How to Use Packing Cubes (and Why You Should Use Them)

By Ryan | Tips

Apr 18
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As travelers, we’re forever looking for hacks to make the process simpler, more efficient and stress free. Whether its hours of pain staking research on what is the best backpack to take with you, where’s the cheapest place to get vaccinations or which transport is best for what journey. There are never too many ways to save hassle.

So, with the above in mind, it’s time to hack the most frustrating part of traveling: packing cubes ! Welcome to your new travel best friend – the packing cube. You may never have heard of these little bundles of joy and simplicity, but let it be known that today, this day, that changes.

Packing cubes are the ultimate in travel storage; from clothes to cosmetics, you’ll be able to organise your stuff in a way you never dreamed possible. Whether you’re the queen of clean or the king of clutter, packing cubes will keep your things exactly where you want them, for whenever you need them.

So, when you’re ready to find out how to use packing cubes, let’s begin.

What Are Packing Cubes?

how to use packing cubes

From Amazon

Packing cubes were created to slightly compress your clothes and keep your clothes organised. They are rectangular fabric containers that come in a number of different sizes and are used for packing and organising clothing and other essentials for your trip. They‘re zippered and are often pretty small meaning you can fit rather a few of them into your backpack or day bag.

Although mostly rectangular, the cubes are actually available in a number of shapes and sizes – some are square, or there are longer, tube-like shapes.

Some options include extra compression zippers, and some are even divided, which is super useful for separating dirty laundry from clean laundry. All these options make it easy to source the right ones to slot perfectly into whatever type of backpack or suitcase you have with you.

Why Should I Take Packing Cubes?

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As much as it’s fair to say that you can pack relatively well without the need for packing cubes, as I have done on many trips, as soon as you introduce them to your packing arsenal, you’ll never, ever look back.

“So?”, you ask, “you’ve talked a good game, but what about some examples of WHY packing cubes are so great?”

Excellent question, mon ami, here’s why:

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    Your clothes are in segments, not just somewhere in the bottom of your bag, take out the blocks, peer through the mesh, find that party shirt you’ve been saving up for the ‘right’ night.
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    They come in a number of sizes. Whether your backpack is a toddler’s school bag, or a 120L megalith of biblical proportions, there are a number of cubes to suit your needs.
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    Organise your clothes into similar items. One cube for underwear; one for socks; one for shorts and trousers; one for T-shirts… etc, etc,. When you can simply pull out a selection of your clothes, rather than rummage for twenty minutes, it gives you more time for activities. Also, it stops you from being that annoying noisy dorm mate throwing clothes all over the shop.
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    Offers an alternative to typical storage options. Some travelers will store toiletries, cosmetics or even wiring in their packing cubes, meaning all similar items are in an easy and quickly removable segment.
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    Extra space for further travel items. Packing cubes compress your clothes somewhat, meaning that an extra few square inches are freed up for electronics, books, medicines, or even, more clothes!
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    Keeps those travel specific items together, even when you’re not traveling! When your trip is over, and you unpack your bags, but you know, because we all do, that you’ll be traveling again in the not too distant future, packing cubes are ideal for keeping those travel items that you don’t use every day (mosquito spray, sunscreen, mosquito nets, etc.)
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From Amazon

How Do I Use Packing Cubes?

Okay, so you’ve bought your packing cubes, now what? Here written is a blow-by-blow of how to make the most of your newfound travel buddy.

Planning

Before you go throwing clothes into your cubes willy nilly, have a plan together. Have a quick play around with how best your cubes actually fit in your luggage and then decide which items will go in each cube (most frequently used things being nearer the top of your bag, for example).

Roll your clothes, don’t fold them

Sorry for sounding like your mum, but this is a genuinely useful tip. If you’re not too fussy about your clothes being iron-straight (which, let’s face it, when you’re traveling you generally aren’t within 100 miles of an iron) rolling up your clothes in your packing cubes will save you much more space than folding them super neat and tidy.

[Video] How To Pack Clothes for Traveling Efficiently

Zip up your cubes

Sounds simple, and truly is, but zipping your packing cubes up keeps the air out and therefore, the bags as compressed as possible. The cubes’ zips are durable and allow you to throw a lot of clothes in there whilst remaining air-tight.

Different Cube Sizes

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From Amazon

Make sure you’re not wasting space by using the different sizes available to you in the most efficient way you can.

Big cubes – fill these with clothes such as jumpers, jackets, jeans waterproofs and other larger items. You’ll get more in and be able to slot smaller cubes around the bigger ones.

Medium cubes – use for T-shirts, shorts, underwear, socks and other small-medium sized pieces of clothing. You should be able to cram quite a few articles into each one.

Small cubes – use the smaller cubes for electricals, toiletries/medicine/first aid and accessories. These cubes take up minimal space so are good for miscellaneous items that could leak or tangle.​

Mistakes People Make With Packing Cubes

Buying too many – as much as they’re designed to give you more space, you can also be falsely lured into buying so many that your backpack is completely full. Which defeats the object of trying to pack efficiently.

Under or over filling – equally as inefficient as the other, if you over fill your cubes you might struggle to repack once you’re on your trip, and if you under fill the cubes, your clothes may unravel, and more than that it’s likely that you’re wasting space for other cubes at the same time.

Using too many big cubes – big cubes take up a huge amount of space, whilst I recommend taking one with you, I’d suggest taking no more than one. Use it for your bulkiest items only, of which you probably won’t have many.

Conclusion

So, now you’re a packing cube convert and wondering what on earth you were possibly thinking before this absolute and utter revelation.

If you were already a packing cube user, and you think I’ve missed anything vitally important in this ‘how to’, drop a little comment below!

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About the Author

Hi, I'm Ryan Smith, a solo traveler, and founder of MrAbroad.com with a bunch of friends. I love going outside, reading books and talking to people.