How to Motorcycle Round the World

Here’s everything you need to know about preparing for and going on a round the world motorcycle trip. This is a resource guide, so you’ll find loads of links to more detailed and in-depth articles on specific subjects. If you want to know how to motorcycle round the world, start here…

How to Motorcycle Round the World Mad or Nomad

Contents

How to Motorcycle Round the World

It can be extremely confusing figuring out where to even start when preparing for a round the world motorcycle trip. We know the feeling, and that’s why we built this website – to help you prepare for and go on motorcycle adventures. But, there’s still so much to read and take in, so we created this resource guide to organise RTW specific guides and articles in one place for anyone looking into or preparing for a round the world motorcycle trip.

For more info and for all of our articles relating to RTW motorcycle travel in one place, have a look at the Guides section below.

RTW motorcycle trip planning stages

This is the fun bit. The pondering, Google searching, copious amounts of coffee, splaying maps across your table and circling far flung city names. All the good stuff and dreaming comes in the early planning stages.

But it can be tricky collating all of it and that’s often enough to put many people off. So have a read of these two guides first. How to go on a motorcycle adventure covers the basics in more detail and breaks it all down into easy chunks, and What they don’t tell you pokes a little fun at all the naysayers out there. You’ll also find plenty of interesting columns from other round the world travellers on their planning in the Thoughts section.

Kyrgyzstan adventure travel
The initial RTW planning stages are the fun part. It's all coffee, pondering and dreams...

Round the world motorcycle routes

An important and very early stage of preparing for a round the world motorcycle trip is figuring out a rough route, or at least what countries you want to visit. Deciding this doesn’t mean it’s then written in stone, plans change and you might need to adapt to the current climate. But it’s still important because paperwork, visas, shipping and budget are greatly affected by where you’re going. Figuring out a rough direction will help you plan these important details and what’s required for each country.

A lot has changed since Covid with freighting and shipping going through the roof, borders shutting down and some countries are still closed off. There are world conflicts, wars, new governments and so on. Things are constantly changing and that means  routes change too. So it would be very tricky to provide a selection of round the world route options and constantly update it. 

We suggest picking the countries and regions you would like to ride through, draw a rough connecting line through them and then get to work researching the entry requirements for each country. You may then be hit with an obstacle, for example – heading East from Europe to Central Asia: Azerbaijan’s land border is shut, so you may consider Iran, but the current situation in Yemen means Iran is a no go, so that leaves you with the northern route through Russia, so then look into Russia’s visa situation. Keep working through each country and make a list of all the entry requirements for both your visas and temporarily importing your bike and you’ll quickly see what routes are viable. 

To help, our Destination guides are packed with info, and we have a Motorcycle Travel Guide for each of the destinations we feature which include info on paperwork, conditions, things to do and much more. You’ll get a lot of info from these guides on entry requirements. It’s also worth keeping an eye on Facebook overlanding groups for updates on entry requirements and current situations around the world.

Finally, if you’re after some inspiration on where to go, we recommend having a read through our blogs, the Destination guides and also checking out our top route guides. And for more info on RTW routes, check out the Predictions article.

Mad or Nomad Route Map May 2020
Our very rough round the world route...

Motorcycle travel paperwork

Paperwork is the bane of a motorcycle traveller’s existence. Visas, carnets, temporary imports, insurance… every country has their own rules and they’re all constantly changing.  

Doing your paperwork and route research simultaneously is a good idea as you’ll hit any snags or restrictions in the early planning stages. You’ll find the specific paperwork requirements for each country you’re visiting and more information in our Destination Guides, but for a general rundown of the papers you’ll be dealing with on a round the world motorcycle trip, take a look at the Travel Paperwork Explained guide. And, for all our guides on the paperwork side of things, check out the dedicated Admin Guides of our website. 

How much does it cost to ride round the world on a motorcycle?

Your trip of a lifetime doesn’t need to cost a fortune. But how much you spend is completely dependent on you. Your gear, bike and route (shipping, visas, mandatory guides, distances etc) are the initial costs and thereafter it’s your living costs and these range massively dependent on how you travel.

