How to Use Packing Cubes to Create Much-Needed Space in Your Luggage
Once you know how to use packing cubes, you'll never go back to haphazard packing again
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When it comes to travel, there are a bunch of moving parts to consider: hotel reservations, plane tickets, drinking and dining options, and tour bookings, to name a few. But something that shouldn’t be causing extra aggregation? Packing a suitcase. There’s truly no need to push, shove or cram everything into your luggage; this will only cause more of a hassle when it comes time to unpack post-vacation. Instead, think of packing as a satisfying organizational task that could be made all the more seamless with packing cubes. While you may not yet know how to use packing cubes, it’s no secret that they’ve become increasingly popular in recent years.
All this to say: If you’re unsure how to roll clothes for packing, how to make a packing list, how to pack a carry-on—or about checked luggage rules in general—you’re not alone. Fortunately, packing cubes are especially handy in these situations. Below, we’re breaking down everything you need to know about how to use packing cubes, as well as a handful of need-to-know packing tips.
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What are packing cubes?
Packing cubes are small bags specially designed to help you organize all your belongings (think clothing, accessories, shoes, swimsuits and more), neatly stowing inside your luggage. These cubes come in different sizes and are often constructed with lightweight, durable materials—more on those later—to ensure they take up as little space in your suitcase as possible. That way, you have plenty of room to safely and securely (and neatly!) store your essentials.
What are the benefits of using packing cubes?
There are a lot of good reasons to use packing cubes for travel, not the least of which is their ability to maximize suitcase space, minimize clothing wrinkles and help you be a more organized traveler—all without weighing down your luggage.
Using packing cubes is one of the best ways to squeeze everything into your luggage. And they won’t just help you save sacred suitcase space; travel packing cubes are clutch when you’re aiming to ditch the suitcase and pack only a carry-on bag.
Keeping clothes in top shape
When using packing cubes, there’s no need to worry about wrinkled garments or clothing creases. That’s because the best packing cubes are constructed to prevent your items from shifting or moving around your luggage while in transit. (Bonus: You won’t need a steamer or iron, so you can pack lighter no matter your destination.) Upon unpacking, your clothes will look (almost) as good as new.
Packing cubes are especially great when it comes to getting—and staying!—organized. Whether you’re taking a bucket-list trip or mini vacation, packing cubes make it easy to keep your wardrobe staples neat; you can easily separate them by outfit or occasion. Plus, you can even use packing cubes to separate clean and dirty clothing, which makes packing and unpacking a breeze.
How to choose packing cubes
So, you’re sold on travel packing cubes but have no idea where to start shopping. Don’t worry. By focusing on four key features, you’ll narrow down products to the best of the bunch and be ready to learn how to use packing cubes in no time.
Packing cubes are available in an array of sizes. Opt for a set that features a variety of different sizes so you can mix and match based on the items you’re packing. With undergarments, for example, you can get away with using a small packing cube. Bulkier items like sweaters and jeans, however, will likely require a larger-sized cube.
When it comes to finding the best packing cubes for travel, durability is key. Sturdy nylon construction and quality stitching will prevent tears no matter how many times you trot the globe. And no, durability and weight aren’t mutually exclusive. Options abound for lightweight and durable packing cubes.
Beyond that, look for products constructed with quality materials based on your individual needs. So if you’re packing liquids (pro tip: be sure to check the TSA liquid limit), shop for packing cubes made with water-resistant materials. Similarly, if you’re packing a heavy suitcase and are worried about overweight luggage, snag ultra-lightweight products that won’t create extra bulk.
Last, select packing cubes that are transparent (or semi-transparent) so you can quickly and easily see what’s stored inside. That’ll save you the trouble of unpacking a bunch of similar-looking cubes while hunting for a specific item.
If you hate the endless search through your packing cubes, opt for a multicolored set. It’ll provide fuss-free and nearly effortless sorting, organizing, packing and unpacking. Simply assign a color to each category—swimsuits, pants, blouses or anything in between—and you’re good to go.
Preserve precious suitcase space by choosing packing cubes that can be easily compressed. That way, you’ll be able to make the most of your (very small) space.
These types of packing cubes are fantastic for shorter trips. Both compact carry-on and under-seat luggage are especially tight on storage space, but compression packing cubes can help you squeeze in more of the stuff you’ll need while you’re away from home.
How to use packing cubes
Still unsure of how to use packing cubes to make the most of your limited luggage space? We’ve got you covered. It’s really as easy as 1, 2, 3, 4!
Step 1: Organize
Avoid aimlessly filling up your travel packing cubes. Instead, start by laying out everything you need to stuff into your brand-new luggage set.
This step may be time-consuming, but trust us: It’s worth it. Not only will it help you get organized, but it can also prevent you from overpacking.
Step 2: Categorize
Sorting your clothing will help you stay on track and (hopefully!) prevent common packing mistakes. Create piles for various items, such as bathing suits, tops, bottoms, shoes, undergarments, toiletries and more.
Step 3: Fold
To maximize as much space as possible inside your suitcase, you’ll want to fold (or roll) clothing as carefully as possible. Not sure where to begin? Check out Marie Kondo’s foolproof folding method (you can thank us later).
Once you’ve folded everything, begin filling your packing cubes. Remember to keep similar items together, filling one cube with nothing but shirts and another cube with shorts and only shorts.
Step 4: Stack
Now that you’ve (neatly) filled your travel packing cubes, it’s time to get stacking! Since the best packing cubes for travel come in a variety of shapes and sizes, you may have to spend a few minutes shuffling them around inside your luggage.
In general, the larger, bulkier cubes are best placed at the bottom of the bag. If your packing cubes are transparent, make sure they’re facing upward. That way, you’ll have easy access to your stuff and will be able to see exactly what’s inside each cube.
And that’s it! You’ve successfully learned how to use packing cubes, and you’re ready to jet off on an adventure. Before you go, run down this travel checklist to make sure you haven’t forgotten anything.