The first time I toured, I went solo to the Alps. And because it was my first time (and because I was alone), I took a million things I didn’t need.
Then the second time I toured, I went solo to the Pyrenees. And yet again, I took a million things I didn’t need.
Since then, the years have rolled on, and I’ve found my rhythm. I’ve finessed my packing list and figured out the difference between what I think I need and what I actually need.
And minimal packing has become somewhat of a staple opinion of mine on this website. I seem to be constantly harping on about the importance of packing light, and leaving all the shit you don’t need at home.
So in this post, you’ll be surprised that I’m suggesting you bring some non-motorcycling items you don’t need!
Why Bring All This Stuff?
Well, the answer is simple. You’re a person with feelings and emotions. There are things, objects, habits, and routines in your life that make you feel better.
You don’t realise it at home. But the minute you take those things away, you feel just a little bit worse for not having them.
And if you’re touring alone – especially if it’s for any prolonged period – those little things go a long way in keeping up your morale. Especially after a day that hasn’t necessarily gone to plan.
So in this post, I’m going to list my top 9 non-motorcycling items for touring alone based on my own experiences.
We’re all different, and what makes me feel better might not be what makes you feel better. And that’s okay.
The point is, you can (and should) take this stuff with you when you tour alone.
1. Non-Motorcycling Items For Touring: A Device
I say ‘device’ because we all have such a plethora of devices to choose from these days.
Some people prefer a full-on laptop whilst others are happy to make do with a smartphone. Other people go somewhere in the middle with a tablet, whilst others use a combination of all three.
I’m not going to list all the obvious benefits of taking a device. But if you’re touring solo, one of the biggest plus points is that it connects you to your loved ones.
Contact With Loved Ones
Thanks to programs such as Skype, FaceTime, WhatsApp, Zoom, and Facebook Messenger, you can get to your hotel after a hard day in the saddle and tell your other half all about it.
And not only can you tell them about it, but you can also see their face and hear their voice. This contact grounds you. And you feel that little bit better having spoken to the people you love the most.
I’m not a big fan of social media. But even I enjoy uploading the occasional photograph when I get to my hotel at the end of the day.
If you’re travelling solo, you’ll probably spend the night alone. And it’s nice to be able to share your experiences with your friends by replying to comments or chatting over instant messenger.
Background Noise & Passing The Time
You need to be a certain type of person to travel alone. You need to be comfortable in your own skin and confident enough to keep yourself entertained.
But even people who have these attributes don’t necessarily want to sit in silence all night!
Access to a device means you can play your tunes on Spotify whilst getting ready for dinner. Or it means watching a video or two on YouTube before bed.
2. A Camera And/Or Action Cam
If you travel in a group, most people share their photographs with everybody else in this group. It’s the best way for everybody to take away the memories.
But when you’re by yourself, the only memories you’ll take back will be your own.
Taking a camera (or action cam, drone, 360 camera, or whatever else you choose) lets you take those memories home with you at the end of your trip.
It also means you can share those experiences with your family and friends.
3. Non-Motorcycling Items For Touring: An External Hard Drive
If you like creating photographs or videos like I do, you’ll end up taking a lot of tech. At the very least, I’ll take my smartphone, digital camera, and a drone. Each has its own individual SD card, and it doesn’t take long for them to fill up.
At this point, you have two options. You can either carry a tonne of additional SD cards to replace each one as it gets full (very expensive) or, you can transfer your files to an external hard drive.
I do the latter.
When I get back to my hotel at the end of the day, I remove all my SD cards and back up the files to my external hard drive.
From here, I can wipe the SD cards and put them back into the devices, ready for tomorrow.
4. A Power Bank
This is one of those things that I simply won’t leave the house without. If you have a power outlet on your bike, you might be able to get away with not carrying one. But if you don’t, a power bank can be an absolute lifesaver.
If you’re using your phone for navigation and it suddenly stops drawing power from the bike, it won’t be long until the battery runs out.
It happened to me in the Pyrenees, where my Garmin stopped drawing power from the bike midway through day one of my tour. I had no idea where I was, where I was going, or even where I was heading towards.
Connecting to a power bank gave me the instant power I needed to get to my hotel where I could work on a more permanent fix.
5. Wind-Down Clothes
As mentioned above, I took way too much stuff with me on my first few tours – including far too many clothes.
On the third tour, I went to the other extreme and took the bare minimum amount of clothes.
This was a good call – until I got to my first hotel and realised the majority of my clothes were riding clothes.
One of the most satisfying things you can do (especially after a hard day when everything has gone wrong) is have a shower, and change into some comfy clothes for the night.
Whether that’s pyjamas, shorts, tracksuit bottoms, slippers (or whatever), being able to get cosy after a hard day does wonders for morale.
6. Non-Motorcycling Items For Touring: Your Favourite Tea/Coffee
I’m one of those people that likes a cup of coffee in the morning. And I don’t just mean in the hotel breakfast bar, either.
When I wake up and get out of bed, I like to put the kettle on and ease into my day. I like to wake up gradually and plan my day whilst sipping my coffee.
Only then do I shower and make my way down to breakfast.
The same goes for getting to my hotel at the end of the day. Sometimes it’s late. You’ve a had a shit day, you’re freezing cold and soaking wet, and all you want to do is have a nice cup of tea.
Being able to get showered, get comfy in the clothes mentioned above, and have a cup of tea is sometimes exactly what you need.
I’ve toured a few times in the past where I’ve left the tea and coffee at home. And whilst they aren’t essential, I personally find it’s worth the effort of carrying them!
Related: Motorcycle Touring As An Introvert
7. Tank Bag
I know I said non-motorcycling accessories, but hear me out!
Of course, a tank bag is a part of your motorcycle kit. But if you have one that doubles up as a day bag, it makes life a lot easier when you’re off the bike.
Like most people on holiday, you’ll be carrying your phone, wallet, keys, passport, and everything else. And being able to pop them in a day bag rather than stuffing everything in your pockets makes for a more comfortable way to spend the day.
8. Non-Motorcycling Items For Touring: First Aid Kit
In Europe, many countries stipulate a first aid kit as a legal requirement. So if you’re going to take one, you may as well fill it with stuff that’s useful.
Along with the essentials, and regular things (like bandages and plasters), I always take the following:
- Sterile water (because I always get at least one bug hurtling into my eye at 70mph)
- Pain killers and/or anti-inflammatories
- Strong suncream or sunblock
- Lip balm (yes, you will need it at some point!)
- Something to relieve diarrhoea
- Something to relieve constipation
- Runners salt/electrolyte tablets
9. Running Shoes
Finally, I like to take a pair of running shoes. I love seeing the world on two wheels, but being able to see it on a run brings a whole new dimension to touring.
Getting up early and running through the forests of the Vosges is still one of my favourite memories from that tour.
The air was clean and crisp. I could smell the dew on the grass and the fragrance of the wild garlic.
You might not be into running. But if you like walking or hiking, it’s worth the extra effort of carrying your boots.
Related: 11 Ways To Stay Fit On Tour
Non-Motorcycling Items For Touring: Conclusion
Is any of this stuff necessary to complete your motorcycle tour? No, of course not.
But the whole point of touring is to have a good time.
What’s the point of touring with minimal kit if you’re just going to be miserable for the entire time you’re away?
In general, I would always recommend going through your packing list with a fine-tooth comb and ruling out any items you definitely won’t need.
But don’t be afraid to carry one or two luxury non-motorcycling items that are by no means essential to the completion of the trip, but are essential to your well-being whilst on it.
Top image: Harley-Davidson via Unsplash