Note to self: Buy some hard luggage for the motorbike.
That’s what I remember every year when I’m packing for my biking holiday. But since I always forget for the other 11 months, here I am again, stuffing clothes, washbag and swimsuit into my waterproof kitbag and strapping it firmly to the pillion seat with a cargo net.
As the trip goes on, more & more stuff gets demoted from the tank bag (where it’s handy but a bit annoyingly in the way) to the kitbag (where it’s out of the way but a palaver to get to).
So here are my top tips for what to pack for France:
Motorcycle Luggage Tips For Holidaying In France
Hope for sunshine, but pack for rain.
· Put anything like camera, passport, dry socks, inside an extra plastic bag in case the outer layer leaks, but also make sure waterproofs are quick and easy to reach. If a sudden shower hits, you don’t want to be unpacking everything before you can put waterproofs on.
· Take 2 pairs of gloves. When the rain has stopped, it’s deeply unpleasant to put wet gloves back on.
· Fill a pair of thin socks with rice, knot the ends, and take them with you. Nothing dries out wet boots (or gloves) faster. I’ve been laughed at before, but in the morning I’m the one with dry feet.
· If you’re riding round the world, fine, you’ll need a full toolkit, medical kit, arctic survival kit, etc. I do a week in France staying in hotels – anything I forget I can probably buy in the next town. Don’t spoil your holiday riding by overloading your motorbike.
Take the time to load well
· Tuck in any trailing straps and make sure there’s nowhere the rain can get in. My top tip – cover the whole bag with a hi-vis waterproof. Keeps out water & prying eyes, and in an emergency you can wear it. (In France the law says I have to carry a hi-vis waistcoat – bingo!)
· Make sure nothing is resting against bits that get hot (mainly exhaust pipes) unless you’re certain it won’t melt/burn.
· Make sure nothing is going to move or fall off. Cargo nets are handy, as they can cover the whole load. Before you ride off, give the bag a good pulling about. If it’s going to come loose, better on your drive than on a motorway.
Keep things you’ll need handy, handy
· Obvious things like passport, mobile phone, money may fit in pockets. If you’re not 100% confident your jacket’s waterproof, slip them inside plastic bags too.
· Always have one more layer than you think you’ll need, ready to put on instantly. You’re on holiday, you don’t want to be shivering. Ditto waterproofs.
· Camera? Phrase book? Swimsuit for spontaneous plunges into the inviting ocean? All candidates for a daypack. I use a tank bag (that also has a handy transparent map pocket) but a rucksack or tailpack can work just as well.
Remember you won’t be riding ALL the time
· Even if you’re planning to ride all day, every day, you won’t want to have dinner in a one-piece leather suit will you? If it’s sunny you’ll probably want a dress or shorts, maybe a sunhat? Sunscreen?
· Motorcycle boots are not great for walking around, especially if it’s warm. Take trainers or sandals or something.
2. Rice-filled socks (see above)
3. A map (or GPS if you prefer) – check our motorcycle Sat-Nav guide for more info
4. Windproof layer - probably the most extra warmth/volume you can carry (I use the EDZ Innershell)
5. Wet wipes – for oily fingers & fly-covered visor
6. Reinforced motorcycling jeans – cooler than leathers or lined textiles, more protection than mere denim
7. Insect repellent (mainly for when OFF the bike)
8. A helmet lock – so you don’t have to carry it everywhere
9. European recovery card for added peace of mind
10. A winning smile
Right, that’s the bike loaded up, me layered up, passport & tickets in my pocket. See you in France!