Frequently Asked Questions

Where do you sleep?
How do you know where to go?
How can you afford it?
What documents are required?
Is it dangerous? Is it ok to ride alone? Can a female do it alone?
Is gas quality bad?
What if your bike breaks down or gets a flat?
Do you need to know how to work on bikes?
What if you get sick; What are the health concerns?
How do you handle money?
What are hostels like?
What insurance do you use (Medical / Motorcycle)?
Do you speak Spanish?
When is the best time to start and where?
Who takes the photos of you?
What is the one thing you can’t live without?


Where do you sleep?

Primarily I try to camp as much as possible. While I prefer the solitude of a campsite, it really is the cost savings that I enjoy. With a motorcycle it is easy to “wild camp” by just ducking off a side road and camping in trees or behind rocks; Simply out of sight out of mind. Power line access roads have been the easiest to exploit as they are typically rough roads that go unused and the ground around the towers are flat. The greatest tool to use is an application called iOverLander. It is a free app that has thousands of locations throughout North and South America for camping, both free and for a fee, as well as hostels that provide secure parking. I use this for hostel guidance as well as potential areas for wild camping.

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How do you know where to go?

We live in an age of amazing technology, which I happily have chosen to use. Based on my research for points of interest, I use my phone’s GPS to guide me to that area. The best GPS to use for this trip, so far, has been ‘Maps.Me’. This application requires low memory use and you can download the entire country(s) offline. Additionally, it has the most road detail that I have seen, guiding me through even the smallest and remote towns. Depending on my destination, I will use Google Maps and Maps.Me to find some small roads to take throughout mountain passes. For more info, click here.

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How can you afford it?

Paying for a trip like this can be done in multiple ways, which for me involved selling everything that I own. I was very fortunate to have a good paying job that allowed me to invest in a home and purchase a few motorcycles that sold well. I also cook for myself and camp as often as possible as every dollar saved is the chance for traveling farther.

For more information on how to budget for a trip like this, click here.

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What documents are required?

    • Passport and applicable Visa’s
    • Vehicle title in your name
    • Drivers License
    • License Plate
    • Optional requirements
      • Proof of Insurance
      • Registration
      • Proof of Yellow Fever Vaccination

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Is it dangerous? Is it ok to ride alone? Can a female do it alone?

Yes it can be dangerous, but the same can be said for driving through some areas of Dallas, Texas. Put aside the irrational fears of drug cartels and kidnappings and you will realize the only true danger is the fact that you will be riding a motorcycle on unknown roads. The roads are dangerous due to bad drivers, massive potholes, unmarked turns, and farm animals crossing at their own leisure. The way to remain safe is to: Do not drive at night (Seriously, it is the easiest way to find danger), be cautious of all curves, avoid distractions, and listen to your gut. Until you find your rhythm, use iOverlander to find safe places to sleep at night. Government warnings can be helpful to understand the state of crime in a specific area, but they can also be a bit overboard in their analysis. Read ahead and make a judgment call based on the information received and your gut.

Riding alone can be a bit riskier than in a group as you have no one there to look out for you should something happen. Be aware of this vulnerability and exercise extra caution. As for doing this trip solo as a female, my opinion is from a male perspective but you will be safe. Yes females needs to exercise extra caution, unfortunately, but it should not be a reason to miss out on this adventure. I have met many females traveling alone on both motorcycles and bicycles. It can be done, just be cautious.

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Is gas quality bad?

In most main cities, no the gas is not bad. Your safe bet is to get the highest octane level offered as it is less likely to be of poor quality. Outside of the main cities you risk poor gas quality regardless of octane level. In some areas you might buy gas out of a house which is poured manually with the use of a pitcher and funnel. It is these instances in which it is possible to buy watered-down gas. Use a fuel filter and do what you can to reduce the need for receiving fuel outside of main cities.

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What if your bike breaks down or gets a flat?

Your bike will breakdown in some way. Be it engine failure or a flat tire, you will be faced with difficulty. Plan for expected maintenance, such as clutch and sprocket replacement, and carry a copy of your bike’s manual. If you are headed into a remote area, be sure to bring plenty of water and food for that ‘what if’ moment. I have been stranded in a rock cave for two days before I found help due to engine failure. With food, water, patience, and optimism you will be fine. You only need to get your bike to a town with a mechanic, there you can work together in repairing and ordering parts. Motorcycles are extremely common in most of Latin America, in which even the smallest of towns will have some form of mechanic.

Depending on your type of tires, you will either need to carry a plug kit, patch kit, or spare tubes if you desire. It is best to learn how to use tire irons to successfully exchange / repair a tire tube. In addition to carrying tire irons, a small air pump is vital. Tube-type tires do not necessarily require you to bring spare tubes, however I feel a bit more confident having tubes after struggling to find some pin-hole leaks.

