Packing Cubes: All You Need to Know to Pack Like a Pro

How did we ever cope without packing cubes? Have you ever asked yourself how you coped before something was invented? Like mobile phones! How did we ever arrange to meet friends and actually meet them without mobile phones? With the amount of travel we have done over the years, we now ask ourselves why we didn’t use packing cubes sooner.

Family suitcase with packing cubes

What our large family suitcase looks like using packing cubes

We were quite late to the packing cube party. After years of backpacking and a few years of family travel, we thought we knew pretty much everything there was to know about packing, but still found the process a little stressful. Then we tried packing cubes. Now we won’t travel without them and they’re top of our list of helpful tips for packing for a family holiday.

If you want to take packing for your family trip to the next level, packing cubes are the way to do it. If you haven’t already jumped on the bandwagon and joined the ranks of insanely organised packers using packing cubes, this article will tell you everything you need to know about packing cubes and convince you that you won’t be able to travel without them.

Make sure to also check out our helpful guide to the best kids backpacks for travel.

**UPDATE –  Calling all camping enthusiasts – we didn’t think we could love our packing cubes any more than we already did, but having recently bought our VW camper van, we have realised that they are also a campervan essential!! They’re the perfect size and shape to fit into small spaces**

What are packing cubes?

Packing cubes are essentially mini lightweight suitcases within your suitcase. They are small zip-fastening, cuboid holdalls and come in a variety of shapes, sizes and colours. Although they may seem very simple (actually, they are very simple), the key is that they make organising your clothes so much easier! This is so important when you’re packing for the whole family.

They’re made of a lightweight fabric and they zip up. Some have carry handles so they are essentially like small suitcases. Some have a mesh panel so you can see what’s in them which is also good for ventilation. Some actually compress the clothes so you can fit more in.

AmazonBasics Packing Cubes 4 pack

AmazonBasics Packing Cubes 4 pack

Are Packing Cubes worth it?

Can you tell we are total converts yet? No? OK, here are some of the reasons why we love to use packing cubes:

They keep your stuff organised

Most people will put different things in each packing cube. For example, tops go in one, underwear in another and bottoms in another. Keep one spare for dirty laundry (and see our top tip at the end about this!). This keeps your bag organised at all times.

Organising your clothes into packing cubes

Separate out your tops from your bottoms and your underwear

They make things easy to find

With a large suitcase, even if you think you’ve packed it well, there’s no getting around messing up the entire suitcase to find that one thing you need that is at the bottom, or to the side, or the other side.. or wherever you put it. Once you’ve found that item, the whole suitcase is a mess.

With packing cubes, you can look through the mesh panel to see whether it contains tops, bottoms or underwear and pull out the right one without messing up the others. You can also use them in hand luggage to save the rummaging too.

packing cubes in hand luggage

Packing cubes in hand luggage

They keep your clothes wrinkle free

Whether you prefer to roll your clothes or fold them nicely, your clothes will stay in that position rather than getting all jumbled up when they’re tossed around during transit. You’ll arrive at your destination with clothes in the same state as when you packed them.

They make packing far easier

Instead of trying to find a place for every individual item, you pack your items into the cubes and then arrange the cubes into your suitcase. No more rolling up a small t-shirt to fit in a tiny gap here or stuffing a pair of socks into an annoying space there.

They save you time

If you’re on a road trip and moving on each day, packing and unpacking can take up so much time. With packing cubes, you can take out the cubes, pop them in the wardrobe and unzip them without fully unpacking.

They save you space

It seems kind of illogical that by putting more stuff into your suitcase, you will actually save yourself space. I’m not sure of the science behind it but trust me, it’s true! Some packing cubes compress your clothes, but even the ones that don’t seem to miraculously pack more in.

They bring a sense of calm to the packing process

Because we all need calm, right? The feeling of being this organised and seeing your neatly packed suitcase will give you a sense of calm which is essential when getting ready to go away with the family.

How to use packing cubes?

Quite simply, you fill the packing cubes with your clothes. Actually, it’s not quite as simple as that. The main benefit of packing cubes is organisation. There’s no point in just filling the cubes with no method. You need to figure out a strategy that works for you.

First though, do you roll the clothes or do you lie them flat and stack them? This is down to personal preference. We like the latter option. Once you have figured this out, you need to think about which packing cube size is best for you.

You can have one large packing cube per family member and fill them that way. The way we like to do it is to use smaller cubes and have two or three per family member. We then keep similar items together, like all of our t-shirts in one, all of our shorts in another, all of our socks and underwear in another etc.

We also find it’s easier to organise the smaller ones within the suitcase. It’s a bit like a game of Tetris.

Fill your packing cubes with clothes

Use one packing cube for tops, one for bottoms and one for underwear, keeping one spare for laundry

Because we are so obsessed with them, we go one step further and have a different colour for each member of the family. This might seem overkill, but when you have one large suitcase for the whole family, it makes finding things so much easier and a big time saver. It’s also easier to direct the kids to the suitcase and tell them to check for their colour.

Once your packing cubes are full, you then arrange them in your suitcase.  You will have mostly rectangle shapes of varying sizes and you just need to figure out the best way to suit your suitcase.

Packing cubes in a suitcase

Packing using packing cubes can be like playing Tetris

Tip: If you have one of those large, rigid wheeled suitcases like we do, use the smallest cubes to fill the gaps between the bars at the bottom of the bag before putting the larger cubes on top. There will be a lot of wasted space if you don’t.

Which packing cubes do I buy?

If you’re liking the sound of them so far but are still a little unsure which ones to get, you are not alone! There are thousands of options and it can be confusing. There is no such thing as the ‘best packing cubes’ because everyone is looking for something different in a packing cube.

The main thing you need to consider is to buy various shapes and sizes to make the most of your space. Some are waterproof, some are see-through and some are lightweight. Some are all of these. It all depends what you are looking to get out of your packing cube.

If you want the all-singing, all-dancing version which is lightweight, water resistant and compresses clothes (and are willing to spend a little more), check out these Eagle Creek Packing Cubes. They are actually compression packing cubes. The dual-zip system enables you to compress your clothes, but don’t be tempted to pack more than you need to just because you can fit it in because you’ll risk your luggage going overweight!

If you are fans of the Osprey brand, the Osprey packing cubes are also great.

Eagle Creek Pack It Specter Packing Cubes

Eagle Creek Pack It Specter Packing Cubes

For a slightly more budget option, we like the AmazonBasics Packing Cube 4 pack as they are simple but well made and the sizes suit our needs. In the Amazon packing cubes 4 pack, you get 1 small, 1 medium, 1 large and a slim cube and they come in various colours.

They have a mesh top which is good for ventilating the clothes and you can also see what’s in them so you don’t need to go through unzipping each cube to find what you’re looking for. They’re splash-proof (although not on the mesh part) and they have a handy carry handle.

Packing Cubes Amazon

AmazonBasics Packing Cubes 4 pack

Where do I buy packing cubes?

If you’ve made it this far, then it seems like you are sold on the idea of packing cubes and are ready to join the ranks of seriously organised packers. One question remains. Where to buy packing cubes?

If you’re in the UK, here are a list of the main places to buy packing cubes.

Packing Cubes UK

Amazon Packing Cubes

eBay packing cubes

More tips to get the most out of your packing cubes

  • Use one for your dirty laundry and put a dryer sheet or sachet of your favourite scent in to keep it fresher
  • Use them as under bed storage when not travelling
Using packing cubes for under-bed storage

Using packing cubes for under-bed storage

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Packing Cubes - all you need to know

Packing Cubes - All you need to know to pack like a pro

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