Let’s face it, bringing checked-in luggage during air travel can be quite stressful.
There are times where we’re not sure if checked-in luggage is part of our baggage allowance (if not, hefty additional baggage fees will be waiting for us upon check-in).
We’re overly anxious if our luggage is overweight (hello overweight fee!), the fun times we’re waiting for it to come out of the carousel… or worse, it didn’t come out at all because (gasp) it’s lost!
Thank goodness I haven’t experienced the latter, but I have always been anxious that my luggage is overweight, that on a three-week trip to Australia, I only ended up bringing 24 pounds (11 kilos) worth of stuff (my luggage is already heavy enough on its own).
During my trip, I realized that I can pack smartly. I just brought the essentials, mostly multipurpose, classic stuff that I can mix and match, and some makeup in a small toiletry bag.
But I could’ve done better…I could’ve fit all this inside my carry-on and saved myself from all the worrying!
Moving forward, I challenged myself by just bringing a carry-on bag in all of my travels (yep, even in Europe), and you know what helped me a lot? Buying the best packing cubes for carry-ons beforehand!
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- What are Packing Cubes?
- What to Look for When Choosing the Best Packing Cubes for Carry-On?
- How Do You Care for Your Packing Cubes?
- 7 Best Packing Cubes for Carry-on Luggage 2021
- Gonex Travel Packing Cubes (Set 4: 3 Medium and 1 Small)
- eBags Ultralight Packing Cubes – Super Packer 5pc Set
- Eagle Creek Pack It Specter Cube Set (3-Pack)
- BAGAIL 4 Set Packing Cubes with Laundry Bag
- AmazonBasics 4-Piece Packing Cube Set
- Shacke Pak – 4 Set Packing Cubes with Laundry Bag
- TRIPPED Travel Gear Packing Cubes Travel Organizer
- Tips When Using Packing Cubes
- Putting It All Together
What are Packing Cubes?
Packing cubes are bags used to organize everything that you’d put inside your carry-on luggage, duffel bag, backpack or any travel bag.
They come in different sizes to fit everything from clothes (even big bulky items like wooly sweaters and parkas), shoes, toiletries, and even accessories.
Aside from effectively organizing things, they also help:
- Keep clothes from being too wrinkly (before I used to roll my clothes to maximize space).
- Easily transfer clothes from your luggage to the hotel cabinet/drawers.
- Easily locate an item (no more rummaging through the entire suitcase trying to look for something).
- You keep your underwear concealed from the public eye during TSA checks, scans or should your luggage accidentally pop open while trying to fit it in the overhead bin.
- Protect your things from dirt, wetness, or anything that may soil them (broken makeup is the #1 suspect along with popped open shampoo or lotion bottles).
What to Look for When Choosing the Best Packing Cubes for Carry-On?
There are lots of packing cubes in the market, the main difference though lies in the details. Yes, they may all look and work the same way, but in my opinion, the best ones are those who have the following features:
- Made out of durable, waterproof and light material – You’d want it to last you a lifetime. Look for something that is scratchproof and wear and tear resistant but at the same time weighs close to nothing (usual carry-on weight limit is 15 pounds or 7 kg).
- Good quality stitches that won’t easily budge – Invest in good quality packing cubes. Some cheap cubes are poorly made that as soon as you stuff it with your clothes and zip it closed, the side seams come undone.
- Has double-way, high-quality zippers – Double way zips allow you to easily open the cube and unpack your clothes. Some zippers are so flimsy they’re only good for one use. You’re not buying a disposable product, after all, so try to look for cubes with good quality zippers.
- Comes in a variety of sizes – Stuffing the packing cubes in my carry-on luggage sure feels like playing Tetris. You’d want to maximize the available space as much as possible, thus having different sizes of packing cubes help.
- Has a sturdy handle and pull tabs – Handles and pull tabs make it easier to pull the cube out from your luggage or travel bag. Handles can also double as hangers, allowing you to save cabinet space in your accommodation of choice (hotel, Airbnb, friend’s house) therefore, it is important that the handle is sturdy enough to support the jam-packed cube’s weight.
- Has a transparent plastic or mesh panel viewing window (if none, a plastic sleeve to place a label of some sort) – To easily identify the cube’s contents without having to open each of them.
How Do You Care for Your Packing Cubes?
Washing instructions depend on the material of each cube. Most manufacturers suggest handwashing with cold water and then hanging the cubes out to air dry.
If it’s not necessary to wash the cubes, I just spray them with a mild disinfectant or wipe them with a damp cloth, washing them often may affect their quality and may lead to color fading and fabric deterioration.
When not in use, store your cubes in a cool, dry place as heat and water exposure may affect its fabric. You may compress flexible cubes for easy storage and keep the wire supported ones neatly stacked on top of each other to preserve its shape.
Searching for the best packing cubes should not be a daunting task if you know what to look for.
While it seems best to trust brands who have been in the market for ages and well-known for their travel-related products, some humble brands are also worth giving a try as they exude the same quality as their high-end counterparts.
But fear not, my ladies! I have collated the best and brightest players in the field of packing cubes including my fave eBag (which my ex-bf has given to me as a gift. Our relationship may have ended, but this bag has been with me through thick and thin – OK, TMI!).
Dramarama aside, let me present to you the best packing cubes ever!
7 Best Packing Cubes for Carry-on Luggage 2021
Tips When Using Packing Cubes
- Plan out what you need to bring – Make a list and keep it simple. Opt for clothing pieces that you can easily mix and match and dual-purpose products.
- Do not overfill your packing cubes – No matter how durable they may be, the seams and zippers may break if you overly pack it.
- To roll or to fold? – Depends on what you need. I roll my tops and undies when I place them inside the cube and keep items that I don’t want to be wrinkled neatly folded.
- Dryer sheets for dirty clothes – Storing dirty clothes in your packing cubes? Be sure to slip in a dryer sheet to keep it smelling fresh. Sanitize/wash it after (who knows when you’ll travel again and use the same cube).
- Zip as you fill the cube – Once you have filled the cube with 1 to 2 items, you may start zipping it half of the way through and inch by inch as you pack it with more items. This way you can move, compress and position the items better inside the bag without having to struggle with closing the zipper after.
Putting It All Together
Traveling with a carry-on not only saves you money, but also offers you peace of mind knowing that your things are with you and are handled with care (not being thrown around like a sack of cement nor mistakenly loaded on the wrong plane especially during flight cancellations and rebooking).
Together with proper planning, packing cubes are a great help in making sure that all your essentials fit in your carry-on bag (whether you chose to bring a trolley, duffel, a day bag or backpack).
What’s the best packing cube that you’ve tried? How did it change the way you pack your bags? Let me know in the comments section below.
Wishing you safe and happy travels!