Intro to Packing Containers: Organize Your Carry-On in 4 Steps on StylishTravelGirl.com

Intro to Packing Containers: Organize Your Carry-On in 4 Steps!

If last week’s guest contributor convinced you that carry-on travel is the way to go, then mission accomplished! Your back and brain will thank you. Now let’s get serious about organization in that carry-on bag with PACKING CONTAINERS!

Read “Tried and Tested Tips for Packing Lightly from a Minimalist Traveler” by  Ashlea Wheeler.

Nothing lets you customize your packing strategy more easily than the packing container; they come in nearly every shape and size imaginable! Earlier this year (before I owned packing cubes) I completed a 3-month Europe trip sharing one carry-on bag with my boyfriend, and that is something I NEVER plan to do again — without the help of some packing containers, that is.

We’ve scoured the web and compiled our personal packing experience to bring you the very best packing container solutions for staying organized as a carry-on traveler. Packing cubes, garment folders, jewelry organizers… the gang’s all here! Never used a packing cube before? You just might fall in love. Read on to discover the best container combination to suit your personal carry-on packing needs. 

 

4 Steps to Organize Your Carry-On

1. Keep Your CLOTHING Organized

 

2. Keep Your TOILETRIES Tidy

 

3. Keep Your SHOES Separate

 

4. Keep Your ACCESSORIES Orderly

 

Packing Container Rundown

Packing Cubes and Garment Folders

Whether you choose to organize your clothes day-by-day, by clothing type, or all in one container, there’s a shape and size for you. Packing cubes, compression cubes, and garment folders are your options for keeping your clothing in order while you’re out exploring the world.

Read more about packing cubes and garment folders and see the best rated options in Organize Your Carry-On Step 1: Keep Your CLOTHING Organized.

Sea to Summit Packing Cube

STANDARD PACKING CUBES

A good, standard packing cube is made of lightweight, high quality materials, and it’ll fit a decent stack of clothes. Nearly all have a full 3-side zipper, handle, and mesh that allows you to see inside. Use large cubes for pants and sweaters, medium cubes for shirts and shorts, and small cubes for undies and socks. (Above: Sea to Summit Large Garment Mesh Bag)

eBags multisize packing cube set

There’s oodles of options when it comes to packing cube sets. The selection varies by brand, but most offer same-size and variety sets. (Above: eBags Packing Cube 3-pc Set)

 

Eagle Creek Pack-It Compression Cube Set  Eagle Creek Specter Compression Packing Cube

COMPRESSION PACKING CUBES

These cubes have a wrap-around compression zipper, allowing you to expand the cube for packing and compress it for space-saving. But beware! These containers are prone to wrinkling their contents, and your stuff will be less accessible if you choose this style over the standard design. (Above: Eagle Creek Pack-It Specter Compression Cube Set)

 

Eagle Creek Pack-It Specter Garment Folder

GARMENT FOLDERS

Here’s your best bet for keeping your clothes wrinkle-free (aside from transporting them on a hanger, of course). A garment folder comes with a folding board to aid you in squeezing 8-12 articles of clothing neatly inside a medium-sized folder, with larger sizes available. (Above: Eagle Creek Medium Pack-It Specter Garment Folder)

Read more about packing cubes and garment folders and see the best rated options in Organize Your Carry-On Step 1: Keep Your CLOTHING Organized.

 

Toiletry Containers and Organizers

Getting your toiletries organized can be one of the biggest packing challenges because you’re likely using them right up to the day of your departure! If you don’t already have some reusable travel-sized bottles, it’s high time you invested in some. Those will help. But having a neatly organized container for all your shower essentials is the easiest way to ensure you won’t forget anything. Whether you can be showered and ready in under 15 minutes with less than 5 products required, or you have a 20+ step daily beauty regimen, the right organizer can improve both your packing and primping experience.

Read more about toiletry containers and organizers and see the best rated options in Organize Your Carry-On Step 2: Keep Your TOILETRIES Tidy.

