Those hard-won Tetris skills will actually come in handy.
An editor on the Travel + Leisure team once returned from family vacation with a hilariously horrific story. As she waited with her parents at the baggage claim carousel for their checked luggage, a lone pair of underwear rolled out on the belt — as all color immediately drained from her mother’s face.
Dignity, fellow travelers, is just one of the many reasons that using packing cubes is a good idea.
Like any life-enriching travel accessory, once you start using packing cubes, there is no turning back. It’s incredibly satisfying to open your suitcase and know exactly where everything is.
Even unpacking becomes easier: Packing cubes will keep your clothes compressed and folded flat or neatly rolled (however you prefer to do it), meaning no wrinkles. Once you’re settled in, you don’t have to rifle through your suitcase looking for that dinner outfit you swore you packed right on the top. You can just move the cubes directly into the drawers of your hotel’s dresser, unzip, and you’re set.
When shopping for a set of packing cubes, there are a few things to consider. Most are constructed of canvas or nylon, making them durable, lightweight, and easy to wash alongside your other dirty laundry post-trip. Some are made of plastic, which doesn’t allow your clothes to breathe as well, but will protect them from any spills or other scenarios in which your bags get wet. Some have mesh components, too, which is helpful when it comes to visibility and breathability but can make them more likely to snag or rip over time.
Below, the best packing cubes and sets to keep you organized, compressed, and, most importantly, safe from public humiliation.