There’s not much room to carry a bunch of stuff on a motorcycle. Even on big touring bikes, there’s not enough space to take everything you might need on a long trip. It’s not rocket science, but I’ve found a few things that are essential to have on a road trip, especially if you’re travelling far from home. Here are five things that I always take when I ride near or far.
There’s not much worse than being far from home and realizing you’ve lost your key. Fortunately, keys are small and it’s easy to pack away an extra, or two. I usually keep an extra key in the pocket of my saddlebag, tucked securely away so it’s easy for me to get to, yet hidden enough so that it’s not obvious to anyone else. (If your bike is equipped with a key fob instead of a standard old-school key, sorry, but you’re on your own. Perhaps a spare battery? Or an extra key fob?)
Extra credit card
Ever lose your wallet? I’ve misplaced mine a time or two, and there’s not much you can do on a road trip if you lose your money. I always pack an extra credit card in my saddlebag. Like my extra key, it’s placed where I can find it but where it’s not obvious to anyone else. It can be a lifesaver out on the road. It doesn’t matter what else you lose, you can always manage to get home if you have a card with some room left on the balance!
Doesn’t matter where you are, you can run into rain. It’s miserable anytime, but even more so if you aren’t prepared. It takes up a fair amount of space, not too much, but enough to consider not taking it. Though it may be tempting to leave it behind, especially if you’re travelling where it doesn’t rain too much, it’s worth it to take it along. I’ll always take an extra sweatshirt or two, also. It may be hot during the day, but when the sun goes down, temperatures can really drop, especially at higher elevations. It’s nice when it gets cold and I can pull over and put on an extra layer, and I can put the rain gear on top if it’s especially chilly.
Tire repair kit
This doesn’t actually take up too much space. I had to use this a couple of times. It was a lifesaver when I was on a cross-country trip in 2020, when I found a nail in my tire in Arizona. In addition to a plug kit, I also carry a small portable air pump. I don’t think it matters which brand you have, but an air compressor along with a plug kit can save your bacon when you’re stranded on the side of the road with a flat tire.
Another tool that doesn’t actually take up too much room. Batteries can often fail without any warning. You can get a jump-start if there’s someone around and you have jumper cables, but I’ve usually found myself alone when I need a jump. The solution is to bring your own jump starter. There are a variety to choose from and you can spend a lot or a little. Find yourself alone with a dead battery and it’s worth the price. Additionally, you can use it to help someone else!
BONUS – Emergency contact list
Ever since I got a smart phone years ago, I’ve stopped memorizing phone numbers. I mean, there’s only so much space in my head and anytime I memorize something new, it pushes out something old. One day something important might get pushed out, like how to get home. I’ve been in a situation where I needed help and had lost my cell phone. I had people offer me their cell phone so I could call for help, but I had nobody’s number memorized. I’ve since started carrying a list of numbers. I keep one in my wallet and another on the bike. Even if I had memorized numbers, what happens if I’m incapacitated and someone is trying to contact my family? It offers a little peace of mind and takes no space to carry.
(I am not affiliated in any way with Amazon, or any of the products linked. They are just provided for an example of what I use.)