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Thread: How do you plan long trips?

  1. #1
    TravelsWithBarley.com
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    How do you plan long trips?

    Our Vermont winters are long and harsh. I typically spend my winters tearing down my bikes, cleaning each part meticulously, and reassembling them. The rest of the time I figure out where I want to go when the snow and ice retreats in late April or early May. In this post I'll share how I do it and open it up to how others plan so we can all take home a few good tips.

    I start with a map of the US and Canada, identify the end point (in this case the rally at Great Falls MT) as well as places I'd like to see along the way, and highlight a rough route. It looks something like this:

    IMG_2492.jpg

    From that beginning I divide the route into geographical segments, then drill down into each area using ride reports, magazines, online resources and Butler Maps to identify points of interest. On the map I use US-50 as a baseline to cross from Maryland to Missouri, but as those aforementioned resources yield results I vary from the baseline and the route becomes a meandering adventure. Based on research so far that segment will likely find us in the Hocking Hills of OH, across backroads of northern KY, the national forests of extreme southern IN and IL and the Mark Twain NF in MO before dropping down to northwest AR. I'll do that with each segment of the map.

    When all segments are fleshed out, I start a rough draft of a calendar showing about where I'll be at a particular point in time. Working backwards from the end point (since the rally dates are fixed) tells me how much riding time to allow. I enter riding time and miles onto the calendar, adjusting daily endpoints to less than 300 miles to allow plenty of time for Glenlivet and me to take breaks for play or rest. If the calendar shows a stretch of 2-3 longer days I mark at least one down day where we can stay put and he can enjoy being a dog. The calendar draft looks something like this:

    IMG_2494.jpg

    Lastly, I look for places to stay. Often they are campsites which is why I pass through national forests. Every few days we get a hotel for a soft bed and hot shower. It's often difficult to find accommodations some areas, so we book them early. For example, we already have a place to stay in Monument Valley - two days of early morning and late afternoon sunlight to bring out the colors for my camera! And of course we love staying with other like-minded people so often accept offers from others in the golden retriever and riding communities. I use the Tent Space Map on ADVRider.com a bit but thus far have not used the Anonymous Book as the code for spare room isn't quite as welcoming as the "We love visitors and want to hear your stories" entries on ADVRider.

    You may have noticed that our return trip is sadly lacking in the meandering department. From personal experience I know that once the rig is pointed in the general direction of home gravity takes over and I'm pulled back to Vermont. This return leg will include Beartooth Pass and the Bighorns (snow level permitting), the Black Hills and Badlands. Each was among Barley's favorite places and I hope to spread some of his ashes along the way...

    Dignity.jpg

    So, how do you plan?

    Pete and Glenlivet.
    '18 R1200GSA for solo rides
    '12 R1200GSA with Hannigan sidecar for rides with Glenlivet
    '15 Honda CRF250L for exploring places I'm afraid to take the big GSA!
    http://travelswithbarley.com/

  2. #2
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    Wife

    So I have another thought! How does your wife deal with long trips? I don't mean this in a bad way.
    I do like your miles and time calendar idea. My wife likes your writing about "travels with barley".

  3. #3
    TravelsWithBarley.com
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    Quote Originally Posted by EUGENE View Post
    So I have another thought! How does your wife deal with long trips? I don't mean this in a bad way.
    I do like your miles and time calendar idea. My wife likes your writing about "travels with barley".
    She has hobbies of her own and actually looks forward to me going away so she can take over the shop and garage for extended periods. If I come home early she scowls. But the dogs are delighted to see me so I suppose itís a wash
    '18 R1200GSA for solo rides
    '12 R1200GSA with Hannigan sidecar for rides with Glenlivet
    '15 Honda CRF250L for exploring places I'm afraid to take the big GSA!
    http://travelswithbarley.com/

  4. #4
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    Now thatís funny, reminds me of the joke about locking your dog and wife in your trunk then letting them out in a few hours to see whoís happy to see you.

  5. #5
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    You must have your honey to do list got up by april first?

  6. #6
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    When we travel we are pretty loose. We will pick some points of interest, perhaps the cities we plan to stay overnight in, our turn around point, and we roll. We motel it, and we will reserve rooms one day in advance. we don't want to take a chance on finding a room or not. I didn't make reservations once while I was traveling by myself, and spent a few hours sleeping in a booth at a truck stop because I couldn't find a motel with a vacancy. Pretty sure mama wouldn't like that!

    We went to Ashville, NC area a few years ago. We set a day we wanted to be there, so many days in the area, and when we wanted to head back, but no reservations were made until the day before. We will sit in the motel and plan the next day, stops and the next nights motel.

    Sometimes I will plan a trip start to finish, plan for points of interest, reserve motels in advance and stick to a schedule, but not very often.
    From the only real Fargo, ND!

  7. #7
    Quote Originally Posted by glenfiddich View Post
    She has hobbies of her own and actually looks forward to me going away so she can take over the shop and garage for extended periods. If I come home early she scowls. But the dogs are delighted to see me so I suppose itís a wash
    Ha!! Thanks for a good morning chuckle. She sounds like a keeper.

