Road trip time! You've got your planning sorted out. You've decided on a destination, planned your route, made all other preparations, and now it's time to pack up and roll out. It's crucial to pack your stuff efficiently to transport it safely and be able to ride for hundreds of carefree miles. You definitely don't want a piece of luggage or any other item you're carrying coming loose and flying off on the highway. It's bad enough to merely lose or damage something, but beyond that, your stuff coming loose or coming apart at the seams can pose a danger to you, the operation of your bike, or other drivers or motorcyclists on the road. So let's get to it and say goodbye to the days of sketchy packing with these five handy tips.

Have the right luggage

Your luggage options will vary depending on the type of motorcycle you ride. Heck, if you're on a touring bike, you probably even have some factory saddlebags on it. Whatever your situation is, make sure you're set up with some good motorcycle-specific luggage. While you could strap a bunch of conventional luggage and other bags to your bike, motorcycle-specific luggage is going to be designed to attach to your motorcycle more easily (and in most cases, includes the hardware, straps, etc. needed to do so) and withstand the rigors of the road in ways that conventional luggage isn't. To see some of the options out there, be sure to check out our Commuter, Weekender, Road Tripper - Motorcycle Luggage Buyers Guide article.

A place for everything, and everything in it's place

There are some strategies you can adopt to make loading your luggage, as well as positioning it on your motorcycle, more space-efficient, safe, and secure.

First, pack the heavier items at the bottom of your bags. This will lower the center of gravity, which will give your bags more stability to keep them from shifting around (especially if you're using soft bags), and will help prevent settling and shifting of the items in your bags, as well as keep the larger heavier items from crushing smaller, more fragile items.

Second, if you have more than one piece of luggage, evenly distribute the weight of the items you're packing throughout them. If you have one saddlebag packed with 50 lbs. and the other nearly empty, it will shift the center of gravity and balance point of your bike to one side, which would be detrimental to your bike's handling and stability.

Third, pack and position your luggage in such a way as to place the heaviest bags and items as low and close to your bike's center of gravity as possible. Centralizing mass will keep the added load from upsetting your suspension and handling.

Don't overload

Know the limits, in terms of both the size and weight capacity, of your luggage and motorcycle. Excessive size or weight will over-stress the luggage (brackets, tie downs, seams, etc.), which could cause your luggage to fail, which would be catastrophic. Know your motorcycle's GVWR (gross vehicle weight rating), and keep your total load (including yourself and any passenger) under that. Excessive weight for your motorcycle at worst could potentially damage components, but at the very least, can over-compress your suspension and result in poor handling.

Do as I say, not as I do?

Rack and roll

Most motorcycles can be outfitted with some sort of luggage rack, and it's a great addition to have. A rack will give you a secure and stable platform to attach things to, as well as increase your bike's carrying capacity.

Tie it up

When you need to strap down some odds and ends, or need some extra stability for your soft bags, some straps are in order. The bungee cords of old are out. Adjustable straps like those from ROK Straps or Biltwell are the way to go. You'll have way more versatility than you would with non-adjustable bungee cords and won't have to worry about hooks that can scratch your paint. A cargo net is also a great addition to easily carry bulkier items, like an extra helmet, a watermelon or Patrick's head.