Five Myths of Adventure Travel and Motorcycling
Have you got the itch for adventure? Are you worried it's unsafe, too expensive or even simply impossible? ADVMoto asked some of the most traveled globe riders about five common myths of adventuring around the world. Men, women, couples and solo travelers alike can learn something from the tremendous experience of our five panelists with over 40 years of combined travel, covering hundreds of thousands of overland miles, through every continent, in some of the most remote regions of the Earth.
Is adventure travel safe? Do you need a lot of money to start an adventure? Are people around the planet fundamentally good or bad? Find out from the people who know!
• Myth 1: Adventure travel is unsafe and solo travel even more so...especially for women.
Ivana and Manu from "Around Gaia" (AG): We've travelled now for 10 years continuously, with the last three and a half on motorcycle. We used to travel alone until we met, as solo travel lets you meet other travelers more easily.
So what does “unsafe” mean? Of course you may encounter dangerous areas where drug dealers, criminals, wildlife or extreme weather can become really difficult; but people can die commuting from work to the “safety” of their own homes. Things can always happen, but we don´t need to obsess over that. Most of the people who tell you traveling alone and without plans is dangerous, have never experienced this kind of journey.
Travel quickly makes you learn the rules of survival, and once you respect them, everything is going to be ok. Risk is part of what makes the journey exciting and full of beautiful experiences and lessons.
Steph Jeavons from "OneStephBeyond" (SJ): I am a solo female rider and have ridden on all seven continents through 50 countries in my time as a biker. I love it and I have always been treated with respect wherever I go. In my experience people look out for you even more so as a solo rider.
Bea and Helmut from "Time to Ride" (BH): If you use common sense, adventure travel is as safe or unsafe as riding around your home country. Quite the contrary actually, we experienced the greatest hospitality of very kind and helpful people in the most “unsafe” countries. During our time on the road we´ve been to many supposed unsafe countries like Colombia, Russia or East Timor. Despite this, we never had any problems because we talked to the locals, asked about the current situation and trusted our common sense. You just need to be aware of some basic rules and trust your instincts!
Lisa and Simon Thomas from "2 Ride the World" (2RW): Not to over simplify things but, life is intrinsically ‘unsafe’ by some measure or another. Adventure is an overused word today, but if you choose to embark on one, you accept that there is a degree of risk involved in its pursuit. Male or female the best way to make it ‘safer’ is to use good judgment and a healthy dose of common sense.
Sam Manicom (SM): Categorically not! Adventure travel should be no more unsafe than riding to the next state. I believe motorcyclists deal with the unexpected far better than other types of travelers because we deal with the unexpected each time we ride. All of our senses are alive when we ride and this factor alone means we relish opportunities for the unexpected to happen. We enjoy the surprises because our skill base makes us ready for them. Treat everything and everyone with respect and travel can easily be an adventure that will make you smile every day.
Solo travel, more unsafe? No way. It can actually be safer than group travel. People are great out there and by travelling solo you are more approachable. This brings out the caring nature in people. The vast majority of people a solo traveler meets want the traveler to enjoy and to learn about where they are. Travelling in a group can actually form a social or cultural barrier, which may actually make a traveler more vulnerable.
• Myth 2: I need a lot of money to have an adventure.
2RW: You don’t need lots of money to have a big adventure. Some funds are of course necessary, but once you’re out there, who knows what wonderful opportunities will come your way. There are always ways to make more money, but no one’s worked out yet how to make more time! So don’t wait or over-plan. Get on your bike and get out there.
SM: Travel is as expensive as you want to make it. With a good tent, sleeping bag and eagerness to engage all types of people, your travel costs can be minimal. Eagerness to engage people? How did that suddenly work its way in? Asking for places to put your tent up gives you protection, decreases your costs and gives you the chance to learn about where you are. Travelling on a small budget can actually be advantageous and offer experiences which can’t be bought.
Being able to travel on the cheap also depends on your ability to think laterally. You could decide that you want to spend a year visiting five neighboring countries in the developing world. That you’ll wild camp or stay in the cheapest of local hotels. That you’ll bargain for food in the markets or cook basic meals for yourself. You may also decide to ban beer, bearing in mind that in many countries a beer costs the same as food for three meals. If your bike is in good condition, doesn’t consume a lot of gas and you are happy travelling gently, then you could have a very low priced adventure on two wheels.
AG: When we decided to start this adventure travel on motorcycle, we were a young couple without a dollar in our pockets. We sold home-made handcrafts to beach tourists in Mykonos, Greece which allowed us to visit some exotic and cheap places through the winter. Lack of money did not keep us from dreaming. We had the attitude and motivation, and that was enough. After eventually saving enough money to buy a motorcycle, we were ready to go. We started traveling with no plan, motorcycle gear or any riding experience! We decided to earn the needed money along the way and finish this dream we both share...to travel around the world.
BH: Of course, you need to save up some money to start your travel, but it doesn´t need to be as much as you might think. If you choose camping over hotels and cooking your own meals over going to restaurants, you can travel on a very low budget. If you choose to travel in affordable countries like Mexico our Southeast Asia, you can be on the road for months without spending a lot of money at all.
• Myth 3: Adventure means traveling to an exotic location.
SM: Absolutely not! A great adventure can start as soon as you leave your driveway. An adventure begins as soon as you put yourself in a position where you are experiencing something new. Different challenges and learning new things are the key elements of an adventure. The beauty of motorcycling is that we are beginning a new adventure every time we throw a leg over the saddle and press the starter button. What begins is a tale of the unexpected, every time. Perfect.
