Travel Smarter: Why You Should ALWAYS Use Packing Cubes

Seems like everywhere you look these days, there’s another story on how to pack a suitcase. Well, at least there is in my world, where I’m constantly viewing all of the latest travel news and tips.

But what exactly works?

As a frequent traveler, (and serial over-packer, but that’s another story), I’ve tried all of the tricks: rolling, folding outfits together, keeping to a one-colour scheme, capsule wardrobes, shrink wrapping…you name it. Out of all these, (and across trips that were in lengths greatly varying of 2 days to 6 months), I can honestly say that PACKING CUBES are the only way to go. Packing cubes also allow you to incorporate some of those other packing techniques. If you love rolling your clothing, you can still do that within the packing cube system.

For the uninitiated, packing cubes are nylon or mesh fabric “boxes”, with zip closures, that come in various sizes. They allow the traveler to keep items secure and separate within his/her luggage or backpack.

Be sure to purchase a good quality set. You’ll want these to last you a long time and see you through many adventures, so do look at this as an investment, much like choosing a good suitcase. Look for strong seams and zips. I have collected many assorted cubes now, some cheap and some more expensive. The best I’ve found are from MUJI TO GO:

However, most stores that carry luggage also stock packing cubes, as do discount shops and department stores. I even have some packing cubes from Ikea!

Get various sizes and colours. Different sizes for different uses, or a variety of clothing types. I’ll outline that a bit later. Getting an assortment of colours allows you to sort items easily. For example: Blue cube holds swimsuits and workout clothing, pink cube has undergarments and socks.

Here are my top tips on how to make packing cubes work best for you:

* Individual Travel.

The absolute best thing about using packing cubes is that I can pack once, keep my items in the cubes at my destination, and only hang the clothing that needs to be hung. If I’m only staying a few days, I just keep all the cubes right in my suitcase. If I’m staying longer, I’ll transfer the cubes to whatever drawers are provided. At the end of the trip, I’m basically still packed, so it makes it much less time consuming getting set to head home.

* Packing for two.

If you’re going on a shorter trip and sharing a bag with another person, packing cubes make it much easier to keep each individual’s clothing separate. When my husband and I pack into the same suitcase, his clothing is all in it’s own cube(s), apart from mine. Much better organization, allowing us more time to enjoy our holiday.

* Family trips.

Assigning each child a packing cube will make your trip much less stressful. Colour-coordinating, even more so. Most of the larger sized cubes can easily handle a child’s entire vacation clothing needs.

* Backpacking.

It probably goes without saying that using packing cubes in a backpack is really the only way to fly. No more losing all of your unmentionables way down the bottom of your pack.

Here are a couple of packing techniques I’ve used with my cubes:

* Sort by type of clothing.

All pants, jeans, shorts, leggings together in one large size cube. All sweaters in a cube. All blouses folded neatly in a cube. And so on and so forth. Works best when you have a lot to pack.

* Sort by outfit.

On a short trip, I’ve been known to use small, individual cubes for each outfit. This works especially well if you use the one-colour scheme technique, whereby you choose one main neutral colour to build your travel outfits around. Pack each day’s wear into separate cubes, and accessories/outerwear in their own cubes as well.

Packing cubes are just so versatile, here’s my final suggestions:

* Have a spare large size packing cube along, to put all of your dirty laundry in. Makes it easy to unload for washing, once you’re back home.

* Put shoes into a packing cube, keeping dirty soles away from your clothing. Packing cubes can easily be thrown in the washer if they get dusty.

* Speaking of washing, you can also use a (mesh) packing cube to keep your fine undergarments, (bras, etc) separate in a load of laundry.

* When packing for my husband’s business trips, I neatly fold his shirts, (and a coordinating tie together for each), and stack them in a cube. As they have no space to shift around, the shirts and ties stay virtually wrinkle free.

* Finally, don’t forget to take along an empty packing cube to store your small souvenirs in. It’s very nice to have them all together in one place when you return from your travels.

Happy packing!

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