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.