If the UK and most of Europe has been ticked on your places to visit on a bike, where do you go next and how do you get the bike, other half and you to unchartered territory? There are two ways to go about this:
1) don’t take your bike but use someone else’s, and
2) ship your bike and gear to the as yet undecided location.
Bike touring holidays is big business today. Nearly all the popular long-haul holiday locations have companies who specialise in fly and ride deals. As the name suggests, you fly in, sort the paperwork and set off on an enjoyable adventure.
There are also guided tour holidays where you and 10-15 other bike riders turn up in the desired country, sort the paperwork and set off on an enjoyable adventure under the watchful eyes of a guide. These types of biking holidays usually include the cost of accommodation and evening meals. Fuel is extra. Both types of biking holidays sound good and easy to achieve, don’t they? Life isn’t that easy, though.
Before you even step on airport terminal tarmac there’s so much background work to be done and it usually involves paperwork. You’ll need an International Driving Permit (IDP) for certain countries, even in Europe (news to me, too). This is on top of your UK riding licence – which you also need to take with you if you’re driving and/or hiring abroad. And you need to get an IDP three months before it’s needed!
Does the country require you to get an entry visa? The rental/tour company will be able to tell you that. They will also tell what other personal documents they may need to see like proof of address. Most of this can be done by scan and email.
Is the country you are visiting subject to medical requirements i.e. do you need to be immunised against malaria, swamp fever and any other nasty diseases? Your local NHS trust GP can advise on this along with the relevant country’s tourist information service. There is also the matter of medical insurance cover. Some countries medical services won’t even bother looking at a broken hand if a medical insurance card isn’t waved with the other hand. And what if you are too ill or injured to fly back as a normal person and need special care? Now think about the cost to cover such a possibility. Ouch!
How do you get your riding equipment to where you are jetting off to? Most touring and rental companies offer a clothing and helmet rental service but, and let’s be honest about this, do you want be wrapped in gear that somebody else has sweated in? You could always buy riding gear out there and flog it cheap before returning. Or you could simply pay an excess baggage fee to the flight company, assuming your riding gear, ‘civil’ clothes and personal hygiene kit will tip the allowed weight allowance.
Whether riding a Harley rental bike along Route 66, onboard an adventure bike in New Zealand checking out Lord of the Rings locations, or hitting the Himalayas on a bike, like most things in life a little thought beforehand often goes a long way in making your dream trip a pleasure.