Backpacking Packing Tips: How Packing Cubes Saved My Life

I think we all pretty much dread packing for a long backpacking trip. After spending hours carefully selecting which items will accompany us on our epic trip, we then have the problem of fitting everything into our travel pack, which, regardless of the size, is never quite big enough.

Then there’s the BIG problem of keeping everything in our travel pack organized.

When you’re constantly moving from one city to the next, it really isn’t that easy.

My aggravating experience NOT using packing cubes…

On my first backpacking trip through Europe in 2012, I traveled with an Osprey Porter 46L travel pack. (Read: Best Backpack for Traveling Europe). I neatly packed everything perfectly before I left for my trip, but I didn’t use any packing cubes. For those of you who have done the same, you probably know how disastrous that can be. After a few days in London, my travel pack was an absolute mess. In order to get to things at the bottom of the pack, I had to remove the things on top. It didn’t take long for everything to get mixed up. Finding things I needed took forever. It was almost pointless to repack everything perfectly, because I knew I was going to have to move things around again. Every time I would leave my hostel for a new city, it was so beyond frustrating to make everything fit inside my pack again. I would have to take everything out and re-fold and re-pack everything. Those were the times when I would think to myself, “Why didn’t I get those packing cubes?!”.

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Well, after backpacking without packing cubes for 2 months, I learned my lesson!

For my second backpacking trip to Europe in 2014, there was no question about it, I was buying packing cubes.

They literally saved my life.

(Okay, maybe not literally. However, they did prevent a lot of packing aggravation!)

I bought my packing cubes from eBags on Amazon: eBags Packing Cubes – 3pc Set. There are a bunch of different colors you can choose from, and the set comes with three different sized packing cubes.

It was totally worth it.

Why I love packing cubes…

While backpacking, you are basically living out of your backpack for weeks or months at a time. If you want to make your life easier, packing cubes are the way to go. They provide a great way to keep everything in your pack organized. If you need to grab a shirt, you just pull out that packing cube, unzip it, grab the shirt, zip it back up, and put the packing cube back it your bag. Nothing gets moved around, except the packing cubes. You could have a packing cube for whatever you’d like. One for clothes, one for delicates, one for chargers, one for dirty clothes, etc. You’re options are limitless.

 

My experience using packing cubes…

I used packing cubes for the first time last year (2014), and it made living out of a backpack so much simpler. I chose to just use two of the three packing cubes (the medium and large sized), and I was able to easily fit everything below into my Osprey FarPoint 55L travel pack.

Travel Pack Review: Osprey Farpoint 55L

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Backpacking Europe: Ultimate Packing List for Females

I used the medium sized packing cube (below) for bathings suits, bras, socks, undies, tanks, and running/sleeping shorts with my sweaters laid on top.

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I used the large packing cube (below) for all of my shorts, shirts, and dresses.

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Both of the packing cubes fit nicely inside my travel pack, with room for my shoes towards the top of the pack, and room for my towel and Cocoon Travel Sheet on the right side.

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Then, the last item to be packed was my toiletry kit, which I laid flat right on the top.

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Before you know it, the packing fiasco is over, and you’re leaving on your backpacking adventure!

 

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What are your thoughts? Do you prefer to travel with packing cubes or without them?

 

 

About Devon Nicole

Hey! My name is Devon. I'm a 20-something girl from the sunny state of Florida, USA. In 2012, I made the scary decision to backpack Europe SOLO. Now it's 3 years later and I've traveled to over 30 countries in North America, Europe, Africa, and Asia! I created this blog to inspire other young women to travel abroad solo too. There's a whole world out there just waiting to be explored!

8 Comments

  1. I’m in the midst of planning my own backpacking trip to Europe, and I’m so happy I stumbled across your blog. You have so much great info here that you’ve shared from your own experiences, including this post on packing. I’m a huge fan of traveling light, but that being said, it’s not always an easy task! Thanks so much for sharing your tips, tricks, and recommendations. This will be a great reference for when I’m packing for my own trip :)

  2. My daughter is leaving early May for a 6-week journey through Ireland, Wales, England and France. After booking hostels, trains, flights, etc., it was time to look for a backpack. She had been advised by an adventurist friend to buy an Osprey Backpack, so we went to a couple stores to look. We ended up purchasing the exact bag you are recommending, the Osprey Farpoint 55 in Mud Red colour (it was the only one they had lol). Anyway, I just purchased the packing cubes online for her, along with 2 Master cable locks that she can use to lock up her bag, and on lockers in the hostels. Those locks allow her to set her own combo as well. Next purchases… a hanging toiletry bag and smart wool socks! Any suggestions for hanging toiletry bags?

    • Glad to hear you bought the Osprey Farpoint 55L bag – I love it! The packing cubes will really come in handy. The master cable locks are a smart idea as well, although most hostel guests do respect other people’s property. Never can be too safe, though! I’m not sure where you’re from, but I got my hanging toiletry bag from Target. Amazon is another place to check. This is what mine looks like:

      • Thanks! I’m in Ontario, Canada. Unfortunately, our Target stores are closing as I write this, so I’ll run out to one tomorrow and see if they have a bargain on those toiletry bags!

  3. I love the packing cubes! I found out about the cubes when I did a layover in Bangkok. I am so happy I found them before my year long trip to Australia. Made everything so much easier.

  4. Packing cubes sure beat trying to use plastic zip lock bags which I have found to be good for just a few times before the seals begin to break or the lining rips. We used packing cubes on trips both in the U.S. and Overseas and they do exactly as you mention in the article, help make it so you don’t always have to repack (especially useful when backpacking).

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