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My family of four travels upwards of six times a year, thanks to my hobby of collecting miles and points to fly free. That, of course, involves a lot of packing and unpacking.
My two boys, ages 10 and 14, don’t care much about what they wear and grab whatever shirt and shorts are close at hand, without an organized system of packing.
Goodbye, careful outfit planning.
I finally got sick of it, and decided there had to be another way. Then, I found a solution: packing cubes. Specifically, Amazon's most popular packing cubes.
TravelWise Packing Cubes, $23, Amazon
They let me keep each pre-planned outfit together — with socks and underwear — so there is no guesswork involved.
First, I tried it with gallon Ziploc bags, which worked pretty well, but are quite noisy when packing and make a bit of a mess of empty bags as you unpack the items from each one. Packing cubes are better.
What are packing cubes?
Packing cubes are colored bags of different sizes that fit inside luggage. Travelers can use them in a variety of ways. You can group like items, such as underwear, socks, shirts, and pants, each in their own cube or try packing individual outfits in each cube.
I like to use a different color packing cube for each person and separate outfits and items by day, though I’ll group pajamas, shoes, swimming gear and exercise clothes each in their own cube.
The cubes help clothes last longer
This system works miracles. The cubes actually help clothes to last longer while traveling. Instead of wildly grabbing whatever is on top, my kids take out one outfit at a time. I usually mark the cubes as casual for just hanging out or formal for dinner or church. They are also easy to quickly remove and put in a hotel drawer.
When clothing gets dirty, it goes into a separate large bag that came with my favorite suitcase, the Genuis Pack. The laundry bag is compressible — we roll it to push out all the air before repacking to return home.
I chose the Travelwise Packing Cube System on Amazon, because it’s the retailer’s No. 2 best-selling travel accessory, has more than 2,000 reviews and is reasonably priced.
TravelWise Packing Cubes, $23, Amazon
The cubes come in a variety of colors, including blue, pink, green and lavender, enough to give each member of a family a separate color.
The features make them easy-to-use
Each cube features a mesh top that lets you see inside the bag and allows your clothes to breathe. The cubes also boast two-way zippers for easy access and handles to easily maneuver them in the luggage. One reviewer said they knew by how they positioned the zippers if a TSA inspector had opened them!
They are also lightweight, so they won't put you over the airline’s baggage weight allowance.
This set of five comes with two large, two medium and one small packing cube. I often roll our clothes to allow more space and keep them from wrinkling and that works great when I use these.
The tags on the bags say to hand wash them, and one reviewer noted theirs definitely did not hold up in the wash, but as long as they are reserved for clean clothes only, they should need to be washed rarely, if ever.
There are lots of packing cubes out there. Here are a few more highly-ranked options:
Bagail Packing Cubes, $20, Amazon
This set of four packing cubes also had more than 2,000 reviews — 85 percent of them were five-star. They also have mesh tops and handles and come in extra-large, large, medium and small sizes. A nice feature of this set is that it comes with its own laundry bag to hold dirty clothes at the end of the trip.
Bago Packing Cubes, $24, Amazon
This packing cube system is similarly priced as the others and comes in a set of four, which you can get in the same color or different colors. This company suggests that if you are over your luggage weight limit, you can easily pull out a cube and take it as a carry-on. Great idea.
These cubes also come with six reusable bags that are ideal for storing toiletries or other items that could potentially leak.
For more travel tips, be sure to check out Lyn Mettler's blog, Go to Travel Gal.