There's nothing quite like cruising across the U.S.A. in a big touring motorcycle. Whether you make the trip alone or as part of a group, nothing else can come close to the feeling of spending hours at a time on the open road with nothing but your leather jacket and safety helmet between you and the world around you.

Still, just as with any kind of extended trip, you'll need to do a lot of planning if you want everything to go smoothly. There are a lot of problems that can pop up when you're on the road, so be sure you keep them in mind when you pack your gear, choose your equipment, and otherwise make the best of the resources you have. If you can follow the tips on this list, you'll be well on your way to experiencing the perfect motorcycle road trip.

Keep Maintenance In Mind

Driving a motorcycle for hours at a time and for days in a row is very hard on the vehicle, even if you bought it from a trustworthy brand and got a bike that's designed for long trips. If you have any regular service visits due, you should get them in before you go, and you should also play it safe and schedule a service visit if you'd need one in the next few thousand miles. Depending on your destination and starting point, you could easily end up passing these milestones during the trip.

You should also keep a few maintenance items around when you pack your saddlebags. A tire repair kit can give you the miles you need to reach a tire place, and if your motorcycle starts burning oil for some reason it helps to have a spare quart you can put in the tank so the engine won't fuse solid before you can get to a mechanic.

Be Willing to Make Unexpected Stops

The United States of America is full of roadside attractions and unique local destinations where you can find all kinds of crazy things. Part of the fun of a road trip is experiencing these attractions and tourist traps without knowing what to really expect. If you want to do so, you should avoid making any sort of strict schedule and, instead, decide when to stop and look around based on when you feel like doing so. If you do that, you'll never have the same motorcycle road trip more than once.

Pack Light but Pack Well

motorcycle trips

Image via Flickr by Doug Kerr

Motorcycles don't have much in the way of storage space. Even if you have a touring bike with big, locking saddlebags, you can't store more than a few sets of clothing in there before you run out of room. That's why you need to think about everything you want to bring and be certain you need to have it with you.

You can probably get by on just a few changes of clothing even if your trip will go on for weeks;

If you're riding alone, you might want to bring a book or two to keep you company during the nights.

Dry snacks and water will go down great when you're on the road for hours at a time, but don't be afraid to buy both from rest stops and restaurants so you can extend your personal supply. Don't forget earplugs or a helmet with good sound insulation. Listening to the droning of the engine for hours straight can damage your hearing if you don't protect your ears. Don't forget to save some space for the mementos and gifts you buy from the places you visit.

Stick with Motels

For sleeping arrangements, a motel is your best bet. Proper hotels with rooms that open to an interior hall almost always cost more than a motel, and they aren't as willing to drop the price for travelers who show up after dark and leave at dawn. On the other hand, motels often offer better prices when they know you'll only be around long enough to take a quick shower, sleep in the bed, and eat some breakfast if they offer it. Your other option is camping, but that involves carrying a lot of extra gear and your own food.

Bring a Camera

Once your trip is over, the best way to relive it is to flip through all the photos you took of the countryside, the destinations you visited, the people you met, and anything else that struck your fancy and made you break out your camera. A smartphone camera can do in a pinch, but a proper digital camera will have a great resolution and more options for things such as changing the zoom level and adjusting the exposure time. You won't be able to share your pictures as quickly, but your album will be much nicer afterwards.

Avoid the Direct Path

motorcycle trips

Image via Flickr by Doug Kerr

Interstate highways cut straight through big parts of the nation, but that's no fun if you want to enjoy the scenery. Instead, try to stick with the U.S. Routes; they move with the land instead of going through it, and they often take you through the middle of towns instead of passing by, just outside. Driving the U.S. Routes gives you more opportunities to find interesting places to stop, and while the roads themselves are often in worse shape than the interstates and have slower speed limits the views you'll see will more than make up the difference.

If you want to plan the perfect cross-country trip on your motorcycle, you need to plan some things very carefully, but leave other things to chance. Your motorcycle maintenance is something you absolutely shouldn't skip or put off, but if you carefully schedule every day of your trip, you won't have any time left to explore someplace new and try something different. Instead, you should pack lightly but wisely, let motels handle your sleeping arrangements, and be willing to follow your whims and visit places you never knew existed before you stopped by.

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