How to Declutter Your Life, Mind and Travel Pack with Angel Collinson
Skier Angel Collinson believes some of the most important stuff in life and her adventures may not fit in a bag. Here's how she's decluttered her approach.
This summer, I’ve been recovering from a knee injury and traveling more than ever before. Despite vigorous promises to myself that I would stay put and focus on rehab, life proves itself constantly fluid.
As I flutter in and out of my home in Salt Lake City, I’ve been contemplating a consistent theme: As the tide of adventure changes, what must I bring and what can fall behind?
Surely I’ll sneak in a few quirky tagalongs that keep my companions on their toes, but my question has deeper roots and I want to uncover what helps create joy in the outdoors. Between the time off my knee and time spent in this reflection, I feel my approach to adventure—and life—is healing in more ways than one.
Climber Alex Honnold recently said, “Out of all the things we own, only a small handful of them we actually use and bring us joy.” I’ve been thinking about this concept a lot. We have so much stuff these days, so much so that my “kneehab” partner in crime, Michelle Parker, and I have been on a decluttering kick all summer.
We figure less peripheral stuff means less mental clutter and possibly more time to do the things we actually love. I think that’s why backpacking (or car-camping/van life) is so gratifying—it exemplifies the possibility of surviving on a bare minimum. It shows us the possibility of a life of simplicity that we can duplicate in the here and now that somewhat resembles the simple joys of a summit.
I grew up living out of a van in the summers. We would do two-week backpacking trips out of it, and though we couldn’t bring much with us, the stuff we did have was important to us, and for the most part, crucial to making our life possible. I often wonder if it’s possible to see all of life through that lens. Can we hone in on the essentials and let go of the weight?
I haven’t found my answer yet, but I do feel that it is important to free ourselves of clutter so we can push past our limits—physically, mentally, emotionally and even in a creative sense. And I know that what we bring with us through each season can actually be of the utmost importance, though it may not always be things, but thoughts, attitudes, and good habits. It might be a mantra, an inspirational quote, a technical piece of outerwear, a lucky pair of socks, a versatile layer or your favorite T-shirt.
With all this travel, I’ve realized that some of my essentials don’t fit in any piece of luggage. I pack a morning ritual, where I take a moment to be still. It’s a bit of a meditation, a bit of a self-check while I observe the thoughts that creep in. It’s an amalgamation of breathing, visualization and silent observing where I count the things that bring me joy. I pack gratitude because it shapes every day of every season everywhere I go in the best possible light.
Some days I take a moment to notice how grateful I am that the sun crept into my tent and woke me up instead of a raucous alarm clock. Sometimes I’m thankful that I’ve found the perfect soundtrack to accompany my next journey. And a lot of times, I’m grateful for the innovative gear that allows me to explore brilliant, wild spaces and ski slopes on remote corners of the map (here’s to you, puffy jacket, which I wear virtually every day of winter).
I think you don’t have to be overly attached to physical possessions, but it is dang OK to be stoked perhaps less on quantity and more on what they allow you to do in life and the quality experiences they enable.
Whatever you carry in life, make sure it’s right for you. Rid yourself of clutter so you can focus on substance, quality, and experience rather than noise. And remember that sometimes what you pack for adventure may not fit in a box.
Angel’s travel essentials list:
- A morning ritual/meditation
- Book or journal
- Good headphones
- All-around fleece
- Snacks (crucial!)
- A good attitude
- Mullet wig
- A couple lucky rocks
- Hillbilly buck teeth
- Yoga/athletic all-around adventure tops and bottoms
- Whatever silly things I have at the moment to help me be goofy and remember to have a good time and not take life too seriously