Ever since I was a little girl, I’ve always fantasized about my own road trip

Growing up, I kept having this itch, but I never defined what vehicle I would travel in, nor the stops I would choose. I just knew, I know for a fact that I like to get to places.

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Then, my first certainty: Utah, the desert. It was until I then learned to ride a motorcycle (another dream that that little girl always wanted to realize) and then headed to the Valley of Gods on two wheels that I no longer had any doubts. 

My ideal on-the-road trip is on a motorcycle. On a motorcycle you live the places, you go through them from the inside, you don’t pass them like you do with a car.

Loving this kind of journey can be dangerous in the most beautiful meaning. It makes you want to leave everything behind, and just keep going. 

The sense of freedom you experience on the motorcycle trip, makes you sick when you get home. It makes you wonder which life would make more sense, which could do us better, the one in the rules, or the one on the adventure.

Happiness and freedom sometimes frighten, because they want their right compromise and it’s not for everyone to put himself on the line. Besides, the motorcycle is a fantastic and fascinating lifestyle, but very tiring, physically and psychologically. Motorcycle travel becomes an adventure earned, and everything has a different flavor

An experience for real tough guys. But what if the tough guy in question is a woman?

I tried to understand what it means for a woman to decide to live traveling by motorcycle, a choice of life extreme and rewarding. This article collects stories of strength and great resourcefulness, hoping they can be an inspiration to new and brave future travelers.

Anne France Dautheville

Journalist and writer, Anne France Dautheville is the first woman to motorcycle solo around the world, covering 12,500 miles with her Kawasaki 125. She is an icon. I didn’t want to define her legendary figure, so I asked her directly:

Who is Anne France Dautheville?

A girl who was born in Paris in 1944, excellent education, good literature studies in La Sorbonne, but… When I was 21, the majority age, I left my parents to build a career as a creative copywriter in advertising agencies. I made money and got better and better.

At what age did you start riding a motorcycle? 

In 1968, the revolution in Paris, no public transportation. I had to walk a lot between the agency and my flat. I had no driving license and when the peace came back, I bought a 50cc Honda, the one you could drive without licence. In September I rode from Paris to the Mediterranean sea… It was the beginning of the end! 

Then I got a motorcycle driving licence, then I bought road Bultacos, then a 250 Suzuki, and each September, took my holidays on the roads of France. Till the moment I realised I was very happy travelling, much less working; in fact I was paying my money too high a price. So, in 1972, I quit a good life for a happy life.

With her unique style, Anne France inspired Chloe’s Clare Waight Keller for the 2016 collection.
This photo was a courtesy from Anne France Dautheville to The Guardian

Do you remember the moment when you decided to travel the world with a bike?

I was in a restaurant, having lunch with a journalist friend. I figured that the very first big trip I was planning from the year before, a rally from Paris to Isfahan in Iran, wasn’t going to be on this huge V7 Moto Guzzi lent by a french importer, but in the assistance truck. I got mad and went back to his magazine office, declaring that I would ride around the world by myself!

What does it mean for you being the first woman who did the complete world tour with a motorcycle?

I do not look at myself! I was a girl on a motorcycle, that’s all. And it was great because everywhere, people were amused, friendly, helpful, in Afghanistan as in Alaska, in Yugoslavia as in Turkey.

What is the hardest thing about being a female biker on the road?

Will you publish this?  It is the pee problem! A man can stand in front of a tree, a wall, a bush, a girl has to sit on her heels, pants, on her knees! You must find a quiet place, where you can hide, and when you are on your business, nine times out of ten, a young shepherd arrives, eyes like dining plates!

I will definitely publish this truth! I experience the same almost every time, especially if I’m wearing a riding suit or some hard-to-take-off bike clothes.

Besides quiet places, what is the place that has had more meaning for you to cross on two wheels?

The three countries I loved the most were Afghanistan, Peru and Australia. Gorgeous landscapes, fantastic people and something like poetry in the behaviour.

What does it mean for you to be a nomad?

