Keeping it Simple on Long Trips

I think I have seven versions of “Motorcycle Trip Gear List” on my computer. Every time we go on a trip there are three more things I really should have left behind and one or two more I’ve forgotten or found a newly discovered need for.

Seeing all the trailers going by on the Alaska Highway, I am thinking those guys have solved the problem. They bring everything.

I am sorry if I am offending anyone, but there is no way a trailer is getting near the back of one of my bikes.

Half the allure of travel by motorcycle is keeping it simple. I am escaping from everyday life. The less stuff I drag along with me the less stuff I have to keep track of and the less stuff I have to do. It means I get to relax sooner and start to experience in-the-moment life on the road.

When all I have left are the essentials, life gets simpler and, strangely, more fulfilling.

So, what are the essentials? Warm clothes and riding gear go without saying. I add a first aid kit, a little food and water, sunglasses and a few personal toiletries. Really, that’s it.

OK, I also have a list of essential luxuries. That would be two books, one to read and one to write in, my camera, a map to help me estimate distances between fuel stops and if I am being frugal, my camping gear that includes sleeping bag and pad, bivy sac or tent, maybe a small stove and pot to make tea or boil noodles.

I have travelled with not much more than that and I love it. Without stuff to distract me, I meet more interesting people. I notice the smallest details of wherever I happen to be; like the subtle smell, I notice more. I come up with brilliant ideas that will transform my life when I return home. Well, some of them might be brilliant, if I executed them, others just seem brilliant at the time … and that feels good.

I’ve checked out the lists all the adventure motorcycling books or websites have. Take a look at some of the bikes coming up the highway and you know who has been reading those books. The bikes don’t have trailers but do look like overloaded donkeys from some third world country. Again, it’s just too much stuff.

There are a few items that keep falling on and off my list. One is a small tripod camp stool. I hate standing around and hate even more sitting on the ground or being stuck in the tent. Without the stool, I tend to veer toward commercially designated stops and campsites – ones with tables and chairs – and in doing so miss some great spots. The problem with the stool is, every time I bring it, I don’t use it and every time I don’t I miss it.

Go figure.

Since I am starting to plan a long trip – two months this time – I am thinking of adding this tiny, little notebook computer I saw downtown the other day.

Wish me luck, I will get it right one of these days. I just need to keep reminding myself to keep it simple.

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