Q & A: What I Brought

It’s the high season for travel, for taking off down the road for an afternoon or a week or more, so I thought I'd finally answer what many of you have wondered: What, exactly, did I bring on my cross-country journey, and where did I put it?

There’s no place on a Vespa for traditional motorcycle accoutrements such as saddlebags or tank bags (no tank), so my available storage was limited to the compartment under the seat (which is the size of a full-face helmet), the tiny 'glove box' below the handlebars, a stock Vespa pod (topcase, technically), and a small, square cooler bag I strapped to the seat behind me.

My sleeping bag, maps and directions, and a pair of flip flops went under the seat. In fact, the seat would not close properly with a haphazard stuffing of the sleeping bag - it had to be mashed free of air and then rolled and folded at the same time like a fancy burrito.

The glove compartment is hardly larger than a pair of gloves, but into it I crammed rain pants, my fancy tire-pressure gauge, 18 feet of nylon rope, coarse sea salt (to counter dehydration), and extra-large rubber utility gloves that fit over my leather gloves in the rain.

The cooler bag was mostly filled with film (call me old-fashioned), along with my camera and a refreezable icepack to keep the film cool. It also held my journal and two pens; my cell phone, charger, and three extra batteries; sunscreen, sunglasses, a lighter, a flashlight, and a pocketknife; my wallet, a water bottle, two neckerchiefs (which I wore wet when it was hot and dry when it was cold), and an mini can of fix-a-flat (which I never used). I didn’t bring a tent, but did bring a tarp to sleep on or to cover the Vespa with if necessary. I folded the tarp to fit on top of the cooler bag and strapped it all down with a bungee net.

Everything else went in the pod. My clothing for two months amounted to two pairs of thin wool socks, one pair of kneesocks, three tank tops, three t-shirts, two bras and a handful of underwear, silk long underwear, one long sleeved shirt, a fleece hoodie, and a pair of lightweight cargo pants. The other necessities: travel-sized toiletries, spf chapstick, mascara, a nail file, extra contacts, a folding hair brush, hair bands and bobby pins, a very thin camping towel, insect repellant, and four small rocks, because I have a thing for rocks.

I rolled my clothes into long tubes in order to cram as much as possible into the oddly-shaped pod, and packed toiletries in small bags to fill small niches. Everything I needed, fit; and there was not room for anything more.

That was it; plus, of course, my daily uniform: leather pants, leather jacket, leather gloves, and motorcycle boots. That was all I had for two months, and I never felt deprived. Though the first thing I did in NYC was go buy a pair of jeans.


suzy yun said...

i think you are the coolest woman in the world and i envy your freedom. i make/design clothes by day and bartend by night. i am obsessed with fashion but also hate all the excess. i am constantly torn about spending a great majority of my time doing something that i love and always wanted but not really spiritually fulfilling or socially responsible. i fantasize about visiting thrift stores each state, biking across alaska, and moving to the middle of a beautiful nowhere. you are an inspiration for all of us daydreamers.
i'm so glad i found your site.

Anonymous said...

Wow! You are so beautiful! I loved reading about your adventures on your Vespa. Speaking of beautiful, what lovely pictures you took on your journey! I am also a scooter fanatic, but haven't ventured out anywhere near as far as you have. I ride a Bajaj Chetak which is very similar to the Vespa Sprint. If you're ever out in Ventura county, CA, let's scoot together!

Don said...

Wow!! Pretty skimpy trip! Although I did notice the mascara! ;) I have been following your photo story on Charlie (and soon to add cow?) and FINALLY decided to look deeper into "you". Glad I did. Over the next few days I'll catch up with this web site as well. Luckily (unfortunately) you are closed down here, so I might get caught up before you start posting again!