There are loads of ways to minimize all of the costs involved and budget smartly. We’ve written a dedicated guide to help you bring down the costs and explain how we budget on our RTW motorcycle trip. And we also have a guide on how to make money while travelling with loads of job ideas and further info. 

Learning skills before you go

You don’t need to be an off-road riding god to ride round the world. In fact, you can have do little to no dirt road riding at all and still go and just learn on the way. But it helps to have some experience under your belt because it will improve your confidence, knowledge and abilities. And learning in your home country makes it far easier to repair any bike damage.

 It’s a great idea to put some money aside and invest in yourself and off road motorcycle training before you go. You’ll make the most of your time and with expert tuition your riding skills will increase quickly instead of figuring it all out on your own in the middle of nowhere. 

Here’s a selection of our favourite schools in the UK. You’ll also find schools on this page that offer field mechanic training too. And once you’ve had your training, it’s worth visiting the UK Destination page on this site as there are guides on there for how to go trail riding, great locations and how to ride the UK TET. Practising this will improve your skills further and you’ll become even more confident on the rough stuff.   

Trail Riding UK motorcycle guides
Trail riding in the UK. Practising and learning to ride off-road before you go will massively boost your confidence and skill level.

International motorcycle shipping

Shipping ties in with your route and budget. If you’re on a round the world motorcycle adventure, then chances are you’re going to need to ship your motorcycle and it’s going to bite a huge chunk out of your budget, so it’s important to look into it first and weigh up your costs because it may affect where you go and where you ship to.

Check out our Ultimate shipping guide first to get your head round the different options available to you and how it’s done. Then, when you’re ready to start contacting companies for quotes, take a look at our Recommended companies page for a selection of the best and most trusted companies out there. And also check out the Destination guides for shipping articles that explain how to ship to Japan, South Korea, Russia, Cambodia etc. 

Motorcycle Shipping Guide
Getting crated up for sea shipment from South Korea to Cambodia

Buying a motorcycle abroad vs taking your own

RTW motorcycle trips are different for different people. For some, it’s very important to take one bike and complete their trip on that no matter what, while others may prefer to buy or rent in different countries to save money on shipping and customs etc. It’s your call.

To help those interested in renting or buying while abroad, check out our Recommended worldwide rental companies. You can easily get in touch with these firms for quotes to help get an idea of long term rental costs. Many of these companies allow cross border and long term rentals. So for example, you could rent a bike in Kyrgyzstan and ride it to Tajikistan, Uzbekistan and Kazakhstan before returning it.  

Going solo?

You may be heading off into the great unknown alone, or with a partner, friend or a group of riding buddies… or maybe you just don’t know yet! Either way, here’s a couple of guides to help you decide. 

Uzbekistan Motorcycle Travel
Somewhere in Uzbekistan...

Choosing your RTW adventure motorcycle 

One of the biggest and most exciting questions in the world! What motorcycle shall I ride around the world on? Some will say you need a behemoth adventure bike clad in every accessory imaginable, while others prefer stripped-back, lightweight Mad Max desert warriors. If you visit the Stories section, you’ll see people having adventures on a huge range of machines from a Yamaha R1 to the North pole to a Royal Enfield Bullet 500 round the world to a Honda C90 to Africa…

For a run down on the pros and cons of different options and what to look out for when choosing and modifying a RTW motorcycle, check out our detailed How to choose an adv bike guide. Once you’ve narrowed your selection down, take a look at our motorcycle reviews page where real world travellers review their adventure bikes. 

Suzuki DRZ400S Review Heather Sinclair
Heather Sinclair escaping from Morocco during the Covid lockdown on her Suzuki DRZ400. Check out her bike review and loads more in the adventure motorcycle reviews section.

Preparing your round the world adventure motorcycle

Now it’s time to prepare your motorcycle for a round the world ride. That means crash protection, tyres, spare parts, hacks, improving comfort and so on. These guides will help you prepare your bike and get it ready to tackle whatever the world throws at it. 

Adventure motorcycle tools and equipment 

You don’t need to be a mechanical genius and know how to rebuild your engine on a Siberian hard shoulder with a pen knife and a rubber band. Far from it! You’ll get by, no matter your knowledge because you’ll learn as you go.

