Don't Have Packing Cubes? We Have A Solution

Planning a vacation is already a headache in and of itself, but packing for it is on a whole other level. No matter how short or long your planned trip is, assembling the requisite clothes, shoes, toiletries, and other essentials in a suitcase takes some serious effort. It's akin to playing a tactile Tetris game, except you're always at the most challenging level. Considering how laborious it is, there are numerous packing strategies bandied about by seasoned travelers and organization experts alike to make the process more efficient. 

Some claim that it's as simple as trimming down your stuff and packing light, aka the Marie Kondo method, while others swear by the age-old technique of rolling clothes. If you consult Instagram or TikTok, it's almost guaranteed that you'll see several posts waxing poetic about packing cubes. Compartmentalizing your belongings is much more manageable with these reusable bags since they're modular in nature, and they allow you to separate and categorize items quickly. Each set has its own space, making unpacking later on much easier, too.

But keep in mind that purchasing packing cubes is an added expense. Granted, they're not prohibitively costly (most are relatively cheap), but if you don't want to spring for them, there's an alternative you likely already have lying around your house: Reusable packaging bags from your favorite online stores.

Use resealable shopping bags instead

You know those resealable plastic bags that stores like SHEIN, Romwe, Glossier, and Set Active put your purchases in when they ship them to you? If you often shop online, you likely have a couple of these lying around your home, and you may not have considered reusing them for packing your travel essentials. Although they may not be as sturdy as packing cubes, they're a decent option for segregating and packing your stuff in a pinch. The best part is they're usually compressible, enabling you to maximize luggage real estate and fit in more items.

These reusable bags typically come in different sizes too, so you can use the smaller ones for your undergarments, socks, and toiletries and the larger ones for your clothes, towels, and outerwear. More often than not, the bags are see-through, allowing you to take a peek at what's inside without having to open them. 

You even have the option of putting together several outfits and storing each one in a different bag, so you only have to take one bag out of your luggage at a time when you're traveling. Additionally, these bags are also great for storing wet garments, making it easier to separate your damp swimsuits and beach clothes from the rest of your belongings.

Zipper storage bags also work

If you don't have resealable shopping bags to hand, look no further than your kitchen for another cheap alternative to packing cubes. There's a huge chance you have zipper storage bags, aka Ziploc bags, in there that you can use instead. The larger bags that are typically reserved for freezers are often roomy enough to store jackets and coats, while the medium-sized ones can be used for shoes, shirts, and jeans. Meanwhile, the small ziptop bags you often use for single sandwiches can be coopted for accessories and smaller tech items like phone chargers.

What's great about these zipper storage bags is that they can be thoroughly compressed before packing. Simply leave a small gap before sealing the bag to allow some air to escape, then exert pressure to press the bag down firmly and compress its contents. This technique lets you minimize storage space, but you have to be careful as it can lead to overpacking. Bonus tip: Insert some dryer sheets in the bag to keep the clothes smelling fresh throughout your trip.

The main downside of compressing your clothes this way, however, is that they're more prone to wrinkling. Fortunately, since most hotels have irons, you can tackle any creases when you get to your destination. Or you can just pack your iron or steamer if you want to be sure, of course.