Perfecting the road trip is a never-ending challenge. We’re pretty good at road tripping in our little Fiat Spider, but when you give us a little extra space, things can get out of hand.
For our just-finished trip, we helped out a neighbor by driving their Honda CRV to Oregon and swapping it for their Cadillac XT5. They wanted the SUVs flipped between their Oregon and Arizona homes. It saved them a long drive and allowed us to take advantage of the extra space for a 16-day wild west adventure.
It was great to be able to pack extra things for potential bad weather, but it was also a big challenge for us. We knew we might run into snow at the northernmost part of the trip, in fact, wet snow was in the forecast. We had space to throw in some cold weather gear since our planned horseback ride in Yellowstone National Park could mean long johns, heavy gloves and layers. All our riding gear went into a plastic bin that would never have fit in the Spider’s tiny trunk.
We needed to take a few bar items since Greg had been tapped to provide Old Fashioneds at an early stop where we connected with friends for a weekend at the National Championship Air Races in Reno. We would also need to take our turn cooking dinner one night, so we threw in a few favorites from our kitchen to make the task more comfortable and fun.
Then the extra space got the best of us. As often happens, we filled the space available to us. We both threw in a couple extra pairs of shoes. We added a cooler to put road snacks within easy reach. Our normally refined dopp kits became a two-week supply of necessities in a small roller bag. To put it simply, we got a little carried away.
We hashed over our decisions on the last two days of driving. We hadn’t needed the snow gear because the weather took a turn to sunshine and more moderate temps – but we agreed having the items was worth the space. We ended up using the cooler — not for snacks, but as a holder for the souvenirs we picked up along the way.
The bar items, in retrospect, could easily have been mailed home after our first weekend, freeing up a little space, but the few kitchen items we’d included came in handy when we decided to take advantage of the kitchen at a Residence Inn and make ourselves dinner one night.
By the mid-point of the trip we’d repacked the SUVs twice, rearranging bins and luggage in a daily game of Tetris. When we got to the point where half our clothes were dirty, we completely reorganized our luggage so one bag was all the clean stuff. The good news was we only had to carry in the clean stuff when we checked into our hotels.
Is there a better way? Undoubtedly! We keep trying different things on every trip. I loved having a bunch of choices on this trip, but I ended up not using about half of what I packed. Greg admits the same dilemma. Having to pack in VERY small bags for road trips in the Fiat takes away many choices, but makes the decision easier. I guess we don’t have a great solution yet, but since we’re having fun road tripping, we will just keep trying.
There’s a whole world out there just waiting to be explored. Packing for your trips is part of the adventure.
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