Published on July 10th, 2008 | by Klavdy
TOURING THE USA BY MOTORCYCLE: PART II
What to Pack, including Insurance and Where to put Copies of Papers and Stuff
OK, so you have got your passport, International Drivers Licence and air tickets.
This next bit is really important, can mean the difference between an easy trip and a lifetime of penury. It’s called Insurance.
Yes, dirty word that it is, still, it’s a necessary evil. If you have bought your tickets on a high end credit card you may be feeling rather smug, thinking “BAH! I don’t need to read this; I have built in travel insurance with my fancy gold/platinum credit card”.
Yes, you do indeed have travel insurance, however the devil is in the detail.
You are NOT covered for riding a motorcycle larger than 200cc.
In other words, on anything bigger than a faggy scooter, you won’t be covered if misfortune befalls you. And you do not want to end up in a shitty public hospital in Seppostan, crowded in with the crack whores and homeless, facing a million dollar bill if and when you get home.
The best place for travel insurance is www.worldnomads.com.
I am in no way affiliated with World Nomads. I have, however, done the research; and they cover you for just about anything, including the riding of large and powerful machines. You know, the fun ones.
Make sure you get coverage for the day before and the day after your trip as well as the bit in between. This will cost around $140-$150 for a month for a single person, with a $50 surcharge if you want additional insurance for specific high price items such as laptops, SLR cameras etc. I don’t bother with the surcharge; I let my credit card insurance cover that.
Righty ho, we’ve got our paperwork pretty well sorted. Now, make copies of them, get a gmail account, scan your paperwork and email it to your gmail account. This way, wherever you are, if you have access to a computer you can download your paperwork.
Also, keep back up photocopies of your stuff at home and take another set with you.
Don’t keep all your copies in the one place when travelling; keep one in your luggage and the other in your wallet or whatever.
Wallets or whatever… This brings us to packing. You are a bloke and you don’t need much stuff.
I take a Givi topbox and a tankbag for month long trips, and my tankbag is full of my onboard video gear. In this pic you will see my GIVI top box, my tankbag and another bag.
I had the other bag with me for a couple of days until I could drop it off at a mate’s place. You can do something similar with your souvenirs. You are going to more than likely buy stuff on your trip and will need somewhere to dump it.
This is why I suggested you buy a hotel room in L.A. for the first and last days of your trip. Use UPS or Fedex or whatever and get stuff shipped to your hotel. Saves having to lug it around.
I did suggest that, didn’t I? If not, best that you do, eh?
OK, a quick bit on hotels, then back to packing. Get a hotel (ffs splurge a bit and get a Hilton or something) near LAX airport for your first day in the US, and one for your last night. Your flight will arrive early in the morning on your first day, around 6-7.00 AM; and leave late on the last night, around 10.00-11.30 PM. The first day and night in the States gives you a bit of time to rest after the flight, mebbe go to Disneyland or Hollywood or something, pick up your bike, whatever. Trust me on this, you will need these two days/nights at either end of the trip.
The last night means you can unwind, rest up a bit and repack all your goodies, maybe do a bit of laundry. You will have to (generally speaking) book out of the hotel by 11.00 am or thereabouts. They will happily extend that for a bit of extra dough, or you can leave your bags there until you are ready to go to the airport: means you can go sightseeing, last minute shopping etc in LA.
Hotels in the States are a bit different in the way they charge for rooms. They generally charge for the room, not the occupants; so, conceivably, there could be ten of you in a room and it will cost the same as if you were by yourself. Hmmm, no reason to be by your lonesome, fit young Aussie like you, is there?
OK, back to packing, yes, it’s boring but you gotta get it right.
ROLL things, don’t fold them.
Take three pairs of jocks and socks, no more. You can buy excellent quality ones over there for bugger all, so do that.
Take the long pants you are wearing on your flight. You can buy genuine Levis in the States for ridiculously small amounts, try a pair of 501’s (the proper button fly ones) for around $30-$35. (I’m using Aussie dollars here, taking the Aussie dollar at US $0.95.)
Get a BIG stainless steel or enamel mug, take that with you too, tremendously useful things when you are on the road. Big mugs, I’m all for them.
