Packing Strategy 2: Tetris Packing

Updated June 22, 2020.

“In every job that must be done, there is an element of fun. You find the fun and [SNAP!] the job’s a game!” –Mary Poppins

Welcome to the second installment of Quick Whit’s Packing Week! 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 says so! Remember Tetris? The game requires you 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.

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Packing Strategy 2: Tetris Packing

1. Evaluate Your Luggage

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—my luggage of choice. More on that when we get to Packing Strategy 5: Luggage Minimization!

No matter what type of luggage you choose, you can and should use your luggage space wisely. You have to find what works best for you, but from a packing standpoint, there are two factors that are most important:

  1. Weight: You want something lightweight because you’ll be lugging it all over the place–it’s called “luggage” for a reason!
  2. Carrying Ability: You also want something that you can handle on your own, whether it’s strapped to your back, you’re toting it on your shoulder, or you’re rolling it behind you.

Osprey is absolutely the best brand out there for luggage backpacks. Their “fix or repair for free” policy cannot be beaten, and they’ve thought of everything: pockets, security, padding, adjustability, durability, etc. Here are two excellent options:


To me, these are cumbersome and inconvenient, but many people prefer them! I recommend getting the kind with 360-degree wheels. Some of the sets out there today are pretty cute! If I ever decide to go roll-aboard, I’m totally getting one of these sets:


These are perfect for the last-minute packer. There’s always room for one more thing, and they can always be squished into the overhead bin, even on tiny airplanes!

2. Start Big

In life, we usually have to start small. But in packing, it’s best to start big! This is especially important for wintry destinations where 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, leggings, camisoles, bathing suits, undershirts, toiletries, etc. Anything that can be made small and stuffed into the crevices is fair game!

Sweaters and snow pants go in first!
Need to know how to roll? Check out Packing Stragegy 1: Roll with It!

3. Use Your Shoes

I may be the first to advocate for fewer shoes in your bags, but if you have to pack them, make sure you 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! Don’t leave that space unused. Just like in Tetris, your mission is to fill in the gaps.

Cute boots!
Full of socks!

Even a regular pair of walking shoes can host up to 8 pairs of socks. I was able to fit 4 pair of underwear and 8 pair of socks into these boots for a recent cold climate trip!

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 packing 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!

Still having trouble? Try packing cubes to keep your things organized and compressed!

5. Find a Friend

If packing makes you truly stressed out and miserable, you are not alone! Don’t be afraid to call in reinforcements. My sweet 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 things 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. I also like when he hangs out with me while I pack my own luggage. Misery loves company, you know! If you have a friend or family member who gets into the packing and organizing, or who’s just really good at cheering you on, 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 out my Packing Page for more packing strategies and packing lists!

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5 responses to “Packing Strategy 2: Tetris Packing”

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