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My all-time favorite packing cubes are the Eagle Creek Pack-It Specter Compression Cubes. With an additional zipper for compression, they can help you fit a bit more into a smaller space.
Packing cubes, if you haven’t heard of them yet, will revolutionize the way you pack. No, I’m not just saying that to make some bold statement and catch your attention.
I mean it.
These little cubes of zippered goodness will give you back some of your sanity while you travel! They help you to stay organized, keep your belongings compact, and find what you need in record time from the abyss of your backpack.
This article will provide everything you need to know about packing cubes, as well as how to use packing cubes properly.
What are Packing Cubes?
Packing cubes are relatively small containers made of fabric, often in a rectangular shape, used for packing clothing. They zip closed and are small enough that you can fit several into a carry-on bag, suitcase, or backpack.
With different sizes and shapes, it is possible to find the right packing cubes to fit perfectly into your luggage (much like Tetris!). Some are squares, rectangles, or even long ones resembling square tubes.
Others offer extra compression zippers, and some even have two sides, which are useful in keeping clean clothes separate from dirty.
Packing cubes keep your clothing compressed (to a small degree) and your packing organized. This is key. An organized bag will help you feel less frazzled when packing/repacking and just when you’re trying to find what you’re looking for quickly.
Once you start using them, you won’t look back!
What are the Benefits of Using Packing Cubes?
It’s true that you can pack well (enough) without ever using packing cubes. I did it for years! Once I started using them, however, I discovered the numerous benefits.
No more pulling every piece of clothing out of my bag to get to the one thing at the bottom!
Packing cubes do all of the following:
- Come in a variety of sizes: While packing cubes are often rectangular in shape, they vary in length, width, and height, making them perfect for packing any type of clothing – or anything else you may want to stash inside. Differing sizes also mean they can fit in any size daypack, backpack, or suitcase.
- Organize clothing: Packing cubes help you pack like items together. One cube for your bottoms, one for tops, another for your travel underwear, etc. You can choose to further organize according to cube size, or even by choosing a specific color to signify which cube holds which belongings.
- Keep clothes neat and minimize wrinkles: It’s unavoidable to have a few wrinkles, even when rolling clothing. By filling packing cubes to capacity with tightly rolled clothing or neatly folded garments, the items are kept in place from point A to B.
- Make packing, repacking, and finding exactly what you need easier: When using packing cubes, you can pull that one specific cube out of your bag to get exactly what you need instead of flipping through piles of clothing in a suitcase. Some cubes have a mesh panel so you can see what’s inside each one.
- Offer alternative storage solutions: Some travelers will use the smaller sized packing cubes as cosmetics bags, while others will use packing cubes to store their electronics cables and small devices. While we think there are better bags for these sorts of items, it’s so common we have to list it!
- Maximize space: Packing cubes can keep your clothes a bit more compressed, meaning you can fit more into your luggage. Also due to the building-block shape of the cubes – they’re easy to stack and fit neatly into every available inch of your pack.
- Serve as impromptu pillows: Sometimes the hostel pillow just doesn’t cut it. Or perhaps you find yourself on an impromptu trip or camping in the middle of nowhere. In situations like these, you might be able to use a large packing cube filled with clothing (although we definitely believe that there is a better travel pillow out there for you).
- Store travel belongings between trips: There are certain items you might only use when you travel. Instead of taking everything out, only to have to track down the items again for your next trip, you can store them in a packing cube to make them easy to find.
How to Use Packing Cubes
There is no right or wrong way to use packing cubes– do what works for you! I like to roll my clothes before placing them inside – that way they are super compressed and stay that way during transit.
Once you have your packing cubes filled (but not overfilled), place them in your luggage in the best position possible. Remember what types of things you included in each cube so you can grab what you need in a flash!
If you’re using a cube to store your dirty clothes, it may be nice to throw in a few dryer sheets to keep the luggage smelling fresh.
Tip: For suitcases, be sure to fill the gaps between the bars at the bottom of the bag before placing the cubes on top. You will have wasted luggage space otherwise.
Buying Packing Cubes
Which ones do I buy?
Some companies make their own packing cubes to fit the exact dimensions of their specific bags, which is handy since there are so many sizes and brands of cubes on the market. Besides that, the extra features and quality will help you determine which ones to buy.
