A year ago, I was impressed by the reviews of eBags Packing Cubes I had read from other travel bloggers, and I decided to give them a try. I purchased four sets of bags in different colors – one for each member of my family – for about $30 each through Amazon.com.
I’ve used them on half a dozen trips since then, and they have been a good buy. I have stuffed the bags to bursting with clean clothes before the trip, and then re-stuffed them with dirty clothes to get home. They may not hold a liquid leak for long, but when my lotion oozed on a plane trip, the eBag kept the mess away from the rest of the suitcase. When the packing cubes get dirty, I toss them into the washer and dryer and they come out looking like new.
Packing cubes come in a half-dozen sizes, and it’s nice to have a variety. I quickly abandoned the idea of assigning a color to each person because when it came to getting everything into a suitcase, having the right size mattered more than having the right color.
The sets I bought came with one small, medium and large bag each. I have never used all 12 of our packing cubes for a single trip. The colors and see-through mesh make it easy to tell one bag from another. Here’s what each of our eBags hold:
Small are a little bigger and deeper than a gallon Ziploc bag. Small cubes are great for toiletries, small accessories and children’s clothing.
Medium are about the width of the inside of a carry-on suitcase. I like them for clothes, larger accessories and shoes.
Large are a little less than the length and width of the inside of a rolling carry-on suitcase. I can stack 2-3 large cubes in a carry-on, depending on how full they are. Large cubes work well for adult clothing and keeping together all the swimwear or dress clothes for my family of four.
You probably do not need one set per person in a family. A couple of sets is a good place to start until you decide how packing cubes fit your travel style.
Here are three different ways I have used our packing cubes.
On our Spring Break road trip to Phoenix, we stayed somewhere different nearly every night. I didn’t want to haul a lot of luggage into our hotels, so I packed one rolling carry-on with our pajamas, swimwear, toiletries and extra shoes that we used every night. We had 3 other bags of fresh clothes, and just brought one of those in each night.
All the pajamas were in one large packing cube, and all the swimwear was in another. Toiletries for the family filled two small cubes – one for me and the other for everyone else. This is my favorite way to use the packing cubes.
The packing cubes kept the small suitcase organized, so it was easy to find what we needed quickly and move things around in the suitcase without making a mess. The cubes also made it easy to collect pajamas and swimwear in the morning and drop them in the suitcase. Since the cubes weren’t stuffed full, they fit the contours of the shoes at the bottom. They also kept dirty items separate from clean items.
On our trip to New York last summer, we packed everything for 10 days in one large checked bag and two backpacks because we planned to leave the airport during a 6-hour layover in Philadelphia to see Independence Hall and the Liberty Bell. We wanted to avoid taking suitcases into Philadelphia, and to minimize bag check fees. Packing cubes made it possible.
Packing cubes allow you to fit more clothes into a smaller space, and keep them organized. I was surprised to find that I could fit four outfits for my children (ages 7 and 10) in one small eBag each. It helped that their wardrobe consisted of shorts and tees, which don’t take much space.
To maximize your luggage space, unzip the packing cube halfway and roll the clothing to fit the bag. Keep pushing the rolled clothes to the back of the bag until it is full. The bag will compress everything so it takes less space than it would otherwise.
There are a few disadvantages to this method, so I only use it when space is the top priority. First, rolling and stuffing takes more time than I want to spend over the suitcase, especially because I’m the only one doing it for four people before and during the trip. Second, the bags do not fit the contours of the suitcase as well when they are stuffed full. Third, clothes may require more ironing when they are packed tight.
Divide and conquer
Last summer, we took a camping trip with my extended family to Bryce Canyon National Park in Utah. Our tent had limited space for storing luggage and our van was parked a few steps away. I filled our large suitcase with one large packing cube for the family for each day. Instead of bringing all of the clothes into the tent, we just grabbed the one or two cubes we needed. Clean clothes came in the tent and dirty clothes went out every day. This method really kept the tent clutter down.
eBags packing cubes have handles, so I use them like mini-suitcases. On one weekend road trip, I ran out of space in the suitcase for shoes, so I put them in a large packing cube and tossed them in the van separately.
Have you used packing cubes? Please share your experience in the comments!
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