reorganized: Never Travel Without Packing Cubes

On the eve of my long weekend trip to Calgary/Banff, I thought I’d share with you one of my favorite packing tools.

Picture this: London, 2007.  It was the middle of October.  I was sitting in the living room of the flat that I shared with my Australian expat flatmate.  She was telling me a story of her coworker (they call them “colleagues”) who had a strange interest in talking about poo.

Bare with me… I totally have a point in telling this story!

She said, “I told him that there are two kinds of people in this world [when they use the toilet]: scrunchers and folders.  He was so surprised to hear it and started to ask everyone in our office which one they were.”

At a loss as to what my flatmate was talking about?  Read all about it here in this lovely article written by my flatmate’s ex-colleague turned my best friend and Man of Honor.  If that wasn’t enough, don’t miss out on the entire blog my friend has dedicated to this topic. (Some may think he has issues.  I may be one of them.)

Alright.  All up to speed?  Good.  Let’s return to the flat in London in 2007 where I was having a nice little chat with my flatmate.  Almost to the point, I swear!

I dared to ask my flatmate during that conversation, “Do you think I’m a scruncher or a folder?”

She needed to think only for a brief second.  “Folder.”

She was right, but I had to know how she was able to guess it since we only had been living together for two weeks.  Her reply?  “The way you pack your suitcase.”

*    *    *    *

I’ll always remember that conversation for a number of reasons.

  1. It was really funny.
  2. It evolved into the first contact I made with my future best friend.  (I had yet not met him at the time of this conversation.)
  3. It made me see the way I pack my suitcase was definitely noticed.
  4. Apparently, to this day, my flatmate still spreads the gospel about my packing skills to everyone she knows, some of who only know me as “the girl who packs really well.”

Specifically, my flatmate was referring to the packing cubes I used.  She had never been introduced to them before.  Admittedly, I had only been using them for three months up until then, but had quickly fallen in love with them.

Travel With Packing Cubes | Redesigned By M

A few of my packing cubes. (Yes, I have more.)

Packing cubes are such an excellent tool in keeping your suitcases organized when traveling.  I come from a family who folds everything into neat stacks and piles them at random in their large suitcases.  They also overpack.  I had to learn a different method of packing when I set out to backpack in Europe for a year in 2007.  (That’s how I ended up in London.)

I use packing cubes for any length of trips, even my weekend jaunts to Seattle.  I like how packing cubes keep everything together, so I’m not throwing out piles of clothes and toiletries as I’m searching for a specific thing.  When I’ve found that specific item, the packing cubes make it so easy to repack again.  It also helps me find exactly where that item is located as I treat my packing cubes like a well organized closet.

Here is an inside look of how I pack with packing cubes.

Travel With Packing Cubes | Redesigned By M

I roll my clothes whenever possible.  I’ve tried my parents’ way of folding and stacking, but it’s really true that you can fit more by rolling your clothes!  I was hoping to try bundling on this trip, but I sort of ran out of time to experiment with a new method.  In addition to my in-flight outfit of a pair of jeans with a sweater and hiking boots (I plan to do some light hiking aka limping on a recovering broken foot in Banff and Lake Louise; you can read about how I got my broken foot here), these clothes in the packing cube will create a minimum of five outfits; one for each day of the trip.

Travel With Packing Cubes | Redesigned By M

This is my underwear and socks cube.  It also holds two sports bras and a padded bra (not shown).  Even packing cubes have a place for Scrunchers!  This is my version of items that have just been tossed in (a la Scruncher).

Travel With Packing Cubes | Redesigned By M

I also put together a separate cube for the bathroom trips.  Oh, I should have mentioned that I’ll be staying in a hostel with a shared bathroom for a couple of nights.  I’ll be able to quickly grab this cube for all my washing needs.

Travel With Packing Cubes | Redesigned By M

I love signing up for free product samples.  The trial sizes are PERFECT for traveling!  My Neutrogena sample pack came in just in time for this trip.  I needed a new pack of makeup remover wipes.

After all is packed away within these cubes, I stick them into my suitcase.

Travel With Packing Cubes | Redesigned By M

These three cubes only take up half the depth of my suitcase.  Still have to pack shoes and an extra sweater.

Travel With Packing Cubes | Redesigned By M

This is the suitcase all packed up!  I added the following items on top of the packing cubes:

Laptop and charger
Flip flops
A pair of Toms
Thick hoodie
Crossbody bag
Makeup bag

Travel With Packing Cubes | Redesigned By M

In the outside pockets, I keep items that I need to have readily available during check-in, security screening, and things I need for the plane trip (i.e. iPod Touch, earbuds, scarf).  This photo shows:

Liquids and creams  in a quart size bag
Document holder

In the past, I’ve also created cubes dedicated to:

  • Electronics (chargers, power adapters, camera equipment, etc)
  • First Aid Kit
  • Dressy clothing
  • Casual clothing
  • Tops only
  • Bottoms only
  • Hair products

How else would you organize your packing cube?

Whether you’re a Scruncher or Folder, Roller or Bundler, keep your items contained within packing cubes.  Your sanity will love you for them!

Size of suitcase: 19″

Weight of suitcase, unpacked: 3.4kg / 7.5lbs

Weight of suitcase, fully packed as shown: 10.3kg / 22.7lbs

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Redesigned By M

Leave a comment


  1. I’ve not used packing cubes before, but they look nice! Instead I used lingerie bags (the things you put your delicates in before throwing in the washing machine). They take up no space at all when they are not being used and you can see through them so you know what you packed in to them. They come in all kinds of sizes so you can tailor them to your needs. Ikea makes a nicely sized one for underwear. There are bigger ones out there and they are relatively cheap. But stick to the ones with zippers–the drawstring ones suck for when you need to use them in the washing machine…BTW, I’m a folder 😉

  2. Stephanie

     /  May 17, 2013

    Hi M, great idea! Where can you buy these packing cubes?


  3. Hi Stephanie, I got mine from REI. But you can get them from any travel store, if you haven’t got an REI in your area. ~M.

  4. Haha! I’m not surprised, Kanani! Thanks for voting in. When I was in Europe, I actually kept my dirty laundry in those bags and ended up chucking in the whole bag when I washed my clothes at the hostel. A girl I made friends with, and who I split the laundry fee with, commented that those bags were really great as it was so easy to transfer the wash to the dryer. Plus, no one saw my unmentionables tumbling out of the machine. 😉 I agree that the ones with zippers are the best.

  5. I do the exact same thing! I have packing cubes for my work trips and I LOVE THEM! Cheers to packing cubes!

  6. Stephanie

     /  August 23, 2013

    Thanks for this article. After reading it I finally bought some packing cells for my trip and used them. I bought 2 large, one medium and one small cell from Kathmandu. One large cell I used for pants, skirts and tshirts (things i wear often), the other large cell was for dresses and jackets (clothing not worn as much), medium cell for chargers and miscellaneous and small for Bandaids and other toiletries. Brilliant!!! They kept my suitcase tidy and it was so easy to find my stuff. I will never travel without these again and I’ve been recommending them to everyone! One tip – buy the cells in different colours especially those of the same size for easy identification.

  7. I’m midway through a UK working holiday at the moment and re packing my suitcase every few days is the Bain of my existence, so thanks for this tip! It takes rolling to a whole new level.

  8. You are so very welcome! These packing cubes definitely make repacking so much easier!

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