Somewhere else is just a little further. Maybe it will be fascinating, in fact, what I do not know always calls me. Maybe I was a cat in a previous life: cats always push the curtain, in case there is a mouse behind! I do not eat mice, only with my eyes.

Have you ever had any regrets? What do you have to give up in order to sustain a life on the road?

I always look at what I have, never at what I have not. I am a loner who could not live without my friends. As long as I can write, laugh and learn, I am happy.

Your favorite place in the world.

Apart from my bed when the cats joined me, it was the top of the great Buddah in  Bamiyan, in Afghanistan. The Liard river Hotsprings in Alaska with northern lights while I was floating the pond by myself. Machu Picchu, in Peru, when the mist of the morning is slowly dancing before leaving. Ochre pits, a cliff in Australia, and Paris.  

What would you recommend to a girl who would like to start traveling by motorcycle?

Nothing: the world I was travelling through belongs to another age. Everything is different, my behaviour fifty years ago could be clumsy today. So, once in my life, I shut up!

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On Her Bike

Listening to Kinga, author of On Her Bike blog, was like getting a jolt of energy. Maybe even a pinch in the face. Determined and free, she loves being nomadic and independent and will always encourage you to live your moment now, because life is not a test and some things have to be done today.

Who are you and how do you define your lifestyle?

My name is Kinga Tanajewska, known as On Her Bike. I’ve been travelling around the world for four years now: I started from australia in 2017 and I rode thru Asia, Europe, and now I’m in Africa because at the moment African continent is the only one where travelling is possible, it is not all over the border are closed so I’m hanging to South until the world will get back to normal and I’ll can continue my trip.

At what age did you start riding a motorcycle?

I started riding when I was sixteen years old, I was born in Poland and I grew up there, and there I started riding bikes. I always had this passion, but I started adventure travelling with that bike I have, the BMW GS, when I moved to Australia because I realized that road bikes really limit you. When you have a dual sport bike, the bike I have now, you can go on road, off road, riding long distances with the luggages. This is definitely the way I want to travel on the motorcycle. 

How do you support your travels? Is @onherbike a full time job?

Yes, it is now. Although I never expected that this is going to be my full time job because four years ago I just sort of took off from my trip. 

I suffered from depression, had post traumatic stress and after I had a collision with a car, I separated with my husband. That accident caused me a broken hand, and a broken leg, and after I recovered from my injuries, I’ve decided to quit my job. 

I had enough savings from the compensation money that would last me two years. So I didn’t have to worry about money for two years. I took off for my first trip and within time my Youtube channel started earning enough money for me to sustain myself on the road. 

So yeah, pretty much this is my job. As long as I produce videos, produce content on Youtube that keeps me on the road at the moment, it’s actually a quite comfortable life.

What kind of bike do you ride and why did you choose this model?

Currently I’m riding a BMW GS 800. It’s a dual sport bike. It’s comfortable on road and off road, and I selected this. This is actually my second bike of this type. And I think it’s crafted for me. 

BMW doesn’t do these models anymore, this bike is five years old, but for me, it’s still the best bike and it’s very reliable and I love it because it doesn’t limit me. I can go anywhere.

What is the hardest thing about being a female biker on the road?

Actually, I don’t think anything. It’s hard because it really doesn’t matter if you’re a girl or boy. I mean of course there are certain risks that if you’re in trouble, you’re by yourself and you have to deal with it. But it’s really not that scary to travel by yourself. 

At the start of my trip I had a few sort of not safe, maybe I was frightened for my safety. But since I entered Africa, seriously, I haven’t had any better experiences. So pretty much it’s been such smooth sailing. 

And I actually think as a woman you can experience so much more because for example, if you’re traveling through the Middle East through muslim countries, you are more approachable to women. For example, some men can talk to you, but even women can talk to you. And if you were a guy you had only limited yourself to a sort of a boys only environment. 

And I think, as a woman, people want to look after you and care for you. That’s really nice. So I don’t think it’s harder than for the guys. I think it’s pretty much the same. 

And what is the place that has had more meaning for you to cross on two wheels?

