The last-minute packer’s guide to packing

Picture: Stocksy

If the thought of packing for your holiday is making you weep, then read on for Frankie Graddon's advice

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By Frankie Graddon on

It’s funny, isn’t it – the obsession we have with packing. Especially when it comes to holiday time. The simple act of putting objects into a bag becomes an impossible nightmare as soon as the phrase “two weeks in Menorca is uttered”. 

I used to revel in packing for holibobs. I would spend Saturdays going round the shops, plotting my Ultimate Beach Wardrobe, devouring any glossy packing guides that came my way. Who would I be this year: Tropical Chick with bangles or Riviera Woman with stripes? 

And then something happened. I think it’s called LIFE and, suddenly, I did not revel in holiday packing. I hated holiday packing. It became a chore. 

Every “How to master your capsule holiday wardrobe” article reminded me that I did not have a crinkle-free breezy summer dress that goes with everything. Nor an oversized white shirt that could take me from beach to bar. I had a pair of denim shorts and a couple of ratty T-shirts. What was wrong with me? 

Recently, I went on a nine-day holiday to Italy with my best mate – my longest break in years and my biggest packing challenge to date. I’d love to tell you that, prior to going, I had a packing epiphany – one that I am going to share with you all now. But alas, five hours before the plane took off, I was stuffing everything I owned that wasn’t made from wool into a suitcase and hoping that I had enough pairs of knickers.  

So, while I can’t give you the definitive answer, I can share with you my mistakes and successes. My triumphs and disasters. The real-life version. And hope that this helps.

What I wore: A black sundress 

Midi length and made from cotton. I wore this at some point practically every day. Good for trotting round an old town, drinking Aperol in a square and having pasta for dinner. 



What I did not wear: Wide-leg cream silk trousers

I am not that woman. I will never be that woman – even on the Adriatic Coast. I like red wine.

What I wore: denim shorts

To the beach, to the market and out to lunch. The only shorts I will consider wearing, they go with everything, can handle a pelting with sand and are, importantly, very comfortable.


What I didn’t wear: Chinos

Contrary to what GAP tells me, they do not look safari chic on me – they look dull. Instead, I wore jeans when travelling and on the odd chilly night.


What I wore:  AN oversized long-sleeved shirt

Worn over a swimsuit when running into the local restaurant to use the loo and when sightseeing to prevent sunburn. This comes on every holiday with me. 


What I wore: A Hammam towel

The hero of the holiday, I used this as a towel, picnic rug, sarong, wrap, scarf and, one incredibly hot night, a sheet. 


What I didn’t wear: A sunhat

Bought a big floppy one, but felt like a plonker. Instead I wore big shades à la Patsy Stone and plenty of factor 50.


What I wore: Clogs

The only high(ish) heel I have ever wanted to wear in hot weather. A perfect accompaniment for the aforementioned black sundress and you can walk in them.


What I didn’t wear: Second pair of clogs

One is enough. What was I thinking? Instead, I wore flat leather slides and espadrilles.




What I wore:  A halterneck bikini and a strapless bikini

Alternated to lessen the tan lines. 



What I didn’t wear: A one-shouldered swimsuit

As much as I love the idea of one-pieces, if you are tall then it’s hard to find one long enough in the back. Mine kept escaping up my bottom. Horrible.


What I wore:  A fine-knit jumper

On the plane, during the evenings and the two days it pissed it down. 


What I didn’t wear: A silky pyjama top

Sounds like the best idea, but in practice is too sweaty.

What I wore:  A holiday bag

A jolly basket that I used daily to carry my hamman towel, book, suncream, water etc. 


What I also wore: A little cross-body bag

Big enough for money, phone, keys, passport, driving licence and a lip balm. 


What I wish I’d taken more of: Dresses

Mix and matching separates is a bore on holiday. Throw-on dresses are simple and airy. I desperately wanted a couple of pretty, wafty, loose dresses that required no brain space.



If I were to give you one piece of packing advice, it would be this: next time you are in a hotel, steal the laundry bags. If you don’t frequent hotels, then take a canvas tote or a dust bag with you. These are brilliant for putting shoes in to stop them getting bashed and for keeping dirty washing in. 

Also, get a decent suitcase. It sounds boring, but spending a bit of money on a lightweight suitcase that won’t break at the zip will make your life 10 times easier. I bought the below from Eastpack, but also have a look at AWAY, which make suitcases with built-in phone chargers. 




Picture: Stocksy
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