Finally, the glorious day when the 8 of us would leave busy Vancouver behind and ride to sunny California was right upon us. The night before, I somehow managed to sort through the mountain of clothes I wanted to bring along and the much smaller remaining pile was carefully stuffed into the two minuscule side bags we could take with us. It was my first time packing for a long riding trip and no matter how much I researched and how much I asked around for advice, I was still moderately confused about the “needed” and the “desired” items to be taken along. Our Honda Valkyrie Interstate came with 2 hard case side saddle bags and a trunk so when we started planning the trip, the first thing we ordered were 3 pieces of luggage inserts that proved to come really handy. One tip: never stuff them or you will have a hell of a time to get them in or get them out of the saddle bags. And because my husband knew whom he married, he ordered an extra bag to sit on top of the trunk, which proved again, to be a great investment.
To settle the confusion I basically took my whole wardrobe down and started sorting through clothes, pairing them and trying to put together two outfits for each day. I ended up with no less than 20 outfits. The pile was getting bigger by the second but I was still oblivious to the fact that I will have to fit everything in no more than one side bag – that was everything I was allotted as the trunk and the luggage on top had to be kept lighter. I did not know why and to tell you the truth I felt it was a ridiculous thing to invest money in this beautiful piece of luggage and keep it lighter than the other ones; then, the light bulb came on: everything has to do with weight distribution or weight centralization where one might want to keep heavy items close to the centre of gravity.OK, I had help lighting up that bulb, I admit it! My husband gave me a technical lecture on the subject. Anyway, we decided we will load the heavy stuff on the 2 side bags and will keep the back one lighter.
As we were to go through 4 states, with different weather, on top of the chosen outfits, I needed warm hoodies, and swimming suits, a whole bag of toiletries and first aid items, curling irons and brushes… At this point I started looking for ways I could persuade my husband to give up his side bag and let me fit all my items on the list. After all, as a guy, you really don’t need a whole lot of clothes! But then, I remembered all our trips and the amount of luggage I tend to carry with me and I never use it: dresses and blouses, high heel shoes and sport shoes, T shirts and tank tops. Plus, on a motorbike not only quantity matters but weight as well! As I will discover later, while travelling, once you add luggage, the braking distance increases, handling becomes more challenging at times, and tires get hot—which at the worst could cause a blowout. Between vanity and safety, I smartly chose safety. It also became my challenge to pack light and still have enough items to feed my vanity.
The first items to go were my curling iron and styling brushes. We were planning a riding trip, with the intent to cover over 400 km every day, or anywhere between 6 and 9 travelling hours. Wearing a helmet for most of the day, not only makes any attempt to style your hair futile but it also adds extra stress to it. Sure we would have a few hours everyday to either chill, sightsee or just go out to dinner but all of the sudden, the idea of spending time styling my hair became ridiculous. I am lucky though as I have a naturally wavy and fine hair with major frizzy tendencies. I opted for a natural look and I packed just a small container of mousse to use at night, after I shower, and before I go out. That, my friends was a very good idea and worked wonders not only at night but the hair somehow held some of its volume even the next day, under the helmet. I did not take any shampoo, conditioner or body lotion as every motel or hotel these days will provide these items. They might not be up to the standards all the time but no damage has been reported after using them for short periods of time. What I did bring with me was a very small container with coconut oil (I found them at a dollar store and I use them to store beads). A drop of it is an awesome leave in conditioner for the dry hair, dry skin or lips.
My make up kit usually consists of two big cases containing every eye shadow possible, 3 or 4 black eye pencils, three or four lipsticks, and various other items that a lady might need to create the perfect face. I eliminated most of my items and kept my face cream, my foundation, one eye shadow that I never used, two eye pencils and 2 lipsticks, one small pack with make up removing serviettes and a small tube of apricot face scrub that I used almost entirely. That was all I needed and all I used. As I love perfumes, I periodically visit The Bay and ask for samples. They are extremely handy when you travel: light, you can squeeze 3 times use or four out of each and they barely take any room.
