Taking a vacation or short trip can be enjoyable and beneficial for one’s mental health. In addition to longer vacations, many Americans use federally recognized holidays -- such as Labor Day -- to take shorter trips. While many people use cars or planes to travel, others rely on motorcycles to provide them with the escape they're looking for.
If you’re a motorcyclist who's planning to take a motorcycle trip, two things that can contribute to the safety of your trip are packing the right gear for your motorcycle trip and deciding on a route. For some tips on how to map out a route for your motorcycle trip and things you should consider before leaving, refer to the following.
Don’t Wait Until the Last Minute to Map Out a Route
Waiting until the last minute to map out a road trip not only can be frustrating, but also can create unnecessary hazards and safety risks. To ease your mind and have a better understanding of the route, make sure you plan the route days -- if not weeks -- in advance.
The earlier you plan your route, the more information you can collect about it as your departure date draws nearer. By knowing your route in advance, you’ll be able to discover gas stations and other stopping points along the route, stay up-to-date on construction projects or route closures, and even watch the weather for your chosen route.
Choose a Route with Great Stopping Points
The last thing that you want to do is to choose a route that lacks safe places to stop or one that doesn't provide the services you need. If you know that you can make it a few hundred miles before refueling, make sure that there are plenty of gas or service stations along the route. If you pack only light snacks, double-check the route for restaurants or other places where you can eat. If you plan a multiple-day trip, make sure that there are hotels or campgrounds where you can stay along the way.
Use the Internet to Help Plan Your Route
One of the most helpful tips for how to map out a route for your trip is to use the best tools available to you. There are a variety of free motorcycle route planning websites.
Simply determine your starting point – e.g., Des Moines – and figure out other important details – like where you’d like to visit on the trip. These websites can provide you with a number of great routes and provide information about attractions, accommodations, bars, clubs, restaurants, service stations, town events and more along the way. Many of the websites also will give you traffic and weather updates for a chosen route.
Make Sure Everyone Knows the Plan
If you’re planning a motorcycle trip, it’s important to make sure that everyone in your group knows the plan and chosen route. In addition to informing group members of the route itself, make sure you decide upon a motorcycle formation, determine when and for how long you’ll stop for breaks, and have a plan of what to do in case an accident or bike breakdown occurs.
Additionally, make sure you pack a motorcycle toolkit, a phone to place an emergency call, extra gas, and other supplies, and ensure that everyone in your group wears proper motorcycle safety equipment, including helmets that meet the standards set by the U.S. Department of Transportation. Proper equipment can help save your life in an accident; the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration reported that helmet use saved the lives of 1,699 motorcyclists in 2012 alone.
What to Do in the Event of a Motorcycle Accident
While learning how to map out a route for your motorcycle trip is important, planning a route doesn't guarantee an accident-free trip. Sadly, between the years of 1999 and 2008, motorcycle deaths more than doubled, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. If a motorist hits you, seek the help of an attorney. An attorney can analyze your case, help determine who’s at fault for the accident, and can help pursue compensation for your injuries and property damage.