Lessons learned from riding around the world

Luke Phillips

Riding the ‘big trip’ around the world. It’s an ambition many of us have, but one that only a few manage to achieve.

The appeal is clear: endless days exploring exotic lands on two wheels, embracing new sights, sounds, and cultures, when experiencing the extraordinary becomes the ordinary.

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You’ll leave home nervous yet full of enthusiasm and return months or years later a rugged adventurer having followed in the tyre tracks of motorcycling heroes like Ted Simon, Elspeth Beard, and Ewan and Charley, having traced your own narrow path around the planet.

So, you’ve decided that an itinerant life on two wheels is for you, but what do you need to know before you set off?

Ride around the world

Himalayas Luke Phillips Ride around the world

The wisest people to learn from are those who have circumnavigated the globe themselves, travellers like Luke Philips who recently returned home to Britain after spending six years and 120,000 miles on the road.

We interviewed Luke for the Sept/Oct 2023 issue of Adventure Bike Rider magazine where, among a host of fascinating insights, he revealed the motivation behind his epic journey, the reason he finally took the plunge, the most effective way he found his way in foreign lands, and the changes he made to his bike and gear during his travels that he’d wished he’d done before he’d begun.

If you’re planning to embark on a bike trip big or small yourself, trust me when I say it’s well worth reading what Luke has to say beforehand.

The Sept/Oct 2023 issue of Adventure Bike Rider has sold out, but you can read all about Luke’s adventure by signing up to the ABR Digital Library HERE. 

In the meantime, here are some of the lessons Luke learned from riding around the world, in his own words…

There’s never a perfect time to travel, so just go…

Luke Phillips desert Ride around the world

“While I was at university, I went to Vietnam and did the classic Top Gear motorcycle route, three weeks up and down the country.

It was great fun, but I also realised it’s the best way to see a country. It’s also something you can do on your own, alone with your thoughts in your helmet.

After I finished my degree, I wasn’t quite ready to settle back into normal life. I’d saved up quite a bit so, in 2017, I decided to just sell everything I had and ride my bike around the world.”

You don’t need the most expensive bike if you can’t afford it…

Luke Phillips Skeleton Coast Ride around the world

“I’d owned a 1998 CB500, and I’d loved it. And when I was thinking about buying a new bike for the trip, I realised that I’d been riding that bike every day, through all conditions.

On my old Honda I never had to fix anything, it passed every MOT without a problem.

I was originally going to buy a more expensive bike, but Honda had brought out the CB500X, so I figured I could buy it, upgrade it, and use the thousands I’d save to travel with instead.

Plus, I knew it would be not only reliable but easily fixable, which is an important factor when you’re travelling around the world.”

You can’t plan for every eventuality…

Botswana Luke Phillips Ride around the world

“I had quite a bit of trouble when Covid kicked off. I’d just crossed into India from Myanmar an hour before they completely shut the border.

A Colombian biker I was travelling with didn’t make it, he got stuck on the other side. I got locked in a hotel room on one side, he was on the other, and we thought we could just wait it out because it would only last a month.

Obviously, we were very wrong. I made the British Embassy aware of where I was because there were mob riots happening, it wasn’t the safest place at the time.”

You won’t remember everything so take plenty of photos…

Salt Flat Luke Phillips Ride around the world

“When I got to Australia, I bought my first camera, and then I’d spend a few hours every day practicing.

It’s really just been a way to share with other people what I’m seeing, and it’s also to capture something significant from each day.

Obviously you can’t take a photo of everything you see, but I just like to immortalise each day with something that’s made an impression on me.”

Read Luke’s full interview

You can read all about Luke’s incredible six-year adventure around the world by signing up for the ABR Digital Library HERE.