Name Brand vs. Cheap Packing Cubes:
There is a bit of a debate as to whether to buy name brand packing cubes or cheap ones from dollar stores or Ikea for that matter. It’s up to you which route you want to take.
Some of the name brand cubes will come with warranties or have added features you may enjoy (extra compression for example), but they can be costly.
That said, there is varying feedback from HPL readers. Some have been using their cheapo dollar store packing cubes for years. Others didn’t like how flimsy and low-quality they felt, and wouldn’t rely on them for long-term travel.
Large Packing Cubes:
If you’re just starting out and are unsure of which cubes to buy, I recommend staying away from the larger sized ones. They might take up more room than you need, and it’s probably best to have more smaller ones so you can organize and compartmentalize items better.
They’re also more versatile if you end up switching up your luggage.
While sets are tempting because they come with a price break, they do often come with that very large packing cube so choose wisely.
Structured vs. Flexible Packing Cubes:
Some packing cubes, like the Ebags original packing cubes, have a bit more heft to them. They tend to keep their shape more, which may or may not be what you’re looking for in packing cubes.
Other packing cubes made of ultralight ulra-sil fabric (like these) are very easy to pack away when not in use, are compressible, and weigh next to nothing!
Double-Sided Packing Cubes:
Double-sided cubes, like the Eagle Creek Pack-It Clean Dirty Cube, make it easy to separate certain items from the rest. Dirty clothes and wet clothes can be placed in the water-repellant half, while clean clothes can be kept in the breathable mesh side. Great for beach trips!
The Eagle Creek Pack-It Specter Compression Cubes
My all-time favorite packing cubes are the Eagle Creek Pack-It Specter Compression Cubes – now called Pack-It Isolate. With an additional zipper for compression, they can help you fit a bit more into a smaller space.
They are super thin and lightweight – yet durable! I usually choose just one of these medium-sized cubes for my only packing cube when packing ultralight.
How many do I buy?
Less is more in my opinion. By taking fewer packing cubes, I am less tempted to overpack. This is because I have a goal of making the brunt of my clothes fit into just one!
But for most people, I’d say it’s an average of 3 cubes that get packed. Some choose to go with more depending on their clothing needs and packing goals, but remember that you can have too much of a good thing.
Ideas from the HPLWorld Community:
Jude B. – “I have 2 small ones & 1 large which is easily enough for 2 weeks worth of clothes & plenty of room for everything else in any cabin sized luggage.”
Shawn R. – “I like taking one cube full of socks and undies and one of tops, then halfway through the trip I change it to one of clean laundry and one dirty!”
Melanie W. – “One for shirts (large one), one for lingerie and socks (small one), one for trousers (large), one for jackets (large), one for electronics and other stuff (small) and one for laundry (small then repack in a large one and the clean stuff comes in the small one).”
Where do I buy packing cubes?
Amazon has a number of brands, styles, and prices of packing cubes, so that would be my first recommendation since it’s so easy. Outdoors stores and travel-specific stores will be your next best bet. Think REI, Anaconda, Kathmandu, Columbia, etc.
But, you can also pick up packing cubes at stores like Daiso, Muji, Ikea, Ebay, The Container Store and so many more!
5 Biggest Mistakes of Using Packing Cubes
1. Bringing too many.
It’s easy to get carried away- look at how well these cubes stack and fill my suitcase! But when you bring too many cubes, you are more likely to fill the cubes with articles of clothing that you really don’t need.
It’s the same as bringing a bigger piece of luggage- you fill the space when it’s not necessary.
Tip: If you’d like to downsize, why not make it a challenge. Take out one of your packing cubes and tell yourself you can only bring the clothing that fits in the remaining ones.
2. Using the big ones.
I mentioned it before; the big ones are often a bit too big in my opinion. Plus they might not fill the space of your luggage in the best way possible. I’d prefer to have 2 separate half cubes that can be mixed up a bit to find the ultimate best fit.
3. Under or over filling.
If you don’t fill your cubes, then there still may be room for the items inside to shift around and get extra wrinkled. If you overfill them, then it could make it difficult to repack, and let’s not forget about the extra stress on the zippers and bag itself.
