If you are a casual motorcycle rider, your bucket list may include a coast-to-coast trip on your bike. Are you afraid of following through because of time and cost concerns? If you have a typical job, you may not have the time, and if you have a less-traditional job, you may not have the money.
It is up to you to find the time, but you can minimize the cost with some planning and decisions about the extent to which you are willing to “rough it.”
- Preventative Maintenance – There is nothing better at taking the fun out of a cross-country ride than being broken down on a desert road out West, killing time by counting the circling buzzards. Get your bike serviced before you go. If your battery or tires are old, consider replacing them to avoid the classic joke of desperate roadside repair: “How much is it going to cost?" "How much money you got?”
Pack a small emergency bag with fuses, a small toolkit, tire-repair supplies, and a quart of oil. That covers the majority of your simple maintenance needs without overloading your bike.
- Packing – Speaking of packing, keep it to a minimum to save on gas. That may be trivial for a trip across town, but not for a cross-country sojourn. Pack light and plan a laundry stop or two along the way. If possible, plan and time your path to increase the odds of temperate weather throughout the trip to decrease the number of extra clothes needed.
- Gas – Assuming you have cell phone access, find a spot with free Wi-Fi and use sites like Gasbuddy to find the cheapest fuel in upcoming destinations. Otherwise, avoid the interstate stops and travel into cities – prices are usually cheaper there. Plan your gas stops carefully for more desolate areas.
- Lodging – Barring any friends and relatives along the way where you can (presumably) visit for free, the next best thing is camping. There are plenty of campsites across the nation, both private (such as KOA) or those maintained by park systems.
With some research, you can locate campsites along your route with the amenities you need. Find several options to maintain some spontaneity on how far you want to travel in a day.
If you cannot tolerate camping, find the cheapest motel that accommodates your comfort level, and do not be afraid to ask for any relevant discounts (AAA, AARP, etc.). Assuming you have cell service, try Priceline, Hotels.com or similar websites to find last-minute bargains.
- Food – If camping, you can pick up supplies along the way and make your own meals with a simple Coleman kit. Otherwise, search the Internet for dining options... or just wander and check out the local flavor. You are likely to find specials somewhere that are to your liking.
Set reasonable distance goals and plan an occasional layover day in a hotel to do laundry, see the local sights, and just relax. If you have to rush across country without taking time to enjoy the trip, you’re doing it wrong.
Don’t own a bike but still dream of taking the cross-country tour? There are places that offer package rides with rental bikes, such as The Lost Adventure. Rental bike companies want to move their inventory, so they offer cheap rides… but only one-way.
Finally, the last and most important tip – wear a helmet. We know helmet laws vary by state, but it is not worth taking chances. Just because a cross-country trip is on your bucket list does not mean that you have to kick the bucket during the trip.