If you wear contact lenses or glasses , take a current prescription with you, places like WALMART will do you a pair of glasses dirt cheap, prescription sunnies too, and you will be gob smacked at how cheap contact lenses are. $12-$14 a pack compared to $40-$60 in Australia.
Take a couple of decent going out type shirts, no more than two or three t-shirt/long sleeve skivvy type shirts, (wear ’em under your bike jacket) and ONE pair of shoes/boots apart from your riding boots.
Oh, and a new pair of double pluggers, wear these in showers etc.
A pair of boardies, these double as walk shorts, take boardies even if you never go to the beach as most Seppo hotels have hot tubs and I’m going to send you to lots of natural hot springs, too.
You will love a hot tub after a day on the bike, sit back, mebbe have a bevvie, relax. Piss is extraordinarily cheap in the U.S. and you can buy it just about anywhere: servos, supermarkets, the most unlikely looking joints sell piss.
Also, if you don’t already have them, get some padded lycra bicycle shorts. You will feel gay at first, but after you have worn them on a long ride, you will always want to wear them. Find a pair you like, take two pairs with you; or you can buy them in the States – they squish up really small in your luggage.
Take a double adaptor or a small power board, this is so you only need one US to Aussie plug adaptor, you will probably have more than one electronic device thingy, you know, digital camera, mobile phone, that sort of thing.
US power points are odd, they generally only have two prong holes in ’em, and no switch, you just plug things in. Oh, and the light switches go the opposite way, and lamps and stuff can take some figuring out.
Take a small first aid kit; know how to use it even if it means doing a first aid course.
If you like coffee, take a jar of your favourite instant. Seppo coffee is piss weak and it’s really hard to get decent instant anywhere.
Don’t even bother taking shampoo and stuff like that, go to a US drug store the day you get there and stock up. They have acres of stuff including vast aisles of sample sized containers of shampoo, soap, toothpaste and shit.
One thing you DO need though, for after you’ve checked your chain etc, is a cake or two of Solvol soap. The Seppos just don’t have it. The closest sorta stuff they have is “LAVA SOAP”. It’s basically useless and gay.
DO NOT TAKE TOO MUCH STUFF.
I can’t emphasise this enough. You are going on a bike tour, and you really do not need much at all. Plus the airlines generally only give you a 32 Kilo allowance, so pack light.
Carry your riding jacket on the plane with you. If you have proper touring boots instead of stupidly stiff and uncomfortable race boots, wear them on the plane, you can slip them off once on board and this saves heaps of space in your bags. With your luggage, give due consideration to buying a couple of duffle bags from a disposal store. They are cheap and strong; spray them with Scotchguard and they are pretty water resistant too. Them and a couple of Andy Strapz flat strap things and you are good to go.
Look, here’s a typical day or two in the life on the road.
I’ll get up at whatever time I feel like, but generally around 6.30-7.00 am, have a coffee (coffee tips coming), a dump, then a shower, grab the pair of Man Panties I’d rinsed out the night before, (remember, take TWO pairs) turn on the weather channel, fuck around with my gear, mebbe another coffee, (this is where your big steel mug and jar of instant comes in handy), swap your rancid face cloth/visor wiper you stole from the last hotel with a nice clean one, and pack your stuff onto the bike.
This kind of segues into another rant, this one about stupid Seppo plumbing. It sucks.
Take your basic shitter. The water, which does go the other way, comes all the way up to about an inch below the rim, quite confronting the first few times, especially with a couple of ten inch turds merrily bobbing away, you’d think it’s about to flood.
Showers, why oh fucking why must Seppo showers be so fucking complicated?
For a start the taps go the opposite direction to ours: anti clockwise for on. I’ve broken a few of them after twisting the bastard things too hard cause I thought they were stuck or something, then you have to pull up on this button thing that’s on the lower faucet/bath outlet thing to get it to run out of the shower rose, then you have to pull the water knobs towards you to regulate the pressure.
And plugs, plugs are generally built into the basin/bath/shower recess, another knob to pull.
A hot and a cold tap, is that too simple to ask for?
Any way, you will work it out, just be patient.