Getting Ready

Translated by: John Agrafiotis

Travelling abroad is not something difficult but it’s not so easy also. The biggest problem (mostly in Greece) is the paperwork needed. There are some things that need your attention so that you avoid unnecessary trouble. Through these lines I will try to give you an overview of what you need and how you will get it.

Last update 27/12/2011

<li> <strong> Vehicle registration, insurance, driving license, passport etc </strong></li>

For EU citizens: The vehicle registration of your motorcycle is valid for all the countries of the European Union and in general for almost all the civilized countries. Notice that your license plate must have a nationality sign (GR for Greece, IT for Italy etc). If you an old license plate, without such a sign, you must buy the relevant sticker. If you are a non EU citizen, you should check if the country you are about to visit, requires an international vehicle registration (or something like this).

For non EU citizens: For non EU citizens, check if you need an international driving license from your authorities. Your driving license is valid in all the countries of the EU and in some more, that follow the same standards. If you plan to travel in a country that is not in the EU, check if your driving license is valid, in this specific country. If it’s not valid, you will need to have an international driving license.

Regarding the insurance of your motorcycle, you will have to pay a visit to your insurance agent and ask for a “green card”. This green card is valid in the countries of the EU (usually you inform your insurance company about the countries you will visit). Normally, you will take this card almost immediately (this is how it works in Greece, not sure if this applies in other countries also). Usually this card is valid for the period of time you will declare. For countries not in the EU, ask your insurance company (some companies might have some kind of agreement with other companies in various countries). Some insurance companies will charge you for this green card, but in general it’s free of charge, for EU countries.

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p align=”justify”>For EU citizens: For EU countries you don’t need a passport as long as your ID has Latin characters. For non EU countries or non EU citizens always check if the country or countries you plan to visit, require a passport.

Finally check, by contacting the Department of Foreign (or whatever it’s called) of your country, if you need a visa for the country you are about to visit.

For EU citizens: For your health insurance, you will need the European Health Insurance Card (EHIC). In order to take this card (in Greece, not sure for the procedure in other countries) you will have to visit your insurance agency, having with you your insurance booklet (or card or whatever you have) and fill in an application. Some insurance agencies might ask you for a copy of your passport or your ID. The time you will need varies, depending on the insurance agency.

<li> <strong>Credit cards &amp; Bank cards</strong></li>

Most credit cards are acceptable in almost every “civilized” country. My credit card was not accepted only two times, once in a gas station in Switzerland and once in one in Turkey. It would be better if you had at least two cards, in case the first is not accepter. Most bank cards are also accepted in ATM machines in other countries. So as to be sure you will not be stuck in some country without any money in your pocket, always ask for information from your bank. If you use a card to take money from an ATM you will be charged about 4€ per transaction (in Greece), so it’s wise to do it just a few times.

<li> <strong>Cell phones / Mobile phones</strong></li>

Before starting your trip, you will need to turn on the roaming. This can be done by contacting the costumer’s support of your provider. For EU citizens: In EU countries most mobile phone companies have some kind of agreement with other companies, in various countries. Inform your company about the countries you will visit and they will let you know which company to use in every country. You can find the charges and the list of companies available in every country on the website of your provider.

<li> <strong>Planning </strong></li>

How and where will you go, the all time classic problem. Personally I spend a lot of time for the preparation. I find most of the information on the internet. I will not refer to details as everyone has different driving preferences. Some like to drive really fast, while others prefer to enjoy some beautiful landscape. Information about beautiful roads and general information about Europe you can find at the following websites :

www.alpineroads.com
www.bestbikingroads.com
www.motorbike-pals.com
www.bugeurope.com

Maps :
www.viamichelin.com
Google Maps

Useful information about the regions you plan to visit you can find at:
www.wikitravel.com
www.lonelyplanet.com

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p align=”justify”>Or by reading similar travel stories. A variety of travel stories you can find at:
www.advrider.com
www.horizonsunlimited.com/

Fuel prices:
Wikipedia: Gasoline and diesel usage and pricing (from all over the world)
Fuel Prices Europe (Europe, almost every day update)
AA Fuel Price Reports (Ευρώπη)

Currency Converter:
XE – Universal Currency Converter

There are some details that you need to consider while planning your travel. Firstly, you have to adjust the distances according to your “driving limits”. The limit is the distance you can cover without being tired. This distance has to do with the number of motorcycles travelling together and the number of passengers on each motorcycle. The above, affect your average speed that will give you the maximum distance you can cover. Also, you have to consider the fuel you need and program the needed stops for refueling. These stops will be programmed based on the motorcycle with the smallest autonomy.

Finally there are some free programs (Google Maps ή Via Michelin) that can help you plan your route.

<li> <strong>Equipment </strong></li>

If you plan to visit Central or North Europe, even in the middle of the summer, it’s not unusual to find rain. For this reason be sure to have with you rain suits, warm gloves, isothermal clothes etc.

All the useful things (eg your camera, rain suits etc) should be placed in the tank bag or some other easy accessible spot. Imagine raining cats and dogs and you having to search through your luggage to find your raining suit.

A tire repair kit is also necessary (tubeless tires or not) along with some compressed air capsules and a small toolbox with all the necessary tools for each motorcycle. You don’t need a toolbox for each motorcycle. In order to save some space, you can prepare just one toolbox equipped with all the necessary for all the motorcycles. A small flashlight is also considered necessary. If you plan to cover a long distance it is wise to have chain lubricant spray with you. You are also advised to have a spare set of fuses, an electrical tape, some tie wraps, a clutch lever, a throttle cable and its housing.

Swop keys, for every lock you have, with your co travelers. No one wants to be in the middle of nowhere, having lost his keys. Notice that everyone that has keys, is obliged to have them with him and not leave them back in the hotel room…

Make sure that your luggage is waterproof. Cordura may be considered waterproof, but trust me it doesn’t work in a two hour heavy rain, something that will probably occur to you.

A small first aid kit equipped with Bedatine, aspirins, pills for the stomach, alcohol, bandages, diarrhea pills, cortisone pills and a stick for insect bites, is considered necessary. Hopefully you will not need to use it. A useful tip in order to save some space is to get rid of the packaging, just don’t forget to write down their expiry dates.

Nice and safe kilometers for all of us….

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