We’re headed out for Arizona in a few days, and I need to pack some tunes for the trip. We’ll be driving nearly 5,000 miles roundtrip, almost 80 hours in the car, so I’ll need a lot of music, audiobooks, and podcasts. I suppose music is like clothes for some people. I like to pack a lot because I never know what I’m going to be in the mood for. Whereas some want their entire wardrobe available on vacation, I always want my entire music collection.

In one of my first cars I installed a tape deck, though I didn’t own any cassettes. In-dash CD players were rather pricey back then. So I dubbed most of my CDs down to tapes. For my young readers, this wasn’t as simple as just burning a disc. You had to plan out the tracks, so they’d fit on a cassette, adding up the length of each song then dividing by 60. Complicated math, really. It wasn’t easy to listen to your favorite music back in my day, you little whippersnappers. And it wasn’t easy to steal it either.

Cassettes were fat and would easily melt inside a car being roasted by the Arizona sun. So we tried to protect our tapes in huge canvas boxes. It was like having three pizza boxes in your car. Scanning the rows of tapes while driving then was no less dangerous than texting now—or eating or applying makeup. Or applying makeup while eating and texting, while driving.

In my next car I installed a CD player. But then I had to carry along a huge album of CDs. And there was no effective way of hiding that thing in the car. There wasn’t song tagging back then either. Unless you knew the track number, you had to skip through to find your favorite songs.

The New Is Now the Classic

About seven years ago I bought my first iPod, a white 30GB beast. I could fit just about all my music on it back then, rendering my collection much more portable and less prone to melting—though I never left it in the car when it was 115 out.

I actually have a larger iPod now—a black one, the Classic, it’s called, with video. At 160 GB, I can have just about all my music with me and, most importantly, my entire Seinfeld collection. But these days I rarely bring it along. Instead, I always have my iPhone with me, but at 8 GB, I can’t get much music on it.

Which is why I’m highly anticipating iCloud coming this fall. Soon I’ll be able to upload my music to Apple’s servers and stream it from anywhere with my iPhone. It’ll be like not having to pack clothes for vacation. Just open up your suitcase and there’s your entire closet. I already use cloud services for work and play. So I live and die by my internet connection.

I’ve also been using Rhapsody for several years. Different than Pandora, which is basically a streaming radio service that allows you to finetune your stations, Rhapsody is like iTunes, except you don’t have to purchase the music. I pay $14.99 a month to stream or download music to my computer. Even better, with the iPhone app, I can stream or download tracks wherever I’m at. Last night, for instance, I was listening again to Alison Krauss’s new album, which I reviewed. What’s more, Cindy can use my username on her iPod Touch, as well as on the computer here at home. And my library is synced across all these devices.

Along with the eBooks I’m taking on vacation—I’ll post tomorrow what’s in my summer book bag—I’m packing lighter these days.

2 thoughts on “Packing Light

  1. Have a great vacation! I am not sure we will ever travel “light” again with 6 kids, but the music is DEFINITELY more compact. (love my iPod)
    Eat some extra Chile Pepper for me…and enjoy the extra time to eat sunflower seeds.


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