Here is a list of
questions we tend to get asked. If you don't see the questions
answered below, feel free to drop
us an email...
planning a motorcycle journey -- what advise would you give?
Go for it!! Do whatever you have to do to make your dreams a
reality. There are pages of information dedicated to motorcyclists
wanting to travel overland by motorcycle --- Check out www.HorizonsUnlimited.com,
and specifically the Trip
money do I need?
Here is the most common and toughest question to answer. We can't tell
you, because it depends on you! If you want to sleep in nice hotels
and eat in nice restaurants, you will need more. If you will camp or
stay in hostals, eat in cheap restaurants or cook, it will be considerably
less. Also, the condition of your bike and length of trip will
of course be important factors. To see our list of costs, go to our Costs/Packing
How do you
figure out your daily budget?
We have an amount of money set aside for the entire trip. We subtract
the costs for shipping and annual medical insurance, and the rest is to be
used for our daily budget. Our daily budget includes Food; Sleeping;
Fuel; Motorcycle Parts & Services; Internet; Museum Fees; Books;
National Park Fees; Medication; and all the other little daily expenditures
that come up. In order to stay "on budget", our actual daily living costs need to be $15/day less
then our daily budget number.
For example, in
South America, our budget was $45/day for the both of us. To stay on
budget, we had to eat, sleep, buy gas, and live on $30/day, to make up for
the cost of parts, services, entrance fees, border crossings, replacement
clothes, and other incidentals. We could track by simply
calculating how long the most recent cash withdrawal was lasting, and adjust
our activities accordingly.
What is your
biggest daily expense?
Our biggest expense is shipping the bikes/airfare. But our single
largest "Daily" expense is gas/fuel. The average cost of
fuel on our trip is about $0.70/liter ($2.66/gallon). If we ride 280
miles/450 km, we will have to purchase about 50 liters of fuel for the 2
bikes, or roughly $35 in fuel. Yes, that's right! If we ride big miles
for several days in a row, it hits our wallet pretty hard. We figured
we spent over US$2,000 on fuel in Australia, and almost $12,000 on fuel as
of Feb 1, 2003. The trick to saving money is to stay in one place a
little longer, or travel shorter distances :-)
generally spend $5-15/night for accommodation (we have spent more, and we
have spent less). If we can get a room for $10, we will take the room
rather than sleep in the tent. NOTE: Traveling in Europe
has been the most expensive part of the trip -- hotels (and our budget) were
considerably higher. The cost to fill both fuel tanks in Europe was
$60, camping was $15 per site, and food and hotels were more expensive as
well (similar to USA pricing). So a big day of riding in Europe would
cost a lot more than a day walking around and seeing the sites.
Do you carry
a lot of cash or traveler's checks?
No. In most countries we just withdraw cash from ATM machines.
The only places we have had difficulties were in India and Brazil.
India did not have many ATM machines, and only select branches of banks in
Brazil accepted foreign bank cards. Traveler's Checks are generally
expensive to cash, and not always convenient. We have gotten by with
just carrying a few hundred dollars hidden on the bikes, and have never had
to dig into them. In countries where we can withdraw US dollars, we
take out a few hundred dollars and exchange them as we need them --- this
gets us the best rate of exchange. When traveling in remote areas, we
would take out some extra cash to get us to the next large city/ATM.
it hard to get sponsors?
Yes --- Basically, if you are not already accomplished and/or famous, it is near
impossible. Business owners are constantly asked for
assistance and have had many requests prior to yours. While
they might want to help, they
must weigh the benefits of each of these requests.
famous traveler told us just before we set off that if you can do the
trip without sponsors, don't bother trying to get them. You
generally have to put in a lot of work for them, and the rewards may
seem meager in comparison. Having said that, it is free to
ask, and they could always say "yes".
sponsors give you money?
No. We received support with products and services, and some discounts
while on the road.
Prior to the trip, we owned several BMWs and were very happy with
them. Not just the machines, but with the community of BMW
riders. BMW has the reputation for being "The" overland
motorcycle, and we feel they are up to the claim. There are
other bikes that can do the job too, but if we were to do it again, it would
be on our F650 Dakars.