4. Using them for the wrong things.
You can definitely use packing cubes for more than just clothes, but chances are there is a much better packing container for things like cosmetics and electronics cables, and even bras.
For the electronics, you could look into a Grid-It, or simply place them in a flatter zipper pouch. Cosmetics may be better off in a bag with more of a leak-proof liner. And bras may do better in a special case, such as CupCase.
5. Using them to pack more stuff instead of focusing on organization.
Sure, it’s a bonus if you are able to fit more stuff into your carry-on because you’ve compressed said stuff in packing cubes. But fitting more in means you have heavier luggage.
Regardless of whether or not your airline allows the extra weight, we at HPL are adamantly opposed to extra luggage weight and bulk for more reasons than just saving money on airfare. It’s important to focus on the organization features of packing cubes.
Packing Cube Brands
We’ve compared a few different brands of packing cubes in this post a while back. Ebags and Eagle Creek are very popular.
But there are numerous packing cube brands on the market, and they are all essentially the same at their core. Just remember that some brands may also come with additional warranties or features that could be beneficial.
Packing Cube Alternatives
- Packing folders: Packing folders are very rigid, which makes them good for things like business shirts and slacks. They are worth a try depending on your travel needs. I had purchased one years ago before my first backpacking trip, but when it came time to pack up and go, I left it behind.
- Compression bags: These bags can reduce the space your stuff takes up by compressing the contents. They are great for things like puffy jackets and bulky clothing items. At HPL we compared four different brands of compression sacks so you can choose the right one.
- Shoe bags: Shoe sized bags that protect your clothing from the soles of your shoes. Some people use them for laptop and camera cables and chargers instead. They’re also good for undergarments.
- Zipper pouches: I tend to use an extremely lightweight zipper pouch for socks and underwear, and I also pack a 2nd one to store my dirty clothes. I recommend the pouches from Baggu for this.
Check out some packing cube action in this video showing how I packed for a trip in just a 12L handbag:
If you use packing cubes, how many do you pack?! Let us know in the comments!
Yes! I love packing cubes. I use a set from REI that’s very similar to these (https://www.rei.com/product/848365/outdoor-research-dry-ditty-sacks-set-of-3). My dad had a set he used while walking the Camino de Santiago, and he gifted me a set before I left to live in South Korea. Honestly, reading about them on HPL a while back was what convinced me to use them. The waterproof feature came in handy when my backpack, which I had checked with the airline, was sitting on the tarmac for a solid 9 hours in the rain. My clothes were nice and dry that night! That set was the perfect size for a three month trip from SE Asia to the USA and Canada, and then on to Western Europe (and then back to SE Asia). The bags fit very nicely in my top-loading backpack, and it kept me from getting to mixed up with which socks were clean and which were dirty. Even for smaller trips, I just put things in the sacks and go, since they’re so handy and keep me so well-organized.
Kate - Travel for Difference says
Packing cubes are the best invention! They really do make packing a breeze.. especially when travelling at a fast pace! X
Packing cubes are great! I always notice that TJ Maxx usually has pretty nice ones at discounted prices. Something to check out!
Love packing cubes, especially the ones made by Eagle Creek – and I’ve somehow managed to build quite the collection over the past couple years…
Usually, I travel with either a double-sided half cube or two of the super light compression half cubes for basically all my clothes, and a super light quarter cube for my socks and undies. In addition, I use a regular quarter cube for all my chargers and cables.
Love how packing cubes help me keep things together and in roughly the same shape for my packing Tetris!
Usually, my clothing cubes are not filled to capacity when I leave home, so I have some room left for stuff I buy on the road. I don’t care about my clothes getting wrinkled, I don’t bother with ironing in my non-travel life either, so for me, underpacking cubes is perfectly alright but as always, YMMV.
Packing cubes save my sanity when we travel! We have 2 small children, and if travelling for about a week or less we prefer to take 1 bag for us all. Each of us has a large packing cube, plus one more for toys for the kids! It makes life so much easier, especially with less pieces of luggage to manage!!
Thank God I found your site!!! I use packing cubes but not very well, I always over pack and use them for organization, not really to condense. I am prepping for a 3 week trip this summer to China and Japan. It will be very hot and muggy in China. I can’t bring a lot and I know I will be responsible for the packing of my husband and 12 year old daughter. On this trip we travel around a lot and don’t have many opportunities to have our laundry done. Ugh. So I’m trying to figure out the best clothing and fabrics. I am going to read everything on this site!!!!
