When I suggested a family road trip to New York for this year’s summer vacation, it figured there would be a spat or two along the way. I never imagined it would start before we even left the driveway.
It all started when I tried to come up with a family vacation that would make everyone happy. You see, my husband and I are like Eddie Albert and Eva Gabor from the 1960s sitcom Green Acres. His idea of a good time is digging in the dirt and enjoying what nature has to offer. I, on the other hand, have always wanted to visit New York City. Dahling, I love you, but give me Park Avenue!
So I came up with a compromise: We would spend three nights camping at Allegany, a New York state park, then drive on to the Big Apple for four nights.
Agreeing on our destination was the easy part. The hard part was deciding how we would get our stuff there.
When we bought our family car, a Kia Rondo, I was commuting about 40 kilometres a day to and from work. We considered a minivan but decided on a smaller vehicle to save gas. We knew the day would come when we’d need more cargo space. That day had arrived, and with it came conflict.
“You don’t pack light,” my husband said accusingly. “You’ll want to bring extra shoes for when we go out somewhere nice.”
Well, excuse me for not wanting to wear flip flops on Fifth Avenue.
The real issue was not my shoes but the camping gear and bikes, so we headed to Rack Attack in Vaughan, north of Toronto, to explore our cargo options.
Taylor Chard walked us through everything we’d need to outfit our car. First, we’d have to add crossbars to our roof rack, and Chard recommended the Thule Aeroblade Edge load bar ($644) for its strength and aerodynamic lines. Not all roof racks are created equal, it seems. A square load bar will create more drag, he explained, and a louder “whistle” while you drive.
Our bike rack, which attaches to our trailer hitch, fits only three of our four bikes, so Chard recommended adding the Thule Sidearm 594XT ($280) for my husband’s oversized mountain bike.
The Yakima Skybox Pro 12, at $735, could fit beside the bike rack and add 12 cubic feet of storage.
Surrounded by so many sleek storage options, my husband was impressed, and was imagining all the extra stuff he could bring.
When I had the nerve to suggest maybe we don’t need to bring so much, he suggested maybe I’d like to ride on the roof. I laughed in that way that let him know he’s not funny.
But seriously, couldn’t we put suitcases under the kids’ feet? Couldn’t we rent bikes instead of bringing our own?
And that’s when I learned which of us is truly not able to pack light: “I want to ride my own bike,” he said. “You can rent one if you want.”
So much for “what’s mine is yours.” When it comes to packing our car, what’s mine can be left behind, but what’s his is coming with us.
Chris Van Der Griend, Rack Attack manager, took my husband’s side: “May as well take it all,” he said. “I always travel with my own equipment. Usually, my bike is better than the bikes we can rent.”
Spoken like a true pack rat.
Van Der Griend finally won me over with an argument for safety. If you’re in a collision, he said, it’s better to have your cargo safely stored in a container than flying around your car.
Cargo containers are transferable to your next vehicle, Van Der Griend added, and unlike a trailer, they protect your gear from the elements. Also, they come with a lifetime warranty, so you can expect to get at least 15 years of use out of them.
Fifteen years? Let’s see if we survive this summer vacation first.
Dianne Nice is the Globe’s business community editor.