Planning A Road Trip With A Passenger


This is the time of year when folks start planning to take long motorcycle trips with spouses, lovers, or significant others. Many of them haven’t traveled on long trips before, only day rides. So here is some friendly advice for planning and sharing packing space for that kind of a trip with a pillion passenger.

I have 42 years of experience with an outstanding wife who would rather I take long motorcycle trips without her, but who has accompanied me on rare occasions for long weekend trips. I also have spent many days on the road traveling with a multitude of friends and their wives or significant others on long trips to Sturgis and other places, so I believe I have learned some useful tips to pass along.

A few useful two-up touring tips

First, when planning a long trip make sure your planning can accommodate her capabilities as well as yours.  If most of your rides together are 4 or 5 hours in length, don’t plan on two or three 12-hour days in the saddle. That won’t fly. Make your passenger a part of the planning process, and turn her into a co-rider rather than just a passenger. Give her the opportunity to plan some points of interest along the way that she would like to see, even if it’s the world’s largest ball of twine, or the world’s largest frying pan. Lord knows you must have dragged her to countless places that you wanted to see.

Second, be flexible with your plans. You may be able to endure six hours of riding in a downpour, but she may not, so it may be necessary to adjust your itinerary accordingly. Pushing on for two more hours after she’s had it, won’t make for a fun night at the motel.

Nothing like touring with your beloved. Make sure its memorable, in good ways. Photo by Harley-Davidson.

Third, involve her as an active partner.  If you’re keeping mileage information, gas receipts, or a trip log of your stops, let her do that to keep her engaged as well. Get yourselves helmet to helmet communicators. That way she can hear what’s going on with GPS directions, and when to expect turns and distances to the next one.  Also, she can enjoy music, and you’ll be able to talk back and forth along the way about the scenery as well as necessary gas and rest stops.

Packing for two on a long trip can get dicey. Women usually require more clothing options and space in the luggage. In my case, my wife requires all the space in the T-Bag, plus all the space in the left and right saddlebag. I get to take anything I can wear on my body, plus whatever I can stuff in my pockets! Just kidding- I get all the room in the tank bag as well. It might help family harmony to ship some items to your destination, and ship them home afterwards.

A tip seldom considered:

Another good tip is to pack your oldest, grungiest t-shirts and wear them on the trip going out. Then throw them away each day. You know you’re going to buy the souvenir t-shirts at the event, so now you’ll have room to pack them and wear them on the trip home.

The same rules apply when packing for two, as for one: heaviest items should be placed as low as possible in the saddlebags, trunk, or T-Bags. Rain gear goes on top so it’s easy to access quickly. Emergency hair brush, make-up, and any other creams, emoluments and unguents she might need also should be on top for easy quick access.

As a friend once quipped, “Happy wife, happy life.” Especially when touring. Photo by Honda Powersports USA.

It is also a good idea to pack the bike together, so you both know where everything is located. Now you must both follow these three rules:

Rule #1– Whomever opens it, closes it. You don’t want to find yourself going down the road and seeing your saddlebag fly open, spewing clothes all over the road because you each thought the other one closed it at the gas stop.

Rule #2– Put it back in the exact same place you took it out of. You don’t want to search every bag to find that spare pair of gloves that you know you packed in the left saddlebag yesterday, but isn’t there today.

Rule #3– Don’t forget rules number 1 and 2.

One more helpful hint you won’t want to forget- in the unlikely event that you have an accident, ALWAYS check to see how she’s doing BEFORE you check on the damage to the bike. Otherwise you’ll be paying for that mistake for the rest of your life.

Miles and memories. Make as many as possible together. Photo by BMW Motorrad USA.

When you return home, unload the bike fully and make sure all the gear is unwrapped, washed, or cleaned immediately.  You don’t want to discover that your rain gear is all moldy and grungy a month later because you left it in the saddlebag.  And while you still have the energy, it’s a good time to give the bike a good wash and wax, so that you’ll be able to spot any damage, fluid leaks, or problems before you take the bike out again.

Give the bike a return once-over

Recently, a friend of mine and his new wife returned from their first weeklong tour together. Apparently, they had encountered some fairly rotten weather on the way home, and a flat tire that stranded them for hours on a cold rainy evening. After he unloaded everything from the bike and put away all the gear, he said to his wife, “Well sweetheart, since I did all the hard stuff like riding all those miles, packing and unpacking, maintenance checks, and you just sat there enjoying the ride, you can wash and wax the bike now.”

The poor guy wasn’t wearing his helmet at the time. The funeral service was lovely.

Ken “Hawkeye” Glassman

*What tips would you offer for touring two-up? Leave us your thoughts in the comments below!


Law Tigers Motorcycle Lawyers Ad


Submit a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *