Decluttering with Astrid (43)

Holiday packing

The vacation is almost is upon us, and I’m worrying about a DEADLY SERIOUS matter, namely: What are we taking with us? And above all, how little are we taking with us? I rather like the sound of that: taking little. In a previous post, I explained how declutterers name vacations as being the time to truly find out how much (or rather, how little) a person really needs to be happy.

Recently, [Dutch newspaper] Het Parool featured a great opinion piece by Jelle Derckx, who had just returned from a trip around the world. In it, he writes that, “The essence again became so clear to me on a trip. A bag with some clothes, some books, water, your lover, a roof over your head at night, food and the planet. My smartphone drowned in a pool in Indonesia, and after the initial panic, I saw that as a gift.” And then he goes on to explain how difficult it is to hold that feeling in the Netherlands.

In the piece, Jelle also discloses that he is a millennial. “Millennials were born between 1981 and 2000. Minimalism is natural for millennials. We are connected, we work in coffee shops and live a flexible lifestyle. We love to travel, which proves to be rather difficult with a house full of stuff. I prefer a passport full of stamps.”

I was not born between 1981 and 2000 (I wish!), but a bit earlier. Could this therefore be the reason that my decluttering—my ‘minimalizing’—is continuously seen as a big joke? Yes, I want to take as little as possible when I travel, but I seem to visit a suspiciously large amount of stores in advance. Like last Saturday, for instance, when I ‘found’ myself in an outdoor store trying on insanely expensive hiking boots. For Iceland, where I’m going. And while I was there, I instantly realized that all that (not so much) stuff had to be packed away neatly in the rather-perfect-backpack I had spotted. And that, yes admittedly, two trousers were enough, but that a third, lighter, pair would also come in handy. Oh, and of course, son no. 2 still needed a foldable waterproof jacket for the rain, which will undoubtedly come while we are there. And naturally, I forgot all about my musings about sleeping bags (should I get those four cotton liners then?) Plus, a very warm Merino wool sweater may well be useful to have, no? For all four of us, of course…

While I was in the store testing out those expensive hiking boots on the slant board, and my other half heard my non-millennial vacation shopping list, he said: “Don’t make it so complicated.” He’s really good at that: not complicating matters. Especially when it comes to vacations. He once went camping in Iceland without a tent, came across an Italian who had a tent and they spent six weeks travelling the country together. Men can do that: go camping without a tent.

Don’t make it so complicated, he said. Who says it’s going to rain? And who says we are going to take very long walks. And let’s first check what backpacks we have at home. And, anyway, they have shops in Iceland in case we really need something.

Phew. The right sentence at the right time. Don’t make it so complicated. We’ll see. Vacations are all about letting everything go a little, I suppose. So, I left the outdoor store without any boots, backpack, trousers, waterproof jacket, cotton liners or jumpers. Like a true millennial. And it felt pretty good.

Astrid, together with Irene, is the founder of Flow Magazine. She lives with her partner and two children. Each Tuesday, she writes about the sense—and nonsense—of decluttering.

“Week 43 – Holiday packing”