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Packing cubes vs compression bags

Hey everyone,

I was wondering if anyone had any ideas about packing cubes or compression bags. Obviously for the bags I would be looking at one that didn't need to be vacuumed sealed. I'm going to Italy for 12 days and I have at least 2 kids to bring back souvenirs for, so I want as much room as possible to bring things back. I'm also going to a wedding so I need to bring at least 2 pairs of shoes and a dress. My issue with packing cubes, and I'll admit I've never used one before or compression bags, is it seems they would take up more room I the suitcase then just rolling up my clothes. When my son and I went to disney, I used 2 suitcases (one with food and one with clothes) and was able to bring back souvenirs in the empty food one. But this time it's just me and I on,y have 1 suitcase and rather not have to bring another one with me. Also, if there's any canadian sites or stores people might know of that sell either product (sorry, rather pay in canadian funds then deal with an exchange rate!) that would be even better.


Posted by
10334 posts

I use packing cubes and don't pack for any kind of trip without them. They keep your clothes, and therefore your bag, organized. You can roll clothes and fit quite a bit into them. Are you planning on bringing 12 days worth of clothes, or do plan to wash some along the way? I bring the same number of clothes whether I'm packing for one week or four. I'm going on a six week trip this year and I won't bring extra clothes for it. I only used a compression bag once, for a winter trip. I used it for bulkier clothes like sweaters and a fleece jacket. The rest went into packing cubes. They make compression bags for travel. You put your items in, then roll the bag up to squeeze the air out.

Posted by
27 posts

When my son and I did disney, back in January,mew took enough for the 9 days we were there, one for each day, I personally rather pack that way cause I much rather be sightseeing then having to do laundry! I know I'll need a somewhat fancy outfit for the bridal shower and then an outfit for the wedding. I'm trying to pack lighter then I have in the past, cause I have been known to over pack!
What brand of packing cubes do you have and which compression bag have you used? I dint want to spend a fortune, but I also don't want to go super cheap either and have them break.

Posted by
10334 posts

I have some Rick Steves packing cubes (sold on this website) and some Eagle Creek packing cubes. I prefer the RS cubes. I don't remember what brand compression bags I have. They sell compression bags on this website and in some stores travel sections.

Posted by
4171 posts

Just remember that compression bags allow you to pack more but they don't cut down on the weight and your bag can get verrrrry heavy.

As for the washing, depending on where you are you can do it yourself or leave it to be done for you. We pack for a week and a day for our 4 week trips. It's amazing how relaxing it is to take a break at the laundromat to wash our clothes while we read, do more trip planning or whatever.

Posted by
128 posts

My son and I went to Rome over spring break one year. I bought each of us a small carry on bag and told him this was all he could use for everything except his computer. He found my old compression bags (I never really liked them) and the amount of stuff he packed was pretty amazing.

It worked for him. I still do not like the compression bags but use packing cubes/sleeves. To each his own I guess! I am usually traveling with the onus of only 13 pounds for a carry on, so compression may pack it tighter, but that scale will still find excess weight.

Posted by
14157 posts

I recently got some Eagle Creek compression cubes. The aren't really compression but they have a zipper which squishes then down by about a third. I have these in the silnylon which is very light as well as the regular EC silnylon cubes. After doing some trial packs, I decided I didnt really like the shape of the compressed cubes as they are higher in the middle and left me with odd areas of room so I packed in the silnylon regular cubes.

I can pack the cubes tightly and dont feel they take up more space but I stuff them full. I think that cuts down on wrinkles as well since things aren't shifting.

I dont suppose you can wear the same outfit for the shower and wedding just using dressier accessories?

Editing to add: Ok, I'm laughing...I'm on the Rick Steves Ireland tour and repacked this morning. I see I did indeed use the small EC compression cube for underwear! If you have an REI in Toronto they carry them and you can go take a look at them.

Posted by
10294 posts

My husband uses the RS cubes, I use compression bags I bought at Bed, Bath, and Beyond for fluffy stuff. Not much to compress on a summer trip. I just roll all the rest of my clothes and think it's as good as using a compression bag. We both look like wrinkled slobs, but got over the shame a long time ago. :)

Posted by
134 posts

Jenn - I understand wanting some variety when you'll be attending a wedding and other events, but I would pack light shoes for the wedding and shower...something strappy but comfy and LIGHT in your bag. Wear sneakers for your airport and travel days and other long walking days, and then maybe another good walking (but nicer) shoe. I found some nice mary jane black flats that were obviously much nicer than an athletic shoe but with a good sole and support for more walking. They came in handy for nights out in Ireland, and I plan to bring them with me to Austria for things like attending Mass and possibly the opera.

A dress for the wedding, of course, but possibly a skirt/top combo for the shower than can be recycled on another day, either together or as parts of another outfit? The key for me is accessorizing. Even if the dress and skirt are more casual materials to prevent wrinkles, you can throw on a big statement necklace, or buy a scarf in Italy as both an accessory for the wedding AND a souvenir for yourself.

And you don't have to spend a lot of time doing laundry. On my 10 day trip to Ireland we did laundry only once. We had finally landed in a town where we were staying two days and I just grabbed my items and my friends items. It was only one load, and I made my way to a laundromat where an older woman was working, with a heavy Irish accent that I could barely understand, and she just took my coins and put on all the correct settings for me. I got to sit with my guidebook and a coffee and take an hour to relax. That's the cheap way. Many hotels you can send out your laundry, but I liked mixing with other people. (Part of that "Europe through the back door" philosophy.)

Finally, consider packing an empty, light, backpack or tote bag in your suitcase. That's what I did for my first trip. I knew I wanted to carry on my suitcase, but checking it would have been free for an international flight (check with your carrier). My intention was that way on my way home I could have checked the suitcase and carried on the backpack (RS Civita daypack - now full with souvenirs) and my purse. As it was, I just rearranged things and fit more in my suitcase and carried home the backpack - with my purse in it, plus other items. This time I'm not even bringing that empty backpack. I just got a larger purse and plan to pack even lighter so there's room to bring home a few extra things.

Whew, ok, that was a lot, but I'm passionate about this because I am a chronic over-packer (especially for road trips) but I did SO WELL on my first trip abroad. I never would have guessed I could stick to one small convertible suitcase and one small personal bag, but it can be done! Also, souvenirs can be small...they don't have to take up that much space!

Posted by
16894 posts

I don't use either one and my bag stays organized enough for me. (My bag has a large mesh-covered section for small things and I put shoes and dirty clothes in any old plastic bag.) The compression bags work best to take the air out of fluffy things, like pillows and sweaters, but will wrinkle delicate items. The packing cubes are very popular, though.