Living the #motorcyclelife

Photo by Rohan Makhecha

This is the third – and probably final – post in this travelling series (unless I find other fascinating ways to travel fulltime). I thought about including life on a canal boat but for the most part my research has found that it is very similar to life in a house or flat given that many who live in canal boats tend to remain in the same city.

This final post will be about living life on a motorcycle. Yes, you read that correctly. I’ve written these last few posts because it has been a dream of mine to live in a van and on a boat (basically anywhere nomadic). Living on a motorcycle is no different, although it does come with a few extra challenges. Here I want to have a look at some of these challenges as well as point the way to a few brilliant blogs by those who are living the life.

Let’s talk community

First things first, what does community look like when your life is on the road, on a two-wheeled vehicle with literally zero shelter.

Well, it still exists according to what I’ve read, but it looks quite different. If we assume that the general structure of community is made up of primary (close) friends, then secondary (acquaintance) friends, then tertiary (that person you met once) friends, then life on a motorcycle revolves quite heavily around the tertiary friend. Many of the blogs, like Vagabondesss by Safia, talk about the importance of the kindness of strangers, of serendipitous meetings, of couchsurfing. Check out her brilliant blog by clicking here.

While many of our lives rely primarily on primary and secondary levels of friendship, for those travelling in general and specifically on motorcycles, this model seems almost reversed. In fact, one of the things Safia talks about is the challenge of not getting to see her family and friends as much as she wants.

Often, this style of life isn’t permanent. While Safia talks about wanting to continue to ride for as long as possible, there are others who use life on their motorcycles as means to an end. For example, writing for The Inertia, Alex Doseff talks about living on his motorcycle while chasing waves. He has little plans – and argues that you should too if you plan on doing this – seeking only to get as much surfing in as possible. He also talks about the kindness of strangers and the unpredictability of the life. To check out more of his article, click here.

Sleeping arrangements

The lack of permanence helps, I suppose, in issues like where to sleep. One of the positives of living in a van or a boat is that you can sleep in your vehicle. But if you are on a motorcycle, you need to set up a tent or find a place to sleep every night. While certain areas allow wild camping, if you find yourself in a city that might be a bit more of a challenge. And part of the whole thing is that you don’t spend money on hotels. Otherwise it sort of defeats the point.

Photo by Alli Elder

Each rider has their own solutions of this and the fact that they’ve been going for as long as they have means their solutions do work. Let’s have one final look at someone living on their motorcycle. Gary Conley, on his website Bugs on my Board, talks of taking a break from normal work life (the classic 9-5) and doing some surfing. According to his site he has since ridden from the UK, down to Africa, around Africa, back around Europe, and down to Thailand. All for the adventures and the waves. I don’t surf (by that I mean I am terrible at it) but even for me, that’s the dream.

Conley’s adventure took two years and ended in 2015-2016. It’s a pretty crazy story actually. The link to his site is here and the link to an article written in 2017 about his journey is here.

Redefining normal

Conley rode much of the journey (maybe all, I can’t quite tell) with his girlfriend and in that way had a level of consistent community. Others have ridden solo and therefore had their community change quite dramatically from the normal. Both ways present their own benefits and issues and neither is similar to what most of us would dub ‘normal’. But it works, as does life on the road in a van, or life on the ocean. It’s just a case of redefining your parameters and figuring out what adjustments you are willing to make. Because if you do ever manage to adjust, you are guaranteed one hell of an adventure.