On my mind: Rhiannon Harries faces up to holiday packing...after a glass or two of red

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The Independent Online

There are some individuals who think packing is the best bit of a holiday. They buy special luggage scales from the back of supplements like this, and are presumably also the ones investing in titles such as Secrets of the Carry-on Traveller for some juicy pre-poolside reading. They have passionate opinions on the rolling versus the bundle method of packing and never, ever just throw random clothes into a bag and go...

Then there's me. I have never been good at packing, but last year I excelled myself. With a flight booked for 6am Saturday, I had a quick post-work drink with friends on Friday, before heading home to attack my empty suitcase. Eight hours later, I awoke on my bed, nine missed calls from my taxi driver on my mobile and an hour to go before the flight left. Needless to say, the case was still empty.

I arrived at my balmy destination several hours late, with a mortal hangover and a suitcase full of dirty winter clothes. Under pressure, my packing criteria had been reduced to "anything within arm's reach".

After 24 sweltering hours in a black woollen skirt, opaque tights and a long-sleeved top, I trudged to a hypermarket to buy a "capsule wardrobe" of T-shirt dresses and cheap plimsolls. The rest of the week was devoted to looking on sourly at my holiday companion's lovingly planned selection of summery attire.

But even planning has pitfalls. It all too often allows us to slip into a psychic state, channelling Liz Hurley as she prepares for a fortnight in Mustique, regardless of the fact that we are about to spend three days in a Tenby B&B.

You see, there is something about being forced to distil one's wardrobe into a single bag that crystallises the gap between life as it is and life as one thinks it should be. Freed from the constraints in which home entangles us – work, weather, others' expectations – we anticipate feeling more ourselves in every respect on holiday.

So we stuff our luggage with all those things that we never wear, since they are patently inappropriate for our physique or lifestyle (or both), but which we just know will be right when worn with a tan while wandering insouciantly along the beach.

Yet, somehow, it still comes as a surprise, once on that beach, to realise we are still a bit fatter/poorer/shyer than we might like and would feel a lot more comfortable had we stuck closer to our usual style of dress.

For me, at least, this year will be different. I will be taking those cheap plimsolls that I wore to death back in the UK. I will not be taking any leopard-print kaftans. There are eight hours to go before I leave for the airport and not a glass of rosé in sight. I'm going to start now. Right after I have a little sit-down on my bed.