There is an adage I recently read on the inset of a backpacking pocket book. It said, “Lay out the clothes and money you want to take on your trip. Halve your clothes, double the money.” Even though he hadn’t heard the words before, Tom Hewitt knew the principle.
Preparing to camp in Africa’s south, he packed as light as he could. Two long sleeved shirts. Two short sleeved shirts. Four t-shirts. Two pairs of black pants. One sweatshirt. One windbreaker. One jacket. A good strategy, executed almost perfectly. Almost perfectly. I’m no travel-packing expert. I was ridiculed when I turned up alone in a scorching hot Mexican town dragging a suitcase through the sand, but Tom’s baggage plan had a few holes in it. Like, actual holes.
A few nights in, the force from pulling his favourite t-shirt over his head turned a little hole into a tattered mess. That t-shirt has been turned into rags and lives a dignified second life.
A few nights later, the same thing happened to another t-shirt. I think he threw this one out in frustration.
Then, the zip breaks on a pair of pants. Johan manages to fix the zip. Tom breaks the zip again. Now his fly is more or less undone when he wears those.
A couple of weeks later, one of his button up shirts goes missing from a washing line.
To add to his clothing woes, his card was swallowed by an ATM and his replacement card lost in the mail. Oh, and he’s had his surfboards fixed four times*.
If your plan is to pack light, one would think you’d pack durable clothes. Tom says he didn’t have the luxury of choice.
“It was either [pack] dirty work shirts that are disgusting or t-shirts with holes in them and I’m not here to pretend I’m in a bakery,” he says.
“I do miss my croissants though, they are soothing.”
Now, he’s down to three shirts, two t-shirts, one pair of pants and a few jumpers. If he wasn’t packed light before, he is now.
*Since the time of writing, Tom has had to repair one of his boards for the fifth time.