My biggest challenge was Mongolia. Mongolia was my dream country. I planned my route and I went through Mongolia: actually went there twice, once on my round the world trip and then at the GS Trophy.

When I was by myself, I spent one month there, and it was really challenging. The road was challenging. I had an overloaded bike at the time because I was expecting cold, it was May and I thought it was going to be very cold in the Gobi desert. 

A lot of jumpers, a lot of two sleeping bags, I was just so overloaded. It definitely challenged me, I’ve seen a lot of countries now, but that’s been like the harshest country I’ve ever been to, the conditions that people live in and there’s not enough, not enough water, they can’t feed the cattle and it’s really, really harsh. 

A couple of times I actually got into a situation where I was actually frightened for my safety in terms of connection with the guys. You have to be very careful sometimes, and Mongolia was like the biggest test on so many levels for me even until now and later, maybe because that was the start of my trip like literally that was like three months into my trip. I think it’s good that it happened. Then I traveled in a little bit different way. 

Mongolia  taught me not to trust too much to the locals and if something doesn’t feel right, just get out of there as soon as possible. I’m not gonna go into details why. But yeah, definitely Mongolia, but it’s also challenging, and so beautiful and it’s quite incredible and unique, and there’s nothing like Mongolia anywhere in the world. 

What does it mean for you to be a nomad?

Well this is pretty much my life that I love. You know, people asked me: “Where you’re going to stop?” I was like, “I don’t know”.

It’s really hard to tell me to say when I’m gonna stop, because I just want to continue, I’m going to continue for as long it makes me happy! And if one day I woke up, and I had enough of this normal life, I’m just gonna start another chapter.

But I can’t see this moment coming anytime soon, because first of all I can afford this lifestyle, I’ve got a stable income coming every month and I love this freedom, unconditional freedom. 

I’m by myself every day, I get up and I do what the hell I want! If I have to work on my videos, I lock myself in a room somewhere for one week and just do that, and if I feel like going camping, I just do that. 

And just freedom is such a wonderful thing. 

I definitely love this nomadic lifestyle. 

What is the most important project you have been able to support by sharing your travels? 

I’m traveling and I’m raising money for a disabled child back in Poland, Franek, my friend from high school’s son. He was diagnosed with cerebral palsy and he will require constant rehabilitation for the rest of his life. You can get details on what disorder he’s got on my blog or even on my Youtube videos in every description:

https://gogetfunding.com/arewethereyet/ 

I won’t define this as a project, but I’m getting messages from people telling me that I inspire them: I inspire them to buy a bike or license or go traveling or do solo trips or do whatever they do if you hear that. This is not my mission, but it’s so nice to hear that through my little videos or my content on Instagram or Facebook, people just get out of their comfort zone and my travels inspired them to do that. That’s really nice. 

What would you recommend to a girl who would like to start traveling by motorcycle?

Just don’t wait. Just do it. Well, as soon as you can get yourself a license and go out, the world is really not that scary and if I can do it, anyone can. 

I think the hardest thing for anyone is to leave everything behind and just get out there. You know, just to start is always the hardest. 

And once you find yourself on the road, you just work things out and everything. As long as you’re healthy, everything can be sorted. If your bikes break down, you can sort it out. If I don’t know, just everything can be sorted out. So don’t be scared. 

Just get out there and do it while you can. You know, I love this quote my maid always was saying that in Australia life is not a rehearsal. We only have one go.

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ADV Travelbug

Sandra and Fiona are two passionate and enthusiast individuals who were able to prove themselves twice as brave.

They fall in love and left everything behind for a journey that is constantly becoming. Their first long road trip together was supposed to consist in crossing the US, but then they decided to continue heading South and never stopped.

ADV Travelbug is their blog: videos, tips, itineraries, and useful charts and information for those who want to embark on even one trip of their incredible journeys.

Who are you and how do you define your lifestyle?