If, however, you want to learn some basics before setting off, we suggest signing up to a field mechanics motorcycle maintenance course. These are specially designed for people looking to travel on their bikes. You’ll find great schools in our Off road schools guide who offer this service. 

And, you’ll want a tool kit to perform these repairs in an emergency. We’ve got a tool kit guide below which explains how to pack a tool kit for your bike. Or if you prefer a pre-made set, take a look at our SBV tool kit review. 

Ultimate adventure bike tool kit
Our complete RTW tool kit

Luggage setup for RTW motorcycle riders

Deciding on how you’re going to carry all your gear (your life) on your motorcycle as you navigate and ride around the world is a big decision.

There are different schools of thought here, from hard panniers to soft bags and there’s no definitive answer because it depends on the type of trip you’re on, the bike you’re riding, where you’re going and what type of riding you’re going to be doing. It also depends on what you personally feel comfortable with. But to help put these points into perspective and explain them in more detail, take a look at our Hard vs soft luggage guide, then move onto the Ultimate luggage guide for info on all the options out there. Then check out our guides on the best luggage available and you’ll be packing your bags in no time!

Motorcycle Adventure Travel Laos
The ultimate adventure bike luggage set up: hard top box and soft side panniers

Packing for a round the world trip

Packing for a round the world motorcycle trip is the best bit! It’s where you sip coffee and buy cool stuff online. The difficulty is buying too much as overpacking is something everyone does when they first go. We’re definitely guilty of that too. After 15 years of travelling on bikes and years spent on the road on our current round the world trip, we’ve finally narrowed down our packing gear into one easy guide. You’ll find guides on these lists and how to pack below. 

Motorcycle camping 

If you’re going for a round the world adventure, it’s very unlikely you’ll be staying in hotels the entire way. Even if you are absolutely loaded and can afford that, through some areas it’s just not possible – because there are none! It’s always worth taking camping gear, even if for emergency situations. 

Your camping gear bag will no doubt be the biggest in volume and so it’s important to pack this wisely with only the kit you will need. To help, we’ve compiled a camping gear checklist and a series of camping guides below.  

BMW R1200GSA and BMW G310GS motorcycles camping in Japan
Camping somewhere in Japan at one of the countries many free sites

RTW motorcycle riding gear

The first and most important guide we have for clothing is the How to choose your riding gear guide. This explains the different types of clothing (including jackets, trousers, helmets, boots, gloves and extras) available and what to use dependent on what your trip looks like as well as our own suggestions. This is a comprehensive guide to picking adventure riding gear and you should find everything you need in there to decide what type of gear and setup you’re going for.

Once you’ve settled on the type of gear you need, check out the Travel gear guides section because you’ll find articles in there listing the best gear on the market today.

Navigation

Finally, we included navigation in this resource guide because it’s something we get asked a lot about by people who are planning big trips. This easiest option for RTW travel is to take two mobile phones – one for your personal use and the other to use as a sat nav/gps and stick this in a phone mount on your handlebar (this stops your good phone from getting ruined, because it will due to the vibrations, dust, sand, rain etc). From there, you can rely on apps like Google Maps, ioverlander and Maps.Me to navigate. 

However, plenty of people prefer or are more used to a sat nav. Check out our Electronics Guides section below, you’ll find the best sat navs and phone mounts on the market today to help you decide on your navigation device. 

Health and safety on the road

Staying safe and healthy on the road is your number one priority. Things like personal travel insurance and emergency SOS devices are always an afterthought in the planning stages because, let’s be honest, they’re boring and we just hope and assume we’ll never need them because nothing’s going to happen to us. 

We learnt that the hard way regarding an SOS device after a serious crash in Nepal. But luckily we had excellent personal insurance (which covered our £20,000 hospital bill). Make time for reading these two guides below. 

You’ll find loads more info on safety, security, health and guides for solo female travellers in our Admin Guides.

Further help

The motorcycle travel community is awesome and incredibly helpful. You’ll find some amazing travellers out there more than willing to lend a helping hand. So, if you need further help in planning, preparing or whatever, don’t be afraid to reach out to people.

Our aim with this website is to build a huge and free resource to help people travel on motorcycles. You can find lots of info on our site and we write in detail about the places we’ve travelled to. But if there’s something specific that we haven’t covered or that you need more help with, please feel free to post in the comments below or email us. And if we don’t know the answer, we’ll find someone that does for you. 