Why 2 bikes?
We can carry more gear, and spread the load more effectively. We both
enjoy riding, and prefer to not be squeezed onto one bike. Having 2 bikes
also helps if we have an issue with one bike, we can use the other to get
help. The disadvantage is we pay double for fuel, wear-and-tear parts,
Did you have
Basically, no. Chris took a basic course before the trip, so he knew
how to change the oil, take off the wheels (but not the tires), and check the
valves. Our mechanic Phil at Lindners told us we would learn a lot on
the road, and was he ever right!! Over the years, we have watched
closely what mechanics were doing, have both learned a tremendous amount,
and now do most of the work ourselves. Would suggest you have
experience removing wheels, repairing flat tires, changing oil, and checking
valves. The rest will just come as needed.
Chris change from a R100PD to F650?
Looking back with 20/20 vision, we discovered the single biggest mistake we
made in our preparations was not taking identical bikes. The bikes did
not share common parts, tires, or even battery size. Only the
headlight bulb, tail-light bulb, fuses, and 17" rear tire were the same
-- everything else was different! The issue is actually not with spare
parts (you never have the ones you need anyway), but with problem solving. We
realized our mistake when we were in Thailand, trying to find an electrical
fault in Chris' bike.
We spent weeks
in and out of a repair shop, replacing parts and trying different
ideas, all without ever solving the problem. It was not until another
traveler pulled his R100PD (same bike) into the shop and we started swapping
parts. In no time we found the problem. Also, Erin was not able
to (confidently) ride Chris' PD. We bought the 2 bikes used for our 15
month trip in New York. When we were in New Zealand, we realized we had more than
18 months left, and took advantage of the extra time we had there and the
lower prices. We purchased a F650 for Chris and sent his PD back to
We cannot tell
you how many times in South America we were able to solve problems quickly
(usually on the side of the road) just by having 2 identical bikes.
motorcycle should I take?
Any bike can go around the world -- depending on your selection, you might have to
chose your routes more carefully. In most parts of the world, a bike
with a range of 200+ miles (riding at 50mph) is sufficient. We could
strap an extra fuel container on for the rare times we would cross more
remote areas, then ditch them afterwards. The Bike
section on Horizons Unlimited is a great resource for more detailed info.
suggestions. and comparisons.
We purchase our Longstay, non-UK resident insurance for about $46/month each
The coverage is more than we should ever (hopefully) need, and includes Emergency Evac.
Identical plans can be purchased in the states, but we found will cost a few dollars
Can you fill
your prescription medication?
In most countries outside the USA and Europe, we have purchased the same
medication we were used to, generally at cheaper prices, without any
paperwork. We wrote down the active ingredients and dosage of
our important meds, as they
are sometimes sold under different product names, and never had issue
filling our needs. Of course, how you do it is entirely up to you --
it is best to consult your personal physician if you have questions.
We arranged our Green-Card insurance for Europe while we were in the states
We only had limited-liability, as the coast for full
coverage on a global plan will cost about half the value of the bike, for a
year's coverage. For insurance outside Europe, you can typically either purchase
at the border or the first biggest town you reach. It is generally
cheaper to purchase locally, and in case of accident in foreign country, the policy might
actually be worth something. Sometimes, we don't bother with the
insurance, but that is not without risk.
What is a
carnet and do I need one?
A carnet is basically pre-paid duties for your vehicle. It allows you
into countries which require deposits for temporary import, without leaving
the money at each border. If you enter a country with your motorcycle,
you are required to leave with it. You do not need for travel in North
America, Central America, and Europe. South America is beginning to
request it more when shipping into a country (not a land crossing), and you
will need it for most of Asia and Africa.
Check out information on carnets
or you can contact Susan Danis at the Canadian Automobile Assoc. (CAA). We also have a carnet which
was issued in New Zealand for the bike Chris purchased there. You can
obtain a carnet from NZ or Australia by contacting the local AA
offices. Check here for a list of
your favorite countries?
