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7 Question to Ask Yourself Before Planning a Trip
04/26/2021

One of the most important lessons I have learned over the course of my 62 years, is that life is largely what you make of it. Sure, unexpected, and unpleasant things do happen, but the bad things do not need to define you. It is how you stand up to the challenges that life throws in you path which determines your success and happiness.

No, life is not fair. Some people get harder challenges than others and I often marvel at how some people are able to overcome the greatest of odds with a smile and loving outlook toward life. While I am not always successful, I strive to be like those amazing individuals.

I have this same approach to planning a motorcycle trip. Sure, I can just point my fender in a general direction and twist the throttle, leaving fate to the gods, but I would rather play a more active role in how my adventure unfolds.

I know there are plenty of you that disagree with me and who have been traveling with very little planning or forethought for many years. It is not you to whom this video/blog is directed. The individual that I hope to reach is the one who wants to hit the road and live their travel dreams, but just does not know how to go about making it happen.

This is more common than you think, I am contacted on a regular basis by fellow riders asking about the route creation and planning process. To get those individuals started, I came up with seven questions that I think about when starting to plan my adventures. These queries work off each other to help create a "big picture" of your trip.

Question 1: Where do you want to go?

This question of course is self-evident. You must first determine your destination or at least the general direction. I know, "it is the journey that is important and not the destination," and while that sounds good when discussing philosophy, practically speaking a good trip starts by setting a goal.

That goal can be seeing a National Park, visiting family, or attending a great rally. The choices are many and of course up to you.

Question 2: How long to do you have to do the trip?

The next thing we need to ask, is who long do we have to complete this trip? If you are retired and time is not an issue, then this question might not apply, but for most working folks, time is limited and must be factored into your trip planning.

Your chosen destination must also be achievable within your available window of opportunity. Wanting to travel cross-county in two weeks is doable, but you will be riding a lot of miles each day with little time to stop along the way. Make sure the answers to question 1 and 2 are compatible.

Question 3: Who will you be traveling with?

The answer to this question will dramatically affect the character of your trip. Traveling solo is vastly different than traveling with friends or even your spouse. Each option has its pluses and minuses, it all just depends on what you are looking for in your adventure.

Just make sure that everyone involved in the trip has the same things in mind as far as where you are going, what you are seeing and how you want to travel.

Question 4: What kind of lodging do you want to use?

As with question number 3, the answer to this one will change the character of your trip and can dramatically affect your budget. Everyone has their preferred lodging options, there is not right or wrong way to do it.

Just make sure that when traveling with friends, you all agree on the lodging choices. I suggest, when traveling in a group that you make your reservations ahead of time to avoid disagreements on the road.

Question 5: How far do you want to travel each day?

This question once again works with numbers 1 and 2. If you want to travel 200 miles per day but only have two weeks to cover 5000 miles, well…that is not going to work out very well. Make sure your daily mileage goals are compatible with your overall objective.

Question 6: What kind of roads do you want to ride?

This again works with questions 1, 2 and 5. If you want to stay off the interstates, sticking to the backroads, then your daily mileage will need to be adjusted accordingly. Doing 400 to 500 miles each day is not a big deal when you are traveling at 70 mph, but when you are averaging 45 or 50, then that makes for an exceptionally long day.

If you have 5000 miles to cover in two weeks, as we have discussed, then maybe you need to plan some longer days on the highway, mixed with shorter days when you get to the more scenic areas. There are always ways to make it work if you are open to mixing things up.

Question 7: How much time do you want to take off the bike?

This last question I think is particularly important. We motorcyclists love to ride and often forget to schedule time off the bike, so that we stay fresh, and relaxed. Time off the bike can turn your ride into a vacation, allowing you to stop and enjoy some non-riding experiences, like a museum or natural wonder. I find this especially true when traveling with my wife. Rather than a constant march from one place to the next, we take every 5th or 6 day off, to relax and enjoy each other’s company.

On these down days, you can also schedule any routing maintenance that is required.

Summary

Once you have answered all these questions, you should have at least a basic idea of what your trip might look like. From there, you would start doing research on the areas you are traveling through and the roads you might want to navigate.

To learn more, please consider taking my on-line course "Creating Epic Road Trips," in which we discuss the research process as well as how to create simple and more complex routes using the same tools I did when planning my Alaska and 60-day adventures.

The entire course includes 13 modules and over 3 hours’ worth of material. The modules include:

  • Seven Questions to ask yourself before planning
  • Doing your research
  • Tools and Terminology
  • Creating a simple route
  • Creating a complex route
  • Saving GPX files
  • Splitting your route
  • Working with GPX tracks
  • Creating a multi-day trip
  • Joining multiple routes
  • Creating an itinerary
  • Creating a budget
  • Bonus: Finding great roads

If you have not already done so, please signup for my email list and receive a free digital download "5 Tips for Creating Epic Road Trips." You will also be notified when new videos are published as well as future trip plans.

And before I go, I want to let you know that I am working on a second course which will cover "Shooting and Editing Video for Motorcyclists." This is another topic I have been asked about many times.

Ride Safe!
--Craig Ripley

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