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Check-In Versus Carry-On
I’m a big advocate of the carry-on. I’ve mastered the art of packing light to a T and like to encourage people to reap the benefits of not having to check a suitcase in. One of the biggest advantages of having your luggage onboard with you means your stuff is going where you are—no need to rely on airport staff to make sure all your gear keeps up during the transfers.
Once you arrive at your destination and step off the plane, it also saves you the waiting time at the carousel and the energy to elbow your way to the conveyor belt to grab your bag. Another perk: no luggage fees. Most companies will let you bring a carry-on plus a personal bag at no cost while with some carriers, checking a bag in will cost you extra.
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Pick The Right Bag For Your Trip
As you plan your riding trip, you will determine along the way whether you’ll do things road-trip style (different city every night) or remain in the same hub and leave every day on a new adventure. Once you’ve made that decision, you’ll have to pack accordingly.
If you’re going to spend a few days or weeks riding around on a motorcycle, your luggage is going to have to travel with you. Packing a full-size suitcase complete with wheels and telescopic handle on a bike is worthy of a comedic movie, but not a desired real-life scenario. You know, that scene where the suitcase flips open and underwear are sent flying everywhere?
If the bag has to travel with you on the bike, look into getting a soft piece of luggage that can easily be strapped to a motorcycle with straps or a net. If you’re visiting family or staying in the same place for the duration of your stay, then you can allow yourself to pack a bulkier, wheel-mounted suitcase.
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Take Your Helmet With You
Your helmet is likely to be the most precious and expensive piece of equipment you own. The thought of it getting banged around in your suitcase while loading and unloading the plane probably makes you a bit nervous. Here's a pro tip: bring it on the plane with you. As previously stated, most companies allow you a piece of carry-on and a personal bag (eg: a backpack and a laptop bag). Take full advantage of it and take your lid in the cabin with you.
You can either carry it in its pouch or safely pack it in a carry-on bag (duffle bag, backpack, etc.) to have space to store other personal effects and have all your precious and important gear and documents with you at all time.
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Wear Some Of Your Gear On The Plane
Actually packing motorcycle gear can be quite the challenge. Between the helmet, boots, jacket, gloves, and pants, there’s little room left for anything else. Gear is bulky and doesn’t exactly roll neatly into easy-to-pack little bundles. How I usually deal with that is quite simple: I wear some of my gear on the plane.
People normally wear shoes and jackets on the plane, right? (I say normally because I’ve seen some people travel in flip flops and tanks tops and I don’t understand how they don’t freeze their butts off.) To minimize the space gear takes in my luggage, I wear my jacket and my boots on the plane. Are your riding pants cozy? Put them on!
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Remove The Protectors
Whichever piece of equipment you choose to pack, to make your gear easier to fit, remove the protective pads. Make sure they are properly identified so that when comes the time to put them back, you know which one goes where. You can stack them in a corner of your luggage which will make your jacket and pants much easier to fold or roll and pack.
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You never know what type of weather you will face on your trip. Obviously, some climates are easier to figure out than others. However, if you’re going to be traveling for a few days, you don’t want to be stuck in your room in case of rain or even frost.
Considering how bulky gear is, traveling weather-specific gear is ludicrous. Think about bringing layers that will allow you to easily adapt to the temperature and to the weather instead without having to travel with a specific piece of clothing for each scenario. It will save you space and you will find layers more versatile than dedicated gear.
For instance, bring a rain shield that fits on top of your riding jacket, long johns for the cold, a pair of thin gloves that fit under your riding gloves, etc. Heated layers are also an option to consider bringing along if you’re braving a colder climate.