May 18 2009 by Jason Fogelson
If you've got a motorcycle in your garage right now, you have the first ingredient in my recipe for guilt-free travel.
Traveling by motorcycle requires clever use of resources. Especially if you're taking a passenger along and traveling two-up, every little item that you carry with you must serve a purpose. So, motorcyclists travel light.
Traveling by motorcycle consumes less fuel. Even a full-dress touring bike like the Harley-Davidson Ultra Classic Electra Glide is rated to achieve 35 mpg city/54 mpg highway.
Traveling by motorcycle contributes less to traffic congestion. Several motorcycles can fit in the space of a single SUV. Motorcycles are more maneuverable than cars or SUVs, and are much less likely to get inexorably stuck in big traffic jams.
Traveling by motorcycle puts you out in nature, away from confined quarters with other human beings. I'm not particularly afraid of the H1N1 Flu, but I am always aware of how easily germs are transmitted during an airplane flight. In my motorcycle helmet on the open road, the only germs I'm confined with are my own.
Traveling by motorcycle encourages spontaneity. I enjoy spending time planning my route - I usually use the HOG Ride Planner to set some goals for the ride. I find Best Western Hotels along the route, and make reservations in advance for my nightly stays. Then, I explore a few different ways to get from Point A to Point B so that when I get out on the road, I can respond to the conditions that I encounter. For instance, if the weather is perfect, I might get off the bigger roads and drive down country lanes. If the weather isn't so great, I might hit the highway, and take the most direct major route to my next stop. With a little pre-planning, I can be spontaneous in a way that airplane or train tickets will never allow.
Most of all, traveling by motorcycle is a totally involving experience. It's impossible for me to be consumed by guilt while exploring the world on a motorcycle - there's just no room in my brain for guilt when I'm using my body, my mind, my reflexes and my instincts as tools for travel.