I bought the set from IKEA for about $6, so I cannot imagine spending $40+ on compression cubes from Eagle Creek! Mine were especially useful when backpacking around Peru for 2 weeks last August. I’ll be using them more often in the future for sure!
I absolutely love the double-sided cubes. There is something about being able to keep the same things in a single cube and have them take up the exact same space that makes my organized brain happy. Super easy for laundry mid-trip or at the end too. I did overbuy when I first discovered cubes, though, and bought a packing folder that I absolutely don’t need.
Hi ! I’m quite new to this website but thank god so helpful. Thank you so much for you all girls, especially in terms of reviews of your own backpacks. I’m now going for the REI vagabond 40 but I couldn’t stop noticing your bag in your article. I’m curious to know which one is it. Could you please tell me what is it? 🙂 Thanks !
Hi Siana – It’s the Ebags Motherlode, but I think you chose the better bag with the REI 🙂
I move around regularly and have used my packing cubes on every move for the last 12 years. I’ve used them for almost everything you can think of. When I flew to Chicago to teach a seminar, I put all of my class supplies and materials into two packaging cubes which was a godsend because door to door it was about 20 hours and I had only about four hours between getting to bed and leaving to teach. A third cube contained my head-to-toe outfit for the day. Without the grab/go nature of the cubes I probably would not have pulled that off.
When moving, packing cubes are the best for optimizing drawer and shelf space in furniture. I much prefer them to using cardboard boxes.
I have another move coming up this year and did a dry-pack of my new 25″ bag. Sure enough, I don’t have enough cubes for the move — though it’s wonderful I was able to use the cubes to get about 75% of the clothing I’m keeping (no sense moving clothes that don’t fit) into that single 25″ bag — including the base for my travel cage for my cockatiels (I’ve had movers shatter bird cage bases on me) when the base is packed into my cage cover.
Really debating what sizes I need for that next packing cube order. I think once the 25″ bag is packed to the max I have 1 small, 1 medium, 1 large, and 2 slim cubes left.
I love cubes!! I have a 6 pack of E-bags (they were on sale): 1 small, 1 medium, 1 large and 3 ‘travel’ ones (the long ones). I rarely use more than the small or medium (depending on the length of trip) and 1 or 2 of the long/travel ones (again depends on what I am taking and any extra space in those, I use for cords/cables, etc).
I’m obsessed with packing cubes, been trying to convert friends who don’t use them or even pack that well. I also use them when not travelling, packing away my travel clothes and my gym clothes, to take up less space. I use one large one for heavy clothes, one medium for tops and light items and two slim for underwear, bras/swimwear and scarves. Can last two weeks with this config and if I cant fit all I want in it I don’t take.
Any tips for packing light for someone who doesn’t wear clothes twice without washing?
Yes! Buy some items that are super quick drying and hand-wash as you go. You can also wear an extra layer close to the skin. For example, would wearing a thin camisole/tank under your top allow you to re-wear the main top? Packing a few extra thin tank tops might take up less space in your luggage than several main tops. Also, the right fabrics can help. Fabrics like bamboo and merino are naturally antibacterial, meaning they smell less if you do need to wear again.
I discovered packing cubes about 12 years ago. People looked at me funny, when I told them how I was using the, but, they certainly have caught on.
My first reason for using packing cubes: When I realized that the TSA folks were getting into my luggage and pawing through my clothes. At first I just put my clothes in zip lock bags. Then I discovered the packing cubes.
My second reason was: Organization. I am not generally an organized person and this helped my get my packing under control. Remember those days when we used to dig through our suitcases looking for what we wanted to take out. And I was usually in a hurry. Well, that is no longer a problem.
Here is my third reason for using packing cubes: I can take my cubes out of my suitcase and throw them in a hotel drawer without wondering who’s stuff had been in that drawer before mine. Again, it makes it easier to find what I’m looking for.
And, I could go on, but, thank you for reading me.
Jen B says
I’ve been using cubes for many years as well. My first set was from Lands End – very high quality and still in great shape. I first used them for a month-long trip to Australia, where I took a large rolling duffel bag (pre-9/11) and my bag was so organized! I have since purchased a set from Ebags when they were on Amazon Prime day. I lent them to a coworker, who I have converted to their usefulness. I recently returned from a 2-week trip to Ireland – had long sleeve shirts rolled up in one cube, short sleeve shirts in another, pants packed in the space at the bottom of the suitcase, socks and undies in a third (the long narrow one), and my cords/plugs/adapters in the small cube. Since we changed hotels frequently, it was so easy to keep my suitcase organized. Halfway through the trip, I combined all the clean shirts into one cube and dirty items in the other. I absolutely recommend putting a couple dryer sheets in to combat suitcase funk – and wish I’d had a small bottle of Febreeze along as well.
i’ve used packing cubes for a long time and found it especially helpful on our 3 week honeymoon packing for 3 different seasons (fall in korea, spring, in new zealand, summery in fiji!). one benefit to packing cubes i hadn’t realized before this trip, we had an overweight bag before a flight and i pulled out a few cubes and dispersed them in our backpack and my tote and it was such a breeze to put them back when we arrived at our hotel. so much neater than pulling out handfuls of clothing or even undies in front of everyone at the airport check-in!
That is definitely a perk to using packing cubes! And if your luggage breaks or something on the conveyer belt, you won’t have random underwear floating around… just a nicely packed cube. Fingers crossed that’s never an issue though!!
Sandra Palmer says
I love using packing cubes. I had an airport security employee comment that I had the neatest suitcase he has ever seen.
They do keep everything so nice and tidy!
Elizabeth Clark says
Great information. Thanks for all the info! Leaving on vacatiin soon, and I always over pack. Going to look into cubes. BTW, who makes the turquoise bag in your video, the one you pack things into? Super cute and looks well organized!!
Which bag is it? I’m searching on Amazon for some things to use when going on a long weekend trip to Vegas at the end of February…I haven’t travelled much and want to begin to travel more and better
Judy Voce says
I happened to see packing cubes several years ago on a website and was hooked. I sew, so instead of purchasing them I have made my own. Gave me the opportunity to customize the size that I wanted. Also like the fact that when getting to a hotel can just unzip and put the whole thing in the drawer. Hubby can easily find his own clothes and not destroy everything trying to find a clean shirt. Easy to combine items after use so have clean cubes and dirt ones. When home, I can empty, zip and just toss thru the washer.
Jan McCormick says
We are going on an 8-week adventure and want to pack light (yes, I plan on doing laundry a few times). We bought packing cubes and now I am gathering information on how to use them and what I should pack for this length trip.It is going to be interesting! I am planning on doing a “test pack” to see what will fit!
I used washing bags before packing bags were available and thought packing bags would make it even better, but not really. Both made the first pack seem like it would be all great, but from the first unpack it really wasn’t as great as I hoped, still hard to find stuff and to much time repacking.
So I went one step farther and think I have the holiday packing beat now. I bought 6 packing bags from Daiso that make up two even layers in my suitcase. I then sewed 3 bags together onto a piece of material to form one layer and again the same with the other 3 bags.
In the bottom of the suitcase I put odd stuff that fills the little valleys and gives me a flatish area for the first sheet of packing bags, then the second layer goes on top of that. I can also put packs of little buts between the bags if I need to. (like my roll of travel adaptors or my 6 outlet power board with 4 usb sockets, for which I only need one travel adaptor to power everything. Then I use a light suit bag for my shirts that folds and goes on top.
Now you may say what’s the difference? Well when I get to the hotel I hang up my shirt bag and put the two sheets of 3 packing bags on shelves, or in drawers or just on a bench Possibly one layer remains in the suitcase. I can see everything and get to everything easily, All the packing bags are always in one of two places and repacking is so quick and easy. It is like your suitcase and travel bags become a dresser.
I tend to move around from town to town a lot, 5 days in one spot is a long stay, often I stay only one or two nights and this has made it all so much easier. In June I’m off to Europe for 3 months, 12 places for 3 to 5 nights each and the rest are all 1 or 2 nights. 63 days with a car makes all those 1’s and 2’s easier with only 3 hrs max driving on any one day.
