Saturday, June 30, 2007

Travel trailer giganticus.

During my aforementioned short trip to southern Colorado, a thought on a commonality occurred to me. Let's examine this thought together.

To no surprise to anyone who is even barely conscious, travel trailers abound on the highways in summer. This is hardly a new phenomenon. I remember seeing pictures of travel trailers from the 1930s, and they probably existed even earlier. They can be a great comfort when experiencing the outdoors. I'm not a tent snob who rails against travel trailers; someday, in fact, I hope to own one, albeit a very compact one, and that is the point of this post.

How large does a travel trailer need to be to enjoy nature? Apparently, as big as possible. Now, I can see needing a travel trailer of 20' or more for a family with lots of kids (4+), something more and more rare in today's self-centered America, or for retirees who live in their trailers for extended periods to chase warm weather during the winter, but for the average vacation or long-weekend tripper, what the heck?!?! If you go to the forest, or a KOA campground, does the wheeled equivalent of your house need follow behind you? The point of a vacation is NOT to spend time in your temporary quarters, but to be outside of them as much as possible, enjoying a new environment and partaking in different activities. Other than as a place to eat, sleep, perform ablutions, and seek shelter from inclement weather, a travel trailer is a lousy place to spend an outing.

I strongly suspect that one of the reasons for the proliferation of whale-size travel trailers is simply because people don't stop to think about what they need, not what the marketers insist they need through subtle advertising. This is a problem common to practically all consumerism in America, not just travel trailers. Heck, look at what's happened to the size of houses over the last 20 years. They've gotten so large that they contain whole areas a family may not visit for days. The point is not that people shouldn't have the choice to purchase these products, but that they are not critically examining their true needs. Bigger is not necessarily better; what best fits individual needs, convention be damned, is better.

Another reason, of course, is that old human desire of emblazoned status. The bigger, longer, or fancier his (fill in the blank) is, the more that person believes himself to be esteemed, and, unfortunately, he's probably correct.

I could go on speaking in generalities, but, instead, I'll speak to this issue from the point of view of my needs in the realm of travel trailers.

Since our family consists only of father, mother, son, and family dog (we married late and started a family late, so more children, although not unwanted, are an unlikely event--does that make us self-centered?), we can get by with either a medium-size tent trailer or a 15' travel trailer. Some of our camping will be of the boondocking variety and the rest will be at a campground, so an on board toilet/shower would be useful, but we could make do without this convenience, at least for short trips. In the kitchen, some type of stove is necessary, but a microwave is not, especially since we don't even have one at home; an oven will not be needed; a small sink/faucet set up completes the kitchen necessities. Other necessaries include a dining table, AC power hookup, beds, the ability to add air conditioning (this is especially useful when staying in humid areas of the country), and an overall light weight and compact, maneuverable size. So, with these needs in mind, plus our philosophy that vacations/outings are about getting away from the (temporary or permanent) abode, we now have a pretty good idea of what we need in a trailer. See how easy that was?

Thanks for reading this far as I take American consumer behavior to task, otherwise known as pissing into the wind.

Take care,

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