Tuesday, May 3, 2016

How To: Survive A Week Long Motorcycle Trip

Almost a year ago we set out on a motorcycle journey. With (fewer) possessions than I would typically prefer. For those of you who are not aware, we live in Nebraska, and our destination was Colorado. We left on Sunday, July 12th and returned on Saturday,  July 18th. If you are SUPER curious about our route….we started in Omaha, NE and looped around for home after Old Colorado City (Colorado Springs).

Here is a little bit of background information for you regarding my knowledge of motorcycles and traveling on them.

Nope, not an accidental blank space. I literally have no background in this sort of thing. Clay got a bike (informative side note: "bike" is the cool thing to say when you have a motorcycle. Not to be mistaken for a biCYCLE) in the Spring and a "big ride" was discussed, but honestly, I really didn't think I was going to be a part of it. Up until the trip, the longest I had ever even been a passenger on his bike was approximately two hours. And that was a one time occurrence. Other than that, we would take 30 minute rides when it was nice out. So, my lack of experience is noted.

When I figured out that this trip was actually happening, and more importantly, that I was a part of it, ... I sort of panicked on the inside. What do you wear on a motorcycle? What do I need to pack? How am I going to fit all of my stuff on the back of the bike.....when I AM on the back of the bike?!

And don't even get me started on the safety concerns. Going into the trip, I knew that being on a motorcycle for 5-6 hours a day for 6 days seemed to statistically increase our chances of dying a tragic death. But, no worries, my friends and family reminded me of this on a daily basis! Honestly, I just had to pretend there were zero risks. I tried to remember the positives:

  • Clay is extremely cautious on the bike and would never do anything reckless.
  • We were traveling in a pack. A 4 pack.
  • And... well.... we had helmets on...?

Basically I had to not think about the "what ifs" and just enjoy the ride. Not only is this a cliché for life, it is what literally had to happen for this trip to be a thing.

So, anyways, back to pre-trip. I desperately googled "motorcycle road trips" and "how to pack lightly for a motorcycle trip" and came up with zero information.

Which is why this is happening.  For all of you out there dreaming of being a biker babe...or dude... this list is for you.

1. Sunscreen
If you are traveling in the dead of the Summer.. you NEED to wear sunscreen. On your face. On your ears. On your neck. On your shoulders. I would like to personally remind you to pay careful attention to that VERY delicate skin surrounding your collar bone.  And reapply. Reapply. Reapply AGAIN. Every time your body leaves that bike, you reapply.  If your precious skin is exposed for that many hours, you will wind up with a burn so deep, and blisters so painful, you will wish you would have worn a snow suit. That feeling you get when your skin is burning to a crisp… yeah. You don't feel it as much when the wind is blowing on you. If you can tolerate the heat, cover yourself up with actual clothes. And yes, this is a lesson I learned all on my own.

Our first night after riding. Pretty happy...

2. Fanny pack
Ha! Hello 90s vacay! But seriously. I contemplated something super stylish that would ride with me while I rode as a passenger. Comfort was also a factor. I didn't want something on my back that would be jabbing me during a long trip (so a backpack was out). So when it came down to it,  the fanny pack was the obvious (best) hands free option. Not only that, but with the fanny pack clasp, I didn't have to worry about it flying off while we were cruising down the highway. And believe it or not, that little looker holds almost everything you will need at hand. If I didn't look so dorky, I would always carry a fanny pack. It's so convenient.

90s Alt

3. Helmet shield
I bought a helmet that had a partial face shield. Obviously going into this, I had no idea what to expect. Now, I am so glad I did. The face shield blocked not only some sun, but it kept me from feeling like I was getting slammed with wind and any other debris that came our way.

This is the actual helmet that I have. And I love it. 

4. Boots
Safety wise, it makes the most sense to wear a sturdy boot while riding a motorcycle. I don't want to paint a gruesome picture, but imagine if, God forbid, your foot has to touch the ground going 80 mph. Either way, it isn't pleasant. But a boot versus a flip flop? I think you can see the benefit. As previously mentioned, my hot/handsome biker hubs bought me these amazing fringe cowboy boots for my birthday. Can you imagine how cool they look with the fringe blowing in the wind? Yep, that cool.

There's my boots! 

