There is a way to end suitcase chaos – and it need not cost a fortune. There is a way to end suitcase chaos – and it need not cost a fortune.
Life Travel The cheap packing secret that will change the way you travel Updated:

The cheap packing secret that will change the way you travel

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It started with an argument among friends over dinner. Two of them were about to travel, and revealed they’d stocked up on something called packing cubes.

These are mesh zippered sleeves into which you pack your luggage before you put it in your case. They’re your suitcase’s suitcases.
I was sceptical.

“I bet that a week into your trip the packing cubes are stuffed in the bottom of your suitcases empty and there’s not a thing in them,” I declared defiantly.

But these highly organised editors both insisted packing cubes were one of the greatest travel discoveries they’d made.

My most organised colleague said she was addicted to K-Mart’s packing cubes, which start at $7 a set (and come in pink as well as functional grey). Another frequent traveller said she was happy to pay a bit more for Kathmandu’s cubes and was devoted to them.

I remained sceptical, until another traveller admitted she, too, was a convert.

“You get to a hotel and just put them straight into the drawers, and when you leave, you just put them straight back into the suitcase,” she said.


This was starting to make sense.

A fortnight later, about to set off on a seven-week trip, I decided to join the cube club. I bought a set at Target.

In the largest I put shirts and trousers. In the second largest, my clothes for a hike we were taking a fortnight into our trip. Into the smallest, swimsuit, sarongs and electric charging gear.
They looked so neat and organised in my case that, I’ll admit, I wanted more of them before I’d even finished packing. Best of all, they’d cost $10 for the set of three.

I didn’t have time to purchase more, so I just used large Ziplock plastic bags, which worked beautifully and allowed me to compress clothes by pushing out the air and sealing them.

So, with the neatest suitcase I’ve ever travelled with, I set off.

Turns out my friends were right. The cubes keep everything orderly, make it easy to find what you need, and are easy to pack and unpack.

When my husband and I consolidated our hiking gear into one small case, it was a matter of just popping the cubes into that case rather than sifting through every item. They also keep your clothes flat and prevent them getting scrunched as you search through your luggage for that one thing you need that, inevitably, is the last thing you find at the bottom of the case.

Once we got home, they even made unpacking easier. To quote Japanese tidying guru Marie Kondo, “did it bring you joy?”. It sure did. Turns out she’s a fan of packing cubes too.

The lowdown

Packing cubes start from about $7 for a set of three, up to about $40 for a single cube. You can also use Ziplock plastic bags.

Packing cubes and cells are available from plenty of retailers, including K-Mart, Target, Kathmandu and luggage stores. Chose ones with mesh tops to allow air out, and to let you see the contents.