Backcountry Discover Routes (BDR) series offered some great adventure riding in the US with lots of great camping in natural surroundings.BH: Adventure is waiting around every corner. You just need to be open-minded and curious to explore the less traveled roads and areas of the world. We found the
AG: We don´t like long rides. Our favorite riding is this when every few kilometers there is something that grabs our attention and make us stop to talk to the people, take pictures, or just enjoy the landscapes. We don´t mind that at the end of the day we only covered 50 or 60 miles.
2RW: All you need to have an adventure is to step past what you previously thought were your personal boundaries. Take a peek past what you think is “comfortable” and chances are you’ll find yourself there!
SJ: Not so. Adventure is everywhere. Adventure is a state of mind. If you look for it, you will find it!
• Myth 4: Traveling off-road is more dangerous than on-road.
SM: It can be, but this is where the word respect comes into play so strongly. Respect that either type of riding will throw their own challenges in your path. The challenges can be as different as chalk and cheese according to the road or trail conditions, so you need an adapted skill set for each. Off road riding can be dangerous if you allow calm analysis and common sense to be thrown to the winds. One of the keys is to always ride within your capabilities. At least, never intentionally stretch too far beyond them. That, of course, can equally apply to on-road riding.
SJ: Riding off-road is great fun and has fewer moving obstacles to hit. You may fall off more often but it is generally at slower speeds and usually worth a great photo or giggle! You also get to see the part of the world a majority of people do not reach.
AG: We feel more comfortable riding off-road, because we ride two-up and relatively slowly. Many times Ivana had to start walking when road conditions became really bad, so we try to enjoy the ride and overcome obstacles one by one. After more than three years on the road, we feel safer on the small dirt roads than on the busy freeways with a lot high-speed traffic. But we also have to say if you have an accident in a remote location, the consequences can be more dangerous due to the lack of available assistance. In our case, when we fell in the famous "Carretera Austral" of Chile, a road that takes you along the Andes. It took us two days and over 300km of riding to get needed surgery when Ivana broke her leg.
2RW: I’d argue the opposite is true. Off-road you’re in control; your decisions and skill define your safety and success. On the road, well, that’s a different matter, with a thousand obstacles coming towards you, away from you and circling you. With that many variables in play, there is no control. Your job on the road is to survive.
• Myth 5: I need the "perfect" bike or vehicle for my adventure.
SM: There is no perfect bike as such. If it’s in good mechanical condition and you like riding it, regardless of what make, style or cc it is, then it could well be the perfect bike for you. The only other perfection key I’d add is the importance of working out what sort of trip you want to have. Off-road? Mostly on road? Off the beaten track where spares will be hard to find? These sorts of considerations will help you to make the bike that is as perfect for your dream as possible.
You’ll not get it all right though, but that is part of the fun of the adventure. Adapting and changing both you and your bike as your journey dictates are both part of the wonderful learning curve that is motorcycle adventure.
SJ: No such thing as the perfect bike. Whatever you take, you will fall in love with. It's like a successful marriage. You will forgive the shortcomings and be grateful for the days when you don't fall out!
Ride whatever you want! Big bike, small bike - it's all good!
2RW: First off get it straight. There is no perfect motorcycle! There really is no one size fits all and if you ride hard or long enough, eventually every bike will break.
General George S. Patton, Jr. said: "A good solution applied with vigor now is better than a perfect solution applied ten minutes later." So, the best bike is probably the one you have right now, or the one you’re most excited to ride.
Adventure riding is often about passion over practicality.
• Rider Bios
Sam Manicom wanted to do something completely different so got a motorcycle and set off to ride the length of Africa. This one-year trip turned into an eight-year, 200,000 mile epic journey across 55 countries around the world. Sam has been writing for travel and motorcycle magazines in the U.S.A., Canada and the U.K. since 1996. And, the author of four notable adventure motorcycle travel books. Sam-Manicom.com
Manu Torres and Ivana Colakovska of "Around Gaia" are a Spanish and Macedonian couple who started the Around Gaia Project with the mission of traveling the globe by motorcycle. Their goals are straightforward: “We intend to prove there’s no need to be frightened of the unknown. That we can break the misconceptions, mistrust and fear of danger of faraway people and places. We want to show how the world is a much nicer place than many believe it to be.” AroundGaia.com
Bea and Helmut of "TimetoRide" love traveling and motorcycling, but wanted to see the world with their own eyes, make their own experiences and form their own opinions about foreign countries, cultures and traditions. So, they quit their jobs, sold their belongings, said goodbye to their families and friends for an indefinite period and left Germany in June 2011 on two nearly 25-year-old mtorcycles. TimetoRide.de
Steph Jeavons of "One Steph Beyond" has taken her Honda CRF250L further than any 250cc has been before; so far having ridden to 40 countries and covered over 50,000 miles! Steph comes from a riding family and has been around bikes most of her life. She is also the first Briton to ride to all seven continents including Antarctica! OneStephBeyond.com
|Simon and Lisa Thomas of "2 Ride the World" have set an unofficial new world record for the longest continuous journey by a motorcycle team. Now over 516,000 km and over 12 years on the road, the couple are an inspiration to all who chase the dream. Check out more of their many great photos and stories at 2RidetheWorld.com.|