Are you more of a lone wolf, or do you enjoy traveling with others? Depending on which you’d prefer greatly changes how to plan/pack for your first long road trip. I always create a checklist and cross items off as things are packed and looked over. Before you can go anywhere make sure your ride is in good shape, and that you physically are hydrated, fed and alert enough to hit the road.
Your owner’s manual should have a section dedicated to routine maintenance and items like tire tread, break fluid, oil level, coolant level and horn/signal operation are simple safety checks that could make all the difference in the long run. If an owner’s manual isn’t accessible try the manufactures’ website, your local shop or even forums for suggestions as to what to look for on your particular bike.
For you chain-final-drive-folk be sure your chain slack is set and that it is rust-free with enough lubrication to minimize resistance and reduce premature damage. How long are you riding for? A ‘long trip’ could mean 4 hours down the highway or traveling the globe in search of adventure. Pack according and ensure you have food and water plans, and an extra reserve of a granola bar and a bottle of water just in case.
When it comes to the specifics of packing I’ve noticed that what you pack you don’t need, and what you don’t you’ll wish you did. Operating on that mentality I now find I bring a bit more that necessary and kick myself for worrying to much when I arrive safely at home.
If you do some service on your bike yourself you’ll soon become familiar with which socket sizes and specialty tools are required for the most common issues, so pack those. Another simple way to know what to bring tool-wise is to dust off the tool kit that came with your bike and replace everything that is there with something that might be easier to grip or made stronger. For example to adjust my chain I need a 12mm and 10mm wrench as well as a 26mm to loosen the axle nut. Try as I may I have never been able to back off the axle nut with the miniscule wrench provided. A large adjustable wrench equipped with a rubberized handle now sits at the bottom of my backpack just incase.
WD40 is the greatest thing ever invented since white sliced bread. It can un-squeak any door hinge, lubricate your chain, clean tools, loosen those tricky bolts and just about anything else you can think of. It isn’t cheap but you can save a few bucks if you buy it in bulk. Your local hardware store should carry a few different types of cans of the stuff, so purchase the smallest you can find and add it to your travel pack as well.
Ultimately just have fun with it! The more you travel the more you’ll perfect what you pack. When it comes to gear make sure you check the weather for where you’re heading, and all the places in-between. For the most part my experience has been that you get what you pay for, so that jacket that might be $100 more might actually be waterproof or have a few extra pockets that come in handy. Miscellaneous items like bungee cords, cash and cell phone charger never hurt too.