Wednesday, September 24, 2014

"What's in your suitcase?" Wednesday: Packing Cubes!

Large eBags Packing Cube

A few weeks ago I posted about my travel wardrobe in order to show you just how many outfits can be made from a small selection of clothing. I worked hard to limit my wardrobe for this fellowship, but I still have managed to pack an impressive amount into a carry-on suitcase - if I do say so myself. I can't take credit for this, though. Many different travel blogs helped me make decisions on how to pack well (check out these on my "How To" page on traveling the world).

The best decision I made was buying packing cubes. It's a simple concept, really, but it hadn't ever occured to me because previous trips were short enough to live out of a suitcase or only to one destination so I could unpack. This trip is different. I need to be able to unpack and repack often and in an organized way. Packing cubes help me do just that, and more!


Why I Love Them

What I love about packing cubes is that it is easy to keep all of my clothes organized and folded tightly at the same time. The cubes come in three different sizes, which are perfect for the clothes I need to pack - as you will see. They also have handles, which makes them easy to use! The mesh lining on the top keeps the clothes from smelling musty, and the durable material makes it possible to stuff lots of clothes in.

I decided to go with the eBags brand, frankly because they were on sale at the time. You can buy them here in lots of different colors. They also come in different sizes so you can mix and match based on your needs. If you want to check out what else is out there, though, here are some other brands I looked at:

  • Eagle Creek Packing Cubes: $26.50 for a set of three different sizes; these are almost exactly the same as the eBags brand
  • Travel Wise Packing Cubes: $24.95 for a set of three different sizes; these are thinner, which could be good for lighter packers

There are also other options besides cubes. For true backpackers, a compression sack might be better, and for business travelers, packing folders can really help with keeping clothes from getting wrinkled.


How I Use Them

Somehow I needed to fit all of that into a carry on suitcase and a small daypack. Yikes. It literally would not be possible without my packing cubes. Here's how they work:
  1. Roll your clothes tightly as shown below. I try to make long and short sleeved shirts rolled so they take up the width of the packing cube, then use the tank tops to fill in gaps.
  2. Find a few items you can use to stuff in any leftover space, like a hat, scarf, or headband. You don't want to waste any space in these cubes.
  3. Try to distribute the clothing in the packing cube as evenly as possible. Stuff more than you think should fit!
  4. Fold over the flap and begin pressing the clothes down as you zip.
What you see above is my medium packing cube. Here is what I've managed to fit into all of them:

Small Packing Cube - 11 x 6.75 x 3 inches
  • 9 pairs of underwear
  • 5 pairs of socks
  • 4 bras
Medium Packing Cube - 13.75 x 9.75 x 3 inches
  • 1 pullover sweater
  • 2 long sleeved shirts
  • 4 t-shirts
  • 2 sleeveless blouses
  • 3 tank tops
  • 1 hat
  • 2 headbands
  • 1 scarf
Large Packing Cube - 17.5 x 12.75 x 3.25 inches
  • 1 pair of jeans
  • 1 pair of gypsy pants
  • 1 pair of linen pants
  • 2 pairs of shorts
  • 1 kurta (Indian dress)
  • 1 convertible dress
  • 1 convertible skirt
  • 1 button up sweater
  • 1 fleece
  • 1 cotton blazer

Amazing, right? I was shocked at how much these cubes could fit. Here's how you pack all of that (and more) into one suitcase:

  1. If your suitcase has a frame that protrudes into the body of the suitcase, place shoes, towels, and anything else you can between the bars so that all space is used.
  2. Place the largest packing cube long ways in the bottom of the suitcase, on top of what you've already stuffed in.
  3. Use straps in the suitcase (if you have any) to compress this cube as much as possible.
  4. Stack the other two cubes on top as shown above.
  5. Stuff any remaining items in the holes around the cubes. As you can see, my bag leaves a pretty big hole at the top and some room on the sides. This is where I put my medicine, jewelry, and toiletries.

Depending on the size and shape of your luggage this process may be different, of course. Play around with it to find out what works best for you!

If you're planning to do a trip anything like the one I'm on, I can't recommend these cubes highly enough. It's so nice when I get to a new location to be able to unpack within minutes. The cubes can even double as drawers on the floor when I don't have a place to store my clothes!

What do you think? Have I convinced you to invest in a set? Hope you are all having a wonderful Wednesday - stick around the next couple of days for back to back posts about my time in The Netherlands and Austria.






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