Packing Cubes: How and Why to Use Them
Anyone who has been on a trip longer than the weekend knows it can get tricky to organize, fit, and keep track of all the clothes and stuff you need in your suitcase. No matter what you do, it's nearly impossible to keep everything straight. However, someone, somewhere invented an amazing tool to save us all from mayhem. Introducing: the packing cube.
Packing cubes are becoming more and more popular as people realize how awful it is to have messy, disorganized suitcases. If I don’t use packing cubes, I inevitably end up double wearing some clothes, forgetting to wear stuff that got shoved to the bottom of my bag, and dumping everything (clean and dirty) into the washing machine when I get home because I don’t know what’s what.
My first big trip with them was a 3 week trip to Australia in January 2019. This trip was tricky because it was about 3 degrees at home and it was about 100 degrees in some of the places we were going. I needed long sleeves, short sleeves, workout clothes, swimsuits, cute clothes, hiking clothes, and it all had to fit in one medium size suitcase. My packing cubes saved the day! While other people were losing clothes in hotels and dumping their suitcases all over the room at every stop, my life was so much easier using packing cubes instead! Since then I've used them on every trip, long or short, and they just make things so much easier!
There are two methods that I’ve found efficient when packing the cubes. Cubes can either be organized by outfits or by types of clothes and honestly I don’t think I can pick either one exclusively. It’s important to think about the structure and needs of your trip before you decide which way to pack.
Organized by Outfits
The idea here is very simple. You plan out your outfits ahead of time, assemble all of the pieces, and pack them into cubes together. Then when you are on your trip, you can just grab a preselected outfit, throw it on, and be out the door in no time!
This method is helpful in the following ways:
1. If you are an over packer and you want to take only enough outfits for the days you’ll be gone (and maybe one or two extra?) then this allows you to plan those out and keep the extra “what if” items to a minimum
2. If you’re going on a trip where you will need to wear nicer or more formal clothing, making sure you have everything is helpful. Switching shirts between outfits is great, but if you forgot your formal dress, having an extra t-shirt won't help you.
3. If you have extra people/small children that you are responsible for packing for, putting their clothes into outfits allows them to just grab and go when they wake up each morning of your trip.
This method isn’t so great if you want the following:
1. Flexibility to choose your outfits as you go. Sometimes your day plans will change or the weather will be different than you anticipated. If that’s the case you might want to have the ability to mix up your outfits a little.
2. Having extra clothes just in case. I am a notorious “just in case” packer. This usually means that I come back with stuff I haven’t worn, but I would always rather have extra than be unprepared!
3. Fitting things perfectly into your cubes- depending on your outfit and cube size choices, you may have trouble fitting full outfits into one cube. You may be able to fit 2 ½ but then you either have to split up part of an outfit between two cubes or you don’t fully fill your cubes and you waste some of your space.
Organized by Type
Again, pretty simple to understand this method as well. One cube holds your socks and underwear, another workout clothes and t-shirts, another is for pants... You get the point!
The pros for packing with this method:
1. It gives you a lot of flexibility to make up outfits as you’re going along, depending on the weather, activities of the day, and your mood. This way, you get to plan out your outfit based on how you’re feeling right then instead of a week ago when you actually packed.
2. You can pack extras! This will always be a must for me. If we are going on a 5-day trip I’ll probably bring 6 or 7 t-shirts. What if we go hiking and I get muddy but then we want to go have dinner somewhere later? It also allows you flexibility for those random things like raincoats that might be needed multiple times.
Not so great aspects of this packing method include:
1. It’s way too easy to over pack! When you skip outfit planning, you usually end up packing way more to cover your bases. When you’re trying to pack light, this can be an issue.
2. You have to open and sort thorough multiple cubes every day to get out an outfit. This can be made easier with clear or mesh-topped packing cubes, but in the end, still a bit of a hassle.
3. Sometimes you have to put weird combos of clothes together to fill the space. You may not have enough space in your "shirts" cube for t-shirts and nice shirts so your nice shirts might end up in the cube with some pants instead.
No matter how you decide to use them, I cannot recommend them enough!! Space saving, time saving, or simply for organization, they make travel much easier. If you want to take a look at the cubes I have you can click the links below!
Packing Cube 1- I like these because they are pretty good quality. If I'm going to be stuffing them full, I want to be sure that the zippers aren't going to break, and these are pretty sturdy. I also like the clear plastic bags that come with them because a lot of places in Europe want all of your liquids separate in clear plastic.
Packing Cube 2 - If I'm going to be honest, I got these because I liked the pattern. But the other thing I really like about these cubes is that they're completely open on the top, so you can see what's inside without having to open them up and look. Also a big fan of the laundry pouches that come with them if you know you might have wet or smelly clothes you want to contain.