Using packing cubes is one of the most popular travel tips that you’ll hear from travel experts – travel agents, travel writers, etc. Lightweight, reasonably priced, and easy to pack, packing cubes are a good idea for any traveler and are one of the best ways to keep things organized in both large suitcases and your carry-on bag. I resisted purchasing them for a long time but now can’t go on a vacation without them.
Whether you already own a packing cube system or are considering making a purchase, here’s everything you need to know, including how to use packing cubes. If you are already a convert, let us know in the comments! Once you try them, you’ll definitely consider them an essential travel product and they will be one of your favorite travel accessories and travel organizational tools.
Disclosure: This post contains affiliate links, including Amazon affiliate links. A purchase/click through one of these links may result in a small commission paid to us at no additional cost to you. All opinions are our own.
Why and How To Use Packing Cubes
What Are Packing Cubes?
Packing cubes are fabric bags that can be packed up with your clothes and tossed into your suitcase or carry-on bag. They typically have a mesh top or mesh panel so that you can easily see through them, and are available in a variety of sizes and colors. Packing cubes are typically made of thin fabrics, are reusable, and can be washed between trips.
Once you pack them up, they can be easily added to your suitcase. In addition, you can usually take them right from your suitcase to the dresser drawers in your hotel room. That way, your clothing will never directly touch the hotel drawers and it’s a big time saver.
Why Should You Use Packing Cubes?
This incredibly popular piece of travel gear is essential for a variety of reasons – whether you are checking a bag or just carrying on your luggage. They can also be used for road trips – for all of the same reasons listed below.
- Packing cubes operate like a compression bag – everything, including bulky items, gets pushed together more compactly, so you’ll have more room for your belongings.
- Cubes can be purchased in multiple colors. That makes it easier to easily separate clothing for different family members.
- Cubes can also be used to separate out outfits for different portions of your vacation on long trips. For instance, when we traveled on our Adventures by Disney trip to England and France, we stayed in three different hotels. I only pulled out the packing cubes I needed for each stay, making it much easier to pack and unpack.
- If they are packed correctly, packing cubes can keep your clothes looking wrinkle-free so you won’t have to worry about ironing on your vacation.
- Packing cubes can be taken right from your suitcase and put directly in the dresser drawers in your hotel room.
- They can also be used for dirty clothes so that you can separate clean from dirty laundry in your suitcase.
- Small items, like power cords, can be held in the small cube.
- The cubes themselves don’t take up much space or add extra weight.
How to Use Packing Cubes
Before purchasing, decide how you want to use your packing cubes. If you want to create outfits, you’ll probably want to purchase several in the same size. Some of the best packing cubes come in sets of different sizes, however. In addition, you may want to get different colors for each member of your family so that everything will stay organized.
Once you are ready to pack, get your packing list ready and start pulling out the clothes you need. If you have several different sizes of bags, you’ll want to put larger items like pants, dresses, and skirts in the largest size. Socks and underwear usually fit perfectly in the small packing cube.
For multi-hotel trips, put together outfits of tops, bottoms, and underwear and put those in each of the travel cubes. For our Paris trip, I was able to get two full outfits in each of the largest packing bags.
It’s best to roll your clothing tightly before placing it in the bag. That way, the cubes will act as compression cubes and you’ll be able to get more into your suitcase and you’ll save luggage space. If you are checking bags, you may want to place one large cube with an outfit in your carry-on luggage in case your luggage is lost.
For bigger trips, I find that I need about 4-5 packing cubes of different sizes. If we have more than one checked bag, I evenly distribute them cubes from each family member among the bags. That way, if one bag is lost, everyone will at least have some clothing for more than one day.
Once I’m at my destination, I’ll typically unpack and hang my dresses and pants. Shorts, shirts, bathing suits, and underwear stay in the cube and are placed in one or two drawers. If your packing cube set comes with a shoe bag, be sure to pack more than just a pair of shoes in the bag, otherwise, you’ll have wasted space.
As items get dirty, I’ll place them in a laundry bag. If there are laundry facilities at my destination, I always try to make sure I’m going home with all clean clothes. Otherwise, I’ll put the dirty items back in packing cubes for the trip home – keep anything clean in a separate cube.
Where to Buy Packing Cubes?
You can find a set of packing cubes at any store that sells travel gear. Look for companies that have several sizes in one package, with the option to purchase more. You’ll also want to find some that have different colors – at least enough colors for every family member to have their own. Most starter sets will come with at least a small cube, a medium cube, and a large cube.
Read reviews before purchasing to ensure that the bags are durable and will hold up for multiple trips. In general, you want something that is lightweight but will last a while.
One of the most reasonably-priced sets that I’ve seen is from Amazon. This Amazon Basics set includes four bags (in different sizes) and comes in six different colors. There’s also another set that is similar but with additional color options.
Some sets will include a laundry bag and others include shoe bags. These are nice extras but are definitely not essential.