That’s it! You’ve planned where you’re going, have chosen and prepped your bike, are all packed, got your gear on, paperwork sorted and are ready to go… now all that’s left to do is get out there and have the time of your life!

Afghanistan Mad or Nomad (3)
Riding into Afghanistan and the Roof of the World

Read more on round the world motorcycle adventures

Thanks for checking out our How to Motorcycle Round the World Resource Guide. We hope you enjoyed it! Here’s a few more articles on preparing for and going on RTW motorcycle trips that we recommend you read next. 

Try these next…

Are you planning or preparing for a Round the World Motorcycle Trip? We’d love to hear from you! Please post any questions in the comments below. Thanks.

29 thoughts on “How to Motorcycle Round the World”

    • Hi Bucky, thank you very much for your comment.
      Really glad to hear you’re find the site helpful.
      If you need a hand with anything, just shout.
      Cheers,
      Andy

      Reply
  1. hi
    mad or nomad
    i am ratnaram kalbi
    i want to world tour on bike world’s all country or all city it is possible

    Reply
    • Hi Ratnaram,
      Anything’s possible, but as with anything, it depends on circumstances, visas, paperwork, money, time and a load more factors.
      It’s a bit of a vague question so please feel free to get back to us with more specific questions if you need more details.
      Cheers,
      Andy

      Reply
  2. Hi I’m 64 in August had bikes all my life love them. I need to do this for charity and for my own self worth.anyone who can advise get in touch.

    Reply
    • Hi Kimmy, great to hear you’re considering a RTW trip. What exactly would you like advice on?
      Please feel free to ask questions here or send us an email.
      Thanks,
      Andy

      Reply
    • Hi Phil, thanks for your comment.
      That’s brilliant to hear you’re planning a RTW trip! Very exciting. And thank you for your kind words.
      Hopefully you’ll find plenty of info on here. And don’t forget to check out the RTW Resource section too.
      If there’s anything not covered, feel free to give us a shout anytime 🙂
      Cheers,
      Andy

      Reply
  3. I’m looking to do this in a few years, to raise money for cancer research. Planning to purchase a Benelli TRK502 for it, and hopefully over the next few years, through advertising and research, maybe get some sponsorship to lessen the financial burden.

    Would be great to raise a decent amount of cash for a charity that’s so important to many of us, fingers crossed.

    Have just discovered this site, what a fab resource, thank you.

    Reply
    • Hi Craig,
      That’s amazing news! And absolutely brilliant you’re doing it to raise money for charity – good for you mate.
      One note on the Benelli – definitely test ride a few other adventure bike models before committing to the TRK. Take a look at the Adventure Motorcycle Resources page as you’ll find guides on there shortlisting a selection of the best adv and rtw bikes. You might find that helpful 🙂
      Please email us if we can help with anything and thank you for your kind words, much appreciated.
      All the best and let us know how you get on,
      Andy

      Reply
  4. While I’m not going to ride around the world anytime soon (but one day), I love reading your blog. It keeps me inspired and sane during the Norwegian winter.

    Best regards Johannes Motorcycle Adventures.

    Reply
    • Hey Johannes! Thanks for your comment, that’s very kind of you and keeps me inspired to keep writing! So thank you 🙂
      Also, that’s great to hear you’re one day planning a round the world tour! Keep in touch and shout if you need a hand with anything.
      Ah I can’t imagine being in Norway in the winter – that’s mad. It’s 30 something celcius here in Indonesia right now and I need to get a jumper!
      All the best,
      Andy

      Reply
  5. Since watching Long Way Around, it has been my dream to ride around the world, or at least half of it. this site is such a great resource even for info about short tours anywhere around the world.
    keep it up lads.

    Amro

    Reply
    • Hi Amro, thanks for your comment, really appreciate that!
      That’s awesome it’s your dream to ride the world – hope you get to fulfil that someday soon!
      Cheers and all the best,
      Andy

      Reply
  6. Dear Mad or Nomad,

    OMG I love this article so much! Me myself is also preparing for a crazy motorcycle trip from Malaysia to London and this guidelines and sharing is great to start!

