Luggage organizers are the best friend of any traveler who wants to get the most out of their packing. This is especially true of people who do a lot of flying. We all know that airlines love to charge an arm and a leg for extra luggage, so if you can get our packing down to one carry-on whenever possible, you’re ahead of the game. Here, we’re sharing some of our favorite luggage organizers, packing cubes and compression packing bags. We’re even throwing in bonus packing tips!
My family loves to travel, and we do a lot of flying. Because of all that frequently flying, I’ve become a bit of a luggage packing phenom, not to toot my own horn. In fact, we took a five-week trip to Europe, and I managed to make full use of luggage organizers, packing cubes, and compression packing bags to ensure that the only luggage we had was one carry on suitcase each!
How Luggage Organizers Make Travel Easier
The key to ultra-efficient packing is using travel accessories that help keep your luggage as organized as possible. Items like packing cubes and compression organizers can help keep everything packed away Tetris-style and keep it all where it belongs once it’s all in your travel luggage. This works for everything from clothing to toiletries. If you do it right, you can pack for almost any trip with just one bag each, which saves time, space, and money.
One of the trickiest things to pack is clothing. Traditional folding doesn’t save much more space than if you just wadded up your clothes and crammed them into your carry-on luggage or small suitcase. In fact, traditional folding can sometimes actually make your clothing take up more space.
My secret weapon for packing clothes is using compression bags. I can fold my clothes to make the most use of my luggage’s surface area. There are two main types of compression bags. One is like a giant ziplock bag where you squeeze the air out so you end up with a “clothing pancake.” This option works best for casual trips, where you don’t mind if your items get a bit wrinkled. Great for camping and sleep away camp too.
The second type of compression bag is a compression packing cube. I personally prefer this one. It’s easier for the kids to use on their own. While they don’t take out air, you’ll be surprised at how much the large cubes compress bulky garments.
For business travel, where I don’t want to worry about having any wrinkles, a garment folder comes in handy. This suitcase organizer comes with a folding board with handy folding guides and helps to keep the shape of your garments while in transit!
Traveling Mom Tip: Have at least one waterproof packing cube in case you have wet garments or swimsuits that need to come home before they are dry. These are perfect for diaper changes on the plane too.
Traveling Mom Recommends:
- Gonex Compression Packing Cubes Set
- PRO Ultralight Packing Cubes for Travel
- Eagle Creek starter set
- Bumkins Waterproof Zippered Wet Bag
Organizing and Folding Your Clothes
Two approaches work best when using luggage organizers and packing cubes. Divide your items into categories and then choose packing cubes sizes accordingly. For example, socks and underwear in one cube, shirts in another, pants in another. Traditional folding allows you to place one item on top of the other. Lately, we have been rolling or “packaging” our items Konmari style. This makes it easier to see all of your items especially for kids who want to dig through everything to find something.
What family doesn’t have electronics these days? From hand-held gaming to smartphones and tablets, we live in a high tech world. Packing that tech can sometimes become a problem. We want to be as efficient as possible, but we don’t want to scratch, dent, bend, or otherwise destroy our beloved screened items.
Travel organizers made specifically for electronics are the perfect way to keep all of your gadgets organized and protected. We especially like multiple layer travel organizers that open like a folder and keep cables, batteries, tablets, etc. in place so nothing bounces all over the place inside your bag, leading to cracks or impact damage.
Traveling Mom Tip: Ideally, you want valuables like these in your personal item like a large purse, briefcase or backpack. These electronic organizers make it easy to keep them safe and secure.
Traveling Mom Recommends:
Toiletry bags are especially helpful for keeping women’s products like makeup, and brushes organized. I highly recommend getting TSA Pre-check so you don’t need to remove your liquids. If you have to go through the regular airport security line, remember to pack liquids in a clear 1-quart ziplock bag (nothing over 3.4oz), then you can pop them back into your toiletry bag.
Toiletry organizers that can hang on a hook unroll so you can see everything at once. I find these much easier than larger bags where I’m digging to find my tweezers or toothbrush. One that is waterproof and seals securely will make sure nothing leaks onto your clothes.
Traveling Mom Recommends:
- Medium Size Hanging Toiletry Bag with Detachable TSA Pocket
- Premium Hanging Travel Toiletry Bag
- 3 Piece TSA Approved Clear Toiletry Bags with Zipper
Don’t forget about your laundry. We always bring a small laundry bag for each person as well. This helps keep our dirty laundry separate from what’s still clean. When we have access to laundry facilities, it makes it super easy to carry our dirty clothes as well. Even if you will not be washing your clothes during your trip, laundry bags are the perfect way to keep smelly clothes away from everything else.