The next step was to divide the mountain of clothes into riding gear and dinner outfits. For the riding part of the day, underneath my jacket and riding pants I packed the following:
- A pair of long running pants and another pair of short running pants (for both cold and hot days). They are light, comfortable and don’t take lots of space. I used them both.
- 3 sports bras for riding ( I could have done it with two only) and one bra for the evenings;
- Rain gear that I barely used but I would never leave without it
- Helmet and gloves, obviously, together with a few dozens of serviettes for cleaning lenses and visors
- 2 T shirts, 1 long sleeve shirt and 3 tank tops – I used them all
- 3 fitness tank tops I never used
- One bathing suit that I did not use in a swimming pool but while riding through Nevada, under my riding gear.
- Socks of different thickness – among them one pair of Hot Paws, to keep me warm especially in the first part of our trip.
- Underwear – one pair for each day plus one more just in case.
- Sunscreen, sunglasses and lip balm – so much needed.
- Contacts and eye glasses – as I was not the driver, I did not use my contacts; I wore them one day but I decided it would be a waste and I preferred to wear my eye glasses at night, after we stopped for the day.
- Advil, Polysporin, and a couple other creams and ointments that proved to be useful, together with a small bottle of Aloe Vera gel. After the first two days of riding long hours, the skin gets irritated and at night, after having a shower, the gel adds a very soothing relief.
- Feminine hygiene products – I never leave the house without them, whether I need them or not, especially after reading several articles about the mighty power of those unused tampons and their various uses!
For the times off the bike, I packed the following:
- 5 or 6 nice blouses for afternoons – all made out of very light materials that really took no room at all, were light, wrinkle free and could be washed and dried out in no time. I used them all.
- 1 pair of jeans and 2 pairs of shorts – I should have got only 1 pair; 1 pair of very light capri that I used a lot.
- 1 pair of walking sandals and one pair of high heels sandals; after being all day in the riding boots, changing in the light sandals felt like heaven, especially after we rode through the desert, in high temperatures and my feet and hands doubled in size!
- One hoody that I did not want to take first but I was so very happy I had it with me when the weather did not quite cooperate with us!
One thing that I completely forgot to do was to leave “out of country” messages on my cell phone. The result: several phone calls from my dentist, that I could not answer. I am on their cancellation list. We also chose to add a roaming package to only one cell phone.
Looking back, I would have kept my insert to the jacket as for the first part of our trip I could have definitely used it to keep me warm and break the wind. One lesson learned though: when leaving for more than one day, be prepared and pack for all sorts of weather: from stormy rain to exhausting heat.
Other items that were extremely useful in this trip and I would not leave them at home:
- Passports and Nexus cards (if needed)
- Some cash, Credit card and bank card
- Driving license
- BCAA Travel Insurance and Out of Country Medical Insurance ( thankfully none of it was needed!)
To make sure that everything fit in and that I won’t have to empty my bags every night just to have to put them back together the next morning, I made up Zip lock Packs for each day: I stuffed in one Zip Lock bag a T shirt, a pair of underwear and 1 of socks, then rolled all the air out of it and placed the almost flat package into the bag. By doing this, it allowed me to fit more, to add extra protection in case of downpour or accidents: broken liquid or cream containers. At the end of the day, the dirty items would go back into their Zip lock bags, safely quarantined away from the clean changes.
I had more than enough clothes for the whole trip and in Reno, we also did some laundry which proved to be more fun for my husband who indulged into some beer and quality time spent with some of our friends. No, they did not ride to the laundromat but they shared a cab ride – both were quite affordable, the ride and the laundry machine. So, for our next trip, instead of trying to fit so many clothes, will go with the essentials and, unless we decide to ride through the wilderness, will keep in mind that there are stores along the way to pick up an item or two. In this way I will also make sure I do not get that ugly shopping withdrawal symptoms that can definitely put a damper on our trip! 🙂