If you’re reading this, chances are you are not the type of person to spend their vacation time relaxing on a pristine beach while sipping mojitos and working hard on your tan. No, like me, you are an adventurer and thrill-seeker, dreaming of traversing the unknown country on two wheels, rain or shine. You don’t get scared away by adverse weather, rugged terrain or tough conditions. You embrace it!

One thing I love about traveling and exploring on a motorcycle, dirt bike, or ATV is the close contact with the elements. You can feel the wind on your face, smell the air as you are riding through a forest, desert or high mountains. There’s no better way to intimately get to know a new country than spending a few weeks riding through it. Not too long ago, I had the chance to do just that when I decided to spend my vacation in Ecuador.

Ecuador is an adventurer’s paradise. Its unique geography allows you to experience several climatic zones in a short period of time. You have easy access to cloud forests, beaches, deserts and high mountains — what more could you want? During my trip, I spent about two weeks dirt biking through each of these varied climate zones. It’s an amazing country with even more amazing people full of friendly smiles and willingness to help. Ecuadorians are more than happy to guide you if you lose your way while hiking to a waterfall deep inside the cloud forest or offer a lesson if you want to try your hand at making your own sugar cane juice at the local farmer’s house. If you’re an adventurer who’s itching to embark on a trip like this yourself, there are a few tips and considerations you need to go over to help make the journey as smooth and enjoyable as possible.

First Things First

If your trip is centered around exploring and touring on a bike, the most important step in your planning will be sorting out the details of your ride. Namely, will you buy, ship, or rent a motorcycle or bike? Most people don’t have the luxury of taking a few months off from work, so shipping your own ride to the country of your choice may not be the best and most cost-worthy option for a shorter trip. Similarly, buying a motorcycle in a foreign country is often not feasible if you’re only planning to stay for a week or two. The best option in my experience is to find an established and experienced rental shop in your destination. Cost of rental will be cheaper than shipping back and forth and it also helps you avoid the painstaking process of registering/insuring your bike with the foreign government.

I highly recommend researching rental and touring companies in the weeks leading up to your trip to ensure you get the best deal and are working with a reputable organization. It also helps to have everything conveniently ready for you upon arrival — That’s exactly what I did when I landed in Quito. I reached out to a local motorcycle touring company before I left home. They had a ride equipped with luggage already waiting for me. All I had to do is to jump on it and go off exploring the country on my own.

Your standard packing list should include a first-aid kit, water bottle, maps, portable chargers and protective clothing. Check the weather and bring layers and waterproof gear, if needed! Ask about safety gear and add-ons when you get in touch with the rental or touring company. A helmet/visor are likely included with your rental but, depending on the terrain you plan to tackle, you might also want elbow or knee pads, gloves and even a small tool-kit to handle repairs on the go. Unfortunately, tourists can be easy targets for crime so get into the habit of keeping your wallet and important travel documents on your person at all times. Consider investing in a travel belt or similar carrying case that can be worn comfortably.