  8. #8
    TravelsWithBarley.com
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    Quote Originally Posted by PoorUB View Post

    Sometimes I will plan a trip start to finish, plan for points of interest, reserve motels in advance and stick to a schedule, but not very often.
    I did that in my early days of long distance trips, but found I rarely (if ever) stuck to the script. I'd run into locals who would share their favorite roads and the next thing you know I'd be two states away from my planned stop! And to tell the truth, I've found some real gems that way.

    Now, the only exceptions are places so popular the odds of finding a campsite - or even lodging that doesn't break the bank - are slim to none unless you book it way in advance. Arches NP comes to mind.

    Pete
    '18 R1200GSA for solo rides
    '12 R1200GSA with Hannigan sidecar for rides with Glenlivet
    '15 Honda CRF250L for exploring places I'm afraid to take the big GSA!
    http://travelswithbarley.com/

  9. #9
    Registered User CABNFVR's Avatar
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    We plan in a similar way, but travelling on the bike we prefer reservations. Knowing there's a place waiting just down the road makes the day more relaxing, especially if there's weather to contend with an unexpected event in the town we're headed to, ie. no rooms! We gave up camping in 1998, shipped 38 pounds of gear back home. Our K75s loved us for doing that. Once I have the basic route we start looking for quirky places to stop. Great Falls will include the Oklahoma Salt Flats, Mt Capulin, The Little A'Le'Inn in Rachel NV, a Pony Express crossing, Promontory Point, Idaho's Salmon river, a Red Bus tour in Glacier, Wyoming 14a, Badlands, Kansas Chalk Monuments, and the Wagon Wheel Motel on Route 66 in MO. Plus anything we see interesting along the way. like the Rio Grande Bridge on US64 in NM, and stuff like that.

    People often ask how many miles we travel in a day. I tell them that's not the best way to look at it. We do 8 to 10 hours in a day in the saddle. Interstate can be 600+ miles. Back roads might only be 250 to 300. Some say it's the journey, some say it's the destination. We prefer to combine them, much as you are doing. See you all down the road.
    "Have BMW. Will Travel"

  10. #10
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    I don't understand how someone can plan a long trip and plug it all into their GPS before they leave. Most trips I tend to "wander off" and go exploring so a rigid schedule gets broken by day two and then it goes crazy from there.
    From the only real Fargo, ND!

  11. #11
    Registered User CABNFVR's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by PoorUB View Post
    I don't understand how someone can plan a long trip and plug it all into their GPS before they leave. Most trips I tend to "wander off" and go exploring so a rigid schedule gets broken by day two and then it goes crazy from there.
    We live in North Carolina. Our first trip to Texas was via Death Valley. Another year we went to Niagara Falls and the north shore of lake Huron. We were on our way to Ohio. We know where we're headed, and usually where we will stop for the night, but we do try to leave enough time in the day to meander a bit.
    "Have BMW. Will Travel"

  12. #12
    Debbie's Servant Lee's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by glenfiddich View Post
    . I'd run into locals who would share their favorite roads and the next thing you know I'd be two states away from my planned stop! And to tell the truth, I've found some real gems that way.
    This happens to us a lot.
    In the 80s we were in the North West and someone told us we should visit Banff and Jasper. We had never heard of the parks and decided to check out the area. I think that was a 4 day detour from our planned route.
    Last edited by Lee; 11-08-2019 at 03:18 PM.
    Lee
    2016 R1200RS
    MOA # 30878
    Past BMW Bikes: 2011 K1300S, 2003 K1200RS, 1991 K75S, 1987 K75T, 1984 R100RT

  13. #13
    Debbie's Servant Lee's Avatar
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    On short trips going through areas we are familiar with, we make reservations.
    On long trips we do it several ways.
    Some days we make a reservation the day ahead.
    Some days we make a reservation late morning or early afternoon for the same day.
    Most of the time we'll pick a motel on the spot late afternoon.
    If we have the choice of several motels in the same area I'll check 1 or 2 and Debbie will do the same, then we meet back and compare notes.

    Fridays and Saturdays in tourist towns we tend to get in early or reserve the day before.
    Lee
    2016 R1200RS
    MOA # 30878
    Past BMW Bikes: 2011 K1300S, 2003 K1200RS, 1991 K75S, 1987 K75T, 1984 R100RT

  14. #14
    Debbie's Servant Lee's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by PoorUB View Post
    I don't understand how someone can plan a long trip and plug it all into their GPS before they leave. .
    Most of the time I don't create a route.
    Each day I plug in a few towns I think we will pass through. I also carry paper maps.
    Lee
    2016 R1200RS
    MOA # 30878
    Past BMW Bikes: 2011 K1300S, 2003 K1200RS, 1991 K75S, 1987 K75T, 1984 R100RT

  15. #15
    Debbie's Servant Lee's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by CABNFVR View Post
    the Wagon Wheel Motel on Route 66 in MO. .
    As you know that was a unplanned overnight stop for us a couple years ago due to the heat.
    We didn't call ahead to make a reservation since it was early in the week and we wanted to look at it in person.
    Sometimes there's a fine line between historic and a old run down dump
    Turned out to be a neat place and have returned several times.
    Lee
    2016 R1200RS
    MOA # 30878
    Past BMW Bikes: 2011 K1300S, 2003 K1200RS, 1991 K75S, 1987 K75T, 1984 R100RT

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