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Leaving It All Behind -- What to Take With You

Oct 15, 2014 // Trips on Two Wheels //

Guest post by adventure blogger Pat Harris -- Ever thought about giving it all up to go travel the world? Pat Harris did just that. In July 2013, Pat left his demanding career in engineering, loaded up his 2013 F800GS, and left Colorado. From there, he travelled throughout the US, Canada, Europe, South East Asia -- he's now adventuring in the land down under, Australia . Read more about his epic journey on apatonamotorcycle.com.

"What things have you found that you can't live without?" That's the primary question I'm asked when talking to fellow riders. Giving an answer can be pretty difficult, for a few different reasons.

Where will you be travelling? How much will the climate affect your trip? Good rain gear in Scotland is a must, but lightweight and well vented gear becomes crucial in Southeast Asia during the dry season. What type of trip are you looking for? Will you be spending multiple days off the grid, or will mechanical and medical assistance be easy to come by? That will definitely affect what type of supplies you have to carry.

The best way that I can answer this question is by listing a few things that I've bought since starting the trip. They weren’t obvious enough to pack beforehand, but they became necessary enough for me to pick up along the way. I’ve also included some things I could do without, and a couple other things to consider before leaving.

The Essentials

Spare Helmet Visor

I managed to scratch the hell out of my visor shortly after getting into India, requiring me to keep it permanently raised. Normally, I like to ride with my visor up anyway, but in India there are two things that made me wish I had the option to lower it -- dust and diesel exhaust. At the end of every riding day, the grime on my face made me look even more homeless. When I finally got to a country where I could replace my beat up old visor, I also picked up a spare. I keep the spare zip tied between my speedometer and windshield, so it doesn't take up any storage space. Also, it’s not a bad idea to bring along one tinted and one clear if you like having options.

Bandana 

I typically don't like to wear anything under my helmet. When I got to India and was faced with massive amounts of dust and pollution, a bandana over my face was a godsend. As I'd wash it in the bathroom sink at the end of a long day, I would wring endless amounts of black water from it. I sure was happy to know that didn't all end up in my lungs.

Extra Storage Space

Shortly after leaving home, I picked up an extra little dry bag. When I first left, knowing that all of my luggage was packed to the gills with no space wasted felt good. But I soon realized a little extra space would be nice -- you never know when you'll want to pick up the occasional souvenir, a gift for a friend, or even something temporarily necessary like some warmer clothes.

Unnecessary Items

Camping Gear…Or At Least Some Of It

When I started out, I figured I'd be camping fairly often. However, I’ve found that I haven’t used my camping gear nearly as much as I thought.

In Europe, most of the places I wanted to visit were fairly big cities. As there isn't much of an option for camping in cities, I stayed in hostels. The cities in Europe are fairly close together, so riding from one destination to another is typically a one day trip. Camping was not really a possibility. In India and SE Asia, guesthouses ended up being cheap enough that I opted for them over the hassle of setting up a tent.

Even if I wanted to have some basic camping gear for an emergency, a bivy sack and sleeping bag would probably be enough. Ditching my tent, air mattress, stove, and cookware would save me a ton of room.

Hydration Bladder

Some folks swear by these. Personally, I hate having anything on my back while riding. Whether it's in a backpack or in the big pocket in the back of my jacket, I don't like it. A big bottle of water strapped down with my luggage is much more preferable. On the other hand, an empty hydration bladder is so small that it might be worth having along if you're going to find yourself doing any hiking on your non-riding days.

Useful Tips

PVC Storage Tube

I saw this tip on ADVRider when researching for my trip. Basically, it's a PVC tube that is kept in an area of otherwise wasted space on your bike. I love it for two reasons -- storage space is precious on a long trip, and it's isolated from your other equipment. I use the tube for WD40, chain lube, and a couple of rags. It's great to have this kind of stuff in its own little area. If the cans happen to leak or the rags are dirty, it won't make a mess of all your other gear.

Aftermarket wheels

The roads through India, Nepal, and Laos were littered with some insane potholes. At one point, I managed to dent my front rim. Before leaving home, I had considered upgrading my wheels, but decided to not spend the cash. At this point, it would have been a good idea. 

The Most Important Tip

Aside from these material items, I think the most important thing to bring along is an ability to deal with stress and uncomfortable situations. You're bound to end up sleeping in places that aren't ideal, eating foods that you never would at home, and having to work on your bike when you least expect it. These are just a few of the tough or unexpected situations I’ve found myself in, but still nowhere near regretting my decision to embark on this trip.

So there you have it…my long (and hopefully helpful!) answer to what seems like a simple question.

For the latest on Pat’s journey, check out his blog.

comments

5 and counting...

guest // Oct 23, 2014
Good info Pat and cool trip. My wife and I plan extended trips once the last child is booted out but I'm still undecided on the bikes. We have two F650GS's now but I'm looking at other options (Japanese) that may be simpler to work on and have access to cheaper and more plentiful parts. How's the F800 been working out??
guest // Oct 24, 2014
Pierre, the F800GS has been great...45,000+ miles now and no serious issues. As far as parts availability, I guess it all depends on where you're planning to go. The biggest hassles I had with looking for parts was tires in different parts of SE Asia...so not even something that was BMW specific. Outside of the major cities, it was hard to find anything that catered to big bikes, regardless of brand. You have a valid argument in looking for something easier to work on though (say a KLR650 or DR650). In the third world countries you may end up in, even if they don't have the factory parts that you're looking for, mechanics are experts at improvising...they'll find a way to get you back on the road, even if its just something temporary so you can get by for a few days until you make it to a bigger city.
guest // Oct 30, 2014
Great blog! I use the agri tech (something like that) tool tubes (cheap from agri tech, expensive elsewhere) and one PVC tube for tools and gear I need dry. To facilitate access, I put the tools in an old sock so I can get them out of the vertically mounted tubes. For the pvc tube, I keep a long piece of hangar wire bent double and into an "L" shape at the bottom. It makes getting the things out of the pvc tube easier and a length of stout wire can always come in handy.I haven't gone RTW yet but I have done a fair bit of traveling and your point about leaving the things that are not completely necessary is so true. My tent and cookware was a throwaway by a guy with 200lbs of gear on a two-up gold wing who decided hotels and restaurants were more his taste.
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