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Do you need to know how to work on bikes?

No, though I highly recommend you understand the basic functions of a motorcycle. Understanding how air, fuel, and electrical is used throughout your bike can help you narrow down possible areas that need maintenance. The shop manual for your motorcycle can help walk you through most basic checks to ensure a bike is functioning properly, but if you struggle to narrow down the area of cause it can be a fruitless effort. Do note, some issues can show symptoms that can be caused by many things. Have patience, reflect on what the past could have damaged, and get do what you can.

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What if you get sick? What are the health concerns?

Getting sick in a foreign land is frustrating and common. The most common is ‘travelers diarrhea’ due to food and water quality. Over time you will develop a resistance to these instances, but the beginning can be hard. Bring a small amount of medication to help alleviate some pain and remain hydrated. It’s best to find a hostel if you start to feel ill. There you can seek help if it gets worse and you might require hospitalization. I have been fortunate to only have food poisoning during this trip, in which I drank ample amounts of pedialite to recover in 4 days.

Currently the largest health concerns are Malaria, Dengue Fever, and Zika. All of these viruses are transmitted by mosquitoes. You can speak with your doctor to be prescribed prophylactics to protect against Malaria and Dengue, but currently there is no protection from Zika. The best method is to wear insect repellent and avoid “hot zones”, which are primarily in the Amazon region.

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How do you handle money?

The best method of payment is cash, which can be pulled out of ATM’s since you do not want to carry a large amount of cash on you throughout the trip. Beware, however, that ATM fees can range from 1 to 7USD with a max withdraw of $125.00 at times. Be sure to carry a checking card that will refund ATM fees, such as Charles Schwab. Credit cards are also used at times, so be sure to use a card that doesn’t have foreign transaction fees.
Best practice is to always have a small amount of USD with you. USD is accepted almost anywhere and can help get you out of a financial issue if you are low on cash and an ATM is nowhere to be found. Small towns typically do not have the infrastructure for an ATM but they will exchange USD. Twice I have found myself needing to use my USD stash in order to successfully continue my trip.
For more detailed budget and money handling information, click here.

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What are hostels like?

Hostels are generally a cheaper alternative to hotels and give you access to a basic kitchen. They might also have secure parking, which saves you the risk of leaving the vehicle in a paid car park or on the street. Typically there is an offering of dorm rooms and private rooms, with the option of air conditioning, depending on the country. Dorms are open rooms with 4-8 bunk beds and a shared bathroom. Theft can occur, so it is always best to keep your items locked in the provided locker. Private rooms can consist of twin beds or a queen bed and you are provided a key to lock the door. So locations might offer the choice of a private or shared bathroom, which will vary in cost.
Overall, the quality of a hostel can be hit or miss. Some rooms might have uncomfortable beds, poor ventilation, and cold showers. Some hostels are also considered party hostels where most patrons are up late into the night with loud music.

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What insurance do you use (Medical / Motorcycle)?

Currently I only use a plan from World Nomads to cover my health and purchase motorcycle insurance or required health insurance in each country. I have struggled to find cost effective insurance to cover me throughout all of Latin America.

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Do you speak Spanish?

Language barriers are hard, but you can successfully travel without knowing Spanish/Portuguese. Translation applications can be used to help convey what you need, but it is likely that you will learn Spanish throughout this trip depending on your level of effort. Traveling alone you will find that you speak Spanish more often than traveling with an English-speaking companion. Starting my trip I knew practically no Spanish, despite the two years of class I took in high school ten years prior. Yet 6 months in, I can get by with most basic conversations from the Spanish I have learned while on the road. I took a week of lessons in Guatemala, which taught me the basics of Spanish and were a strong foundation for learning quicker. I highly recommend doing something like this as the costs of these lessons are generally cheap throughout Guatemala.

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When is the best time to start and where?
Now, obviously. You can start the trip anytime and anywhere, but there are a few considerations:

  • You need to time your trip to avoid winter in the extreme north and south. Keep in mind that summer in the US is winter in the south and that certain parts of Central America have strong rainy seasons. These conditions could make some destinations extremely difficult to get to.
  • The United States and Canada are quite a different experience than Latin America. Personally I feel it is better to start in the US and end in South America. Primarily because the lax laws, lower costs, and ease of wild camping in Latin America can cause the US and Canada to feel more restrictive and difficult.

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Who takes the photos of you?

I take the photos myself. I have a lot of downtime, which allows for creativity. Essentially: I set up my camera on continuous shot, run to my bike, ride, park, and then run back to stop the camera. Then I just delete all the photos but the one I keep. It can be a bit extensive, but trust me in the fact that you will have plenty of time.

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What is the one thing you can’t live without?

Two things really; Patience and baby wipes. There will be many frustrating moments ahead and the more patience you have the better. Baby wipes because they clean everything. Everything.

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