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Thread: How do you plan long trips?

  1. #16
    Bear in mind that Voni and I usually leave home in May and return in September. In between may be several different "trips." To plan a trip the first thing I do is plug in my origin and destination to mapping software. I used to use Street Atlas USA but now mostly use Google Maps. That gives me a distance. Then I massage the route to roads and highways I would actually use, avoiding Interstates and major cities as much as possible. Then I plug in any locations I want to go to not on that route. That gives me a new, longer distance. I divide that distance by the number of miles I wish to travel per day, on average.

    This distance will vary by locale as well as time of the year. Trips in the early spring and late fall call for shorter days so we don't start well before it warms up for the day. In extreme summer heat, say in the desert southwest miles per day get decreased for early stops to avoid late afternoon heat. If in the congested east days are planned to be shorter than in the west with wide open spaces and 75 mph (or higher) speed limits.

    Now I have a number for days for the trip. I always add one or two days to account for bad weather or other delays. Then I start to actually look for destinations. If camping I identify campground possibilities. For potential motel nights I identify towns the approximate right distance.

    I do not use Routes in my GPS. I enter waypoints as destinations and via points. I do actual roadway selections from a paper map in the pocket on my tankbag, along with the routing to the next waypoint from my GPS. I pick the roads. The GPS does not.

    If planning to stay in a motel we check prices on-line. Sometimes towns 20 or 30 miles apart will have motel prices that differ by $50 or more. I'll ride an extra 30 miles or stop short too, to save $50 or more on the room price. Sometimes we book early. Usually about noon the day of the stay.
    We have been known to book a room over the internet while sitting in a restaurant next door to the motel - or even from the lobby of that very same motel after the desk clerk said he couldn't give the internet rate. He did offer the use of the computer in the lobby.

    Sometimes the plan falls apart. Severe thunderstorms, tornado warnings, localized flooding, freak snow storms, flat tires, bike problems, Montezuma's Revenge, and/or other things pop up from time to time. Remember those extra days built in to the plan? They are there for a reason.
    Last edited by PGlaves; 11-09-2019 at 03:10 AM.
    Paul Glaves - "Big Bend", Texas U.S.A
    "The greatest challenge to any thinker is stating the problem in a way that will allow a solution." - Bertrand Russell

  2. #17
    skibum69 skibum69's Avatar
    Join Date
    Dec 2016
    New Melbourne, NL
    Mostly I have a destination and just go. I tend to run gas to gas and don't stop for sightseeing. On my way to the last MOA in TN i would get in touch with folks on the ADV tent thread the day before and I was always able to come up with something. Pete, when I met you at the Dragon on the way there I was just finishing breakfast with Rick, a local who kindly put me up the night before. I've been hosting inmates at my place for years so it was fun to be on the other side.

    I'm booked for Siberia/Mongolia/stans next year and I'm going with a friend who's doing the lion's share of route planning etc. I'm pretty much just along for the ride and will happily follow him wherever he wants to go. I'll have to take care of my own bike shipping etc but no big deal.
    ITSteve: ride in peace my friend
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  3. #18
    Registered User
    Join Date
    Aug 2018
    Fargo, ND
    One fine fall Friday, I met my wife for lunch, I was riding my Harley. She mentioned that I was probably going for a ride, I was, and told her I might be home late. I left Fargo about 1PM and ended up in Sioux Falls SD for the night and called my wife to let her know I was not gonna make it home. She said she would see me when she got off work the next afternoon. I called her early that afternoon when I left Sturgis after buying a T-shirt. She was kinda miffed and said i suppose I will see you sometime Sunday. I was home that night about 10PM.

    It was a fun ride, (aren't they all?) No plans, not much for riding gear, rain gear and heated jacket, and my riding jacket. Worst part was heading west on I-90 right out of Sioux Falls I hit rain and it was 45F. I rode in light rain until right before Murdo SD where I stopped for gas. I was so cold I was had uncontrollable shivering. I got a hot cup of coffee, a bowl of hot chili and a short nap in the drivers lounge and I felt good to go. I rode to Rapid City and bought ski bibs which I still wear from time to time riding in cold weather. Went to Sturgis, then headed home. Rode in sleet on I-94 for a couple hours headed into Fargo.

    Another time I went for a little shake down ride after servicing my Harley. 400 miles later I found home again. My wife happened to call me when I was buying gas and wondered where I was. She was not very impressed! She has gotten used to it, but I do get in trouble if I wander off and don't take her with!
    From the only real Fargo, ND!

  4. #19
    not so retired henzilla's Avatar
    Join Date
    Sep 2006
    Have changed methods a few times thru the years, most changes from learning from the last or sometimes just trying a different approach.

    In the past, have loaded GPS routes for entire trip... those were derived from laying the maps out and choosing general direction non-Interstate roads. A lot of input from the been-there-done-that riders we know often saved us from boring runs or awesome suggestions we would have missed.
    After several trips and getting more comfortable with on the fly routing, I rarely load a route anymore... either smart time management or laziness now that I am retired.

    The last two together bike trips we pack the maps, pick a general destination and take off. Each night, Lay out the map and make a general plan with a highlighter, then tweak on the road using the visual big picture map on the tank bag and picking waypoint towns along the way. If H is leading, I will suggest a city for her to input to the GPS and off we go. We may pick a " hopeful" destination to a known place and pre-book, more often, we make some dive bys. H would camp every night if possible but will go for a hotel if it's the solution.

    I took two three week solo trips this summer, one to the MOA Rally and the next to the RA event. Both had me headed to same general part of country and repeated a few roads...tried to not if possible. I did the "where is the weather not going to be worse" as I saw the daily clouds in the distance while playing in Appalachia making circles and turned that plans means so what? One day I planned on being in WVA and ended up in SC but I missed the flooding!

    Picked a State or National Park in the distance and made my way there by day's end. When weather or I needed a real bed chased me from camping, I would do,a drive by, assess the area, and make an online reservation , go fuel up,eat, and roll into hotel.
    I now qualify for geezer rates at most parks and can smugly pay low prices with a smile. When a hotel changes the budget, five nights of camping cancel it easily.

    Saw a sign for a ferry in MO and detoured to a Mississippi River crossing into KY...random find that I am so glad to have found and a fun story Tom Saywer on a raft I can tell now. Rigid plans and Ms GPS would have bypassed that and other diversions I found.

    I know some detail folks that this drives them absolutely bonkers, but, it works and has worked for me/us. Even those folks admit we seem less stressed from not being locked into "the plan"...they will not change, and that's cool too
    Steve Henson-Mod Team and SABMWRA Prez

    Be decisive, right or wrong.The road of life is paved with
    flat squirrels who couldn't make a decision~unknown

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