(check out SharkKage.com for reliable loading ramps for your trucks)
The road is in his blood, but his blood has nearly been on the road numerous times. He tells us about this, and a few other close calls, in September’s issue of TNT Magazine.
Sam had so much to say that we couldn’t squeeze it all into the mag, so we thought we’d share his tips for adventure and travelling by motorbike here…
Sam’s top 20 tips for people looking for adventure…
1 Work out what you really want from your adventures. Is your priority to visit museums, to lay on white sand beaches, to climb every mountain, to… and so on. If you are planning to travel with someone else, make sure that you know what their aims are and that you make sure they understand yours.
2 Don’t be afraid of the unknown; revel in the fact that there is so much to learn and to become involved with.
3 Do your homework so you can take advantage of as many aspects of your journey as there are available. Don’t over plan but enjoy the learning curve. For me a good third of an adventure comes from this stage.
4 Learn about the cultures and customs of other lands, so you understand more about where you are travelling and so that you don’t risk offending others through your ignorance.
5 Don’t overload yourself with kit that ‘may’ be useful. If you don’t have something you need, either buy it along the way or get it sent out to you. Both are amazingly easy to do. Battling with too much stuff can make an adventure into a chore.
6 Enjoy meeting people – don’t be afraid of making a fool of yourself. Buying a chicken dinner in a land where you know little of the language can be great fun and can make you friends.
7 Do learn how to say the basics in the new languages you come across. ‘Hello’, ‘please’, ‘thank you’, ‘which is the way to?’ These things will stand you in great stead. As will learning how to say, ‘Don’t be silly, I’m not paying that much!’
8 While you are travelling, pay a lot of attention to local knowledge – all sorts of opportunities can open up as a result and you can steer clear of dodgy situations too.
9 Pay good attention to weather patterns, visa conditions and the health situation – what inoculations should you have and how long do they take to organise.
10 Make sure you have a top-rate travel insurance policy – preferably one that includes repatriation in case something goes badly wrong.
11 Work out how much you think your budget should be and then add half again. You are free to deal with most eventualities and opportunities then.
12 Write a will before you go and make sure your family know exactly what you want to happen. You can save everyone a lot of grief by doing so.
13 Write a journal. You’ll be on intake overload. It’s so easy to forget the things that happen.
14 Don’t get bogged down with blogs and websites. Go out and live your dream. Become a stranger in strange lands. That’s so much harder to do when you are under pressure to find wifi and to make regular reports home. Cut that umbilical cord!
15 Travel slowly. You could be on an adventure of a lifetime. Go too fast and you’ll belt on past the good stuff!
16 Don’t get bogged down with the prep and don’t let fear get in the way. Let your fear become a trip enhancer.
17 Don’t be afraid of people, but show them respect and even in the worst situations you are most likely to get respect in return.
18 Trust your instincts. If something looks dodgy and has the feeling that it’s not right, then that’s the way it probably is.
19 Never be afraid to turn around; there’s always another adventure waiting to happen.
20 Know that every time something goes wrong, it’s the start of a new and unexpected adventure. They are often the most fun!
Click ‘NEXT’ if you are thinking of travelling by motorbike…
Sam Manicom biking in India
“Without doubt, what excites me the most about travelling by motorcycle is the freedom a bike gives me,” tells Sam. “I can wake up to each day and think, ‘what shall I do today?’ Not, ‘what does my bus or train ticket tell me I have to do’.
“The freedom to explore is quite magnificent. Africa for example is just 6,000ish miles long. I rode 22,000 miles, because there was so much to see, and I could. I spent two years riding across Asia and every day really was an adventure. I love the fact that my bike allows me to stop just about anywhere I like. There are some spectacular views that I can stop to look at, but a car wouldn’t find space to park and a bus would belt on past.
“I also like the fact that I don’t have to carry a rucksack! Riding into a headwind is relatively effortless and being out in the open means that you are really accessible. That’s the first step to meeting people. I also like the fact that I don’t have a roof over my head.
“People worry about riding a bike being dangerous, but I don’t have to rely on dodgy bus drivers to control my destiny. Some trains around the world look as if they would be happier on a scrap heap and, if I can see a potentially difficult situation going on in front of me, I can change my route. A bus has a schedule and a route it has to work to.
“There’s no doubt that in some countries size is what matters. But that’s simple to deal with. If it’s bigger than you and it wants to go first, let it. Why not? You soon lose any element of machismo and rules of the road are things you learn each time you go into a new country.
“Looking back on India, I was literally run off the road 12 times in just one day. There the buses and trucks are dictators, and I don’t think I’d look good as a bonnet ornament on a TATA truck!
“There is one other thing. People don’t feel threatened by you when you are out in the open. Perversely, your vulnerability to the world makes you less of a target.
“My bike, by the way, is called Libby. That’s short for Liberty – it’s what she gives me.”
Sam has written four books about his journey: Into Africa, Under Asian Skies, Distant Suns and Tortillas to Totems. You can buy them from Amazon and all good bookshops. sam-manicom.com