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30 Days to Packing a Better Bag – Day 11: Cubes, Sacks, Bags – Why You Should Compartmentalize

Day 11: Compartmentalize into cubes, sacks and bags.

Welcome to Day 11 of 30 Days to Packing a Better Bag.

Don’t travel any longer without understanding the importance of compartmentalizing into packing cubes, compression sacks and bags. Using these packing tools makes your bag more efficient, as you can sort clothing by category or in the order of when you will wear them. They also prevent you from having to dump all the contents out of your bag to find that one particular outfit — you know, the one thing that happens to be at the very bottom.

Placing your clothing in packing cubes, compression sacks or bags helps take the extra air out of your luggage, allowing you to pack more than you would if you just folded or rolled all of your clothes together. It could be the difference between checking a bag and carrying on, saving you precious time and money!

Best of all is that these options are available for purchase online and at most outdoor outfitters for cheap.

Cubes, Sacks & Bags: What’s the Difference?

Packing Cubes – Many travelers swear by their packing cubes, as they allow them to place all their belongings in them and stack inside their bags. They come in a variety of sizes to suit your needs and can be put together like a puzzle in your bag.

The packing cube.

inside the packing cube

The organizing power of packing cubes.
No more rummaging through piles of clothes in your bag. A packing cube keeps all your clothing in one place so you can find what you need without disrupting your entire bag.

Compression Sacks – These bags are a top tool for saving space since you can roll up your items and pull the tabs to press the air out. Choose styles from Kelty and Sea to Summit as well as one of our most recent discoveries, the Hoboroll, which has slots to separate your clothing. The Hoboroll claims to reduce space by up to 50%!

Other Bags – Ziploc bags make for an easy and cheap option to organize clothes. They can be labeled and then rolled to press out the air (or vacuumed if you prefer) and save space. Specially designed Space Bags, on the other hand, are similar in style and can be used for travel in order to pack as much as possible by removing air. The downsides for using bags instead of cubes or sacks is that the zippers and seals can break.

A well organized suitcase.
A well organized suitcase using different bags, sacks and cubes.

How to Pack Cubes, Sacks and Bags

Start by laying out all the clothing you plan on packing. Sort it by whatever will be useful to you, whether it be placing all the pants and shirts together or by placing cold weather items in one and warm weather in another.

Fold them width-wise (hot dog style) and roll. Then place in your cube or sack.

If you have more than one cube or sack, color coding can be a great way to remember where everything is. For example, place all shirts in your red cube and all pants in your blue cube. Then place into your suitcase or backpack and you’re on your way!

Check out this video:

How to Use Compression Sacks from Caroline Eubanks on Vimeo.

Take Action: Pack with Cubes, Sacks and Bags
Separate your packing list into categories and find a cube, sack or bag to help you organize it. Choose which tool, whether it be cubes, sacks or another method, will best suit your trip style and needs. Watch the magic happen as you compress your clothes to half the size.

Written by Caroline

Caroline Eubanks is a native of Atlanta, Georgia, but has also called Charleston, South Carolina and Sydney, Australia home. After college graduation and a series of useless part-time jobs, she went to Australia for a working holiday. In that time, she worked as a bartender, bungee jumped, scuba dived, pet kangaroos, held koalas and drank hundreds of cups of tea. You can find Caroline at Caroline in the City.

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Travel Resources

HPL Learnables

Handbag Packing Masterclass – Learn to pack your lightest bag ever in this revolutionary packing class run by HPL founder, Brooke.

Creative Ways to Minimize Your Toiletry & Beauty Kit – Practical tips alongside DIY recipes designed to help you pack lighter, smaller & with fewer liquids. (Also included as a bonus to Handbag Packing Masterclass.)


Book Your Trip

Viator – Enhance your trip experience by booking from thousands of tours across the globe.

Booking.com – Search for hotels, hostels, and apartments using this one resource. Use it for flights, car rentals, and airport taxis as well.

Trusted Housesitters – Save money on travel accommodation by becoming a housesitter. Housesitters often have extra duties, like caring for pets and gardens.

Reader Interactions

Comments

  1. Sandy says

    I use packing cubes, packing folders and plastic zipbags for every trip. Nothing is loose in my bag and TSA does not touch my clothes!

  2. Linda says

    I have been using packing cubes since they first came out. I fold instead of rolling and it find that I have very few wrinkles. It also helps to choose fabrics that need little care and to make sure that everything can be worn in different combinations. I also bring scarves to help change things up. I carry on so my luggage is small but I can still look great sightseeing in Paris, overnighting on a train or plane, and hiking or biking……all on the same trip! Packing cubes keep me organized and prevents me from leaving things at wherever I am staying.
    Best travel invention ever!

    • Steph says

      That’s interesting, I love the idea of using the compression sacks, but worry about everything coming out more wrinkled than an elephant!

  3. Mabel says

    You know what I use? Those little heavy plastic zipper totes that sheets and curtains come in. They’re clear, so you can see what’s inside them, and so can TSA. And the shapes make them easy to play Tetris inside your suitcase. If you’re buying linens anyway, they’re free! 🙂

  4. Cerastez says

    How do you deal with dirty cloths? Do they get their own packing cube? I do great at organizing my packing, until my dirty cloths start accumulating. A sack of dirty cloths always seems to be bigger and bulkier. Would a compression bag for dirty cloths be a good idea? How do you deal with it?

    • Brooke says

      A compression cube or compression sack might be a good option. I generally use a small pouch for my dirty clothes, but since I pack pretty light, I am constantly hand-washing things as I go so I never have a huge pile of dirty clothes at any given time.

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