Welcome to the second installment if Quick Whit’s Packing Strategies! This time I’ll be spilling my “Tetris Packing” secrets. Everything is more fun if you think of it as a game, right? Mary Poppins said so! Remember Tetris? You had to turn and move different sized blocks so that they fit together, leaving no open spaces. Well, we can do that when we pack, too! Here are some simple tricks to have you packing more efficiently and effectively:
1. Find the Right Vessel
Not all bags are created equal. I’ve used all kinds, from the suitcases my parents used for their honeymoon in the 80’s to roller board suitcases for my three-month stint in Japan to duffle bags, and finally backpacks.
You have to find what works best for you, but from a packing standpoint, there are two factors that are most important: 1) weight; 2) expandability and retractability. You want something lightweight because you’ll be lugging it all over (it’s called “luggage” for a reason). You also want something that can get larger or smaller as needed. I chose my backpack for many reasons, including the fact that there are straps that can be unbuckled to accommodate everything I need, but once it’s closed, I can also buckle and tighten those straps to really squeeze everything in and make it smaller. That way it fits in the overhead bin without a problem! It’s also handy to find one that either opens lengthwise, or one that opens at the top and the bottom. It’s easier to keep your things organized that way.
My friend Samantha agreed to participate in the photo shoot for size comparison purposes. She’s a good sport!
Stuffed with 5 large bath towels. Can’t even get the top flap down!
Still stuffed, but now all the straps are buckled and pulled tight. I even got the upper flap closed and locked into place!
2. Start Big
In life, you usually have to start small. But in packing, it’s best to start big! This is especially important for wintry destinations when you need sweaters and other bulky items. The key is to roll and pack those things first, then fill in the spaces between and around those with smaller items–things like socks, undies, tights, camisoles, bathing suits, undershirts, toiletries, etc. Anything that can be made small and stuffed into the crevices is fair game!
That’s my bulkiest sweater. It needs to go in first. See that tiny blue and white thing to the right? That goes in after the big stuff to fill in the smallest of spaces!
3. Use Your Shoes
I am the first to advocate for fewer shoes in your bags, but if you have to pack them, you can use them! You know that space inside your shoes? The place where your feet go? Other things can fit there, too. Things like socks and underwear!
Stuffed running shoes.
Four pair of socks in each shoe! That’s more than a week’s worth. Just imagine the things you can fit into your boots!
4. If at First You Don’t Succeed, Try, Try Again!
I’ll tell you one of my most embarrassing secrets: I don’t always get it right the first time! Sometimes I have to take a few things out and do a little rearranging. Don’t get discouraged or frustrated. Just outsmart your stuff! Take something out and roll it up tighter; turn your clothes upright instead of on their side; do whatever it takes to win at Tetris Packing. You can make it happen!
5. Find a Friend
If packing makes you truly stressed out and miserable, by all means, call in the reinforcements. My dear husband loves to travel, but he despises the packing part. I don’t love it myself, but I do enjoy getting it accomplished! So he often calls on me to help him out. I pick out the basics, he fills in the other stuff he needs, and we pack it together. Or I roll and he packs. He can do it on his own, sure, but I don’t mind helping him out. If you have a friend or family member who gets into the packing and organizing, allow them to use their gift for good!
Packing Pals Forever!
How do you fit everything in? Got more tips to share? Comment below, and check back next week for Packing Strategy 3: Adventures in Toiletries!