Monday, 20 April 2009

Packing Cubes & My Travel Essentials

As a student who lives a good two hours away from my university town, and as a fledgling travel writer who loves my holidays, I do a lot of travelling of one sort or another. Now, I've admitted before how much I love packing. However, I hate wasting time, so I usually keep a bag half-packed. The essentials are ready to go, I just have to throw in some clothes and shoes appropriate to the season and purpose of the trip.

For our honeymoon, knowing that we were going to be living out of our cases for a month, we invested in something to make packing and unpacking even quicker. I'd been considering buying some packing cubes for a while, and it seemed like the right time. We went for a brand called eBags, mostly because of the funky colours.

In case you're not familiar with the concept, packing cubes are lightweight, zip-up bags of varying sizes into which you can sort your belongings. When you're regularly taking things in and out of suitcases on a long journey, it makes it much quicker and easier to identify what you want.

I love them.

They're rugged enough to cope with camping as well as hotel travel (updated in 2013 to add: they're still going strong after five years of use). The mesh front is fine enough to keep anything but the tiniest objects in place, yet having it there means you can tell which cube is which without opening them. There's even a handle sewn into the side.

In fact, they're so great that we just tried to buy some more, but unfortunately the UK arm of eBags has been a victim of the recession and is no longer trading. Thankfully the US website is still there (at, if you're American and interested) which proves they're not actually out of business, so I'll be trying to acquire some more when I'm in the US in August.

I now use one of the smaller sized ones to keep my essentials sorted in my suitcase, and I thought you might be interested in (or at least entertained by) the odd variety of things which qualify as travel essentials in my world:


At the bottom of the case, out of sight, there's a notebook, a pen, a plastic bag, and a map of Sheffield (which I try to remember to take out if I'm going on a long trip elsewhere). Then we have swimwear, asthma inhaler, phone charger, instant pasta snacks, cereal bars, face wipes, tissues, and an ethernet cable (for hotels which don't have wireless). I also usually have at least a couple of days' spare underwear & socks waiting in the case, and my washbag (front of picture) which has all the usual wash stuff, a sewing kit, and some basic makeup.

International essentials live elsewhere, and include passport, EHIC, international bank cards, travel earrings, and a spare phone with a cheap roaming SIM card.

What are your most essential travel items?
And do you keep them packed and ready to shoot off at a moment's notice?


Diane said...

I love these cubes as well! I spent a lot of time on eBags, on a quest for the perfect bag for my London trips. I finally found the Motherlode duffel and added the cubes... perfect!

aims said...

I'm going to have to have a look. Most of our holidays are for a month or 5 weeks so living out of a bag is something I've gotten used to. I like to travel with as little as possible.

What intrigued me was your comment over on mine about living on a boat. How long did you do that for?

One of our timeshare things is a boat on the canals. It is something I would love to do. It sounds so relaxing and interesting at the same time. I love water! So I'd be a happy gal.

GingerV said...

I am going to show this to Camillo he'll love it. I just can't seem to be that orgaized. I do keep camera battery chargers and cell chargers, pens, credit cards and such in my computer bag - I never go anywhere without my computer.

Jeanne said...

Those look very useful. If only I could convince Old Dog to leave the kennel once in a while....

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