By Rod Andrew
At last, I’m an expert!
Virtually every issue of RV Travel teaches me something about the RV lifestyle, as experts add their advice on all of the systems and behaviors that we need to know about. A frequent topic of advice concerns the important items that we should carry with us. I nod in agreement with almost every list.
When my wife and I moved from trips in a VW van to hauling a travel trailer, I suddenly had room and weight capacity to take almost anything on our trips down south into the desert area of the western U.S.
So, I did.
I now consider myself an expert on items we shouldn’t take on long trips, wisdom that I would like to share.
Here’s some of that hard-earned wisdom:
When planning a trip to areas that are mostly desert, there are some items that are clearly not required, and yet …
On one trip, I packed an 11-foot inflatable boat, electric motor, and battery. I also needed to take a shop vacuum to inflate and deflate the boat. Sure took up a lot of room in my pickup. In order to justify the boat, since we were planning on spending most of our trip in the desert, I took a side trip to Roper Lake. It’s a beautiful spot, so I don’t regret going there, but I figure that the extra gas I used to get to Roper Lake made the small crappie I caught cost about $100 an ounce. You might ask how I caught the crappie. Well, I had my fly fishing equipment with me, including a fly-tying kit, of course, in case I had to match the hatch.
My wife tried to console me when I realized the folly of a boat in the desert – by reminding me that there might be flash floods. Nice try. I could see myself frantically inflating the boat as the waters rose around us.
I actually did attempt to tie one fly in our campsite in Borrego Springs, but sudden winds and feathers don’t work well together. Our campsite was definitely a no-fly zone.
Oh, and into the desert I also took two sets of snorkeling gear. Twice! My wife just got the mask, snorkel and flippers. But, for me, that also included a wet suit, dive hood, diving boots and gloves.
I was flash flood ready.
On later trips, when I didn’t have my boat, I thought that two life jackets would be a good idea. I guess I hoped that we might meet someone with an inflatable boat.
While we’re on sporting activities, I have taken, on every trip, a 30 lb. bocce set. It was years before I used it more than once. Now, we often play with friends we have met, so it has earned its place.
Oh, and I also carry my ball glove, spikes and a ball, in case I find someone who would want to play catch with me, a doddery senior.
Most RVers like to think they can handle every minor problem that needs fixing. We have all the essential tools, right? I like to be considered a handy type, even though I’m not, so I always take a full toolbox, containing every tool I will possibly need. AND a multi-tool kit from Canadian Tire that duplicates the tools in my box, including a perfectly adequate socket set. AND I take another socket set, as well. Just in case.
I live in hope that someone, someday, will ask if I have a 17mm socket and adapter, and I will be able to say, “Yup. Got one right here. I have two, so you can keep it.”
It hasn’t happened.
I carry a small handsaw (used once in five years), a Swedish saw (never used), a hatchet and an axe. All of these could be useful if campfires were possible. In fact, I have split firewood a couple of times, for communal fires, but had to run to be the first to get my axe out, as all of us DIYers in the campground had one. Probably a tad alarming to see me charging towards the fire pit, red-faced and waving an axe over my head, yelling, “Stop! Stop! I have an axe!” A bit like a scene from ”The Shining.”
When we were using the VW van, which clothes to take was always an issue. The van had almost no room for anything that was not essential. In a trailer, we could take anything we wanted.
So I did.
On one trip, I took 3 pairs of long pants (for going out), 3 pairs of jeans, 4 sweaters, and a whole bunch of casual clothing…..
10 collared shirts
12 pairs of underwear
12 pairs of socks
7 pairs of tennis socks.
My wife counted them. I didn’t even know I owned 12 pairs of underwear until we unpacked them back home.
To be fair, I do play tennis on our trips, so most of those socks were needed.
The t-shirts and other casual shirts were packed in so tightly that I never got much past the top layer.
A look inside my wallet also indicates that I have a lot to learn. Before we leave on our long trip south, I always remove all of the cards and items I will not need. My wallet usually looks like George Costanza’s and wears holes in the rear of all of my pants but, down south, it is seriously lighter. However, I still find it necessary to take my local library membership card. And I would have difficulty justifying why I need my advanced diver and nitro cards.
Perhaps for the hot tub?
This is not an exhaustive catalogue of the unnecessary items that I have considered essential on our annual trips south. Perhaps some of you reading this have made similar packing mistakes and would like to add your own to the list. My wife looks forward to reading them.