By T.J. & Stephanie Thompson Photos by Stephanie Thompson and Glitter & Rust Photography
A spontaneous conversation, during lunch time in our living room, led us to the wild idea of planning a trip for 2 people on 2 wheels for 2 weeks with a small budget while attending 2 motorcycle events. Questions arose such as: “How do we pack for two weeks on a motorcycle and what do we pack?”, “Where are we going to stay on the road?”, “Is it possible to do this trip on our budget?” and then the most important question… “Can we pull this trip off?” As the story unfolds, you will see we have had to put ourselves out there on social media and with blind faith rely on the motorcycle community. This is called our Shoestring Budget Road Trip and we welcome you to follow along.
One of the first planning stages of our trip was to determine our route and how much ground we could cover each day. We had to break each day down into cost, mileage, lodging, and points of interest. This where we decided to put our idea out onto social media for suggestions and ideas. Within 24 hours our plan manifested into an actual road trip and adventure of a lifetime. Responses blew us away as individuals opened up their homes and lives by offering a place to crash for the night, or just rest up for a bit. During the whole time, we were in deep discussion about our safety and if we really trusted people that we had never met. We always had the nearest campground on our GPS in case we needed it. Our route included fourteen nights on the road with nightly stops every 350-400 miles. We believed this to be the number of miles we could travel each day comfortably and within a timely manner, which would also allow us to sightsee along the way.
Our road trip would be divided into three legs. From our home in Arkansas to the Fuel Cleveland Show, from the Fuel Cleveland Show to Sturgis, and then from Sturgis back to our home in Arkansas. We would leave from our hometown in Northwest Arkansas and arrive at our first event in Cleveland, Ohio in three days, which was 845 miles. During this first leg of our journey we wanted to stop and see the Indianapolis Motor Speedway in Indiana. Our second leg would consist of four days riding 1,283 miles to travel from Ohio to South Dakota, with a ton of sightseeing in Chicago. Our plan is to spend three to four nights in Sturgis and ride as many of the Black Hills routes as possible. With the last leg being our journey home, it would take us three days riding 975 miles to make it back to our bed.
Little did we know that our road trip plan and route would be altered once people started reaching out and inviting us to stay with them. This gave us an opportunity to meet more individuals in the motorcycle community and hear their stories. This is when we quickly discovered that this trip was going to be so much more than a trip– it became an adventure of connecting hearts and touching lives.
With $1,200 on our debit card, we knew we had to get creative to make this number grow and stretch for the whole two weeks. Our goal was to go with the number 2. Why not? 2 people, 2 wheels, 2 weeks, 2 events, $2,000. This sounds like a lot of money but after you start adding lodging, eating throughout the day as well as eating at the two events… our $2,000 budget would be depleted fast. We had originally looked into hotels for our trip and quickly realized that it was not possible to travel on our budget with hotel stays. Staying with people along our route and camping in our tent was the only way we could make this work. We had no idea what the final cost would be and we knew we had to stay within $100 per day. Was it realistic for two people to travel on such a small budget? To get our $1,200 to turn into $2,000 was going to take some hustling. We decided to reach out to local businesses for sponsorship and offered to promote them during our trip in exchange for their support. Which to our surprise; worked perfectly and our $1,200 quickly grew.
We needed to make certain the Road Glide was roadworthy and get an inspection before we hit the road. On our previous trip we had installed a tuner with a new breather and we felt we needed to open up the exhaust.
The header was taken off, we removed the catalytic converter and modified the Screamin’ Eagle slip-ons by removing all the packing, then drilled a series of one inch holes in the baffles.
An inspection was needed, including an oil change; it was during this inspection we found the mid-frame bolts loose which was a result of all the washers being cracked. We replaced the washers and tightened the mid-frame bolts. It was also time for new tires in order make this 4,000-mile journey safe, and we decided to run the Dunlop American Elite motorcycle tires. Thanks to Blue Collar Choppers for being our mechanic and sponsoring our trip with these tires.
Our motorcycle luggage is not fancy by any means. A Coleman 40L hiking bag and an Ozark Trails 60L hiking bag is what we had, and we were determined to make them work because we did not have the extra funds in our budget to purchase motorcycle luggage. Packing took a little extra time and effort to ensure equal weight distribution on the luggage rack. The luggage rack is an aftermarket brand that we fabricated a sissy bar to in order to support the heavy load and tall hiking bags.
• Coleman 2 man tent designed for hiking which is lightweight, small and compact.
• 2 NEMO equipment sleeping mats
• 2 Coleman Cloudcroft mummy sleeping bags
• Rain Jacket & Leather Jacket
• Small tool set
• 10×12 tarp
Each hiking bag:
• 3 pairs of jeans
• 8 pairs of socks
• 8 shirts
• 8 underwear
• 1 extra pair of shoes
• Small misc. toilettes
• Charging cords
Planning any trip can be stressful however ours is a little different. Because we were staying with people off of social media only, we had to do some cross-referencing and studying. We all know, Instagram handles are not always the individuals’ real names and the same is true on Facebook. Facebook and Instagram posts sometimes overlap. We needed to be certain that places we stayed were along our route and would work with the intricate planning of time frames for each day. At this point, we had the Road Glide roadworthy, our bags packed, our route organized, adrenaline pumping and our nerves shot. We were ready to embark on this journey.
Like always… Stay Ornery!
Part 1 of our Shoestring Budget Road Trip. Check out next month’s issue for Part 2 of our adventure.
Shoestring Budget Story: