In a survey conducted by SWNS digital, 65% of Americans reported packing as a stressful part of traveling. And nearly one-third packed less than 24 hours before leaving, with most travelers not touching one-fourth of their packed suitcase when traveling. Yet 43% of those surveyed still need to purchase something on a trip. It’s easy to conclude that packing can be stressful, time-consuming, and costly. However, it doesn’t have to be.
While packing lists help, packing cubes are necessary for an efficient, well-organized suitcase that saves time, money, and stress. Once you experience the travel-changing magic of packing cubes, you’ll wonder how you ever packed without them before. Learn to compress your belongings and make room for more with this impressive travel hack.
What Are Packing Cubes
Whether you are traveling light or packing for a trip overseas, packing cubes can help. Packing cubes are sealed fabric pouches that are used to compartmentalize everything in your suitcase. They’re sold as a set of cubes or individual cubes to fit your needs. Think of them as drawers for your packed bag.
Like items are grouped together and compressed into an individual cube to fit more things and, in many cases, keep them less wrinkled. And the cubes come in a variety of sizes and materials. They’ll fit everything from pajamas and undergarments to jeans, make-up, and shoes.
Benefits of Packing Cubes
Packing cubes are beneficial to make travel more manageable and less stressful. You’ll see that they:
- Protect your clothes from unwanted moisture and leaked toiletry items versus scattered clothing in a suitcase.
- Save space by compressing the contents.
- Save time by organizing your items so you can find what you need when you need it.
- Prevent overpacking.
- Help keep dirty clothes separate from clean clothes.
- Make unpacking a breeze with clothes already sorted.
- Nicely folding clothes without a wrinkle to be found
Features of Packing Cubes
There are many features you must consider before purchasing packing cubes. Packing cubes range in price from a few dollars to more than $100, and so does the quality. Here are a few items to think about:
1. Material. Packing cubes come in a variety of materials. Some are made of anti-microbial materials that fight odor-causing bacteria, while others are made of waterproof materials such as nylon
2. Colors. You’ll see that packing cubes are made to fit any style. There are simple, neutral colors and bold colors with printed designs.
2. Mesh. The open net design of mesh allows visibility of contents and maximum compression.
3. Size. You’ll find packing cubes that range in size from a few inches to more than a foot in length and width.
4. Weight. Most packing cubes are made of a lightweight material that doesn’t add much to your overall luggage weight.
5. Waterproof. The water-resistant material makes clean-up fast and easy. Just pop the cubes in the washer with a bit of detergent, watch the smells and stains fade effortlessly, and get ready to use the cubes over and over again.
6. Zipper. A quality zipper is essential to the functionality of a packing cube. Zippers that get stuck and don’t open seamlessly make packing cubes intolerable. You’ll want a packing cube with a durable zipper meant to last.
6. Reinforcements. Many but not all packing cubes come with x-shaped straps that keep items from shifting, squishing, or folding during transit.
7. Machine washable. Most packing cubes are intended to be machine washable. However, this is a feature you’ll want to double-check. Read the care labels before buying if this is important to you.
Where to Use Packing Cubes
While traveling, you can put packing cubes in your checked luggage, carry-on luggage, duffel bag, backpack, or checked bag. They can go into anything they fit inside.
Do You Need Packing Cubes
While some would argue that packing cubes are a must, they’re not for everyone. If you don’t like to fold your clothes and take the extra time to organize your items, packing cubes aren’t for you. On the other hand, if you’re a minimalist or like simplicity, they’re perfect.
Packing cubes are perfect for people looking for an organized way to pack for travel. If you want to know exactly where something is, packing cubes are a must. They’ll help you travel lighter and neater. You’ll fit more items in your suitcase than before without overpacking and forgetting something. You can’t go wrong trying packing cubes to see if you need them.
How to Use Packing Cubes?
Packing cubes save space by compartmentalizing items into a manageable space within your luggage to fit more. Packing cubes can be used to group items together and act as drawers.
Here are five tips to maximize their efficiency and effectiveness:
- Make a travel packing list. You need to know what to pack, and there’s no easier way to ensure you take what you need and want than using a packing list.
- Categorize cubes by outfit or style, such as day and evening outfits. The mix-and-match combinations are endless. Here are the three primary categorization methods to consider:
- Pack by category. All of your like items are packed together. Tops and bottoms, workout clothes, undergarments, pajamas, socks, toiletries, bulky items like sweaters, and so much more in their own cube
- Pack by outfit. This strategy is perfect for people with multiple outfits already planned for different activities. Organize cubes by day, activity, or event.
- Pack by person. This organization strategy works best for families with more than one individual packing in one suitcase. Packing cubes make it easy to keep everyone’s stuff separate. Have a cube or two for each person.
- A combination of the above. You can have some categories and some outfit packing cubes in your suitcase. There’s no right or wrong, and it will take time to determine the perfect number of cubes for you.
- Fold or roll clothes to fit like items into the cube and prevent wrinkling.
- Stack like items in the cubes so that you can easily find them later. Try using the mesh cubes to see inside the cube without opening, and feel free to use multiple cubes if needed.
- Experiment with different combinations of cubes. There are various sizes and materials to consider. You’ll want to find a size and number combination that maximizes the interior of your suitcase.
- Don’t forget that cubes can be stacked too. Placing packing cubes in a suitcase can feel like doing a puzzle. Packing cubes can be stored in a variety of positions. They can stand up, stand on their side, or lay flight. And best of all, they can be stacked on each other.
Packing Cube Mistakes
It will take time to figure out what and how many packing cubes you need. And it may vary by trip. Here are a few packing cube mistakes to avoid to maximize the benefits and reduce travel stress:
- Avoid overstuffing. If you have too much to fit into one cube, think of a way to recategorize those items into smaller cubes. Perhaps it’s separating shirts from pants or lingerie from pajamas.
- Don’t use too many. Too much of anything isn’t good, and packing cubes aren’t different. Don’t overwhelm yourself with too many cubes that you don’t know what you have either. A cube for one or two items isn’t helping. Find a balance of cubes that matches the volume of clothes you bring and go from there.
- Don’t focus on bringing more. Use packing cubes to organize your clothing. They’re not here to help you pack more. Avoid overpacking by using packing cubes.
- Putting the wrong items in. Avoid bringing full-size bottles of anything. That takes up space. Instead, bring travel-size bottle toiletries. More oversized items like a hairdryer don’t necessarily need a packing cube.
- Avoid packing stuff, just in case. You don’t need a just-in-case packing cube. Make a packing list, and be sure to take what you need. There is more than one way to wear items or do your hair than you realize.
Alternatives to Packing Cubes
Packing cubes work best for clothing. Find something different to store your travel toiletries, travel documents, electronic devices, toiletry bag, travel gear, cords, and more.
Check out zip-lock bags or plastic bags to save money for your toiletry kit, toothbrush, toothpaste, deodorant, sunscreen, shampoo, and conditioner. Shoes, sandals, and sneakers can be packed in plastic bags.
Keep your travel documents like your passport, itinerary, and tickets with you in a purse or backpack. You can’t afford to lose these items.
Checkout cord organizers for your charging cords and maybe a backpack for electronic devices. Travel gear should be protected with the manufacturer’s recommended packing tool.
Packing Cubes Are the Ultimate Travel Hack
Packing is one of the most stressful parts of a vacation. However, it doesn’t have to be. Like most other cool gadgets, you can’t return once you have a packing cube. Packed items with packing cubes are stylish yet practical.
There is something about keeping the same things in a single cube and having them take up the same space that makes our brains happy. It’s not rocket science.
Packing cubes make packing, unpacking, and laundry simple and easy. With this packing technique, you’re sure to save time and money by knowing where everything is in your suitcase, preventing wrinkles, and avoiding unnecessary shopping trips for clothes you don’t need. Give them a try today.
Theresa Bedford is a syndicated freelance home and travel writer with regular contributions to the Associated Press wire and MSN. She helps everyday people love the life they have through simplicity, organization, and prioritization.