For us, part of the pleasure of a road trip is the preparation — planning the route, contacting people to visit, and deciding what to take with us.
Today we pack for the trip. As a child, I would travel with my parents and two siblings in a car with limited room. We carried a tent and bedding for five, food and preparation equipment (Coleman stove, ice chest, pots and pans, etc.), our clothes, and the equipment my father felt we needed (axe, shovel, and I don’t remember what else). With his expert engineering sense, it all fit.
And I once travelled for three months on a motorcycle, with everything for two of us fitting in the saddlebags and top box, including clothes, maps (and AAA Tour Books), toiletries, supplies for the bike (oil, tire pump, tools), an electric fan to produce white noise at night, and some room to stash lunch or a souvenir or two.
But our car has a large trunk. We don’t need to be so selective. Should we take our favorite pillows? Sure, there’s room. Probably it is a corollary of Parkinson’s Law (“Work expands so as to fill the time available for its completion”). The stuff we take with us expands to fill the available space.
Lying in bed this morning, starting to think about what we will take on our trip, I found myself wondering if Americans’ penchant for large cars is related to consumerism. I had always thought the large cars were because this is a large country, with long distances and plenty of room for wide streets and roads. But perhaps it’s also related to the fact that we are constantly urged to accumulate more stuff.
Then I got up and started laying out what we’ll take on this trip. Part of the pleasure of motorcycle travel was seeing how little we could get by with. Part of the pleasure of car travel is not denying myself that extra pair of shoes that I might not wear.