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.