It was 4:15 in the morning at the Baltimore airport. I was on my way home after spending the summer working in DC And New York.
"Your bag is 52 pounds. 50 is the maximum. You'll need to put a couple things into your carry-on."
After having only one hour of sleep before a crazy travel day in the middle of the night (taxi from the hotel to the train station at 3 am, train to Baltimore, shuttle to airport, and multiple connections back to Seattle), this was not what I wanted to hear from the airport attendant.
Moving two pounds worth of stuff isn't too bad, I thought, though.
Until I opened my suitcase.
Hastily packed at the last minute, stuff was spilling out and sliding down onto the airport floor.
I used one large-sized Space Bag but since I was packing so quickly, it wasn't even full, and nothing was organized.
After three rounds of trying to get the bag down to 50 pounds, my bag was at still at 51 pounds.
Luckily a different attendant walked up, told me I'd be fine, and I was on my way!
Since, I've made more of a point to pack smarter: not just lighter and not just cramming everything in (though I admit cramming does happen occasionally), but more organized.
I've used Space Bags for years to save room in my luggage - which works wonderfully - but I kept hearing about packing cubes to the point where I decided I needed to try them out.
Why not? With all the hype, there had to be benefits.
So, for my recent three week trip to Europe, I ditched the Space Bags in favor of my new set of packing cubes.
First Time Using Packing Cubes
Packing cubes are often raved about by savvy travelers, especially for organization.
I got Bagail packing cubes from Amazon.
To start, I first laid out all the clothes I needed for my trip on my bed.
Since I realized there was no way I'd bring it all - I mean, two pairs of heels and just-in-case-I-need-it dresses were tempting but unnecessary - I took away some of the items.
Then the packing began!
Different sized packing cubes
I rolled the clothes and separated my items into different sized cubes. The larger one was for my jeans, heavy-ish jacket, and thicker items.
The medium sized one was for tops and shorts, and the small one for socks and underwear.
I had an extra cube that I rolled up and brought with, because for some reason I always seem to leave with more clothes, even if I don't do any shopping! Anyone else feel the same?!
Traveling with packing cubes
Having my clothes organized was helpful when traveling to multiple destinations.
I was visiting seven cities across five countries and the packing cubes made it easy to quickly unpack and re-pack.
Also, upon arriving to a new city, I wasn't rummaging for five minutes trying to find that one sweater. Everything had its place.
My clothes were still wrinkled, but that's to be expected when packing your clothes - whether or not you use packing cubes, space bags, or any other method of organization.
Are packing cubes worth it?
Yes! When you're traveling, or working and traveling like I was, saving time is crucial. It was easy to pack and unpack and not have to spend more time in my luggage than was necessary.
Also, I didn't mention above that a laundry bag came with the set! The material was durable and much better than my typical old grocery store bag I used to use, haha.
I don't have a "backpacking backpack" (I use a carry-on sized duffle and a small rolling bag), but I can imagine how helpful it would be for backpackers to have packing cubes since they are easily accessible and identifiable. Random items floating around in a backpack sound like a headache!
How do you organize your bag for traveling? Let me know in the comments, I'm always looking for tips and I'm sure others are too!