I received a comment the other day on this post from a reader who asked how I found the time to take stunning pictures whilst touring.
He explained that he spends so much time trying to cover miles that everything else falls by the wayside.
And I get that. Because I’ve been in that situation, too.
It’s the easiest thing in the world to assume that a memorable motorcycle tour is all about the motorcycle.
But I’ve got news for you.
Of course, your bike matters. And if your sole purpose for riding is to enjoy the twisties (like me) then the roads matter, too.
But nowhere near as much as you might think.
I can only really speak for myself. But in my experience, the bike and the roads have significantly less impact on how enjoyable a tour is than people initially think.
For more touring tips, check out our Touring category
1. Enjoying Your Bike
As mentioned above, your bike and the roads only play a small part in the enjoyment of your motorcycle tour. But they do play a part so it’s important to include them!
These days, bikes don’t come cheap. You have to work hard to afford them – hell, you have to work hard just to pay the deposit, so you absolutely should enjoy it!
I ordered my new bike this morning. I won’t tell you what it is (yet), but I think it’s fair to say that I’m super excited to pick it up in a few weeks.
The bike will still have that new-bike smell when I get to Norway in July. And I can tell you right now that I’m going to revel in playing with the features, pressing the buttons, and generally getting to know my stunning new bike.
I can’t wait!
2. Enjoying The Roads
I’ve ridden roads in the past that still bring a smile to my face when I reminisce about riding them even now.
And the only thing stronger than this feeling is when I think back to tours where I’ve wasted entire days riding on crap, boring, half-built roads.
It truly is horrible. Namely, because there’s absolutely nothing you can do about it.
Sometimes, your planning was flawless. But when you get there, the local council has dug up the road. And in these times, you just have to put it down to bad luck.
But I’ve wasted time on crap roads simply because I didn’t plan them properly.
Spending a 3,000-mile tour on awe-inspiring roads feels a lot different to riding a 3,000-mile tour on boring roads!
For more tips like this, check out our Route Planning category
3. A Memorable Motorcycle Tour Is Stress-Free
I know a lot of riders who say that a motorcycle adventure isn’t an adventure if you plan it.
And that’s fine. There have been times when I agreed with them – especially for off-road tours.
But for most people who tour on tarmac, it’s better enjoyed when the routes are planned, the hotels are booked and paid for, and anything that can cause stress is dealt with in advance.
You don’t need stress when touring. Things will go wrong at some point, so do everything you can in advance to minimise it.
Sure, you could argue it’s not as exciting. But a stress-free tour means you can spend your time actually enjoying it.
And in the grand scheme of things, that’s what it’s all about – enjoyment.
4. Plan Fewer Miles For A Memorable Motorcycle Tour
I’ve written about this in the past, but fewer miles make the world of difference on a motorcycle tour.
It’s tempting (especially at first) to plan these monster 300-400 mile days so you can cover as much ground as possible.
But I can tell you from experience that fewer miles lead to more time and enjoyment in the places you do actually visit.
Rather than whizzing through little towns and communes, you have time to stop for a coffee and take in the surroundings.
And when you get back to your accommodation, you still have the energy to enjoy the evening with whomever it is you’re with.
5. Fewer Miles = Time For You
Now, ‘you time’ could mean a million different things for a million different people. But whatever it is, make sure you give yourself time to do it!
Personally, ‘me time’ is the opportunity for peace and creativity. I like to spend my time hiking up into the mountains at sunrise and taking photographs.
I like to take my time perfecting a composition and then clicking the shutter button when the light is just right.
I enjoy being in nature, surrounded by trees and wildflowers and listening to the birds.
And I like to have enough time to shower in the evening before enjoying a leisurely meal with whoever I’m with – rather than stuffing down a McDonald’s because that’s the only place open.
Fewer miles means more time. More time means less stress. And less stress means more enjoyment.
6. Immerse Yourself In Local Culture For A Memorable Motorcycle Tour
Unless you’re camping, I wouldn’t generally advise situating yourself in the middle of nowhere. I’m not saying you should stay in cities (God no!), but I find I get more from my tour when I’m immersed in local cultures.
There’s something good for the soul about going into a local restaurant and trying to converse with the waiter in the local language.
Of course, you get it wrong, and they invariably have to help you. But the point is you tried to be part of their culture rather than trying to impart your culture on them.
Enjoy local food and drink. And most importantly, adopt their traditions.
Not only will you get more from your tour, but you’ll also find the locals will go out of their way to help people who are trying their best to be respectful of their culture.
It sounds corny, but these fleeting connections can be the things that you remember forever.
7. It’s About The Company (Your Own Or Others)
If you spend long enough with anybody, you’ll get sick of them! It’s not a bad thing, it’s just the way it is.
They’ll have little idiosyncrasies that get on your nerves. But guess what. You’ll have plenty of your own habits that will annoy them just as much.
We wrote more about this in our Group Touring post. But take the time to look past the squabbles and digs. I mean, just look at where you are! Look at the scenery around you. Because you could be home in the rain, complaining that you have to go to work tomorrow.
So take the time to enjoy the experience in the company you are with.
Even if you opt to travel solo, make a conscious effort to enjoy your own space. Do the things you love without the hindrances of everyday life dragging you down.
It seems such a waste to squander this opportunity. So make the most of it!
Related: 7 Self-Indulgent Solo Touring Tips!
8. Achievement Forms A Memorable Motorcycle Tour
You’ll have days on tour where things go wrong. There will be a road closure. You’ll drop your bike. You’ll run out of fuel. A pannier won’t close. You might get a puncture.
Either way, you’ll have to dig deep, and it will be hard. The world will test you and you’ll need to fight back.
But you know what? You’ll do it.
Typically, when people have one of these days, they get back to their hotel and crack open a beer. And then they spend all night moaning about it.
Many people let the experience ruin their entire trip. Yet it doesn’t need to be this way.
When you have a hard day, take pride in the knowledge that you made it. Revel in the achievement, and allow yourself to own it.
You deserve it!
Related: Solo Touring, Tips For The Brave
9. Be Touched By The Scenery
I don’t think people allow themselves to be moved by nature and scenery.
Especially we Brits with our stiff upper lip! (Emotions? What are those?!)
But honestly, take the time to immerse yourself in the stunning scenery. Just for a minute, stop talking.
Quieten your mind.
Take it in and notice.
It’s an incredible feeling when you stop on the top of a mountain pass in mid-morning. The sun is getting high, and the only sounds are from the gentle wind and the contented chirps of the birds.
Enjoy it. Let the moment bake into your memory, and let it move you. Because you will never witness this moment ever again.
When I say accommodation, most people assume I mean hotels. But it could equally mean camping.
I used to be of the mindset that a hotel was just a place to sleep.
And it is – to a certain extent.
But a decent hotel with good food and calming surroundings evokes a feeling completely different to that of a shabby hotel with a flee-ridden mattress and vending machines.
I know accommodation can be expensive. And, of course, you can only afford what you can afford.
But where possible, take the time to plan the best stop-overs you can – be it in a hotel or camping.
Campsites with amenities such as washrooms, on-site shops/restaurants, and power points to charge your phone make life that bit more enjoyable.
What are your tops tips for a memorable motorcycle tour? Let us know in the comments!
Top image: Viktor Hanacek