I posted recently on my Travel Group thread about our upcoming camping trip, and mused that perhaps that would lead to a "packing heavy" topic, since we always manage to fill up whatever vehicle we're driving. Then Kim posted about how much luggage she and her hubbie took for a short trip this summer; then doric8 chimed in, pushing her old heavy heavy suitcase out waiting to see what was coming; then Pandabear posted about how they managed to pack relatively light for a 2000 mile road trip https://community.ricksteves.com/travel-forum/packing/packing-success-and-failures
So I thought it was time to jump in.
There are two different ways I can go here: 1) how our packing habits have changed over the years as we learn to pack light and 2) the car full of stuff we always take when we go camping.
We used to go camping every year. We started early in our marriage, when as students working (and borrowing) our way through school, we couldn't afford such luxuries as motels and restaurants. So we would stuff the VW bug with a cooler filled with food; whatever camping gear we had (after a few years we had accumulated 2 sleeping bags and a 2-person pup tent, all from Sears, and each costing $19.95;) a change of clothes for each of us, and books.
Yes, the bulk of out cargo was books. Reference books, mostly: bird books, local history, archeology, ethnography, geology, wild flowers, trees, mammals... We were prepared for anything we might encounter. Then we'd take along a few light reading books: for me that would be one rereadable novel and a book of essays; for years it was "Where the Heart Is," by Billie Letts, and "Bird by Bird" by Anne Lamott. For Stan it would usually be some political or sociological treatise. (We have very different ideas about light reading.)
And then since I'm always delving into a foreign language, I would have an exercise book for whatever the current language happened to be.
Fast forward more years than I care to admit to. Now we drive a 17-year old Saturn Vue, which has a lot more room. And we still manage to fill it up. Our sleeping bags are nicer and lighter, our tent is nicer and bigger. And the bulk of our cargo is books (still) and food. We probably take two or three changes of clothes, instead of one.
Food is a biggie here, because we like to eat and I have a metabolism problem that means I can't eat most prepackaged or canned food. So we take homemade bread (at least enough for the first few days,) lots of fresh fruit, and enough prepared-at-home-by-me food to keep us going a while: potato salad, tabouleh, pasta, cheese, something to put on the pasta, canned tuna, peanut butter, frozen hamburger patties...
The main difference now is foods I can eat are easier to find, and we can afford them. But we still manage to fill up whatever vehicle we're using.
Because of a family situation, we haven't been able to get away for our annual camping trip in 5 years. We were able to get away maybe three weeks total, so we spent it on Europe. This year, of course, that couldn't happen, so we're planning a 2 week getaway. Since some states are requiring quarantines, we're staying in Oklahoma, and will probably stay in state parks. I have vowed that we're going to take less food than we usually do, but I suspect the book box (a milk crate packed two-levels deep, with more on top and more loose around the car) will still take up most of the back seat.
I'm curious to see if we really do manage to lighten our load this time.