Your motorcycle holiday is approaching and you’ve really got to invest some time beforehand to prepare. You can’t take much along on a motorcycle. But wait, isn’t that part of the fun? It’s such a test – a challenge of sorts – to see how much you can bring along to accommodate your standard personal needs in such little space! (While the theme song from the film “Mission Impossible” comes to mind!) You stare at a couple small saddle bags or panniers and your tank bag and imagine how you’ll ever make it all fit –especially if long distance touring is something you don’t do often. Well, packing your motorcycle for your holiday is where this road trip begins and the mission really is – possible!
Less is more is your new credo.
Keep it simple when packing your motorcycle. Planning and packing smart such as folding with precision, and finding those hidden pockets of space will do the trick! Think about how you will use the space available on your motorcycle. Maybe you’ll need to check your luggage options. There is an array of bags – tank bags, saddle bags, hard carriers, even T-bag which will fit on a back rest, if you have one. Water tight duffel bags work superbly and fasten on to all bikes. These are particularly favoured by sport-bike riders as permanent panniers or otherwise are near impossible to fit. If you travel by scooter you’ve got it easy utilizing generally huge under-seat compartments! Read our article on motorcycle luggage options to help you choose!
Motorcycle: Prior to departure your motorcycle should be checked and inspected. Change the oil and filter if needed, check or change the coolant if applicable, check brake pads, clean and adjust your chain if you have one, ensure headlamps, brake and indicator lights are in good working order, and of course your tyres. Best to start a long ride out with good tyres as you won’t enjoy replacing them along the way.
Documents: Carry on you your drivers’ license, ownership and insurance. Also take a photocopy of each of these and carry on the motorcycle, under the seat works best in case you lose either. If you’ll be crossing borders you’ll need your passport.
Be sure to ICE ( in case of emergency) your Smartphone if you haven’t already.
*TIP: Use a USB memory stick / portable drive to back up your pictures from your camera in case this is lost along the way (it happens!). You can also include a scan of your documents such as passport, driver’s license, and manual for your motorcycle.
Start by creating a check list in a word document on your computer which can be used again in the future. This is also easily modified and updated.
Next step is to take your list and place each item on it out on your bed. Everything! When completed, proceed to trim it down. Do you really need three pairs of sandals when really one pair will do.
Motorcycle Gear and Clothing
Depending on the nature and length of your trip will decide the diversity of your clothing. Make your selections with the absolute minimal amount in mind -wearing something two days in a row is the norm. Bringing one pair of jeans for repeat wear during evening outings is not a big deal – you’re travelling by motorcycle and that’s a great excuse, should someone notice (unlikely). Also consider accessing a Laundromat along the way to cut down on items. Dressing down and getting rugged is undoubtedly one of the outlets of vacation by motorcycle.
Roll your clothes, don’t fold them. You can roll jeans and a shirt together and slide them into your saddlebag easier than folded clothing and this will help in reducing wrinkles.
- Motorcycle gear – helmet, gloves, jacket, and boots goes without saying.
- Pants (or just the pair you plan to wear and a pair packed away) and/or a pair of riding pants. Both are needed. And on days where you are planning a lot of stops (sight-seeing tours, etc.) wearing jeans or a thin pair of riding pants is ideal. Days where you’ll be doing a lot of riding you can wear your armoured riding pants.
- Bathing suit – always bring one! Travel in the summertime is hot and you’ll get sweaty in full riding gear. A road side dip in a lake revitalises! Pack our bamboo t-shirt! Moisture wicking, UV resistant and anti-bacterial – ideal! Here.
- T-shirts/tops: You can get two day’s wear out of one t-shirt so bring half as many as days in your planned trip. I.e. ten-day trip, bring five t-shirts/tops. Our bamboo is moisture wicking and anti-bacterial! Perfect for the task!
- Bring one or two long sleeve shirts.
- Socks and underwear use the same rule as t-shirts/tops. Watch out for bras with under-wires as this applied pressure for long hours can be uncomfortable. Loose is best! Conserve space by every other day turning a used pair of socks inside out so they can be used twice.
- Long underwear any extra warmth that will fit under your motorcycle gear and on the bike for when you end up taking it off at some point.
- Extra pair of motorcycle gloves (hands can get sore wearing same glove for days) and an extra pair of Sunglasses.
- Clear and tinted helmet visor
- Rain jacket/pants/suit.
- Hats, bring two; one for sun protection and one for warmth.
- Shoes: one pair of runners/sport shoes or good walking shoes and a pair of sandals.
- Light jacket/heavy sweater/sweatshirt-hoodie (non-motorcycle jacket) when off bike. Try to find one you can also layer under your motorcycle jacket for extra warmth if needed.
Personal Care Items
Travel sizes and travel containers are the answer here when packing your motorcycle! After shopping at your local drug store and finding travel sizes for everything from toothpaste to hand lotion to mouthwash, invest in a waterproof pouch that will securely hold these items without the possibility of leakage. Plastic zip lock baggies and sandwich bags are fantastic! Place all lotions/liquids in these! Plus you can use larger ones to organise items –say socks in one, bras in another! Never can have enough of these!
You can place many items such as hairspray or your favourite perfume inside your shoes. And don’t forget, if you’re staying at a hotel or motel you can restock some items via the complimentary toiletries provided.
When you’re making your motel reservations, be sure to ask them what kind of perks the motel offers. Is there a hair dryer in each room then you certainly don’t need to pack one. But even if you are without, you’ll be enjoying the ‘helmet hair’ anyway so why bother?
- Credit Cards
- Sun protection
- Mini first aid kit and Tylenol/pain killers.
- Flash light or Headlamp
- Camera, memory card(s)
- Spare batteries; AA/AAA etc.
- Smartphone and don’t forget to check your roaming charges with your provider.
- Waterproof duffel bags (type used on sail boats). These are thin, light and sturdy. Use for back up.
- Bungee cords –handy for items you’ve purchased along the way and won’t fit [any longer] into your luggage.
- Must Have’s for the Motorcycle
- Small tool kit – or at the very least the tool kit that lives under the seat. Ensure a tiny crescent wrench included.
- A small tire repair kit
- Duct tape, electrical tape & zip ties.
- Extra bike key hidden somewhere safe.
- Extra fuses
- Mini chain lube spray (used daily if needed; every 1000 km and after riding in rain)
- Small but strong motorcycle lock. Read our review on the Xena lock.
- Portable fuel container. Get a small one and especially valuable if you are travelling on isolated roads.
- MP3 player
- Battery charger(s)
- A small pair of binoculars.
- Net book / iPad
- AirHawk Seat Cushion Read the review!
Outside of the necessities above, packing your motorcycle and what you bring is truly personal. You’re free to bring as much as you like, as long as it fits. And if you’re travelling with others, you can divvy up items such as chain lube, flash lights and camping equipment if going for that option.
And consider this, the more you bring, the more weight you’ll add to your motorcycle. This may be challenging to manage riding slow, or up winding steep mountainous roads. Plus more weight means more fuel use, more spending.
Happy travels and send us your pictures when you’re home!
**We recommend the BMW Streetguard III suit – the all you’ll ever need riding suit for travel! You won’t need rain suit or warm layers, a hip bag or purse!