I once went camping in Europe and the people setting up the tent next to me pulled out of their van, I swear to God, a TV, a wooden fixed-leg table with matching upholstered chairs, an electric stove and oven combo, a rotating fan, and a futon.
Seriously? What’s the point of tent camping if you’re going to bring your whole house with you? I think we as a species have gotten very soft.
I am imagining rich people from the Elizabethan era packing all the comforts of home in gigantic trunks and piling them onto the roof of their coaches as they flitted from one mansion to the next.
Nowadays that’s all of us (except for the part about the mansions).
Don’t agree with me? Come on. Who among us hasn’t seen someone go into a full-blown panic if he or she doesn’t have access to a smart phone? Lest we forget, for the better part of human history, those things weren’t a necessity.
Years ago I was traveling overseas with someone who had never been out of the country before. He insisted he was going to bring eight 6-packs of Tab with him, because that was all he would drink. It took a lot to convince him that the hassle of lugging all that soda from pillar to post would not be worth the thirst it might quench. I finally got him to see reason, but he did insist on eating at McDonalds in foreign countries for as long as I knew him. I was appalled.
We all have our gadgets and tchotchkes. We love our satin neck pillows and our squatty potties and our hair straighteners and all manner of technology. We insist upon different shoes for every occasion and Little Mermaid DVDs to appease our children. We are awash in lotions and unguents and supplements and sprays. We pack 14 shirts for a 3 day trip, because you just never know.
We no longer know how to rough it. We want what we want when we want it. Is it any wonder that airlines now charge a premium if you exceed your luggage weight limit? Otherwise some of us would want to bring our favorite recliners.
I urge you to experience the joy of traveling light. If there’s something you require in a foreign country and you can’t obtain it there, you might ask yourself how an entire country has managed to survive without that thing. And the pursuit of that item might even be one of your more memorable travel experiences. Anything that makes you actually interact with the natives can only enrich your trip.
Remember, people survived for centuries without a hair straightener. It’s a nice luxury, but it’s still a luxury.