Traveling Solo On A Motorcycle Adventure
Traveling Solo On A Motorcycle Adventure
“...the man who goes alone can start to-day; but he who travels with another must wait till the other is ready, and it may be a long time before they get off.” - Walden by Henry David Thoreau
I travel solo on my motorcycle a lot. I get quite a few comments like “Aren’t you scared?” or “I wouldn’t let me wife/sister/daughter do something like this alone!” I’m very grateful to have an amazing significant other and family that support my solo travels, even if they aren’t always thrilled, they are always supportive.
Recently at one of the Karl’s Mystery Rides, one of the riders recognized me and said, “Oh! You’re the solo travel queen!” I didn’t really know how to respond. I’ve never associated myself with being a “solo travel queen” or any other title along those lines.
However, thinking about it, I have spent a lot of time riding alone. I didn’t even know that it wasn’t considered normal until I joined some motorcycle Facebook groups. I think there are a lot of Pros and Cons involved with traveling solo OR with a group. I just prefer ‘going it alone’. It’s definitely all personal preference, I’m not shaming those who prefer riding in a group, but! There are a lot of great things about riding alone that people who have only ever traveled in a group before may be missing out on.
So, let’s talk about some of the benefits of traveling alone on a motorcycle!
You are responsible for no one but yourself.
This may seem a little daunting at first. If the bike breaks down, it’s up to you to find a way to get it fixed. If you hurt yourself it’s your job to take care of yourself until you can get to help. You learn what you’re capable of. Often times, you’re capable of a lot more than you think you are. When there’s no one else to take care of you, you learn real fast how to handle yourself. In the end, it’s really nice to realize that you can make decisions and handle situations without anyone else to make the decisions for you.
Alternatively, you don’t have to babysit anyone else. There’s no squabbling about what kind of food you want to eat, or when to eat it. There’s no one else’s lack of skill holding you back from riding certain roads.
No waiting around, or being the “Hold Up”.
You don’t have to stop for someone else’s tiny bladder constantly if you’re comfortable you can just barrel through or make as many stops as you like. You can sit and take in the scenery for an hour if you want.
Inevitably when you’re riding with someone else, or in a group, someone is going to be the “slow poke” or the person everyone seems to be waiting on at every stop. There also always seems to be a debate over if we should all stop to take this picture or shouldn’t we. You know what’s worse than being the person waiting on someone else? Being the slowpoke and feeling awful because other people have to wait for you.
When you’re traveling solo, you can stop or go whenever you like. No being the slowpoke, or the person trying to herd cats.
Go when/where you want to.
You have control of your route. You can stop at whatever touristy locations you like. You can take that extra 20-mile detour just to avoid going through town if you want.
Not everyone is going to have the same interests as you, or the same amount of time off for that matter. If you wait around for someone to be able to go with you, you may just run out of time. Historical sites, monuments, that cool store, and traditions are slowly deteriorating and could close at any time. Even our National Parks are being forced to change to handle the detrimental effects of so many visitors every year. If you wait too long to go see that view or that ghost town, it may be gone or even closed off to visitors by the time you get there. See them before they’re gone. Just go. Don’t wait for anyone to be able to go with you.
Alternatively, if your group/travel partner isn’t into nature or history, their bored attitude can sometimes ruin the experience for you. Instead of remembering how beautiful that mountain was, you can only remember being frustrated and rushing because your travel companions were kicking the dirt and complaining about the bugs.
Be as social or anti-social as you want.
You are more approachable when you’re alone. Some people are more intimidated by a group of people than they are by a rogue rider by themselves. You’re more likely to meet friendly people who might want to feed you because you “look so lonely”. Sometimes I feel like I must look like a starving kitten or something. Along these lines, people are also more likely to help a solo motorcyclist on the side of the road, than they are to stop for a big group.
You’re also more than likely to run into other solo travelers. These people are some of the most interesting people you’ll meet on the road. Sharing stories with
like-minded travelers are how you find new “secret spots” and get ideas for future trips.
On the other hand, you can also be as anti-social as you want, you can avoid 90% of human contact if you want when you’re riding alone. Sometimes it’s nice to go two-three days without saying more than 2-3 words to another person. A nice side-effect of going it alone is that you have time to spend with yourself. It’s a fantastic way to reconnect with yourself and spend some time with your own thoughts.
Everything will be Ok.
Realize that if you’re gone from home for a few days or a week, your life back home won’t fall apart without you there. You should, of course, make accommodations for any pets, plants, children etc. in your care, but you shouldn’t keep you from going on the trip of your dreams. If you’re gone for a few days, life will go on without you and you can deal with anything when you get back. Day-to-day life’s little “emergencies” are not that important in the big scheme of things.
Your real friends will keep in touch, and it will be like you never left when you get back. They’re also the ones who will be there to hear all of your stories. Not everyone will understand why you want to travel solo on a motorcycle of all things, but that’s ok. A lot of people make ‘negative’ comments out of concern or fear. It helps to realize that not everyone is malicious but are genuinely scared of traveling alone. That’s ok! They’re not the one seeing all the crazy beautiful things you are, sleeping under the stars and appreciating what this world has to offer while you can.
Don’t stress too much about the what-ifs. If you’re genuinely worried about the bike breaking down, get AAA or a roadside assistance program through your insurance. If that doesn’t calm your nerves, do a bit of research beforehand about where the gas stations along your route are (plus backups a little off your route), and where all the qualified shops/dealerships are that can fix your particular bike (hint: not all shops are created equal when it comes to different makes and models of bikes.)
In the end, you learn to let go of unnecessary stress. Traveling solo on a motorcycle is the best way to learn to go with the flow. Things will inevitably go wrong no matter if you’re in a group or not. The difference between having a good trip or a bad one doesn’t depend on if something goes wrong, but how you choose to handle the bumps in the road. Often times, these bumps in the road are easier to handle when you’re traveling alone.