5 Things I Learned from Solo Motorcycle Travel
by Liz Jansen
Solo motorcycle journeys are magical. It may take a few days to settle in, but the longer you’re out there, the greater the magic.
Not only do you experience that spiritual connection with nature and your higher power, but it brings out the best in others—and yourself.
I’m reminded of these five lessons every time I travel alone. And they stay with long after the trip is over.
- Most people are good people. This is especially important to realize in today’s fear-mongering world, blown out of proportion and sensationalized by the media.Talk to anyone who has traveled solo extensively, man or woman, and he or she will tell you the same thing. Around the world, people are friendly and curious! They want to know what you’re doing and engage you in conversation.Of course, you need to use your street smarts and follow your intuition. But it’s surprising what you’ll learn about others, the world around you, and yourself when you expect the best.
I do however need to add a disclaimer. As a white woman, I’ve not been subject to racial, gender, or any other discrimination, other than the odd time because I’m on a motorcycle. But that’s rare. I do know that this is a real concern for others.
- Patterns don’t change just because the setting changes. Three years ago I decided to use a 6-week road trip to the Pacific Northwest to experiment with living and working from the road. My tendency before that had been to overcommit to work, and I was constantly frustrated with my seeming inability to create a better balance in my life. Nothing like a 6-week road-trip to recalibrate I thought.I started with a one-week energy medicine course in Utah. To create some work while I was away, I pitched a few travel stories about areas I’d be traveling through. And I registered for a motorcycle event in Carson Valley near Lake Tahoe in the middle of all that.Before I knew it I’d overbooked my time, leaving very little of the downtime I’d envisioned. Of course I got everything done because once a commitment is made, it must be honored. Any semblance of personal balance was elusive.
That’s because I hadn’t addressed the underlying cause of why I was doing it. That required deeper spirit work. I’d known these patterns applied to relationships, careers, and finances and could see them in others. It took that trip to vividly demonstrate the need for changes in my life.
- Asking for help is okay. In fact, it’s advised! Invariably, you’ll receive it. As solo riders we pride ourselves in being independent, but part of being successful alone involves being resourceful, resilient, and flexible. We don’t have to do it all ourselves.I used to be able to put my bike on the center stand and adjust the chain, change my oil, and complete other minor maintenance—unassisted. Since my shoulder injury, I haven’t regained full strength and need help with those things. I know how to do them, I just don’t have the horsepower. A little help makes a huge difference.If I didn’t ask, I’d seldom travel. Certainly, I wouldn’t travel far.
Most people enjoy lending a hand. It’s usually a gift whether you’re the giver or the receiver.
- You can get by with very little. Packing up a motorcycle for extended travel makes you evaluate and prioritize everything you pack. It gets frustrating when you’re looking for something in your pack and that same thing that you don’t really need keeps getting in your way! Besides, carrying excess weight adds to rider fatigue.This gets extended to ‘things’ in general. When I was preparing to be away for 12-18 months, I got rid of a lot of stuff, including a car. Having to store things for a couple of years, knowing you won’t be using them, makes you question whether you need them in the first place.Not having to expend time, money, and energy to maintain things frees up a huge amount of energy to notice and appreciate the world around you and the people in it. You don’t need to work so hard to get things you don’t need in the first place.
- You meet the nicest people on a motorcycle. I know it’s a Honda slogan from the 60’s but there was a reason it was so popular. It’s true! Whether it’s other motorcyclists or non-riders, it’s such a fantastic way to connect with other people—and yourself.Although this happens even when you’re riding with others, but nowhere near the depth of heart that happens when you ride alone.
It doesn’t mean you have to ride alone all the time, but you owe it to yourself to try it for a few days. The next time will be longer!