There’s been a tremendous amount of planning and anticipation around this year’s trip since we started throwing around ideas for an international moto adventure almost a year ago. I took the wheel as far as research and I’ve learned a ton of useful information I’d like to pass on to you to in hopes that, if you’re ever so inspired, you can save some time and frustration.
Several factors weigh into the decision of where to have the best all around experience on two wheels in other parts of the world. First on that list for us was cost. We wanted to select a destination that was exotic and different than anything the northeast United States has to offer, but we didn’t have an endless bankroll to fund us. In fact, it was quite the opposite, we were only looking to spend what the average person would pay for a more traditional budget type vacation or cruise. So spending thousands of dollars was out of the question. In addition to limiting the amount of cash required, we also had a limited amount of time off from our jobs to make this type of trip work. It’s important to be realistic when planning your time. The biggest expense in an international trip, motorcycle related or otherwise, is often the airfare it’s self. Once you get there you can budget your daily spending however you choose, but getting there is an unavoidable and often costly expense. What this means for the traveler is that going somewhere on the other side of the world for 5 days can often times cost very close to what it would cost you to stay, say 10 days… maybe even a month depending on how far the US dollar goes in that destination. Also, more often then not, the daily rental fees for bikes and beds both go down considerably the longer you book them for. Moral of the story… squirrel away those vacation days and get the most bang for your buck.
Next on our list of considerations after finances and time was that we wanted somewhere that didn’t require us to fear for our personal safety. Seems pretty obvious, but it’s a crazy mixed up world we live in and this element should be carefully considered no matter where you think of visiting. Consult reliable sources when researching your safety. Just because the dude who wants to rent you a motorcycle tells you in an email that it’s perfectly safe doesn’t necessarily mean that’s the case. What is and isn’t “safe” can be pretty subjective depending on who’s assessment it is. I’ll mention this again, but whenever possible look to third party sources for your information on this kind of thing. That guy who wants to sell you something might not always be telling the whole truth, and once you’re there… well you could be in a mess. The best thing to do is get up from the computer and find real walking talking people who have been to the destination you are considering and pick their brain. You’ll learn more this way than in ours of Web research and the credibility is easier to gauge.
So once we had this much hashed out, we had a list of requirements that looked something like this… Go somewhere awesome. Don’t go broke. Don’t get fired. Don’t die. Pretty straight forward really, and frankly, tough to argue against in any aspect. We started by just brainstorming places we thought would be awesome to ride in. Once we thought a particular destination could tick all of those boxes, we started looking into the details in that particular local. Sometimes a destination takes a closer look to realize that it may fit a few of the requirements, but actually be lacking in others. Give yourself plenty of time decide.
Another very fundamental aspect of a motorcycle vacation is quite obviously the need for a motorcycle. Now, shipping a motorcycle overseas is a huge expense, (like more than we want this whole trip to cost) which rules that out immediately. Buying a motorcycle in another country and selling it at the end of the stay is another option. It takes a lot of cash up front, but in theory, at least most of it comes back to you when you sell the bike before heading home. I know some folks that have taken this route and had it work out just fine, however there is a catch to this option as well. It takes time. It can take quite a bit more time than one might initially assume. Foremost, you need to find a bike that you are interested in purchasing. This can be done from home, before departing with some careful planning and clear communication with the selling party. However, even once you’ve handed over the cash for your new ride, then you have to deal with making that bike road legal where ever you are. If you think DMV in the states sucks, trying navigating the red tape of registration in country where have no address or residency, especially if you do not speak the language or the country is less developed than you’re accustomed to. Things can move painfully slow. Then finally, once your trip is over you better find a buyer quickly, if you haven’t already. Hanging around looking for a buyer after the trip so you can recoup your money can end up being financially impractical after the money spent on lodging and of course, your time. As you can probably guess by the fact that we are keeping the purse strings tight on the budget for this one, we also do not have that kind of time. That’s not to say this method wouldn’t work if you were between jobs, or taking a year off school, etc. But if you have a limited time to take your trip and get back home, spend that time riding not wheeling and dealing and waiting on a bureaucratic paperwork shuffle.
This leaves one last obvious alternative besides stealing one or building one (and I sincerely doubt I need to walk you through the down sides of those two.) We need to rent motorcycles at our destination. Once you look into this option you will quickly realize that this is a widely available option in many parts of the world, from the frozen tundra of Siberia to the remote Australian outback, if you look hard enough you will find someone renting motorcycles online. I am new to international motorcycle rentals, so I don’t have any horror stories of getting screwed-over aboard (thankfully). However, in order to avoid a regrettable experience, I highly recommend finding some reviews from a third party website on whom ever you consider renting from. At the end of the day, you can get a pretty good feel for what you are getting into by doing you homework before hand.
One last thing that I’d like to remind you to consider, is the wonderful and personal connection between the experiences you have in other cultures and how you view the world everyday. Stepping out of your comfort zone isn’t something that I’m the first dude to advocate for by any means. I think you all know that every time you’ve tried something new, interesting, or exciting it doesn’t suck. I just think this is something that’s important to think about before hand, because the setting makes the adventure. If you have something that interests you about another culture, or even geographical area, then it maybe worth starting with that and then seeing what the riding is like in that place. Remember that you will only actually be twisting the throttle for potion of the time you’re away.
We decided to travel to Ecuador. Ecuador has some of the most diverse ecosystems on the plant and there is a laundry list of reasons why some people argue its the best place in the world to ride a motorcycle. This is one of those moments where as I write this, I need to draw a line. I could go on and on about how awesome Ecuador is, but if you stay tuned to the blog you will see for yourself. The goal of this post is not to sway your opinion or interest in any particular direction, but rather to put a flame under your ass if you’ve ever had a “dream” of doing something like this. It doesn’t have to be just an idea, if you can use the resources available to you along with a little common sense, you can plan an affordable once in a lifetime experience for yourself. I hope that I’ve helped you to reassess the attainability of an adventure you’ve been dreaming about, or even inspire you to purse the concept for the first time. Don’t forget to stay tuned, and Long May You Ride.