Eagle Creek Pack-It Small Sac

BASIC TOILETRY CONTAINERS

Sometimes simplicity is the best way to go. And the cheapest. A Ziploc bag or a higher quality transparent container that mimics its shape and size will do just fine for your liquids — and satisfy TSA. (Above: Eagle Creek Small Pack-It Sac)

 

Eagle Creek Pack-It Specter Wallaby Toiletry Kit

MEDIUM-SIZED TOILETRY ORGANIZERS

If you’re like most travelers and a Ziploc won’t cut if for all your toiletries (non liquids included), then a medium-sized organizer may be best for you. Save a Ziploc-sized space for your liquids to keep all your toiletries in one place once you’ve reached your destination. A medium-sized organizer should be large enough for all your essentials but will still fit easily in a carry-on. Plus they’ve got added perks like handles and hooks for hanging! (Above: Eagle Creek Pack-It Specter Wallaby)

 

eBags Pack-It-Flat Toiletry Kit

BIGGER TOILETRY ORGANIZERS

These are for you 20-steppers, and begin to push the limits of a “reasonable” size for carry-on travel. But we understand that sometimes you just need more room (i.e. when sharing a carry-on with your significant other). Choose a shape that compliments the rest of your carry-on’s contents. (Above: eBags Pack-It-Flat Toiletry Kit)

Read more about toiletry containers and organizers and see the best rated options in Organize Your Carry-On Step 2: Keep Your TOILETRIES Tidy.

 

Shoe Sleeves and Cubes

Unless you’re headed on a tropical getaway that only requires flip flops, shoes are one of the bulkiest (and dirtiest) things you’ll have to pack. Limit yourself to two pairs of shoes so you’ll actually have room in your suitcase for other stuff. The type of shoes you pack and the amount of room you have to spare will determine what type of shoe container you need.

Read more about shoe sleeves and cubes and see the best rated options in Organize Your Carry-On Step 3: Keep Your SHOES Separate.

eBags Shoe Sleeves

SHOE SACS AND SLEEVES

Protect your clothing from your shoe bottoms with shoe sleeves. These containers lay flat when empty and take the shape of your shoe when in use. Sleeves work great for heels, small sneakers and flip flops. Put both shoes in one sleeve, or separate that fancy pair of heels into individual containers so they won’t rub on each other. (Above: eBags Shoe sleeves)

 

eBags Shoe Bag

SHOE CUBES

Opt for these if you’re going for the Packer of the Year award. Shoe cubes allow for optimum organization, but they DO take up more space than the sleeves. Use these for boots or other shoes that will take up the full container. Of course, you can always add additional items like socks in the empty spaces. (Above: eBags Shoe Bag)

SHOWER CAPS

Yep, that says shower caps. You can use a cheap-o shower cap to keep your shoes together and your shoe bottoms off your clothes. If you’ve got any extras from past hotel stays, then you’re set! Find some cute ones on Amazon.

Read more about shoe sleeves and cubes and see the best rated options in Organize Your Carry-On Step 3: Keep Your SHOES Separate.

 

Cosmetic Cases, Jewelry Organizers and Padded Pouches

Small things are prone to getting lost and tech gadgets can be easily bumped and scratched during your journey, so keep them organized in their own containers. If it’s not always in your purse, your camera, tablet, or [insert your favorite tech item here] should have a designated home while you’re traveling.

Read more about cosmetic cases, jewelry organizers and padded pouches and see the best rated options in Organize Your Carry-On Step 4: Keep Your ACCESSORIES Orderly.

 

LeSportsac 3-zip Cosmetic Case

COSMETIC ORGANIZERS

When it comes to makeup, it’s easy to take more than you need. It’s also easy to forget to separate your liquids for security screening. (Oops!) Narrow it down to your essentials, and don’t forget to pack your liquid makeup in your one-quart Ziploc for the TSA line. And if you’ve got room in your toiletry organizer, you don’t even need one of these! Just put your makeup in its own Ziploc bag. (Above: LeSportsac 3-Zip Cosmetic Case)

 

Mele Travel Square Jewelry Box

JEWELRY ORGANIZERS

If your jewelry won’t fare well in a handy Ziploc, invest in a travel-appropriate jewelry box. This will keep everything together and easy to access. Plus, you can use these for storage at home, too. (Above: Mele Travel Square Jewelry Box)

 

eBags Padded Pouches

PADDED POUCHES

You don’t want your camera banging up against anything else in your bag. A home with some padding will prevent you from worrying too much about your pricey gadgets. Choose a size that’s appropriate for the tech items you can’t travel without. (Above: eBags Padded Pouches)

Read more about cosmetic cases, jewelry organizers and padded pouches and see the best rated options in Organize Your Carry-On Step 4: Keep Your ACCESSORIES Orderly.

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Author Profile

Diana SouthernSTG Founder & Contributing Editor

Diana is an outspoken, DIY-ing, star-chasing, hockey-loving, dog-owning, veggie-eating professional wanderer. And that’s not the half of it. Not long ago she jumped ship from a comfy, predictable American life, sold all her stuff, and set out to explore the unknown. Now a full-time traveler, Diana believes that spontaneity, a smile, and an organized suitcase are the three key elements to a happy nomadic existence. Follow her personal travels on North To South.