial for a trouble-free journey.
1. First Aid Kit
This should be a no-brainer. Accidents happen, and you or someone you're riding with can get hurt. For major injuries, you should contact emergency services as quickly as possible.
Still, until authorities can arrive, a well-stocked first-aid kit could mean the difference between life and death.
Of course, a well-stocked first-aid kit can be super useful for less-series cuts, scrapes, bruises, or breaks as well. This is something you hope you never have to use but will be extremely glad you have if you do.
You always have to assume the worst when packing for a long trip, and if you're not able to tell anyone who you are, it's a good idea to have some form of identification on you.
Bonus points if you also include your blood type, any medications you're on, emergency contact info, and any allergies you have. Most people carry their ID with them, but those other things? Not quite.
3. Tool Kit
Along with you, the rider, your motorcycle is prone to having an unexpected problem or issue also. It's times like these when a tool kit can come in handy.
If your engine has dropped a valve, a screwdriver and basic wrench kit aren't going to help, but for minor roadside repairs, having a good tool kit could mean the difference between getting back on the road or calling it quits.
A basic tool kit will have things like wrenches, screwdrivers, and a socket set. It wouldn't hurt to add essentials like a flashlight, duct tape, zip ties, and even batteries.
Another smart thing is to stock your tool kit with specific tools for your motorcycle. You know, every bike has that one part that's a pain to get to without a special tool.
If you're not sure what to get for your bike, start with a basic set and see what areas of your motorcycle you can service with it (do this at home, obviously). Take notes of any tools you still need...and then head over to Amazon Prime.
4. Flat Tire Kit
This one is a matter of when not if. If you ride long enough, you're going to get an unexpected flat tire eventually. It's a law. So best to be prepared for it by having a plug kit, or a patch kit if you use tubes, handy.
Once you understand how they work, they aren't challenging to use, and are typically very reliable. Don't go anywhere near the green slime you find at the auto parts store if you can avoid it. As the word "slime" should indicate, it makes a mess.
Worse yet, that mess gets on the inside of your wheel and should be cleaned off (another pain in itself) once you're finally back in civilization and can change or repair your tire correctly.
All that is a long way of saying keep a plug or patch kit with you. It’ll save you a big headache and keep you on the road.
5. Cash or credit card
This one should be pretty self-explanatory. It's a genuine possibility that you're going to need to pay for goods or services at some point (gas, for instance). Cash is always king in these situations, but if you're traveling somewhere that uses a different currency, or if you're simply out of money, having a credit card as a backup doesn't hurt. Also, it's probably best to avoid carrying American Express.
Experience has shown that fewer places accept American Express compared to Visa or Mastercard. Especially internationally.
6. GPS and Maps
Notice the headline says GPS and maps, not or. Knowing where you're going via GPS is excellent, and in fact, can be more useful in directing you to exact locations sometimes.
However, electronic devices need power sources, and if your GPS runs out of juice, what do you do then? While there's nothing wrong with carrying a GPS, as a backup, nothing beats the reliability of a good old-fashion map.
The more specific, the better. Even if your GPS on that R 1250 GS is still functional, if you're trying to understand a large area, sometimes it's just easier to look at a map rather than zoom in or out on a GPS screen.
We get it. Part of the fun of going on an adventure is to unplug and get away from technology, especially your phone.
But in case you haven't noticed by now, this list is about making sure you're prepared with the essentials in case things go wrong, and what better way is there to get help if things go south than by calling for it. Like, literally calling with your phone (assuming there's cell service, of course).
Even if you don't need to make a call, you can use your phone to take pictures to cherish later, or alert loved ones you're doing fine.
Granted, of all the items on this list, this one is probably the least important. However, assuming you're the type who likes being plugged in, a communicator is a handy device.
If you're road tripping with friends, or even a passenger, it's nice to be able to chat with them while riding. If the communicator is linked to a GPS or phone, you'll have (mostly) hands-free access to those devices, too.
9. Bungees and Straps
Anyone who has ever logged a significant amount of miles on a motorcycle will tell you having a few bungee cords, rope, or any other method of tying things down is crucial on a long-distance trip. You're inevitably going to pack beyond what you can fit in your saddlebags and tank bags, so it's a good idea to have some straps available to hold it down securely to your motorcycle.
10. The Right Gear (And Don't Forget Spare Clothes!)
Just as ATGATT riders dress for the crash, you should also take into account the weather conditions you might experience, too.
Several touring suits on the market are able to handle the mixed bag of conditions Mother Nature throws at it, but even if you're traveling on the cheap, a garbage bag can work as a rain cover in a pinch. It's also a good idea to pack a few spare clothes–like an extra pair of underwear, socks, a shirt or two, and shoes.
11. Camping Equipment
This one may or may not be a requirement, depending on your level of adventure. However, since a road trip on an adventure bike wouldn't be complete without a little camping thrown in, why not pack that stuff, too.
At least the essentials, anyway: a tent, sleeping bag, and basic cooking equipment at a minimum. While you're at it, don't forget your toiletries, too. Being on the road by yourself can be nice, but don't ensure you stay that way by having funky breath. Take a toothbrush and toothpaste.
The experienced traveler could add or subtract things from this list depending on their needs, but this should be an excellent start to get you on your way. If this feels overwhelming, convert this into a checklist so you can mark off what you've packed as you go.
And while it's good to be over-prepared than underprepared, real estate on your motorcycle is scarce, so if you're on the fence about an item, that probably means it can stay behind. Good luck on your trip, and most of all, have fun.