Also I have learnt to under pack, you don’t need anywhere as much as you think. All those just in case things just add to the clutter. Especially for me as I come home with lots of souvenirs – well sort of, my souvenirs are clothes Euro Summer sales start in June 🙂
Catherine Alexis says
You motivated me to get a set and I love them. Just included them in my packing tips blog. So glad I found this list before my last trip!
Catherine @ To & Fro Fam says
That is majorly impressive! I use ziplock bags for my kids when we pack for a family vacation so they can select an outfit (one per bag, which contains everything they need). But packing cubes might be a better bet for me. Thanks for the tips!
Using packing cubes has changed my travel life! I have various sizes from eBags plus some coordinating shoe bags and zippered mesh “envelopes”. All in Grasshopper (lime green) so they stand out (even my toiletry bag is eBag’s “Pack It Flat” which I love)
I roll everything and put all my bottoms in one cube, tops in another, bras/panties/socks in a third. Sometimes I use a 4th cube to hold my microfiber hair towel, nightgown and miscellaneous clothes if I can’t fit them in on of the other cubes. I can fit 2 prs of shoes in one shoe bag because it has some stretch. I use the envelopes to hold things like pens/small notebook/charging cords etc. My suitcase stays neat and I can pull out just what I need. My packing cubes have mesh panels so I can see what is in each one.
I also pack several 2 gallon size Zip-loc bags (not a size that is easy to find in the grocery store but I can find them in Wal-Mart). I use them to put my dirty laundry in. Wet swimsuits. Or shoes that have gotten wet/muddy. Love this packing list article, I’m sending it to my travel mates ahead of our trip to Ireland in a few weeks!
Quick question – I have encountered fleas in a few hotels (not even budget…) and was wondering if there are packing cubes that can actually keep out fleas (or bedbugs, which thankfully I haven’t had the displeasure of meeting)?
Also, once, someone urinated on our luggage at an airport (or the plane loo was leaky, either way it was gross and cost an extra day to just clean everything) – any disadvantage to waterproof packing cubes?
In sum – any liquid and flea proof packing cubes that you could recommend that don’t stink too much of plastic?
Teresa Buckle says
I swear by packing cubes for our family holiday. My sons shorts and tshirts fold neatly into one my daughters into another. When we arrive at our destination I give him his and hers hers and they can choose what they want to wear….no rifling through the suitcases. Also – they are just so cool and it really pleased me to be so organised in my case. My only problem is i am so good at packing i can get soo much in …that I have to be careful not to go over the weight limit.
Helen Wheat says
I use packing cubes but seldom use the large one. I first stuff the rows between the roller handles with things like bathing suit, or nightie, whatever not in a cube that fits. I put what ever shoes I am not wearing in grocery bags if no shoe bags available, in the bottom of the carry on bag towards the corners. Next comes pants, laid flat over the small items tucked in. I roll my tops(10-12) and place them in the medium bag, my small bag gets undies, incl bras that only have underwire to contend with, no padding. I have some very small cubes that handle self care, tweezers, tooth care, nail clippers, etc. another has first aid items incl sewing kit, I tuck them in. If I am bringing a shirt that had to be ironed, it is in a two gallon zip lock bag. I can slip a light weight jacket in mesh pocket in suitcase lid along with a sweater. Outside pockets get scarves, rain booties, etc. This got me thru 18 days in Europe. I had a small back pack for drugs, electronics a clean pair of undies and a top.. Had room for gifts etc coming home. Next year will try that again only for 26 days but this time will have laundry access not just hand washing underwear, lol.
Great article! I love my packing cubes! I’m not sure if anyone else posted this, but I also use the smaller ones sometimes to put the entire outfit including undergarments in one bag. That way I only have to pull out one bag at a time and my dirties go back in the empty bag at the end of the day. When I’m not traveling i pack a complete workout outfit into a bag and make one for each day of workout at the beginning of the week. All I have to do in the morning is grab a new bag already ready to go and throw it in my bag. 🙂
I have been using eBags cubes for many years and love puzzling them in various bags. My favorite way to use is in our small camper trailer. I use a large one each for my husband and I. They fit perfect into the small wardrobe shelves and hold enough clothes and underwear for a 3 day trip! I pack them up and then just toss them onto their shelves in the trailer for easy prep for a mini vacation.
