How We Pick our Destinations & Plan our Motorcycle Tours

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Picking a destination for a motorcycle tour is (and should be) a personal and selfish choice. There’s no other way to do it.

Sometimes, it’s a case of seeing a picture of a place and deciding to go. It might be a fleeting comment someone made or an article you read online somewhere.

But more often than not – at least for me – my destination choice is based purely on personal reasons.

plan motorcycle tours - bmw country road

Think About What You Want When you Plan Your Motorcycle Tours

When finding a destination to visit, remove the bike for a moment and see what happens.

I usually revert to wanting to find peace and solitude in the mountains. I want to be in nature, where it’s quiet and where the world can’t get to me.

I want time with my camera in an environment where I can explore and be overwhelmed with beauty.

And I want time to explore on my own terms – without feeling rushed and without feeling obliged to achieve something.

Now Add The Bike

Of course, a tour isn’t a tour without spectacular roads. But roads aren’t the be-all-end-all. I’ve ridden road-based tours and returned feeling that I should have seen and done more – like I missed out somehow.

For me, epic roads and the opportunity to throw my bike around are important elements of my tour. But it took me a few goes to realise that it’s only 50% of the experience.

The other 50% comes from the environment, the accommodation, the experience, the people you ride with (or don’t ride with), and the stress levels of the trip.

Who Will You Ride With?

Again, this is a personal choice. Some tours work best when you have a group around you. Or at least a riding buddy.

But others can be enjoyed purely alone. And it’s pivotal to assess which you want.

If it’s been a difficult year, and you want some time to be left alone and to re-energise, this should influence your destination. Choose somewhere easy – a tour that is effortlessly realistic and achievable. 

If you want the challenge of a tougher tour or the camaraderie of being in a group, this should also influence your tour choice.

bmw on road in countryside

Don’t Underestimate Stress

Riders are far too quick to dismiss stress when planning a tour. It’s easy to get swept along in the excitement. And before you know it, you’re planning to fit a 3-week trip into seven nights.

You’re adding ferry crossings and marathon rides to see, do, and experience more.

And whilst this is fine, you’ll come home feeling exhausted. You’ll spend most of your time chasing deadlines, departure times, border openings, and hotel check-in times.

You’ll postpone breaks and lunch stops. And you’ll delay time off the bike until you don’t have it at all.

It can be an exciting way to tour. But if you want a stress-free trip, choose an easily manageable destination and save the challenges for another time.

Related: Motorcycle Touring Miles Per Day: Prioritise TIME Instead

Plan Motorcycle Tours Around Your Riding Style

You would have heard us talk about (what we call) A-B touring and Flower Petal touring.

A-B touring is when you ride from one hotel to the next throughout your tour.

You see a lot and do a lot. But you’re constantly packing and unpacking, and you never really get a chance to settle before heading to the next location. It’s tiring!

On the contrary, flower petal touring is when you choose one hotel for your trip and then loop out and back in a different direction each day.

You won’t see as much, but every day gives you options. Feeling good? Great, do a 300-mile ride. Not feeling so good? That’s fine. Ride a shorter loop or have a day off altogether.

You could combine the two for longer trips for an experience somewhere in the middle.

Related: Motorcycle Touring Style: Ramp Up Your Enjoyment

Think About Time Off The Bike

This is something newbies often forget about. But it’s important to plan time off the bike. This is why flower petal tours are so good – they give you options.

Time off the bike is a crucial element of your experience. For example, I love landscape photography. Hiking into the mountains and spending a day shooting landscapes makes me happy.

So I make time to do it. I plan rest days in these locations to allow time to indulge my passions.

I also enjoy running. So, I often plan shorter riding days that allow me time to go for a run either in the morning before I go or in the evening when I get back.

Make time for what you love – and make this time off the bike a non-negotiable!

Ignore Social Media When You Plan Your Motorcycle Tours

Don’t be tempted to recreate a trip you saw an influencer do on Instagram. Whilst you don’t see it, they often have a team of people helping them behind the scenes or sponsors to help them pay for everything.

They may have deals in place, working with brands who provide new kit, new bikes, and the best of everything. You probably have none of this.

And besides, there’s absolutely no point in copying somebody else’s trip that was designed with their priorities in mind. Design a route for yourself and consider your priorities instead.

Do What You Can Afford

You might find yourself in a position where you leave yourself with two options. You can easily afford Tour A, whilst Tour B is a bit of a financial stretch.

If this is the case, do Tour A and continue to save for Tour B. It all comes down to stress management. There’s no point doing Tour B if you’re going to spend all your time on tour worrying about paying for it and then another year paying it off.

Take the easy option, be patient, and enjoy what you have rather than worrying about what you don’t have.

plan motorcycle tours - rider and pillion

How We Plan Our Motorcycle Tours

Once I’ve gone through all the above and decided my priorities, it’s time to start planning.

I almost always begin by plotting places I want to visit and roads I want to ride on Google MyMaps. This gives me an overview of where these places are concerning each other.

From here, I’ll delete any that are too far or not within easy reach of the others. This will show me the area where I need to base myself.

Once I know my endpoint, I work backwards to see how long it will take me to get there (and get back.) This is crucial, as it affects how long you get to enjoy your location of choice.

Planning The Route

When I’m happy with the route outline, I fill in the main touring days by forming routes for each day. These account for how long I want to ride and any points of interest or roads I want to ride when there.

I do this using various apps and software. In days gone by, I used to use Garmin Basecamp. I use apps such as MyRoute App or Scenic these days.

This will give me a complete route split into days. Remember to check (and double-check!) these routes if you’re riding an A-B tour. Because once they’re set in stone and the accommodations are booked, you’re committed to riding those miles each day!

With a flower petal tour, you can swap and change the days as you see fit – depending on the weather or how you feel.

Related: 10 Essential Touring Apps For Bikers: A Few Of The Best

Accommodation & Ferry/Eurotunnel Crossings

At this point, I check (but don’t book) every hotel and crossing. Make sure every one of them is available before you book.

Once you’re confident all your hotels and ferry crossings are available, it’s time to go ahead and book them.

Tip: Try to book hotels using websites that allow free cancellation. Plans often change, and it’s horrible when you have to pay to make changes.

You can usually also pay extra for ferry crossings. This affords you the same privilege of amending your bookings without charge.

Check You Have the Right Kit

If you’re a seasoned touring rider, you will likely have the kit you need – or most of it.

But take a moment to consider the entire trip, the weather, and any other considerations that may influence the kit you need.

Doing this early allows you to spread out the cost of buying it over the months leading up to your trip.

For a more comprehensive list of what you’ll need, check out these posts:

biker with cruiser in garage

How We Pick our Destinations & Plan our Motorcycle Tours: Conclusion

In short, the takeaway point of this post is that we are incredibly selfish when planning our tours!

I don’t care what the cool kids are doing on social media. I’m not bothered that Honda is pushing adventure tours in Iceland or that Charlie & Ewan are riding through South America on electric Harley’s.

I enjoy watching the programs and looking at the photos on Instagram. But they have zero impact on what I want to do or where I want to go.

And I urge you to do the same. Forget what everybody else is doing. Do what’s important to you in a way that suits you.

Be selfish and be unapologetic. Because you’re the only one riding your tour, so make it count – for you.

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