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Packing Hacks

I am always looking for methods to more efficiently pack and bring down the size of the case I travel with. I thought it would be a good idea to start a thread where people can share some packing hacks. Here is one I have used often and it really does make packing more efficient. With this hack I can fit four pairs of pants and four shirts into a medium packing cube. Share yours.

https://youtube.com/shorts/Si5mmVL26tk?si=hmQg7qsLgdQJKRor

Posted by
14293 posts

Thanks for the link. I've done a variation of "bundle packing" before although I did not then put them in to packing cubes. To me this is tedious but others may have more patience than I, lol!! My capsule wardrobe is such that every shirt goes with every pair of pants goes with every topper (cardie or Dri-fit) so I need them all separate instead of stacked together as outfits.

One trip the weather was yucky one afternoon and I was back at the hotel. I idly was figuring how many outfits I had with 3 bottoms, 4 shirts, 2 toppers and 2 scarves. Using every combo comes out to what?? 60?? possible combinations? Of course if the weather is such that you need the long sleeve topper, the short sleeve shirt alone would not work but I was shocked at how it multiplied. So, with your pieces separated you've got 16 base outfits plus whatever scarves or toppers you might have packed. I'm not sure this is a "hack" but it made me think differently about my clothing choices!

I also don't ever unpack.

I pack my pants flat on the bottom of my carry on. I have an Osprey Ozone which has a monopole handle so has 2 "sides" on the bottom of the bag. I can snug my pants in there.

I pack my shirts together in a packing cube with the fold end at the access point. I can just pull out what I need for the day the night before and can de-wrinkle it if necessary. I'm likely re-wearing bottoms as I will go for 4-5 days with them.

Undies, bras, PJs, compression shorts go in a separate cube.

I'm glad this works for you!

Posted by
802 posts

Hey, agree with Pam, I wouldn't pack outfits together, unless it was a dinner dress up / casual trip where I might separate my outfit let's say for an evening out. When I was a Road Warrior I would separate casual from business attire, yep then the outfit packing made sense! I always carry an Eagle Creek Medium ziplock bag to squish down my dirty laundry, seems even if I don't buy anything, suitcase is fuller just because I'm not packing as carefully heading home. I've learned a lot from what others have packed in terms of keeping items together (Tom Bihn buckets) or just having the right things along to make travel easier. Interesting thread here - https://community.ricksteves.com/travel-forum/packing/valuable-purchases-due-to-rs-or-forum-recommendations

Posted by
6106 posts

I think that is quite clever, however, when I watch that or that approach where people put outfits in gallon ziplock, I wonder if those travelers are mix and matching their clothes. I typically bring twice as many tops as pants.

Posted by
498 posts

rf26, I’m really impressed you can get 8 articles of clothing in one packing cube! That would be almost all of what I pack! I’m like Pam, I think. Total of 3 bottoms, 4 tops and 2-3 extra over tops with a couple of scarves that go into my 2nd pair of shoes. And since I’m wearing 3 of those on the plane I pack 7 garments. Of course there’s also the socks, undies and sleep wear in a separate packing cube. I also never really unpack, I leave everything in the packing cube they come in.

Now I’m wondering if I should put all my tops and bottoms into 1 cube instead of 2 and maybe that would save me some packing space……. Hmmm…

Pam, you have said I think that you now use the long narrow packing cubes? So you do a long narrow fold for your shirts and pants to fit that shape? Is it almost like a roll?

Posted by
62 posts

Lyndash,

It really isn’t that hard to fit a bunch of stuff into packing cubes if you fold them correctly. My packing routine includes using two large packing cubes filled to capacity which I put into the Rick Steves roller carry-on. I really like this bag since it has an additional zipper that expands the capacity if necessary. I use an additional two medium packing cubes filled to capacity which I put into a smaller case with a good trolley strap. Recently I purchased a Verage 30 L case for this purpose and it makes for a great set up.

The trick is using the packing cubes to their full capacity. That is where folding hacks like the one I posted in the original post can really come in handy. I am looking for more of that to maximize my packing routine.

Some people don’t like packing cubes, but I find they help you maintain order on the road and if you arrange the clothing appropriately and place the outfits for your next stop at the top of the packing cube you don’t have to unpack most of your clothing during each stop.

Posted by
408 posts

It's an interesting concept, but I suspect I would drive myself crazy trying to fold everything together. As I said in another packing post, I can't do the Kondo fold either.

I too bring far more tops than bottoms, and I still get 8 items in a medium packing cube. However my items are 2 folded bottoms, and 6 rolled t-shirts, so a bit less "cloth" than a 4/4 division. I can still get at everything without unpacking the whole cube by flipping it over to access the trousers. The t-shirts sit on top of the bottoms and I can just grab the one I want for the day.

Posted by
4955 posts

I use a mix of small and medium packing cubes, each containing rolled clothes. They sit on their narrow edges in my suitcase with zippers accessible. I can reach in to any packing cube and pull out any article without disturbing anything else.

Like most who've commented, I have far fewer bottoms, folded in their own large packing cube sitting across the top of the smaller cubes. By lifting that out, I have direct access to everything below.

Posted by
361 posts
  • I load clothing into my packing cubes by city. I only take this cube out, along with any common items such as toiletries, when I reach my respective destinations.
  • Dirty clothes go into a packing cube, with a handle, I bring for laundry.
  • When I do laundry I load clothes into packing cubes for the next destination or two.
Posted by
6106 posts

CWSocial, on their sides, GENIUS!! I'd probably need to modify the cubes I use and get more medium/small ones. I've taken to putting tags on the zippers--"bottoms", "tops", etc.

Posted by
858 posts

I generallly have one Medium compression cube for bottoms and one for tops. In my carry on I have another medium for an extra top and bottom and underwear, just in case.

On my return, I take my clean clothes of all varieties and put them in one of the 3 cubes, and that goes in my carry on and then the dirty go in the other 2 in my checked case.

Posted by
14293 posts

Pam, you have said I think that you now use the long narrow packing cubes? So you do a long narrow fold for your shirts and pants to fit that shape? Is it almost like a roll?

@Lyndash - apologies for not seeing your question for me!! I was using the narrow cube that will sit upright in my suitcase but the last 2 international trips I was concerned about weight and those cubes were a couple of ounces heavier than the Eagle Creek sil-Nylon compression cubes.

With the long narrow cubes I was doing a regular fold in of the sides and sleeves to the length of the cube then in half horizontally and half again. It is a flat fold not a roll. I am traveling right now so can’t measure the width of the “cube” but I think they are about 5 inches. And sigh…no, not using a cube for shirts this trip. It’s Yellowstone with 3 hotels over 12 days so don’t need to stay wrinkle free or organized, lol!!

I just flat pack my pants/capris on the bottom of my suitcase.

Posted by
4955 posts

I'd probably need to modify the cubes I use and get more medium/small ones.

jules m, that's what I've had to do so that they fit in the suitcase depth. For some smaller items, I use lingerie zip bags and they also stack on their edges, help upright by everything else.