I’ve been using EBags for years, placing the cubes into various sized suitcases. This year I plan to travel more and would like to go “carry-on only” so I splurged and bought the Professional Weekender when it went on sale before Christmas. I have only one of the large EBag cubes but I pack it empty in my bag, it takes up almost no space. Should I purchase things on my trip that don’t fit into my suitcase, I can use it as a carry-on larger, very flexible “personal item”. It has a handle so it’s easy to carry as well.
Good tip on using it as a personal item! That is a good use.
We do a lot of Disney trips that end with a partial day at the park, then grab our stored luggage for transport to the airport, changing there for the airplane ride/weather back home. It feels so “civilized” to remove a packing cube, change into the more appropriate outfit, and stash removed park clothing in that same cube. All this is done without revealing the entire contents of my luggage to everyone around me. 😉
Thank you for this useful article, and to everyone who shared tips.
Jennifer Minke says
I go on a lot of business trips where I have day and evening activities. I use packing cubes to keep my clothes organized by day so that every item needed for a particular day is in a cube, including socks, underwear, belts, and even jewelry sometimes. This makes it so much easier during the trip since there is no need to remember what outfits I planned.
This also lets me pack away each day’s worth of clothing as I go so that packing up at the end of the trip is a breeze.
I use 1 medium packing cube for bottoms + tops (max 4 tops + 3 bottoms including shorts)
Then a small one for my underwear and socks.
I also have dirty/clean in case of need (beach outing)
And a dry bag (which I actually use as a laundry bag and impromptu washing machine).
A zipper bag for my electronics and a separate toiletry bag are also included. (sometimes my first aid fits in the toiletry bag, other times I use another small zipper bag).
I thought packing cubes was a great idea. But I found the me only wearing skirts and dresses packing cubes don’t work the same. I have several sizes and only put a few items in it and was to big for my carry on luggage. I tried several was and decided that just folding my clothes in the luggage would work best for me.
Totally correct. When, I returned from my trip this go around , I took note what items, I didn’t need. Lesson learned about overpacking my cubes.
I am a packing cube convert. Personally, I like to use 5 or 6, in various sizes depending what I am packing. I like to separate the clothes into like items eg, 1 for underwears and socks, another for tops, another for bottoms, another for swimwears/sarongs, another for dressy stuff eg evening clothes. I find it easier that way, so if you are looking for a top to wear you just pull out that packing cube. And I do sometimes use the very large ones especially for evening clothes or things i don’t want to fold up too much.
I started using packing cubes decades ago when working at a summer camp. The kids changed every week and the staff would change units most every week as well so we all kept our luggage in the staff house with the exception of one waterproof trunk that we put EVERYTHING we needed for the week in for Sunday move ins (we could go to the staffhouse on our time off whenever we wanted, it was just easier to have what we needed in our tent/leanto). So we put all our clothes in packing cubes (one per type generally but putting all the bad weather stuff together in one of the extra large ones), then put them in vertically on one side of the trunk using the extra large one flat on the other side to help them stand up as if the trunk was a filing drawer. We would then put our flashlight, mess kit, unit toiletry bag (just toothbrush, face cleaning stuff, contacts if needed since the showers were in the staff house – or shower house for the kids – and there was no hot water in the units just a spigot on a tree or post), alarm clock, book/cards, and any other little personal stuff on top of the large cube, then our pillow, extra blankets and sleeping bag in a compression bag on to of it all. This way we only needed to label our trunks for the team dropping them off in the units each week and everyone’s stuff was all together for quick bunk set up after the weekly planning meeting (we split up and rotated premeeting tasks – delivering trunks, getting the bagels for breakfast from our favorite local place, making the coffee, cleaning and setting up the dining hall for check in and putting up the parking lot signs and kid luggage tarps for check in – so no one had time to unpack til after).
The large cube is still my favorite – its perfect for the foul weather contingency stuff and sits perfectly at the bottom of my bag. Its also great for compressing puffer coats and sweaters for winter travel and containing dresses with crinoline that wont fit in the medium bag that you have to steam regardless when going to formal events.
