Packing For a Year: What Are We Bringing?

For everyone who has asked us, “what do you pack for a motorcycle trip,” the following is a comprehensive post about everything we are bringing. I should note that—yes—we are bringing a lot. Maybe too much. But we made sure to have few attachments to most of our clothing so that we could offload items as we discover what we do and don’t wear. With little knowing of what articles we will reach for and what will never see the sunshine, we decided to slightly overpack and unload as we go. For some reason, we thought this was wiser than under-packing and trying to fill in the gaps as we go. Again, flexibility will be key, and we never know what we’ll need.

Below is an image of all of our items laid out for our first mock-pack. We did a mock-pack in Spokane to get an idea of how much we could really bring and where things might end up.

Mock Pack4-2.jpg

The bottom half of the floor is my clothes, shoes, toiletries, jackets, and accessories. The top half is Josh’s clothes, shoes, toiletries, and accessories. We will bring a laptop, camera, drone, tripod, and necessary cords. We have one first aid kit, a GPS tracker, and necessary paperwork for respective countries and borders. The only items not pictured are our helmets and motorcycle gear, as we will always be wearing those when we ride and as such are not packing them in luggage.

In the second picture, you will see everything all packed up.

Mock Pack5.jpg

Everything fits in two paniers (the black boxes), two duffels, a pelican case (the grey box), and tank bag (the small black bag). The paniers will sit on either side of the bike (think bicyclists’ side bags who go on long French trips). The duffels will get strapped down to the top of the paniers. The pelican case is affixed to the back of the bike, almost like a seat rest for me. I told the Cycle Gear employee who sold me my helmet that I was too paranoid to lean back on it, and without flinching he quipped, “Oh, you’re on that bike for a year. You will.” The tank bag will clip (or velcro, or fasten, or I-don’t-know-that’s-Josh’s-expertise) between the handles up front. Approximately, our luggage will add 80-100lbs to the bike.

To make things easy to pack, locate, and unpack, I devised a packing method (for anyone who saw our wedding itinerary, this will not be a surprise). The method highlights items that need to be accessed always, accessed only once we arrive at our hostel, or “other.” The hierarchy informs where items get packed (top of a duffel, bottom of a box, etc), which should make it easy for us to quickly unload only what is neccessary or find valuable items at a quick stop.

To increase organization and overall fun-ness, we personified each box and duffel with an animal: The left box and duffel are the Lion Box and Llama Bag (Rachel’s belongings) and the right box and duffel are the Rhino Box and Ruth Bader Ginsburg Bag (Josh’s belongings). You might think Rachel’s effects should go with the right side, since it seems we are following a first-letter naming system. Let it be known that 1) Josh’s nickname in Brazil was “Night Rhino,” and 2) when the bike is parked it tilts to the left, which means luggage on that side of the bike will be lower to the ground. For anyone who missed why that is important, I am 5’ 3” on a good day and 5’ 2” at the doctor’s office.

We are hoping (fingers crossed) to get in another mock pack before we load up the bike on Monday. We have already offloaded a few items that we know we won’t need, and I imagine we will leave a few more things behind before taking off. In the meantime, please enjoy this timelapse of us stuffing a year’s worth of crap into bags!

Until next time monkeys,


Rachel