Originally posted January 11, 2012, this article was a timely re-read as I embark today on an eagerly anticipated motorcycle ride to spend Thanksgiving with friends on the beach in Alabama. Traveling light is an even greater challenge when preparing for 4 seasons within 2 days. The lessons however transcend all seasons.
Stopping for the night during a motorcycle journey is a stark reminder of how much baggage I’m carrying. It doesn’t look or feel like a lot when I’m riding, but when it’s all unloaded and on the hotel’s trolley, it can be astounding, even to a veteran traveler. I like to be prepared for almost any eventuality, which means I carry more than I ever use.
Go on a car trip and it’s crammed full with everything you may or may not need, sometimes even the kitchen sink. Take that same trip on a motorcycle and choices have to be made about what comes along and what needs to be left behind. Riding teaches us much about the value of traveling light, lessons we can apply to our personal journey.
10 Lessons from Motorcycles About Traveling Light
- Resourcefulness. Because you can only carry so much, you need to improvise and be resourceful. Riding teaches us we can get by with much less than we think. We tend to accumulate so many gadgets, accessories, apparel, things that don’t add real value to our journey. In our personal journey, as with riding, if we look at what we need rather than want, it’s amazing what we can jettison.
- Load Capacity. You can load up your bags, strap additional items on and pack on an amazing amount of weight. Yet your bike can handle only so much weight safely. So too, can our beings handle only so much at once. We tend to overwork, take on additional responsibilities and not exercise enough. The effects of stress on our body, mind and spirit are insidious and often we don’t “unload” until a health scare or relationship issue causes a reality check.
- Weight management. You can’t feel it when you’re moving but you notice the weight during slow speed maneuvers or manually moving it. This increases the potential for tip overs or strains, particularly when the weight isn’t properly balanced. Carrying only what you need minimizes this. So too must we manage the physical, emotional and spiritual weight we carry to perform optimally.
- Energy efficiency. With a lighter load and optimal speeds, we economize on fuel. We humans have only so much energy too. Wise choices keeps us healthier physically, mentally and emotionally.
- Peace of Mind. The bigger the bike, the more accessories and gizmos we carry, the more we worry about damaging it or having it stolen. Maintaining the bike is work enough. Having to care for additional accessories, insuring and protecting them all takes away from the enjoyment of riding. If we’re worried about them.
- Maintenance. Making sure our bike is in optimal running condition, replacing worn parts, performing routine inspections on cables, tires, lights, chains, means it’s less likely to let us down on the road. Taking good care of our bodies, nurturing mind, body spirit gives us greater endurance and allows our creativity to express itself. We don’t need to pack so much if we’re confident it’s going to perform for us.
- Clarity. Keeping things simple clears the mind of clutter and allows for synchronicity and serendipity. This is when epiphanies occur and your creativity is sparked,
- Emotional control. Riding while upset is dangerous. Moods distort our perception, distract us and keep us preoccupied. We miss out on what’s going on around us, are slower to react and have less energy.
- Balance. You soon feel it if your load or even a tire is out of balance. It takes more energy to manage the bike and increases the potential for loss of control. Two wheeled travel, especially when you come to a stop, teaches you a lot about the importance of balance. Applying that tenet to our personal life can be challenging and the repercussions even greater.
- Freedom. Ask any rider what it is about motorcycling that is so exhilarating and the top two responses are likely to be the “freedom” and the “independence.” The less encumbered we are, the more meaningful our experience.
Something magical happens when you go for a ride. Cares and worries are left behind and you are caught up in the present moment. The world goes on around you, while time stands still as you the road stretches endlessly in front of you. Travel light and intensify the magic.