    Best

    Desmond

    Reply
    • Hi Desmond, thank you very much for your kind words! Glad you found this article helpful.
      That’s awesome to hear you’re planning a trip from Malaysia to the UK! Which way are you planning on going is the big question>
      If there’s anything we can do to help or if you need any advice, just shout.
      Cheers,
      Andy

      Reply
    • Hi Elliott,
      I assume you’re from the UK as you mentioned MOT? Either way, an MOT and road tax etc are only required to ride your bike on UK and European roads. Once you’re out of Europe it’s not needed. So, when you come back to the UK you can’t ride the bike until it has been MOT’d. So you can either insure and tax online, book an MOT appointment and ride your bike from wherever you land back in the UK to said appointment, or arrange to transport your bike home in a van.
      Hope this helps, cheers,
      Andy

      Reply
      • thanks, I will plan to be out of Europe by the time the bike needs an MOT then and just risk it on the way home most likely and mot on the coast

        appreciate the help

        Reply
        • Hi Elliot,
          Ah, I see. So you’re riding from the UK to Europe and then out of Europe. In that case, yeah, you’ll need to just phone up an MOT station close by the coast and book yourself in for the day you arrive back.
          Best of luck with your travels,
          Cheers,
          Andy

          Reply
  7. this is the awesome platform i am coming across currently i am working in corporate job in Bangalore i am inspired by the riders who travel around the world i would like to know how do i plan my financial post quitting my job and becoming of NOMAD rider around the world i am ready to break my entire savings but post that is there any options we find to earn or manage the financials during the travel

    Reply
    • Hi Salman, thanks for your comment and I’m glad you’re enjoying our website! Good to hear you’re planning on motorcycling around the world.
      In answer to your question – in this article there’s a section called ‘How much does it cost to motorcycle round the world’ in there we list two articles that help answer your exact question.

      How to Make Money While Motorcycle Travelling
      How to Motorcycle Travel on the Cheap

      Have a read of those articles and feel free to comment back with any follow up questions.
      Hope this helps and best of luck to you!
      Cheers,
      Andy

      Reply
  8. Some awesome information here. I am literally at the very start of planning after coming to the end of a “normal “ backpacking round the world trip for 12 months. My next adventure I am
    Considering is going round the world on a scooter/moped – 125cc. A lot of the info on the site is geared towards fully fledged motorbikes. Any tips or point me to others that have done similar for advice ?

    Reply
    • Hi Gerard, thanks for your comment and that’s great to hear you’re planning a round the world trip!
      Going on a 125cc bike or scooter is a fantastic idea!
      This website is geared towards round the world travel – primarily in the form of country guides, paperwork, shipping, routes, borders, admin, gear, packing etc.
      We of course have a section on Adventure Bikes and that is aimed at larger capacity motorcycles –
      However, in all the guides where we talk about choosing bikes for travelling, we try and make it very clear that you can travel on any size motorcycle – and I think going on a scooter is a brilliant idea!

      Here’s an article on our site about a couple travelling the world on a Vespa: Round the World on a Vespa Scooter
      Here’s an article on travelling on a 90cc Honda: The Honda Cub – Small Bike Big Adventures
      And here’s a great article that I reckon you’ll find interesting!: Why Small Bikes Are Better

      In the second and third articles (both written by Mathew), you’ll find his link to the Small Bikes Big Adventures Facebook group – that’s a great FB group dedicated to adventure travelling on small bikes – which will be the perfect community for you. I would join that and post about your plans. There are also lots of other great FB groups for small bike travel.

      As far as the round the world travel goes. There’s not really any difference between going on a scoot or a big bike. Sure, you’ll go slower (perfect) and will have to consider your fuel and food a little more, but that’s easy enough to get around. You’ll have a brilliant time!

      Please do let us know how you get on and I hope all of this helps,

      Cheers,
      Andy

      Reply
  9. Great stuff Andy and thanks for taking the time for such a comprehensive answer. Lots to read now and start the planning. 👍🏻

    Reply
    • Hi Gerard,
      No worries at all, always happy to help a fellow motorcycle traveller! All the best and we look forward to hearing how you get on.
      Cheers,
      Andy

      Reply

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