Packing Cubes… Are They Worth It?

Packing cubes

Every traveler wants to save packing space and be more organized on their travels. Airlines have placed higher fees and restrictions on check-in and carry-on baggage size and weight. So travelers are trying to fit more clothing items into smaller luggage to avoid paying extra airline fees. Luggage packing systems have become very popular. Packing Cubes, folders, vacuum bags, etc. are all the rage. Do these packing systems actually save space or are they just a better way to be organized?

 

There are some important questions to ask yourself that will determine if packing cubes and other organizational systems are worth it. Are you an organized packer or does you suitcase look like a clothes bomb went off? What is the interior usable space of your luggage? Are you packing for yourself or for you and other family travelers? And most importantly, do you have one destination or will you be moving around several times to different locations?

 

When traveling as a family, especially with young children who can’t tote along their own suitcase, it’s a good idea to pack both your’s and your children’s clothing and travel gear in one bag. It can be difficult to navigate your way to and from airports, on and off trains, and then finally making your way to your lodging accommodations, with a ton of bags. Traveling stress is added if you have to lug around separate bags for your children in addition to your own luggage. Packing light and packing together makes a huge difference.

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As a family of four we typically try and pack two large suitcases or backpacks, rather than one per person. Our kids do a decent job packing along their own carry-on, but aren’t big enough to carry their own suitcase. We also find that since the kids clothes are smaller, they really don’t need a completely separate suitcase. We typically have mom and daughter using one suitcase and dad and son using another. Another option is one for mom and dad, and one for all the kids. Sharing a suitcase can be tricky, but this is where we’ve found packing cubes come in handy.

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A myth about packing cubes is that they save space and help keep clothing items wrinkle free. Unfortunately this is just not true. Check out this test performed by Life Hacker’ packing test.

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The biggest determining factor in packing space is the actual shape of your luggage and interior space. Things like pulling handles and backpack straps can sometimes sacrifice interior usable space of a suitcase. When you have interior bars creating indented spaces, cubes and other packing organizers don’t form around them causing a lot of wasted space. In some luggage you can literally take advantage of odd interior shapes and crevasses by packing the old fashion way of folding and rolling. The box shape of a cube can leave a lot of open unused space.

 

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The greatest benefit for using packing cubes is organization. Packing cubes allow you to separate different types of clothing items into their own compartments. They also keep things together. Have you ever had to dig through a suitcase looking for that one particular clothing item only to cause all your clothing to get messed up and unfolded? Having to repack everything just because you had that sweater at the bottom of the pack is a pain.

 

We typically have each of our kids pack all their clothing items in a single packing cube. (With a little help!) We then pack our own in a large cube and use a few smaller ones for items like socks, underwear, and swim wear. Then the packing cubes just go in our luggage. This makes it easy to hand the child their cube when you get to your destination. It’s also easier when it comes time for repacking to head to the next location or back to the airport. No more overpacking, no more sitting on the suit case to zip it up. Check out The Problem of Over Packing for Family Travel. The way we handle those odd spaces in the backpack is to fill them with rolled up rain coats, flip flops or something else that doesn’t need to be in a packing cube.

 

So are packing cubes worth it? The answer is “it just depends.”

Not Necessary if:

  1. You have only one destination and won’t be packing and repacking several times.
  2. You want to maximize space to pack a lot of stuff; the old fold method technically gives you more space.

YES to Packing Cubes if:

  1. Your trip involves more than one destination and you will be packing and   unpacking several times.
  2. You want to be more organized and able to get things in and out of your luggage without messing everything up.
  3. You are packing one bag for more than one person.

 

 

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