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Trip Planning: Part 2

...continued from part 1

Shoot it. Blog it?

Many riders take off for a period and want to document their entire trip via a blog. There are digital reams of trip logs online that can be accessed by others, which may hold useful information on where you're heading next.

One of the beautiful things about the smart phone is it reduces a number of items you might have carried on a tour even a decade ago. Today, your phone and/or tablet is also a word processor (many a journalist packed a typewriter onboard their steed in the 20th century), camera, flashlight, clock, mail station, yellow pages, newspaper, entertainment center and a means to carry copies of important documents like a birth certificate, medical records, and maintenance schedule.

Of course, you'll want to document your trip with your camera, even if it's simply your smart phone. If you've never taken a basic photography skills course, consider taking one online, at a local community college or getting a good basics book and working with it, so when it's time to document your trip, you're making the best images you can.

Not all of us are writers, so blogging an entire tour may not be in the cards for you. Even journalists like to take time away from the keyboard if we're not getting paid to be fingering it, or have a future project in the mind.

The choice to shoot or blog is entirely up to you. Just because others have, some meticulously, doesn't mean you have to.

Maps, guidebooks, online references and GPS

It used to be that if you planned to tour several decades ago, you carried maps and guidebooks for just about anywhere you wanted to go. Why are there Michelin-rated restaurants today? Because Michelin was one of the first companies to create guidebooks for many countries around the world. In the teens and twenties, many riders had these guides stored on-board their bikes. Today we can choose from Lonely Planet, AAA, Rand McNally, and many others.

We also have digital reams of data available to us on the internet.

The rule of thumb here is, the more current your maps and guidebooks are, the less chance there is for heartbreak along the way. It's probably not a good idea to go cheap and buy the 1980 atlas in order to save money.

As for getting information online, use reputable sites, steer clear of unverified he-said/she-said hearsay sources, and never be afraid to double-check information as you go.

If you're traveling using a GPS as your guide, be sure to update the maps to the latest versions for the places you're going.

Accommodations

Price, comfort, and safety all make up the equation here. Take for instance the United States. You have a wide choice of options from upscale hotels, cheap motels, home sharing, and camping available to you. But some savvy riders will tell you, once you get to Mexico, ship your camping gear home. Throwing a tent out in the middle of the Mexican desert can have its negative consequences. But the good news is, accommodations cost a lot less than the prices one pays to sleep in a motel in the US. With a little more homework, home sharing options abound; you just need to plan a bit beforehand.

There will be some who say it's safe to camp in Mexico if you use state campgrounds. A country like Mexico has an unstable social climate and what may have been safe yesterday, is a war zone today. Another reason for getting the most current references and double-checking them before making your choice of where to put up for the night.

Food

One of the romances of traveling is all the flavors that abound. And one thing about the world is certain - you could live your entire lifetime on this planet, eat three meals a day, and never eat the same combination of food twice.

Another thing about this world is not all food is cooked under sanitary conditions. One bad taco, beef skewer, white bean dish or otherwise can get your system into a world of hurt. As often as possible, make a point of eating food that is prepared under sanitary conditions. If you're somewhere you can watch the food being cooked, spend a few moments before ordering to see how the kitchen operates. Is there raw meat being accessed from above a prep counter? Is there food being cooled, uncovered on the back patio instead of in a refrigerator?

To get a better understanding about what makes for a sanitary kitchen, use your state or county's food safety website to earn yourself a food server card, which will require a few hours of time online.

If a place scares you, have a plan B ready to go. A simple selection of nuts, fruit, dried fruit, dried meats and cheeses stored on the bike will work as a meal when one isn't otherwise worthy of sending to your intestine.

Resources

Tom Mehren/January 2018


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