Updated: Dec 3, 2018
“We'd like you to do a monthly column for our new website and you can write about anything you like”, said Tom the producer on the other end of the phone.
That's a bit like putting a microphone to someone’s face with the comment “say something” - it can leave a person struck dumb with the infinite possibilities available.
Well, rants are what come to mind first, and I have many but I'll save them until next year. I'll start with something that may be a little more useful.
I've gained quite a lot of travel experience over the years so here are some of the things I've remembered and learnt - the tips and tricks I wish I’d known before I left. This is the wisdom I’ve gained based on first-hand experiences and predicaments.
I would generally describe the extended bike journey as an independent overland trip; it doesn’t become an adventure until an event occurs outside of my plans. That being said, I generally don't have much of a plan, just a destination. I do have a pretty good idea of what I don't want to experience. I don't want to be sitting at borders for ages, enduring fines and body searches; I don't want terminal break downs in uninhabited areas; I don't want hunger, dehydration, frost bite or heat exhaustion, and I certainly don't want to pay out hard earned travel money to rip-off merchants who prey on my desperate circumstances. Some bad experiences are unavoidable but there are certain steps that can prevent these from being regular occurrences.
So, in no particular order of importance what follows are my, and this is important, only my personal hard earned top tips. These top tips are may not necessarily be your top tips - they might not even be mine next week! Tips evolve based on needs, experiences, age and wisdom so my top, top tip would be:-
- Never take someone else’s tips as top. My experiences are based on solo, budget, overland motorcycle travel and may not work for people with companions, more money or less time.
- Garage preparation for me is a time of excitement and creativity; I’m almost in a meditational state. I refer to check lists as I locate luggage, spare parts and tools. A little ingenuity can result in a lot of satisfaction. I make a note of the tools I use as I prepare and taking those ones with me means I can repair, relocate and reinforce on the side of the road if I have to. Using my bike’s comprehensive tool kit during the preparation is a good way to see what is needed and what is not. Duct tape and cable ties are essentials in every walk of life I think, not just on the road. (I’ll leave the big hammer at home and hope I can find a rock when I need heavy impact!)