The Secret to Staying Organized on Family Vacation

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Have you ever noticed that the contents of your suitcase take up twice as much space on the way home from a trip as they did when you originally packed them? My fight against the baggage bulge only worsened after children. Without fail, the thing I needed most for my baby was at the bottom of my suitcase, which required disrupting the entire order of my tidy tote.

I accepted disorganization as my inevitable fate—a hazard of travel—until I discovered packing cubes (here is the brand I use). These little wonders allow me to unpack without actually unpacking, and family travel has been a different ball game ever since. I was skeptical at first. What difference could separating my clothing into tiny zippered bags possibly make? A lot, actually. Let me count the ways.

packing cubes

1 | I fit more in my suitcase.

The cubes don’t actually compress clothing down like a vacuum sealed bag would, but they still keep clothing contained in an orderly way, which means I can squeeze cubes into my bag in a variety of configurations without really worrying about what I’m doing to the clothes inside.

2 | I can find anything, without messing up everything.

You’ll probably separate like items into cubes: pants in one, shirts in another, or maybe an outfit a day per cube. However you do it, it’s easier to remember where something is packed and pull out that specific cube to get it. Even if you don’t recall how you packed, removing three cubes from a bag is infinitely faster and neater than rummaging through individual items in a piece of luggage.

3| I can color code my family.

Each member of my family uses cubes of a different color so that when we share suitcases (I often put my kids’ clothes in one suitcase), our clothing stays separate and easy to identify. I manage to keep track of our clothing better while we’re away, too. An errant sock gets placed back in a packing cube, rather than lobbed into an open suitcase that might as well be the gateway to a giant abyss.

4| I can repack faster.

Depending on the situation, I either remove the packing cubes from our suitcases, unzip them, and place them in the dresser drawers of our room or I keep everything contained in our suitcases and pull out cubes as needed to access our clothes. The cubes come with little laundry bags, too. By the end of the trip, it’s a matter of rezipping our cubes and shoving them and the laundry bags back into our suitcases.

5 | I can stay organized during multi-stop trips.

Rarely do we stay in one place when we travel. On a ten-day trip to visit family, it’s common for us to stay in four or five different places, which makes packing smartly even more crucial. I can pack cubes based on location, and for quick overnight stays, it’s easy to consolidate a few items of clothing for all of us into one cube and hit the road.

Packing Cube Converts

My set of cubes come in different sizes, and the first time I used them it did take some thought to figure out which cube would fit what clothing best, but after that trial run, there’s no turning back. My husband travels weekly for work and swears by these cubes now, too. He’s a tall guy and, at first, he didn’t think his larger clothes would fit in the cubes, but they do. He still uses a garment bag for his suits but packs everything else in cubes: casual clothes, toiletries, undershirts and underwear all get compartmentalized and stay organized.

Packing cubes won’t solve all the stressors of traveling with kids, but they can help keep you and your family more organized for the trip. Have you tried packing cubes? Tell us how they worked out for you in the comments!




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