Updated: Jun 5
If ever someone needed a gift for a traveler - just one gift, I'll tell you the same suggestion every time. This gift is something that no matter how many you have, you'll always appreciate more. This gift is small, inexpensive, and mighty. What is the only gift you need for the traveler in your life?
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Drum roll please....
Packing cubes will change the way you pack drastically.
Why Packing Cubes Work
These game changers corral all those rolled clothes into a compact cube for easy in and out access. How many times have you seen people rummaging through a mess of clothes at airport security?
You can roll and jam in weeks worth of clothing into various sized cubes.
The idea is that with your many cubes you can easily stack and squish a month's worth of stuff into one suitcase using clever block stacking skills. You are essentially preparing your luggage to fit like a bunch of tetris blocks in your suitcase, so having the base rectangular shape gets you going.
What Can You Pack In a Packing Cube
Pack your cosmetics
They actually sell packing cube style cosmetic bags and I love them. In the same manner, it squishes your stuff together to eliminate unused space.
Easily found in stores like Ross or Marshalls, these bags can run around $12-25 depending on the style. I prefer see-through bags like those below to find my things quickly.
I use one cube for 'dry' cosmetics like combs, qtips or bandaids, and then another one for toothpaste, deodorant, etc.
Pack a starter bag
This bag is a grab bag for the first night or two in a destination. The last thing you want, especially if you are still in transit, is to go through all your various bags to find what you need.
This grab bag will house pajamas and clean clothes for the next day for you and your family. One bag for the whole gang.
Pack your laundry
My days of stealing the laundry bag from the hotel closet are over! One thing I love to do is take all the mounds of laundry and throw them in a packing cube.
Consider this scenario - after returning from a three week trip to Japan recently, I emptied the contents of two packing cubes into a mountain on the floor of dirty laundry. A MOUNTAIN! If I hadn't jammed all those clothes into a cube first, they would have taken up so much valuable souvenir space. I didn't roll each dirty item, but rather squeezed it into the cube to remove any excess space. Brilliant.
Pack Gifts, Souvenirs and Alcohol
If you bring extra cubes, these are great to corral gifts and souvenirs - especially wine or liquor purchases. If you aren't savvy enough to have a wine suitcase (these are amazing, read more here), then packing in your bottle(s) with some dirty clothes and zipping them nice and snug in a cube is the way to go. The idea is to eliminate the bouncing around of a bottle in a bag.
Pack Kids Toys
Kids toys fit well in cubes, including plush toys and all the little cracker jack toys they seem to pick up from dollar stores and McDonald's happy meals. Go for a cute children's style cube and they'll want to pack it themselves!
Corral the stink with cubes. Cleverly arrange flip flops on top of dress shoes without heels or laces poking the other items in your luggage.
Pack Books and Documents
Consider using your packing cube to keep documents or books tight together.
Pack Electronics and Chargers
That mess of wires and chargers can be wrangled with a simple packing cube.
Other Uses For A Packing Cube
This may seem silly, but your cube full of clothes can easily double as a makeshift pillow, should you need one.
Some have handles and can also be used as a day bag for going out as well. It's sturdy enough to be a car bag full of snacks and other essentials, and easy to bring from hotel room to parking lot.
Make a statement with stylized bags that reflect your personality!
Comparing to Compression Bags
Frankly, compression bags don't seem very practical to me. Are you supposed to carry the vacuum sucker around?
They say you can vacuum or roll, but if you need to pull out just one shirt, or you can't remember which of the flat packed bags has your favorite pair of pants, then you're left with the tedious task of opening and resealing multiple bags.
The idea sounds good, but in practice I'm not so sure. Save these for deep winter storage, not for packing on a trip.
Want FREE National Parks packing cubes?
Donate just $15 to the National Parks Conservation Association (NPCA) and they will send you some sweet cubes to thank you!
---> Donate here for your free NPCA Luggage Cubes<---
With an amazing gift this great, why not personalize it with the recipient's monogram, name or initials?
With Cricket Stitches' personalized stacking sets, you can take your awesome gift from ordinary to extraordinary with a touch of customization. Check out their stacking sets here!
Truly, this is such an easy and affordable gift, I don't know why I haven't been gifted more packing cubes. I love the flexibility that packing cubes offer, and love to brag even more about how great they are. Buy one for all of your friends, your grandma, your dog and you as well! But in any case, buy a set for the traveler in your life. They will love you for it!