We are a same sex couple who quit their jobs in 2018 to travel the World without any defined timeline. As part of our travels we planned to explore the USA by motorcycle for 3 months. However, we loved it so much that we decided to keep going and drive it all the way to Patagonia. Unfortunately Covid got in the way and we only made it to Colombia though. 

After returning to Europe we secured some sponsorship with Triumph Motorcycles who decided to support us until we can continue our world travels by lending us a Tiger 900 Rally Pro Adventure Motorcycle. 

Last year this enabled us to explore Germany, Austria and some parts of the Czech Republic and France. This year we are riding the same motorcycle from Land’s End in England to John O’Groats in Scotland.  

You can find out more here.

How do you support your travels?

We refer to ourselves as full-time travellers and Adventure Seekers. We do have a blog and YouTube channel but as of yet aren’t making money with it so we don’t consider ourselves Digital Nomads. 

Our travels are 100% self-funded. Fiona used to be a Health & Safety Manager in the utilities sector and I used to be a Sales Director within the IT & Finance world. 

Both of us have properties which are rented out. This allows us each to put 1100 GBP per month towards our travel budget.  And of course we have some savings for the unexpected things along the way that we’ve sometimes had to dip into. 

We now also have some support from motorcycle brands. Although we aren’t getting paid by them, it allows us to keep our costs down. Here is some information about our sponsors.

Do you remember the moment when you decided to travel together on a motorcycle?

I (Sandra) had bought a motorcycle in March 2018 to travel the USA. Then I met Fiona and we decided to ride the bike all the way to Alaska as well. As soon as we hit the road, we instantly fell in love with it and decided to ride the motorcycle all the way to Patagonia.

Once we arrived in Central America we added “riding up to Brazil after Patagonia” to it and before we even hit Colombia we knew we were going to go around the world by motorbike.

What kind of bike do you ride and why did you choose this model?

Our first motorcycle was a BMW F800 GS. It worked well riding two up but it was heavily customized and the set up didn’t suit us (adding a lot of weight to the motorcycle). Since we had the chance to ride the Triumph Tiger 900 Rally Pro we decided to sell the BMW because the Tiger is significantly lighter and therefore easier to handle off-road.

The reason I like middleweight Adventure Bikes is that they are much more comfortable for long-distance travel than smaller dual-sport bikes. Especially when riding two up, fully loaded. I have no intention of switching to the 1200cc class because I simply don’t need that amount of power. And within the middleweight Adventure Bike class the Tiger 900 Rally Pro is my preferred option as it’s light, agile and has a lot of power, so it’s easy to have fun on and off road. 

Is it more challenging to solo travel or travel with someone else? What’s the most important lesson you learned traveling together?

For sure it’s more difficult to solo travel. Fiona and I are good at different things and complement each other well. I’m very happy-go-lucky whereas she’s way more organized and always makes sure we are well prepared for border crossings and never get caught out by poor planning.

She’s super strong and can pick up the bike with ease, whereas I’m not able to. Travelling together you can motivate each other and get through difficult situations much better. I also wouldn’t be riding some of the off-road trails in the middle of nowhere without having Fiona by my side. If you break a leg and no one is around that’s a scary thought, but together we can definitely be braver.

Fiona found it challenging at first to travel without a plan and not knowing where we would sleep on that night but she loves having this flexibility now. We both also learnt to travel slower… That we don’t have to move every single day to chase another waterfall but that it’s okay to have downtime and just soak in the local life.

What is the hardest thing about being a female bikers on the road?

There is this stereotypical thinking that women don’t know anything about bikes. We always choose servicing our bikes at the dealership (when possible) but sometimes when we need to visit a local garage some of the quotes are ridiculous. For example, BMW in Mexico City changed our breaks for 60 USD (part and labor). A Belgian Expat running a garage in Costa Rica asked us for 400 USD. But these are few and isolated cases. Most of the time we find people to be very encouraging when they see us riding a motorbike. 

And what is the place that has had more meaning for you to cross on two wheels?