5. Rain gear
The chances of us running into rain, during the Summer, in Colorado were HIGHLY likely. Somehow, we escaped a majority of our trip without inclement conditions. Except for one day. One absolutely awful stretch that made me so thankful that we crammed in the rain gear. For about 4 hours before and after Vail, we rode in a downpour. A freezing cold downpour, I might add. I have never been so happy to arrive in a warm room and take a shower. Don't think you can get away with not bringing rain gear. We honestly almost didn't bring it (optimists!) Luckily one of my co workers loaned this matching set to us! In retrospect, we would have had to stop and wait out the rain. Which would have put us significantly behind. And made us 100x more miserable.

The couple that wears matching rain gear together, stays together. 

6. Chapstick/lotion
EVERYTHING gets dry when the wind is blowing on you and the sun is scorching down. Just trust me on this one.


7. Sunglasses
Again,  pretty obvious. You are staring into the sunlight. Plus, wind in your eyes is not pleasant. I highly recommend these massive BluBlocker shades for your motorcycle trip needs. I wore them under my helmet shield.


8. Heavy duty garbage bags 
Clay had the genius idea of rolling all of our clothes/towels/personal items, and then smashing them into two separate garbage bags. This allowed us to tightly compact the items, all while keeping them in a waterproof bag. And we appreciated our dry clothes... trust me.

Something like this perhaps….

9. Military issued bag (or something similar) 
After we stuffed everything into the garbage bags, we then put them into a military issued bag that Clay had. It is the perfect bag for this sort of travel. Big and durable. Not necessarily waterproof (hence the garbage bags!)

This was us before we left our house. And that is one excited and antsy guy,  pictured. 

10. Aloe vera
For those of us who didn't wear enough sunscreen, or any at all. Those blisters aren't going to heal themselves and the motorcycle trip certainly isn't going to wait on you. Aloe Vera up!

11. Water bottle
I had no idea how the mixture of wind and sun and riding would severely dehydrate me. I was sweating like crazy (it was so hot out), but the wind and movement of the bike caused it to evaporate immediately. So you have no concept of how warm your body is getting. I could chug a gallon of water pretty much each time we stopped. If space permits, keep a little extra water on board.


12. Tent/sleeping bag

If your trip is spontaneous, you never know where you may end up staying! And really, even if you mapped it out strategically, it probably won't end up that way. Something will go wrong. Sorry, it just will. If you carry a tent and bag with you, you can stay pretty much anywhere (law permitting). We camped two separate nights and it was totally worth it. One night we camped in Rocky Mountain National Park. We saved money and got to REALLY enjoy the outdoors.

This picture just doesn't do it justice!

13. Band-Aids
Someone will get hurt. Stuff them in your trusty fanny pack!

Ah, look who needed a bandaid. 

14. Ibuprofen
A must. Headaches? Taken care of. Sunburn pain? We've got you covered. Cramps? Yep!

Still remaining positive pre 4 hour downpour. 

15. Wet wipes
Understand that a majority of your time (aside from on the bike itself) will be spent in gas station restrooms, campgrounds, and basically always outdoors. Trust me on this one. I even used it to wipe a splattered bug off of my leg once. Ride or die. Mostly ride, in the cleanest fashion possible.

Green Bridge Inn. Love this place! 
Ah! I love this guy. 

Rocky Mountain National Park

Us smiling at the base of Pikes Peak. Because we had no idea the next few hours would be absolutely terrifying....
PS-  Pikes Peak on a bike, not recommended. 
But we lived :)

This is when we pulled back into town at the conclusion of our trip. Check out my funky leg sunburn. 

Sorry for the picture overload. Unfortunately, no picture could do this trip justice. It was unlike any trip I have ever been on. Riding through the mountains of Colorado, on a motorcycle, is like seeing it all in a whole new way. It was absolutely picturesque. Some rides completely took our breath away! Even though some parts of the trip were trying (hey Pikes Peak!) we reminisce about this ride a lot, and have so many amazing memories. If you are on the fence about doing something like this... print this list off, pack your bike up and hit the road! I'm pretty confident you won't regret it.

**There are SO many places, sites, and small towns we visited that I didn't have time to mention. If you want more information or have questions, don't hesitate to comment or email me! :)


  1. I've had motorcycle trips but it only last for days. I've never tried a week-long trip.
    Great tips. I'll remember them. :)

    1. Thanks!! Hopefully it helps if you ever go on a longer ride :)