Why & how to use packing cubes

Why & how to use packing cubes

The difference between people who travel carry-on only and those who don’t is not necessarily what they pack but how they pack. This post shares tips on how to use packing cubes to fit more in your carry-on luggage and the best packing cubes and compression bags for travel.

During our years of digital nomad traveling with just carry-on luggage, we’ve learnt that how you pack is hugely important.

Most carry-on travelers agree that the best way to stay organized and save space is to use packing organizers.

They could be simple zip-lock bags or more durable travel packing cubes or compression bags. By using bag organizers, you can compartmentalize your travel gear with each bag or cube containing a different category of item.

The Advantages of Packing Organisers

Using travel packing organizers has many advantages:

    • Pack more efficiently – It’s easy to pack when you know what goes in each cube and how each cube fits in your luggage. It’s like a game of Tetris—rearrange the cubes and other items until they fit perfectly into your bag, and then stick with your system. You’ll feel less stressed when packing, as you know everything will fit.
    • Find things easily – Your cubes work like drawers at home. You know what’s in them, so you can take out the relevant cube rather than rummaging around at the bottom of your suitcase.
    • Save space – You can squeeze a surprising amount of clothes into a cube, so you can pack more. (Compression bags are even better as they remove excess air.)
    • Keep clothes clean and dry – Some organizers are water resistant and all offer protection from dirt. They can also be used to protect clothes in dusty hotel drawers.
    • Prevent overpacking – Limit what you pack by choosing an organizer for each category. One large cube might be enough for all your clothes. If I buy a new item and it fits in the cube, you can take it with you; if not, something else has to go.

Creating your own packing system will make carry-on travel much easier whether you travel with a backpack or a suitcase—I highly recommend trying it.

What are packing cubes?

Packing cubes are zippered fabric containers, usually in a rectangular shape, for organizing your items and making them easier to find in your luggage. They come in a range of sizes and are often sold as sets.

Unlike compression bags, you can use them to organize all kinds of gear, not just clothes.

For example, you could have one large cube for your clothes, a small cube for underwear, and another for your electronic accessories—chargers, cables, etc. You know exactly where each item is kept, and when you need it, you just take out the appropriate cube.

Using packing cubes has some the advantages of:

  • It’s easier to access your clothes
  • They are durable
  • They stack neatly in your luggage
  • Your clothes will be less creased

Are packing cubes worth it? While they can seem pricey at first, we’ve found that good quality cubes last years and are worth it to save space and keep your luggage organized.

How to chose packing cubes?

When choosing packing cubes, durability is the most important attribute—you want a strong material with quality zips so that you can stuff as much in as possible without them breaking.

The size and other features come down to personal preference and how you want to organize your things.

Many cubes have a mesh top for breathability and so you can see inside—I don’t find this necessary as I know what’s in my three cubes.

If you buy cubes in different sizes and colors, identification is easy. This is useful for families sharing a suitcase—each family member could have a different colored cube.

The Best Packing Cubes


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