Guatemala holds a very special place in our hearts. The country is absolutely beautiful and people were incredibly kind to us. We also had some of our most memorable off-road riding experiences there. The natural beauty in this country is unreal and we saw real lava for the first time when we hiked Acatenango volcano to witness the eruptions throughout the night. 

What does it mean for you to be nomads?

It’s a lifestyle. It changes your perspective of what is important in life and just how little you need to be truly happy if you just follow your dreams. Fiona and I both had good jobs back home that afforded us a very comfortable lifestyle. We definitely had to dial down on the luxuries in our life to keep travelling full-time but neither of us would want to change it for the world. 

What would you recommend to a girl who would like to start traveling by motorcycle?

It can feel a little scary at first but there is a huge and kind ADV community out there, full of people that want to support you. We are part of a bigger family now and time and time again we are just taken aback by people’s kindness when we get stuck.

When we had to leave all our belongings and motorcycle behind in Colombia and return home due to the pandemic we were inundated with people offering help to store our things, later help us sell the bike and reunite us with our belongings.

Know that you are not alone, many amazing women solo riders are traveling the world right now and you will be part of an amazing community!

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Juvena Huang – The Wandering Wasp

Juvena is a singular rider. She rode from Singapore to Europe covering 44,000km, 25 countries in 27 months with a red Vespa

Ambassador of Women Riders World Relay, activist, storyteller and speaker, Juvena encourages us to keep exploring, being ambitious, and free. She is a curious individual who hope to forge connection through her storytelling on the World’s contrasts.

Her project, The Wandering Wasp blog, it’s an exhaustive website for those who desire to travel and try to understand the World, offering useful information, tips and reflections.

Who are you and how do you define your lifestyle?

My name is Juvena Huang from Singapore. I am currently self-employed, waiting for borders to open and start travelling again.

When did you decide to start the project The Wandering Wasp, and what does it mean for you?

An intrepid friend of mine passed away two weeks before he was supposed to set off on an adventure ride to the China border. The morbid epiphany that we all die made me rethink what I want to fulfil in life. Do I want to tread cautiously until death with the single-track path of education, a stable job and settling down? I always have this insatiable curiosity about the world and the people but I never had the courage to just drop everything and travel. That trip was breaking shackles of what society expects of me as a member and as a woman.

What kind of bike do you ride and why did you choose this singular model to travel?

I rode whatever bike I had at that time. I had a KTM dirtbike and a Vespa Excel 150 scooter. My late friend said, “It’s the rider, not the bike.” I chose the Vespa because it is a simple machine and has ample storage space. Vespa can be found in many countries so one can easily find mechanics who can repair it and spare parts.

What is the hardest thing about being a female biker on the road?

The biking community everywhere is quite male-dominated. I would be hanging with guys a lot. Sometimes it can be difficult to be good friends with other male bikers without igniting jealousy in their spouse.

Is it more rewarding to be in new places or to get there?

I don’t know. The reward of being in a new place can be very short-lived. The journey to a new place can be full of surprises too.

What does it mean for you to be a nomad?

Being a nomad is to no longer see home as a geographical point but as a state of mind.

Tell us about the project #womenridersworldrelay.

More than 3,528 riders accompanied the baton 102,223km through 79 countries, on a 333-day circumnavigation, which ended on February 15th, 2020. My role in this relay is the Singapore Ambassador, I had to coordinate with the Malaysia and Indonesia Ambassadors to pass the baton. I also tried to lend any contacts that I made during my trip towards this mission. I volunteered for this project because I realised in some communities, motorcycling is less accessible or acceptable among women because of stigma about women riding and being out by themselves. During the finale in London, I was also invited to speak about my journey.

WRWR on The New Paper. In the photo, Juvena Huang (holding the wooden baton) with Singaporean, Malaysian, and Indonesian riders for the Women Riders World Relay.

What would you recommend to a girl who would like to start traveling by motorcycle?

Before setting out on a journey, do not seek advice from those who never left home. There will be many nay-sayers who will try to talk you out of it and I bet most of them are those who never travel by motorcycle themselves. They can only offer you advice based on fears and hearsays. Get your advice from those based on experience.

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