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GUEST BLOG: Motorcycle travel anxiety

By Carly Becker from 2 Wheels 1 Girl

Woman motorcyclist standing next to tent

It’s okay, you can admit it – you’ve probably experienced anxiety on a motorcycle trip. Motorcycle travel anxiety is real!

This article will examine three examples of my own motorcycle anxiety along with why these situations cause anxiety and what we can do about it.

Mental health and motorcycle travel anxiety

Mental health is no longer a taboo word in many places of the world, and for good reason. It is estimated that 970 million people across the globe had a mental illness or substance use disorder in 2017, per Our World in Data.

The most common of those mental illnesses was anxiety, with an estimated 4% of the population experiencing chronic anxiety. Even if you’ve not been diagnosed with an anxiety condition, it’s still possible to experience those feelings when things happen.

Motorcycle travellers are no exception, and while I don’t have statistics on how many have anxiety, I can speak from personal experience and on behalf of other motorcycle riders I know.

While travelling on a motorcycle is a wonderful experience most of the time, it can be anxiety-provoking on some occasions.

I’m going to discuss three common experiences on motorcycle trips, how they lead to anxious feelings and tips to deal with them. If you can relate to any of these, send me a DM on Instagram, @2wheels_1girl.

Lack of connection

Woman's feet inside tent looking at motorcycle
Camping in West Virginia

While many of us travel on our motorcycles to get away and unplug from our daily grind, it can still be unnerving when you are somewhere completely “off the grid.”

My example

I felt a great deal of motorcycle travel anxiety when I stayed at Natural Bridge State Resort Park in Kentucky. I pulled up to my campsite, excited to text my husband that I made it, when I realised I didn’t have cell service and there was no wifi at the campsite. I had never felt so alone.

I had to ride off-road a short distance to get to my campsite, and the “What Ifs” started. What if I wreck and get hurt and can’t call anyone? What if no one is around? What if I can’t pick my bike back up?

Why this causes motorcycle travel anxiety

A component that makes this situation so anxiety-provoking is the concept of cognitive distortions. These are errors in our thinking that cause us to view reality in inaccurate – usually negative – ways. A few examples that apply to a situation like this are:

  • All or nothing thinking – thinking in extremes (I’m never going to be able to pick this bike back up!)

  • Catastrophizing – assuming the worst when faced with the unknown (I’m going to wreck back here and get hurt and no one will hear me and something terrible will happen)

  • Mental filtering – ignoring the positive and focusing exclusively on negatives (I don’t care that this campsite is beautiful and I’m on a lovely solo trip – I’m so upset that I can’t contact anyone!)

A mental solution

You can prevent motorcycle travel anxiety by changing those thought patterns. I have two suggestions

  1. Look for shades of grey. Rarely are things black and white.

  2. Change the “what if” upside down – what if you don't drop your bike and you have an amazing trip?

Changing these thought patterns brings you back into reality so that you can enjoy your trip without all the anxiety.

A physical solution

I purchased a satellite communicator that sends text messages or calls first responders anywhere in the world, even if you don’t have cell service.

I used it on a recent trip and knowing that I had a way to communicate if I needed help or just to say hi to someone I care about was such a relief. I had no anxiety about being alone this time and still experienced that feeling of “unplugging.”

Lack of basic human needs

Female motorcyclist looking tired
Cold and fatigued in Berea, Kentucky

We’ve all been there – you’ve been riding for too long and you’ve gotten fatigued; you haven’t eaten recently and the 'hanger' (anger sparked by hunger) is setting in; you really have to use the restroom but there’s not one immediately available.

Why this causes motorcycle travel anxiety

I know personally, fatigue and hunger cause a lot of anxiety for me, especially hunger. But it’s no surprise – “in fact, the neural networks that stimulate both hunger and stress responses in the body are shared,” according to Healthline.

Another example is using the bathroom. As a woman, it’s sometimes not as simple as for a man, and finding a bathroom can be complicated on the road, especially in cities. On my trip to West Virginia, I passed through Charleston and took an exit to find a bathroom. I had to stop at three different places before I finally found one with a public restroom. That’s three GPS searches, three parking jobs, three times taking on and off my gear. To say my anxiety was mounting would be an understatement!

A mental solution

The key to situations like this is to remain calm and avoid those cognitive distortions. You might have a thought like “I’m never going to find something to eat!” but that’s most likely inaccurate. Question your thinking and consider the reality of the situation.

A physical solution

Keep things with you that can help with these basic needs.

  • Keep a caffeinated beverage, chews, etc. with you for fatigue.

  • Bring snacks and extra water with you always.

  • Anticipate when you’ll need a break.

Keep resources on you to make sure your basic needs are met, and you’ll avoid or alleviate motorcycle travel anxiety on your trips.

When things go awry

Motorcycle with view of mountains in background
Lost in Tennessee

Many motorcycle travellers recognise that a motorcycle trip is an adventure, not a vacation – things may go wrong and it’s the journey that’s most important.

Nevertheless, it’s easy to get motorcycle travel anxiety when things go wrong, such as mechanical issues, a close call with an accident or getting lost.

My example

I had set my GPS in a hurry, trying to get on the Foothills Parkway on my trip in Tennessee. Soon I found myself on one of the most thrilling yet terrifying backroads I’ve ever been on. One lane, with tight, uphill switchbacks – I was soon lost high in the mountains with no cell service and no idea where I was or where my GPS was taking me.

Luckily, I remembered I had downloaded offline maps, and set that to get back on track. My anxiety was relieved immediately since I knew where I was going. I was then able to enjoy that amazing road.

Why it causes anxiety

Bring in the cognitive distortions again! Thoughts like “What if that guy had hit me?” or “I’m never going to get my bike fixed” or “My entire trip is ruined!” cause anxiety and negativity.

A mental solution

A key is to break cognitive distortions, as we’ve talked about. But you can also make sure you are mentally prepared when you go on a trip. Remind yourself that things may go wrong but you are strong and capable and can manage it!

At the very least, it will be an enthralling story to tell once you get back.

A physical solution

There are things you can do to be prepared.

  • Buy safety items like first aid kits.

  • Bring tools for the most common things to break down on your bike.

  • Pack flashlights and headlamps in case you have to do something in the dark.

  • Download offline maps and bring paper maps in case you get lost.


Motorcycle travel anxiety is a real thing, and you are not alone if you experience it.

While it is uncomfortable, it doesn’t have to ruin a trip or prevent you from travelling.

You now have an understanding of why some situations cause anxiety, along with some mental and physical strategies to implement that can help prevent or alleviate anxiety on motorcycle trips.

Graphic of Moto Trip Starter Kit

For more tips and action-oriented advice for planning for motorcycle traveling, download my Moto Trip Starter Kit.

About the author

You can find Carly Becker at 2 Wheels 1 Girl in Kentucky USA, where she helps motorcycle riders overcome barriers and plan their best motorcycle tours and moto camping trips. As a motorcycle traveller herself, she's learned a lot (the hard way) about how to travel on a bike, and wants to help other people who are just getting started or need a little help. As someone who occasionally experiences anxiety and a lack of confidence herself, she knows that preparing for motorcycle travel can be more than just compiling your gear and setting off. She shares details from her trips and practical, useful tips about planning for a trip and traveling on a bike on her blog and Instagram feed. Feel free to send her a DM on Instagram if you have any questions or would like some advice; she's always happy to chat about motorcycle travel!


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