Packing for your Motorcycle Vacation
If you plan to be on the road for a week or more, or expect to be passing through cool climates, you could be packing quite a lot of gear. It only took one trip with lost luggage for alternate plans to formulate on how ensure my preferred riding gear was at my destination when I arrived.
For years now, I have shipped myself a big box of clean clothing to a hotel about halfway through any cross country or extended road trip. I enclose a roll of packing tape and address labels to mail the box back to myself from the hotel. It is free to sign up online for an account with UPS, which gives you a discounted rate for each shipment and you can call to arrange for pickups. UPS also includes a minimal amount of free insurance, or you can purchase additional insurance. You could use any package delivery service. UPS has just worked well for me over the years, and will now be my new Fly & Ride luggage plan after our lost baggage experience. I do suggest sending the package so it is delivered at least 2 or 3 days before you expect to fly out, so you can confidently confirm its arrival before you leave home.
While this may cost you an extra $50 in shipping fees, it will save you time and hassle at the airport. When our luggage was lost on a recent trip, we had to replace everything from leather riding gear to toothpaste on a moment's notice. We would have gladly paid the $50, because the airline had already charged us an extra $20 for the "extra weight" of the bag! I guess it was SO heavy with all our riding gear that they could not even lift it into the airplane that day! The airline only offered to reimburse $25 per day for the inconvenience of our bag not showing up when we did. We were lucky that trip that Eagle Rider of Salt Lake City took pity on us and cut tags off of brand new leather riding gear to loan to us, in addition to filling our saddlebags with t-shirts, hats, gloves and other necessities.
If you already know how to fill a saddlebag for a good long road trip, you now that packing light is the golden rule on a bike. But did you know how much smaller things are if you pack them in a Ziploc bag? Try putting one day of clothing in each bag. This way, you are not tearing up your entire tour pack every night. Roll your shirt and undergarments into your jeans and slide into the Ziploc bag. (The 2 gallon size works nice for this trick.) Now seal about half of the bag and sit on the roll of clothes to squish the air out of the bag. Seal the rest of the bag while seated. Voila! Vacuum sealed, and water-proof packing in half the space! Each night, you can pack your dirty clothes into that bag to go back into the tour pack using the same process. If you wrap a shirt on the outside, instead of jeans- it is easy to tell which bags are clean or dirty at a glance.
Ziplocs are also great for toiletries, documents that need to stay dry or organizing tech toys, like cameras and iPods.. Next, check the weather outlook for the area you will be riding in, summer lows can mean winter clothing in some parts of the country. You may want to pack rain gear or leather even if you are flying out of Florida in shorts and sandals.
I like to throw a couple extra bungee cords and a cargo net in when I am riding a rental motorcycle because I never know exactly how my tour pack will work out for attachment on the set up of a different bike. The cargo net also comes in handy when I begin to acquire things that no longer fit in the saddlebags, and items begin getting loaded onto the outside of my tour pack. I usually have an extra drawstring bag or two for this very reason.
Another item that makes every trip check list for me is a china marker. Some call it a grease pencil. We use it to jot directions on the corner of the windshield. It wipes off with the swipe of a thumb and doesn't wash away in rain. No pulling out papers to look for directions while rolling down a strange road.
When you arrive at the motorcycle rental agency, check the bike over before leaving for any dents, scratches or problems that you don't want to be responsible for. Get a copy of rental agreement with agent's emergency phone numbers, mileage caps, time of return and any late return charges, gas charges, and make sure you get the agent's signature on the agreement.
We know you already got the best routes for the area off of OpenRoadJourney, but don't forget to bring along a map of the area anyway, just in case. You never know when you might hear of a local festival nearby that you want to check out, or unexpected road closures may have you discovering new routes and experiences.
No matter which motorcycle rental company you choose, which model motorcycle you ride, or what you throw in your saddlebag, it all comes down to the ride! Here's wishing you a safe "Fly & Ride" adventure that has you heading home with lasting memories and an exciting tale to share here online at OpenRoadJourney.
Just flew from Western Canada to Miami and rented 4 Harley's from Eagle Rider in Miami. Rode down to Key West and back, and then West into the Glades for a while. Great way to do it. Pre-shipping luggage!! Awesome idea
Tue Mar 12, 2013 at 2:10 PM
Planning trip from Ca. (bay area)to East Coast Ma.were I live sometime this Spring. My Goldwing now located in Ca. Have not picked route yet and want to take about 2 weeks to do this tour.......Any tips and anyone interested in joyning me for this adventure?
Wed Jan 26, 2011 at 2:14 AM
Flew into San Diego, CA with my brother where we rented BMWs. We rode up and down the coast on Hwy 1 and took in some amazing sights. Be sure to get unlimited miles on your rental and search for those hidden must see spots on-line before going. Trip of a life time.
Tue Apr 27, 2010 at 12:34 PM
We are thinking of a cross country trip which would include flying out to California and renting bikes to ride back home to PA. Not sure if this is going to be feasible as far as renting or anything yet but, if anyone has an suggestions we would love to hear from you. Please reach us at scorparius1963@yahoo
Sat Jun 20, 2009 at 3:09 PM
vstroms has nothing other than 650 suzuki's to rent. Certainly not for most bikers.
Wed Jul 23, 2008 at 3:43 AM
www.vstroms.com just rented with this Company out of Portland Oregon they deliver your Motorcycle to you. Best service I have ever had. Bike was set up perfect with luggage.
Fri May 9, 2008 at 10:49 AM
I would be at viewpoint 30 miles(Coulmbia Gorge Area just outside Portland Oregon) from my house with 2 German guys riding two big V-twins and i ask them how they where enjoying America we love it just wish there was something else to rent out there then a big heavy cruiser. They would say.
Fri Feb 22, 2008 at 8:01 PM
Shipping is good if you don't mind being without your bikes before your trip, while they are traveling. Harley-Davidson dealers and Eaglerider have most every model Haley-Davidson has on the road avilable to rent. Planning is part of my joy, I don't want someone else taking that away too, if my time limits my miles!
Fri Jan 25, 2008 at 4:04 PM
We used fly and ride before but were not happy with choice of rentals available, so
last year we went to Sturgis and used a company
that shipped our bikes! They made our room reservations, even picked us up at the airport! Discover America Motorcycle Tours was their name, this year we are going to Las Vegas, the Grand Canyon & Zion Park all in one week! Having our own bikes makes the vacation great and it was almost the same price as the fly and ride!
We highly recommend them! And all our pictures
have us on our bikes, after all we've got a lot of money tied up in them and it's fun to show them off!
Wed Jan 16, 2008 at 9:47 PM
What great ideas for traveling, ziploc bags and pre-shipping your stuff. We will try that on our next trip, Thanks
Sun Dec 9, 2007 at 1:56 PM
Ragan, another great article, keep them coming!
Tue Oct 23, 2007 at 12:18 PM
Thu Oct 4, 2007 at 9:49 PM
Great article Ragan! But what do you do if you break your finger while bowling?
Thu Oct 4, 2007 at 1:15 PM