Want vs. Need in Trip Planning
With the recent funding coming through for the trip, we’ve been ordering a LOT of things for the bikes and ourselves to get fully outfitted for being on the road. I’ve spent much of today combing around for other things to buy and caught myself in this uncharacteristic consumer attitude. I started thinking about things we want vs. things we need, and how much spending has occurred because of “want” rather than out of a realistic assessment of our needs.
Want vs. Need
The biggest thing I just “wanted” was the TraX cases. Realistically, Kay’s Happy Trail panniers look like they’ll stand up better to a down, we think they’re more water-tight and they have more storage volume. If I were being realistic and reasonable, I would have gotten a set of Happy Trail cases, or even stuck with my perfectly functional but not particularly secure soft cases. Want definitely took over here.
Aside from that, the things I’ve “wanted” have been clothing made of technical fabric. Sure, any clothes will do for a motorcycle trip; you really only need a couple of shirts, some underwear, some socks and a pair of off-the-bike pants. But Kay has Smartwool this and technical fabric that, and I’ve been jealous. Smartwool is moisture-wicking, quick-drying, anti-microbial wonder fabric that I’ve been sad I can’t find in my size. I’m stuck with cotton shirts and denim pants that will take forever to dry and be a pain in the ass to deal with on the road. I luckily found some technical fabric pants that will fit me on our expedition to the REI garage sale over the weekend, but I still don’t have technical fabric shirts. Sure, this isn’t a deal-breaker, but this is the type of thing that would make the trip that much more easier, comfortable and convenient.
And that’s really what it comes down to. So far, I don’t think either of us has anything we’ve just “wanted” that didn’t have some real benefit. Even my “wanting” TraX cases was partially motivated by my desire for lockable hard luggage, which will be an asset on the trip. We’ve “wanted” heated gear, which it turns out may be required. (After riding for a couple of hours in ~40 degree temps in my Rev’It! Sand Jacket, I was mildly hypothermic – heated gear isn’t just a “want.” It’s a safety feature.)
We’ve got a fair amount of creature comforts, but they’re all rationalized as things that will be helpful for this long-distance trip. We both have sleeping bags, sleeping bag liners and cushiony sleeping mat things to go under them. The mat thingers could be considered a luxury item, but we don’t – we think that they help us sleep better, both by insulating us from the cold ground somewhat and by making us a bit more comfortable at night. That helps us be more alert during the day, and arguably will help us stay safer/healthier on the road.
Our kitchen is fairly minimalist, but I’m sure we could prune it down more. We’ve got a pot and dish set, and I’ve added a fry pan, a kitchen knife, a cutting board and a folding spatula. Do we need the fry pan/cutting board/knife/folding spatula? Probably not. But keeping fed on the road is essential, and we plan to cook for ourselves a fair amount of the time, an these things will help us prepare meals more easily. If we’re too fatigued to cook/cooking is too much of a pain in the ass at the end of the day, we won’t eat. If we don’t eat, we won’t stay healthy and alert. It’s a vicious cycle. We could probably do without some of these kitchen ‘luxuries’ but we think it will make our life easier on the road, and that’s worth a lot.
All this little stuff adds up and takes up space. In the end, we’re probably going to be carrying more than we want to carry. That always seems to be the case. And we’ve spent a disturbing amount of money in the past few days, buying spare parts for the bikes and rounding out our gear purchases. But looking back on what we’ve bought, I don’t think we’ve been frivolous. Everything serves a purpose, and arguably our health and safety is worth spending a bit of extra dosh before we set out. I honestly don’t think we’ll have much to prune on the road – I don’t think we’ll be like a lot of people shipping stuff back home when they realize they’re hopelessly overburdened.
In some ways, I feel less hardcore, carrying things like a heated jacket and technical fabric clothing. It violates a bit of the sense of adventure – just grabbing a few things, throwing it on the bike and heading off into the wild. We’ve been planning and buying out the wazzoo to get ready for this trip. But we’ve got a reason for every purchase, so it’s not just a matter of bringing along everything and the kitchen sink. I do lament somewhat the lack of spontaneity, but once a Girl Scout, always a Girl Scout. Being prepared is part of who I am. I know we can’t prepare for everything, but I’m hoping to cover the important stuff and am confident that we’ll enjoy ourselves more for knowing we’ve set out in the best possible condition.