My biggest tip for packing shoes is not to do it unless you have to. Shoes take up a lot of space, no matter how you pack. Make sure everyone wears their largest shoes on their feet for the plane trip. We all wear our sneakers when we travel and pack sandals and flip flops flat in our bags.
If you absolutely need to bring extra shoes, I recommend a good shoe bag. Pack the shoes on their sides with the foot opening of one shoe next to the top of the other shoe’s toe area. This will ensure that the shoes take up the least amount of space possible. If you have a lot of shoes for a different climate like snow boots or hiking shoes, you may want to ship them ahead. This is much cheaper than checking a bag with most airlines.
Traveling Mom Recommends:
Traveling Mom Tip: Use empty shoes to tuck in extras like socks, jewelry, curling irons, etc. so you use every ounce of space possible.
Choosing Your Luggage Organizers
This is where you take our luggage’s dimensions into account. You now have to choose the best way to pack up your essential items so that they all fit into your travel bag. There are many sizes of packing cubes and compression packing bags, and you’ll want to have a variety on hand so you mentally map them to your luggage’s dimensions. Each time you pack will be a little different because each trip requires slightly different things, but in general, you’ll quickly discover which sized cubes and bags are right for you and your needs.
How to Use Luggage Organizers
The concept of using luggage organizers is an easy one. You put things into them and then you put the organizers into your luggage. The execution, however, is a bit more involved. There’s an art to packing with luggage organizers, and if you don’t get it down pat, you really won’t save much space over traditional packing. I suggest “practice” packing before your trip. It might take a few tries until you find the secret to your individual packing needs, but once you do, packing your carry on luggage will be a piece of cake from then on.
Map Your Luggage
First things first: you need to know exactly how much luggage space you have – front to back, top to bottom, and side to side. That’s how you gauge how much you can pack. Use this knowledge to help you map out the next part of the packing process. Speaking of which…
Map Your Items
Above all else, the golden rule of packing is to bring ONLY what you need. Lay out all the items you think you need into categories like clothing, toiletries, etc. This is your “first draft” of packing. Go over each grouping to determine if there is anything you can remove. If you will have access to laundry, pack less. Do this until you’ve pared everything down to as little as you need, and then it’s on to the next step.
Traveling Mom Recommends:
- The Packing Book: Secrets of the Carry-on Traveler
- The Carry-On Traveller: The Ultimate Guide to Packing Light
Best Packing Cubes & Luggage Organizers to Pick and to Avoid
All luggage organizers aren’t created equal. Just like every other product in the world, there are some incredibly high-quality organizers as well as some real stinkers. Pay attention to customer reviews on sites like Amazon, eBags, etc. to help you select what will work best for your needs.
Recognizable Names are Important
The general rule of thumb for shopping for organizers is to pick recognized brands. Luggage organizers aren’t the kind of thing you want to go generic on. In order for those bargain basement brand organizers to remain bargain basement, they have to sacrifice durability, quality, and reliability, all of which you really, really want when you’re packing. Some of our favorite brands include Eagle Creek, Gonex, Shacke pak, and PRO packing cubes.
Look for Quality
Remember the quality I referenced when I talked about finding trusted brands? We’re at that section now. You need quality packing organizers to make sure everything gets to your destination in one piece and that you can use these cubes and bags for longer than a few months. Look for heavy-duty construction with nice, thick seams. Your packing cubes should always have double zippers for added durability, as well.
For sealable cubes and compression packing bags, be on the lookout for heavy-duty bag materials as well as rugged seals. You want these to be able to survive as many trips as possible, so the more durable the better.
Other Travel Organizers Traveling Mom recommends:
- BAGSMART Packing Cubes Set
- Stow-N-Go Portable Luggage System
- Gonex Extensible Storage Mesh Bag Organizers
- Multi-purpose RFID Blocking Travel Passport Wallet
Luggage Organizers are Life Savers
Luggage organizers can make packing a breeze rather than the most irritating part of your trip. The trick is to find high-quality packing cubes, compression packing bags, shoe bags, and the like to help you make the most of your luggage space. When you master the art of packing with luggage organizers, you’ll find that you rarely need more than a carry-on bag for any trip.