Life On The Road: Luxuries

When I left on this trip I decided to allow myself exactly one luxury item: my fiddle. Everything else has a practical justification related to the trip which far outweighs any purely personal momentary enjoyment. Now that I’ve been on the road more than half a year, I am no longer certain the fiddle quite qualifies as a luxury either.

The best way I’ve found to define a “luxury” in this context is, “a foolish or worthless form of self-indulgence.” Most things I carry have a few aspects of luxury, but other than the fiddle those attributes are far outweighed by the practical.

I initially considered the fiddle a luxury because I had no expectation of benefit related to the trip other than as a way to waste time and on rare occasions meet a few people. I considered the sheer size and weight of the instrument and its case a foolish addition to my gear but I packed it anyways. Instead, I find it has saved me money (free food and beers), helped meet interesting people, and raised the spirits of myself and others on many a frustrating day. In spite of the size and weight it seems to be shifting steadily towards the “trip equipment” category with every passing day.

Do I have no luxury items on this trip?

Certainly a lot of items I carry have aspects of luxury, but never to the extent that I could even remotely classify them as a luxury item by the above definition. They are too useful on the trip in some way. Yet there are lots of people who travel with less than I, use cheaper gear, and have just as interesting an adventure if not more so. Perhaps I am looking at it wrong and I’ve been foolish in almost everything I chose to carry.

Do I have anything which is not a luxury item?

Yet if I did leave behind some of what I carry, the trip would be different. The gear I carry is what allows me the type of trip I want. Perhaps it is only a luxury item if it is irrelevant to the trip?

Now I am debating adding some more items to my gear. All would be for my own enjoyment, but have some practical aspect related to the trip so I’m not quite certain if I should classify them as luxuries or not.

Related to all this is remaining interested in long-term travel. Everyone I’ve talked to gets tired of this type of nomadic lifestyle eventually. Some sooner than others. I have no doubt that part of the reason I am still happy to continue traveling after half a year on the road is that I have quality and comfortable gear. Will this continue to be enough? Do have enough luxuries in my life to keep interested in this nomadic lifestyle?

There are a few items I’ve been thinking about adding to my gear. All arguably luxuries, but as with everything else it is not clear depending on how you look at it. On one hand, they could all enhance the trip in some way. On the other hand, the money I would spend could allow me to travel for up to a month longer! But when I am already talking about years still to go on this trip, is a month even worth worrying about?

What are your thoughts on the subject? Am I carrying lots of luxuries, or none? What do you consider your luxuries in life?

5 comments to Life On The Road: Luxuries

  • I love that you are carring something that at first you thought was a luxury but now realise that you need the fiddle for your trip to be a success.
    We don’t really have any luxury items with us, just items that we need to live with! We believe that living comfortably is the best way to go, and the only thing that I really must have is good quality shampoo and conditioner!


    • othalan

      Curious that with so much space (compared to what I have) you still don’t consider yourself as having luxuries. I love that you are raising a family on the road, I can’t imagine a better way to grow up now that I know what it is like to travel!

  • Mom

    My question is this: Is Luxury the opposite of Necessity?

    For me, luxury allows me to feel good about a result while necessity has an element of stress because the focus is on a need which cannot always be fulfilled. Having quality minimal gear enables a luxurious sense of travel in David’s case.

    • othalan

      Ahh, I think you found exactly what I am looking for: Necessity and Luxury are not opposites! The stuff I carry is frequently high quality and not minimalistic, but that does not make it a luxury because I am using it actively in my way of life (traveling the world) instead of as a diversion from my way of life. Not luxuries, but not necessities either.

    • Grant

      I agree that luxury!=excess. To me, luxury means comfort. It implies going beyond necessity and cosnidering comfort.

      That certainly does not mean that the item is not needed, just that consideration has been given to more than need when using it. In our household, we’ve decided that 70*F is too much luxury, and so we keep the house warm enough to satisfy necessity (a record high of 62*F this winter), wear sweaters and use blankets. Two years ago, the house was kept at 55*, so the extra seven degrees is luxury, but also needed because the flu season has hit us hard.

      For more material concerns, like the fiddle, it is both a needed thing and an extra comfort. It provides an ice-breaker, a means of gain – and David hasn’t started busking yet we’ve discussed the possibility, and in general a useful tool. A harmonica played with skill could do that just as well, but he chose a more luxurious item that he finds more comfortable. Is that wrong? I don’t think so. It could be compared to a computer monitor in this way, too. You MUST have a monitor for the computer to work, but you could probably do it, even on Windows7, with a 13″ monitor and a cheap video card. However, you’re still answering necessity when you get 23″ flat panel and top-of-the-line video card, you’re just also considering your comfort in the process.

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