Ever arrived in a hotel opened your suitcase and within minutes your bag has exploded? The ultimate bag bomb of clothes, shoes, shampoo, socks all over the hotel room.
The little ones have thrown everything on the floor to grab their toys and hubby has rummaged through all the nicely folded clothes to find his charger leaving a mountain of clothing chaos.
You’re frantic as you can’t locate the emergency snacks/ suntan lotion whilst the baby is screaming.
Does this sound familiar? It was for me.
My name is Kirsty and I travel A LOT with my young children.
That means I’ve seen a lot of messy and chaotic hotel rooms. Sometimes, I’ve spent hours searching for items at the bottom of bags and emptying whole suitcases just to find a missing toothbrush. Then one day I stumbled on an organizational miracle. Packing Cubes. I’m not a big spender nor particularly organized so to be honest when I first heard of packing cubes I thought “what a waste of money” “they’re are just a money-making gimmick, who really needs them?”
Well – me it turns out. I do. Yes, something so simple, practical and intuitive can be an absolute time-saver. Last year we traveled as a family for over 2 and a half months straight. Without packing cubes, I would have quite possibly have lost my mind. Staying organized when you are on the road or on vacation with little ones is the key to having a stress-free and successful holiday.
Why you need packing cubes too.
There are so many benefits for these little bags. Here are some of the benefits I get from packing in packing cubes:
- They save space in your suitcase(yep they don’t take it up they actually save space) especially if you roll. I’ll get on to that in a minute.
- They help busy moms (like us) stay organized (saving us hours of time spent searching)
- They keep the little things (like the kids’ socks) safely together
- They pre-empt all those annoying ‘where did you pack it‘ questions
- As your whole suitcase is compartmentalized, unpacking is easy just pop each cube in the drawer where you want it.
- You won’t need to unpack everything. That emergency First Aid or extra batteries can stay packed away in your suitcase until they’re actually needed.
Which size packing cubes should you buy?
Personally, I’d recommend buying a selection of packing cubes in various sizes. You’d need larger ones for adult clothes and smaller ones for other items. Money saving tip: You don’t really need to buy packing cubes. You can use cloth bags, empty pillow cases or something similar that you have at home. The trick is using them like packing cubes so that you can be super organized. If you’re a super-crafty mom you could even sew your own!
How to pack using packing cubes?
I guess that everyone will have their own method of packing. As I mentioned we travel a lot and my method is still very ad-hoc. This is a rough idea of what I aim for.
- I use medium sized packing cubes for storing underwear. Normally the two kids’ underwear can all fit in one.
- I divide toys into 2-3 small packing cubes. Normally, we have one full of Lego, one with small toys and one with activity books and pencils in. The great thing is that we can leave 1 or 2 in the suitcase and rotate the toys/ activities so that the children have something ‘new’ to do.
- Roll. Roll everything you can. Honestly, try it in saves SO much space. In the large packing cubes, I roll up all mine and hubby’s clothes. It is amazing what can fit in one large packing cube. Roll as tightly as you can and then pack the rolled clothes like sardines into a packing cube. Zip and place the cube in your suitcase. Voila.
- I don’t label the cubes as ours all look quite different from each other and I generally remember. However, if you’re travelling with older children (or are super organized) you could use fabric pens or tape to label each cube according to its contents.
- We still use toiletries bags. Hey, they’re the original packing cube, aren’t they! One each for hubby, myself and the kids. All larger toiletries, like suntan lotion, bug spray and baby shampoo I keep in one medium packing cube. This means that I can unpack it in the hotel bathroom quickly or just transfer it to the day bag.
- I use one small cube to hold our emergency family first aid kit and another to hold what I call miscellaneous items. Padlocks, spare batteries, a mini flashlight and some stain remover for clothes (an essential with my kids!)
- Keeping the kids’ clothes in separate packing cubes means that it’s easy for them to move bedrooms (we often have two hotel rooms between the four of us) so the kids swap every other night.
- Having individual cubes also encourages children to take more responsibility for their own belongings. You can always give them their own carry-on bag as well!
- Most packing cubes have mesh panels. These are great because they help you (and the rest of the family) see exactly what is in the cube before tipping it all out.
Can you use packing cubes in rucksacks, daypacks or holdalls?
Of course. You don’t need a huge suitcase to use packing cubes. We’ve used them in our large backpack. They are great for easily transferring things between different bags. For example, you might need to check in your First Aid kit to get through airport security but at the other end, you may prefer it in your daypack or diaper bag. Scraps and scratches don’t only happen in hotel rooms!
So are you converted to trying packing cubes now?
You should be! Being organized when I’m packing (which doesn’t come naturally to me) has saved me so much time and stress. And if you decide not to invest in packing cubes or make your own, please take away this one organizational travel trick. Roll. Yep. Roll everything you can. Tightly roll your clothes before you pack. Be a Marie Kondo of the suitcase-packing world and roll. Rolling will help keep things crease-free and saves so much space. Even if you don’t have your next vacation booked yet, go and practise rolling in your sock drawer – you will be amazed! With some great packing cubes and a bit of rolling, you’ll have a fantastic stress-free vacation. Happy travels!
Kirsty is a British family travel blogger currently living in sunny Malaysia. She has travelled to over 100 countries including 20 with her young children. When she’s not reading books about women’s history, she blogs about family travel with a dash of feminism at World for a Girl. Her goal is to inspire girls to be fearless global adventurers. Follow her on Facebook or Twitter.