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My dream suitcase is a perfectly arranged kit complete with clothes rolled just right — as to unfurl with nary a wrinkle — and everything in its place; I’ve never achieved this. My real suitcase usually looks like a raccoon’s been rifling through it, and I often lose things like jewelry or toiletries within the rumples of my balled-up clothes.

Consequently, I’m intrigued by luggage organizers. Products like space bags and packing cubes promise a perfectly packed bag. But do they deliver? Try one for yourself. Subscribe to our blog by Tuesday, October 18 at 11:59 p.m. Eastern Time for a chance to win this set of Packing Cubes and Travel Shoe Bags found exclusively at GreatUsefulStuff.com (if you’re already a subscriber, you’re automatically entered to win):

packing aids

The following is an overview of three common packing aids. How do you organize your suitcase? Share your strategy in the comments!

Compression Sacks & Space Bags
Last month, I reviewed the Eagle Creek Pack-It Compression Sac, a space-saving bag that compresses its contents by allowing air to be pushed out from inside the bag. The verdict? The bag did what it was supposed to do: it squashed a large pile of clothes into a tight, heavy chunk of clothes, creating a good deal of extra space in my suitcase. But when I arrived in my destination, my clothes were, as I had suspected, very prune-like. And while the compression sack makes clothes less voluminous, it certainly won’t help you beat airline weight limits for baggage.

Packing Cubes & Organizers
You can buy packing folders and cubes, toiletry kits, and shoe bags from virtually any travel supply store. These serve to separate your provisions into manageable compartments, and prevent wrinkles and spills. We recommend these products for travelers embarking on multi-destination itineraries that involve lots of unpacking and repacking. But don’t overdo it. Although packing cubes and kits promote organization, they won’t help you fit more stuff into your bag.

Plastic Bags
A simple plastic grocery bag makes an excellent suitcase organizer. It’s free, you can label it and it’s wonderfully lightweight. The downside: A suitcase filled with lumpy plastic bags won’t win any beauty contests. For more ideas like this, read 10 Travel Essentials You Can Find in the Trash.

— written by Caroline Costello

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11 Responses to “The Best Way to Organize Your Suitcase”

  1. Susan says:

    I have packing cubes that I use for things like shoes, things that need to stay separate (like my children’s clothes), etc. But for the most part, I just roll everything and pray that it all fits. :-)

  2. These are nice bags. seems so comfortable to get packed and to carrying.

  3. Joanie says:

    I’ve used the cubes for years. OK for packing, they really shine to keep me organized when I arrive. Store by type (undies, workout,etc) or event (bathing suit with access, eve dress up with all access). Started with one and I am up to 5 cubes now. You can even pre-pack a cube to make last minute packing easier. Imagine all your camera or electronic equip neatly prepared and ready to drop into your carry-on. I also pack with one large waterproof or plastic bag to protect most of my check-in luggage (I,ve heard horror stories of luggage left on Tarmac in soaking rain — www).

  4. Ginger D. says:

    Plastic zip lock bags come in all sizes and work just as well, plus they are clear and you can see what’s inside. Good for undies, toiletries, swimwear, etc. The zip bags that linens come in work great too. Pants and shirts are still best rolled. A plastic bag works for shoes and doubles for a laundry bag. Keep it simple and cheap!!!!

  5. Diane says:

    I have used the clear plastic “cubes” from linens for years and recently purchased and used the manufactured package cubes on my last trip. These keep things organized, and I roll my shirts and pants so they are like sausages inside and stay unwrinkled. Love them. I keep every bag and wallet I have had for years, because not everything works for every kind of trip so I can pick and choose what works each time. I buy luggage tags and other travel gadgets on clearance and tuck them away in my “travel stash” to use as needed. I keep some clothes just for travel and my electronics in a separate bag always at the ready. I have raspberry luggage with colored ribbons to identify my bag. Weird and colorful luggage tags are great too.

  6. DKSampson says:

    I use the compression bags for things like fleece vests and jackets, T-shirts and other “fluffy items.” If your T-shirts are nicely folded and carefully placed in the bags, they will not be wrinkled at the final destination. We used four compression bags to pack for our 14 day CruiseTour and a 3 day add-on after the cruise and had no wrinkles along the way. I’ve heard they are good for dirty laundry, but I have a bit of a concern about odors.

  7. Nisha says:

    I’ve been using packing cubes since ages. For shoes, I mostly pack them separately (in separate plastic bags) so that they can be fit anywhere. I also put a polythene sheet/bag on top to protect the luggage from rains.

  8. KHbride says:

    I’m a serial over-packer! I could really use these! I try and put small things in my shoes: socks, etc.

  9. Jean says:

    I place my husband’s dress shirts and ties in the folders, but almost everything else goes into compression bags. We are now down to a suitcase (small size) apiece for cruises. It takes a little coordination of clothing and the realization that no one really cares what you wear as long as it’s clean, and appropriate (ie, formal night, etc.) I do laundry when on vacation and that helps, and I just use the time while waiting for the laundry to finish by reading, which I most likely would be doing anyway.

  10. Annette says:

    When I was a teenager, I remember I used to learn how to sew while sewing my packing bags with some old pieces of fabrics (old colorful sheets, or tee-shirts for example). I still have those different size of fabric bags, still very useful while travelling: one for the shoes, one for underwear, one for the laundry etc..light, time-resistant, and very personal. And it goes to the washing-machine when it gets dirty, as well. For the waterproof matter, I try to keep my zip bags at the top of my luggage in case my luggage and I would have to be under the pouring rain..but even without, my fabric bags can protect quite well my belongings.

  11. Joyce says:

    I’ve been using the Dot&Dot packing cubes and packing folders to organize my clothes. I find it easier to pack and unpack and I can also pack per type of clothes or day-to-day.

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