There are many exciting countries and regions with great things to
see. Surprisingly, there is no country we've visited on this trip that
should be avoided, but the following stood out as exceptional places for us:
||New Zealand, Australia,
||Malaysia and Argentina
||Europe = Norway, Alps,
Dolomiti (IT), Prague (CZ), Turkey
Asia = Nepal, Cambodia
Oceania = New Zealand, Australia
South America = Bolivia and Patagonia Region
miles/km per day?
When we started, we traveled as though we were on an extended 2-week holiday
= ride as far as possible and see as much as possible. Now, however,
we prefer to ride shorter distances and stay in places longer. We try
to only travel 3-4 days out of every week, and no more than 200-250 miles
(300-400 km) per day. Of course, sometimes we ride much further.
your longest day?
We were traveling in Europe, on the Autobahn, and rode some 700 miles/1100
km. We had several 200 mile/300 km days in India, which felt much
Have you had
Fortunately, not too many. A couple of spills in Europe, Erin had a
major encounter with a truck in Malaysia which luckily wasn't worse, and
we've each had several tip-overs while riding off-road, which we don't count.
tires have you used?
48 tires: 19 front; and 29 rear.
13 --- Sometimes we repair on the side of the road ourselves.
But if there is a repair shop nearby, we take the tire to the shop with the
other bike, and pay $1 for a vulcanized repair...
maintains the website?
That's all us. We carry a laptop and use FrontPage. We write all the
stories, and add photos from our digital camera. In 2000, our
friend Eric Stoffer stepped in, and he helps us find the best server for our
needs. When we change servers, he handles that for us, but we still do
all the writing and updating to the site.
How do you
update the website?
We either connect the laptop at an internet cafe (using network card), or
copy new info onto disc and upload at internet cafe. If we have a lot
of info and can not connect our laptop, we copy info/files to the digital
camera and plug that into computer at internet cafe. We either use
CuteFTP or copy and paste using Internet Explorer (FTP://firstname.lastname@example.org).
Sometimes, despite our efforts and cleverness, none of this works and we just wait for the next location where
we can try again.
electronic equipment do you use?
CAMERA: Started the trip with an Olympus D400 zoom (1.3 pix). In
Oct 2002, we replaced with the newer Olympus D550 zoom (3.0 pix).
LAPTOP: Started trip with Sharp Actius PC-A100. In Feb 2002, we
replaced with newer Sharp PCU-M10. Both units had external floppy
drive and CD-Rom, so very light and slim.
GPS: Garmin GPS 3+ with World CD.
Do I need a
Need? It is a matter of opinion --- We would not travel without our
Garmin GPS 3+. It not only tells us where we are, but provides other
valuable info such as Altitude, Sunrise, Sunset, Distances of Routes, and
Voltage (connected direct to the battery). Of course, it also lets us
know sooner when we are lost! There is also a Trackback feature which allows us to get back to places
we've visited. When we get to a good
repair shop, hotel, or other important location we can simply
"mark" it and return at a later time with incredible ease.
The list of features is too long to state here, but send us an email if you
have any questions. Bottom line: They cost a few hundred
dollars, about the same as a cellular or camera, so are excellent value for
- Take off-road riding lessons -- you can't know too much. There is a
lot of construction and places where roads are not paved. If you plan
to travel in developing countries, practice (before you leave) riding fully
loaded on bad dirt roads.
- Practice taking your bike up/down curbs, and you should be able to climb
about 2-3 (small) steps, to get the bike into some hotel lobbies for
- If you take 2 bikes, take identical models
- For every 30 days of travel, only make plans for 24, to allow for problems
and/or spending time in interesting places.
- While arranging to meet friends and love-ones on the road is exciting, try
not to over commit yourself as it may become more difficult to meet them
than you anticipate.
- 21" front tire
- Support bracket for under top-case
- Jesse Luggage -- simply, the best we've seen.
- Good Shock -- not Ohlins for F650, the aluminum lower bracket is a
weak-point (broke 3 times).