Otherwise I preplan outfits and do one cube per day with everything I need including a little bag of jewelry – I just use the drawstring ones that jewelry stores ship the jewelry in. I mostly use the medium ones as a result but Ill use one small one for my pjs and slippers.
I love your site. I especially like the comments that readers send in. It gives new perspectives/ideas on how to organize for different types of situations/trips.
June Lovell says
I started using cubes after I returned home from an overseas trip and found one manky/nasty tennis shoe IN MY SUITCASE. I have no idea whether I acquired it at my departure or arrival airport but I was disgusted at the very thought of my belongings in contact with that shoe. I became an even more dedicated user when I remarried and began packing for two: I could use blue painter’s tape and mark each cube with contents. My husband had some memory problems but the labels were the solution to that problem (as far as the suitcase was concerned). I have several different kinds of cubes and they are all great, if I can just remember where I put them, speaking of memory problems.
I enjoyed this post. I use the cubes that sheets come in as packing cubes. They are zippered and waterproof. They work great for dirty laundry.
I have also used these bags for my husbands bigger items. I use shower caps from the Dollar store to cover the bottoms of shoes.
I do have a set of packing cubes I got from Amazon which I love but I do find that I occasionally need something unique for some items. The dollar store has great little bags for all kinds of uses which accompany my packing cubes.
That said, I will never travel again without packing cubes. I’ve managed a three week trip to Europe in a carry-on easily.
Johanne Ostiguy says
My husband and I each bought a set of packing cubes from IKEA Family years ago. The set includes 1 medium-sized double-sided bag (for tops and bottoms), 1 medium bag (for dressier clothes, if needed), 1 smaller bag (for socks and underwear) and 1 shoe bag (that actually fits 2 pairs). We each add a coated-nylon pouch for dirty clothes and a kit bag for toiletries. I’ve even managed to fit in a travel hairdryer on occasion. This all fits in our carry-on luggage. Over the years, we’ve used them for air travel, camping, RVing. Definitely the way to go to keep everything organized and handy.
I label my packing cubes with the Green Frog brand painter’s tape. Works great !
Love your blog !
Jill Honeybun says
I love packing cubes, travelling and at home! I can pack and unpack my case in seconds.
Whenever I go away, I make a detailed list beforehand. It’s the same basic list, tweaked for the time of year and destination. Small “cubes” for undies, socks, bras. Larger cubes that fit my case properly, one each for tops, bottoms, jumpers/cardigans and dresses. Jeans usually go across the bottom of the case. Then two layers of two cubes. Sandals in their own purpose made drawstring bags (I’m a keen needlewoman) and toilet bag and my “survival kit” tucked in the front, and my hot brush between the bags in the middle. Job done. The “survival kit” is a cheap zip bag from ebay with dividers, for things like a compass, nail clippers, plasters etc. I pack the actual cubes a few days beforehand, often taking a quick picture of what I’ve taken as I go along, just in case I need to make an insurance claim, I know this sounds like OCD, but someone broke the lock on my case somewhere between Gatwick and Crete. I suspect the only reasons the contents were intact is because everything was in cubes, so not easy to pull out. On arrival at my hotel, I just take the cubes out of my case and put them in my drawers. I always weigh my bag before leaving home with some digital scales. All this really started soon after I was widowed, travelling alone was still a challenge then. I had some faulty dial suitcase scales and arrived at Gatwick with a case that my scales said weighed 19 kgs. but actually weighed 27kg.! Fortunately I was flying with BA and had spare weight allowance in my cabin bag, so shuffled a few things between the two, and wasn’t charged any excess (Thanks BA) but it was an experience I never wanted to repeat.
Brooke thanks for your article very informative my first time for using packing cubes we are going on a month-long trip to New England stay 2 to 3 nights at various places my thoughts for packing were three pair of pants three shirts under clothes socks and a nightgown then I would just pull cube out as I needed it and take it into the hotel I have a backpack that I was going to fill with toiletries electronics things that I would need every night Hoping to avoid having to take everything into the hotels each night … do you have any suggestions
Shirley Hill says
After I have minimalized my packing, my carry on bag is not full. I throw in a few sheets of bubble wrap to keeps things from shifting. If I buy anything. I can either wrap it in bubble wrap.
I also fit my day pack into my carryon. I love packing light, and strive to take less with each trip, usually 3 weeks.