T-3: Too Late

Project 2012: Day 250

We're now into double digit hours, and even in todays instant on, immediate gratification, nothing ever shuts down, for some things, I've left it too late.


There are about 5 ways to travel with money:

1. Change and carry cash – this is one of the most expensive, and risky methods. You get stung on the exchange going over, coming back, and if you ever run out, you have to find an Exchange Agent. Kind've hard when you're in Sticks, Oregon on a Sunday afternoon. Also, you probably don't want to be carrying all of your savings on you.

2. Just use your debit/credit card – get stung for a currency conversion on every transaction, not to mention the bank exchange rate. Also, lose your CC and your personal bank accounts are at risk

3. Travellers Cheques. Ok buy some flares and head back to the 70's where you belong. Seriously, does anyone use these any more. They're as risky as cash, and not as convenient as, well, anything really.

4. Pre-paid Travel Debit Card. Not a bad option. It's not tied to your account, you don't have to carry cash, and you pay in the local currency (i.e. only pay once for the transfer) On the minus side, some have hidden fees, so check all of the fees first and compare. Also the banks sting you for a pretty poor rate. On $3000, it's costing me about $150 just on the bank vs wholesale exchange rate

5. A Good Friend. Find a good friend who's a local resident. Ask them to open a local savings account with a debit card, and Internet Banking. Then ask them to give you the card and credentials. Then you log on, change the password and email address to your own. Finally transfer funds via xetrade.com.

  • You pay no transfer/loading fees
  • You have a local account, so no ATM fees
  • No risk to your friend as there's no credit/overdraught limit.
  • Get the XE Trade wholesale exchange rate
  • Transfer funds on as often as you want, for free

Ok this last one, you need a good friend, and about 5 business days. I have the former, but not the latter. So although we have a friend who's opened a local savings account for us, this isn't in time for my ride, but is for the family hols.

So on Saturday I head into an ANZ Branch for an ANZ Travel Debit Card. Comes over the counter.

Roadside Assist

I emailed MyMRA.com 5 days ago asking about temporary Roadside Assist whilst I'm on the ride. Not a dickie bird response. Crap!

So I almost took the decision this morning to buy a years subscription, and borrow my friends residential address…

…No time. Seriously.

They want 6 days to process, so I wouldn't have cover until half my ride is done. Doh.

So I've left it too late, and am going to have to dig deep to figure this one out

Last Minute Purchases from Amazon/eBay

Spare batteries for the helmet cam, or SD cards, or a camp chair, or a suitable back pack to transport kit back to Seattle after the ride, or…

…There is no more time. If I don't have it now, or it hasn't been delivered to Motoquest Seattle by now, I go without.

But for once in my travel life, I have left plenty of time. An entire day in fact to finalise packing, ensure things are printed and taken care of.

Still sure I'm going to forget something though…


T-4: Be Prepared

Project 2012: Day 249

When you go camping there’s a time in every trip when you realise you’ve forgotten an essential piece of equipment. If it’s a spoon, you’re not eating soup, or cereal (with milk); but if it’s a can opener you might not be eating at all. Of course if it’s a corkscrew…

(you may want to go home)

It’s not about planning. It’s about preparing. Planning is detailing the activities and resources you need for those. Preparing is making sure that you can cope with whatever happens, planned or unplanned.

Planning means remembering the corkscrew. Preparation means being able to open the bottle without a corkscrew (and find the next bottle)

The Top Down Tour is more about preparation than planning. But there are still a million moving parts.

Some things I have got covered:

  • Travel Insurance – via Online Travel Insurance, underwritten by Allianz – one of the few insurances that cover motorcycle hire.
  • GPS tracking, along with SOS and Search and Rescue services, that doesn’t need cellular cover – via SPOT
  • Emergency Medical, Identity, and Contact details in case I land in a ditch – via ICE uTag Dogtags
  • Dedicated motorcycle and touring maps for daily route planning – via Butler & Mad Maps
  • The safest and most versatile kevlar mesh motorcycle jacket – via Motorport
  • A very friendly bloke taking delivery of all the kit I’m buying in the US, oh and a bike – via Motoquest
  • Drybag for the camping gear on the back of the bike (& getting stuff back to Seattle) – via Overboard
  • Accomodation thanks to the ADVRider forum Tent Space Thread and Couchsurfing (& friends)

