Our road trip – what we got wrong

Harley in the foothills of Yosemite

Our road trip to America’s West Coast was great fun, that’s not up for debate, but it also helped us learn and that’s what we wanted from it.

What we hoped was that we would learn some valuable lessons about road trips so that you don’t have to when you next set off on the open road.

And we did make a fair few errors, more than you’d expect, bearing in mind that we had three people planning the trip, as well as the help of Eagle Rider!

But it wouldn’t be a road trip without at least a few hiccups along the way, the important thing is making sure that these hiccups don’t become enormous, irrecoverable errors.

Mistake one – packing

Pack what you need and not what you want is something we can’t stress enough.

This was one area of concern ahead of our trip and Dave thought he had it covered by being brutal with his packing, but it turns out Dave wasn’t quite brutal enough.

On arrival at Eagle Rider to pick up his bike the staff saw Dave’s luggage and immediately swapped his original choice of bike (Harley-Davidson Sportster) for a larger one with panniers and more luggage space.

Even with the bigger bike there was not enough room for everything and Dave had to wear a rucksack and make good use of bungee straps to keep another bag on the back of his bike.

Pack light and take some bungee cords.

Mistake two – practicing

For our road trip we rented a bike from Eagle Rider – a motorcycle touring company.

So we’d never ridden the bike and had no idea about its capabilities in terms of performance and practicality, something made worse by the late (but necessary) change of bike.

That meant the first couple of days involved a lot of trial and error to load up Dave’s Harley safely, something that could have been avoided with some practice before departure.

Harley Davidson Heritage Softail Classic outside Eagle Rider in Vegas

Mistake three – road research

Another thing The Bike Insurer was convinced it had done was research roads but we didn’t do that very well either.

Between Vegas and Bakersfield we singled out the Mojave Phone Booth but the roads around it made it inaccessible on a motorbike, which was unfortunate after a couple of hours detour to get there.

In Yosemite there were threats of snow on the road that could have made the hotel inaccessible while on the coast certain sections of road that we’d picked out as the most stunning were inaccessible to motorbike riders.

Research the roads you’re going to use as well as the places you want to stop to avoid late detours and disappointment.

Harley Davidson in the shadows of a monolith in Yosemite National Park

Mistake four – when a town isn’t a town

Did you know, tourist attractions have opening times? Yes? Of course you did.

Unfortunately we forgot to check whether certain attractions were open and if it hadn’t been for kind staff taking pity on us so far away from home, we would have made a couple of pointless journeys.

In our defence however, when a place is called a town (like Calico Ghost Town) and appears on Google Maps as a town, you don’t expect it to close, or to pay to get in!

Calico Ghost Town is closed


All in all Dave did pretty well on his road trip and the extensive planning paid off for most of it. You can find out about what we thought we got right here: Our roadtrip – what we got right.

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