This Packing Hack Keeps Duffels, Weekenders, and Tote Bags More Organized on the Road

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Blue packing cubes
Photo: Courtesy of Away

As a travel editor, I've learned plenty of tips and tricks for packing better, staying organized while traveling, and fitting over a week's worth of clothing into a carry-on suitcase. But there's one hack I've recently incorporated into my packing routine, and it's changed the way I travel.

Packing cubes are a must-have when you're filling up a suitcase, but I've found that these accessories also work surprisingly well in duffels, weekender bags, and totes. Using packing cubes with bags other than rolling suitcases has helped me feel more organized during travel. Plus, it's made the oft-dreaded unpacking process more bearable once I've returned home, since unloading each cube is far more manageable than a bag full of mismatched clothing.

Packing cubes may be designed to fit inside traditional suitcases, but they maximize space just as well in a duffel bag, as I discovered on a recent weekend trip to the beach. Since I was only going away for two days, my goal was to pack light, and using packing cubes was instrumental in helping me do that. Instead of mindlessly throwing items into a bag, I was able to more purposefully fill up each cube with items I knew I'd wear, organizing them by category (i.e. dresses, tops, bottoms, etc.).

I have Away's Insider Set of 6 Packing Cubes and used the largest two on this trip: one for two dresses, two tank tops and a t-shirt, and a pair of shorts; and the other for two swimsuits, pajamas, intimates, and socks. The breathable mesh panels on these cubes let me see exactly what's inside, so I never have to go digging through my bag to find that one shirt as I'm trying to make a dinner reservation.

Away Packing Cubes
Courtesy of Away

To buy: awaytravel.com, $65

If I was going on a longer trip, I would take advantage of the variety of sizes in this set of packing cubes. But specifically when packing a duffel, where space is limited and I'm typically dealing with just one large open pocket (versus many suitcases that come with several compartments), two large packing cubes and my toiletry case (also from Away) fit perfectly.

I also love to travel with tote bags, but they often become a bottomless pit of my belongings where it's easy to lose track of valuables. By packing a few essentials, such as a jacket, a hat, or an extra pair of shoes, into a cube, you'll be able to compartmentalize your tote and make sure what you need is always within reach.

To organize the contents of duffels and totes on shorter trips and weekend getaways, consider breaking out those packing cubes from your suitcase. You might be surprised by how organized you'll feel throughout your trip. See more packing cube options below, or check out our entire list.

Travle Bag Bundle
Courtesy of Amazon

To buy: amazon.com, $28

Grey mesh and black packing cubes set
Courtesy of Amazon

To buy: amazon.com, $25

packing cubes
Courtesy of ebags

To buy: ebags.com, $65

Travle Bag Bundle
Courtesy of Paravel

To buy: tourparavel.com, $65

Travle Bag Bundle
Courtesy of Monos

To buy: monos.com, $95

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