March 30, 2018

How Making a “Bug Out Bag” Simplified my Life.


Have you heard of a “bug out bag” (BOB) before?

A bug out bag is intended to help you survive an emergency situation for up to three days. I first learned about bug out bags through some friends while my husband and I were living in California. Together, we created our first BOB.

My husband began putting together our BOB for emergency purposes, as intended. I started imaging this bug out bag as my ticket to freedom. I imagined exclaiming “peace out” to the world, as I donned my BOB and headed off toward that distant horizon.

That image still inspires me.

I appreciate the feeling of simplicity, unfettered by a lot of clutter. For years, I have been inspired by the Confucius quote, “Life is simple, but we insist on making it complicated.”

Last June, I went through a reflective process to help simplify my life. I wanted to get clarity about my top priorities, which led me to the question, “What do I value most?”

Many of us are familiar with the question “What’s the one item you would grab if your home were on fire?” but I wanted to know what I valued most, sans emergency. Taking the concept of a bug out bag, and even disregarding that its intended purpose is for emergency survival, I began imagining whatever or whomever, I valued most in my life.

This process has helped me to be more mindful of who and what I prioritize each day.

In order of priority, these are my six BOB items. What will yours be?


The easiest to overlook, I placed myself in the bag. It was a proud moment that I remembered myself at all, let alone first. It seems pretty obvious that I would be invited along, but actually, this has never been so obvious to me as it is right now. I have a long history of placing others before myself. Now, I am much more mindful about prioritizing “me” each day.


He’ll be so happy he made it to the list! In all honesty, together we are figuring out this thing called life daily. We have walked countless miles together (literally), have gone through tremendous growth both individually and as a couple, and are frequently getting up to speed on our next adventure.


Our adventure cat Clyde comes next. Having an orange kitten was once on my vision board. Adopting him from a shelter, Clyde has surpassed anything I could have imagined for a cat. He loves meeting new people. He likes riding in the car. He greets you at the door. And he will “walk” on a leash.

Journal and pen (or laptop).

Well here it is, fourth on my list: I value my writing. Since I was a child, I have always loved to read. I have equally enjoyed the creativity I feel with writing. Last year, I read books like Conscious Writing by Julia McCutchen, The Right to Write by Julia Cameron, and Braving the Wilderness by Brene Brown, all of which helped to give me the courage to take the next right step for my writing. A big step was to launch my first blog publicly last October, Soulful Shenanigans. The next step to further my writing growth was to enroll in Elephant Journal Academy this January. Spiritual teacher Thomas Hübl importantly reminds us that, “The capacity to embrace change and uncertainty is a much needed new human skill.” Embracing the uncertainty, I will continue to stoke the creative fires through my writing and see where this goes.

Yoga mat.

I have been practicing yoga off and on for around 15 years. Last year, I completed my 200-hour yoga teacher training and began teaching yoga to military veterans through Veterans Yoga Project. I have never been the most consistent in my yoga practice, but I do know that I value the exploration of the breath, feeling in, meditation, a slowed intentional pace, presence, and the fluidity of the practice. I love listening to what my body wants daily and honoring the wisdom from within. I know I can practice yoga off my mat, in life, but the mat reminds me of my commitment to the practice.

Hiking gear.

My husband and I are avid mountaineers. I feel most at home in the mountains. I love the quiet strength of the mountains; they speak to my soul. There is such strength, serenity, and magnitude to be found in the mountains. Spending ample time in the outdoors often reminds me how little we need. The number one thing I crave the most while hiking is water. It’s that simple.

Filling your own bug out bag will require you to take stock of your life, your current priorities, and your values. What people, animals, hobbies, values, or things are in your own bug out bags? There’s no right or wrong way to fill your BOB. I imagine my own BOB will change over time, but what is most important is to build your life around what you value the most.

As I write this blog, my husband and I are moving our possessions into a newly purchased RV. We have never owned an RV before, but our intention is to live in it year round. I cannot say definitively that writing my bug out bag list last summer led to this RV purchase now (otherwise this blog would need to come with a warning!), but the process provided clarity on what I value most in life.

In getting clear about what’s most important to me, I liberated myself from all of that clutter to a home on wheels. Armed with the clarity of my bug out bag, my heart is open to the new adventures that await us.


Author: Alicia Brill
Image: Author’s Own
Editor: Sara Kärpänen
Copy editor: Emily Bartran

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