There are still a couple of things that I have to pull out of the hat:

  • Roadside assist. SPOT has an Assist Service that would cover me in the USA and Canada. Unfortunately you have to be a resident of those countries – DOH! So much for the “G” in GPS. So if you know how I can get temporary roadside assist (this is a mandatory requirement for the bike hire) in the US, please, please, please contact me
  • Either a local American Savings account I can use, or a global money card. In short, I want to transfer money once, at the best rate, with the least commissions, and don’t want to have to carry cash.
  • A couple of pre-paid SIM’s for the iPhone and iPad – so I can update the blog. Most likely going to get this through Verizon when I’m in Seattle or Port Angeles

I keep thinking of things that I’ll need (multiboard to charge devices, iPhone Bike Charger cable…) it’s likely I’ll forget something.

Hopefully not my passport…

…Or a corkscrew


T-5 Finalising Gear & a Break from Regular Programming

Project 2012: Day 248

We're now into single digits for the countdown to the BIG MOTORBIKE TOUR – you can read more about that by clicking on the “On Tour” menu item above – in fact we're so close now, there's almost not time to have something shipped from Amazon to Motoquest Seattle and get there before me.

Break in Regular Programming

Anyway, because of the ride, then the family holiday, there'll be a break to scheduled programming on the blog 🙂 Not a break from blogging, just from the following the schedule I've been publishing for the 2012 Project:

  • Sunday = Food (Tasty, Simple, Bloke Recipes)
  • Monday = Get your Dream Job (Interview Techniques, CV's, etc)
  • Tuesday = Rog42 Passions (motorbike, diving, video, photo)
  • Wednesday = Hump Day (jokes, movie, book & theatre reviews)
  • Thursday = Start-ups (How not to start-up a high tech start-up)
  • Friday = CTO (and yes, I know I'm about 6 weeks behind on that)
  • Saturday = Personal Success (parenting, leadership, influence, effectiveness, happiness etc)

for the next month, I shall be bringing a daily wrap up, or observation from our holiday. Starting today, with my Top Down Tour.

Father's Day

My girls really went to town for Father's Day and got me a couple of necessary items. Lightweight sleeping bag (800g) – this is only rated to 8C, but it is late summer in the US, I will have storm riding gear, and can always find a motel if it's that bad.

However, this little beauty weighs next to nothing, making it ideal for the flight(s) and the ride. And check how small it folds up. Again perfect for packing.

The next item that I discovered I really needed on the Black Dog Ride, was a self-inflating sleeping mat. Again, it needed to be compact, and light, but still comfortable.

And my family outdid themselves.

That's the sleeping bag on the right, and the sleeping mat on the left. I know, right.

So for camping, I now have a great little tent. A sleeping mat, sleeping bag, and a couple of little torches.

I may need something to make tea/coffee in. But then again, mostly I should be near diners and am not planning to have to cook.


Packing is turning out to be harder than expected. Mainly because of two reasons:

  1. The flying prior to the ride, and holiday afterwards. I'll have extra gear (riding and camping) that I have to carry on the flight, and lug around the USA with me for 3 weeks.
  2. The one way nature of the ride. Y'see, everything unpacks from my flight luggage into the panniers on the bike. But then, I have a one way flight back to Seattle, and can hardly take a couple of aluminium panniers with me on the flight.

Still, onto how I'll resolve that in another post. First, packing the riding & camping gear.


Here is the tent, sleeping bag, mat, my touring trousers, towel, and first aid kit, all neatly packed in the bottom part of my bag, ready for the flight on Sunday.

All in, fits perfectly

Still to come

Transportation woes – all the pitfalls to get to a place on the other side of the world, economically, without spending days transiting, and on time.

  • Gearing up – making sure from navigation to protection, from media to emergencies, we have everything we need for the trip.
  • Where to stay – Couch Surfing, Tent Space, Friends, and Camping.
  • Finance – How to buy things, book things, and get money across without being rorted
  • Covering your Ass – Insurances, Contact Folk, Health Contingences
  • Media Planning – What computer to take, if at all. Which camera? When will I be shooting photos, videos, and sharing the same.

At the end of the day, even though it's in the USA, I will be riding a big motorbike close on 3,500kms in 9.5 days, by myself, in a foreign country. I mean, it is a bit of an adventure… 🙂