I've been to Europe twice, and packing cubes made all the difference the second time around

  • I went on an extended trip to Europe for the second time in my life this summer.

  • I decided to invest in packing cubes this time around.

  • My luggage was more compact, and it was easier to travel from city to city.

I've been lucky enough to go on two extended trips to Europe in the last five years.

In 2018, my sister and I went to Paris, London, and Antwerp over the course of three weeks, visiting family in our grandmother's home country of Belgium and exploring cities we had always wanted to see.

Then in August, I went on a road trip through Italy for two weeks with my father, stepmom, fiancé, my sister, and her partner, visiting the bustling city of Rome, the countryside in Umbria, and the beaches of Cinque Terre.

Both trips were a dream come true, and I felt more prepared for the international trip to Italy given my first vacation to Europe.

However, I knew I wanted to change the way I packed the second time around.

My luggage was one of the biggest pain points on my first Europe trip

A woman poses for a selfie in front of an ocean and mountain.
The author in Italy.Samantha Grindell/Insider

I packed a large suitcase full of clothes, a smaller roller bag with toiletries and clothes for my carry-on luggage, and a backpack with things like medication and my passport.

My bag quickly became a mess as I picked out ensembles for my adventures, which made it harder to find things as time went on.

Repacking my luggage each time we went to a new city also took up valuable time I could have spent exploring, and it was annoying to haul it all onto planes and trains.

So ahead of the trip to Italy, I decided to buy packing cubes in the hopes that it would make my travels smoother.

Packing cubes made a huge difference on my second trip to Europe

After doing a bit of research, I purchased BAGAIL's $25.99, eight-piece set of packing cubes because they were affordable and seemed to have everything I needed.

I chose the light-purple set, though you can select from 13 different hues.

They arrived packed into one cube, and I appreciated how compact they were. I knew it would make storing them when I wasn't using them a breeze.

A packed packing cube.
The cubes arrived packed into one.Samantha Grindell/Insider

As I unpacked the cubes, I saw the assortment of sizes matched their description online. Most were just plain cubes with buckles to help compress your clothes, though some had additional pockets to stow toiletries or shoes. It also included a laundry bag with drawstrings designed for dirty clothes.

I used the larger packs for clothes, separating pieces by category so they would be easy to find on my trip.

A set of packing cubes with labels for what they're used for.
Packing cubes changed the way Insider's reporter traveled.Samantha Grindell/Insider

I also decided to put the toiletry cube and the drawstring bag in my carry-on bag, which was a simple backpack, filling them with items I didn't want to be separated from on the plane in case of lost luggage.

I was able to bring just as much clothing in fewer suitcases thanks to the packing cubes

The cubes had plenty of room for my clothing, and I ended up rolling my garments so I could put even more inside of them.

I was able to fit all of my clothes into the cubes with ease, and they went into my suitcase with room to spare. I even had space at the top of the bag for pieces I planned to purchase on the trip.

With the help of the cubes, I was able to fit all of my clothing into one large suitcase and a backpack, even though I brought just as much as I did on my first trip to Europe.

I loved being hands-free as I made my way through the airport, and I was glad I didn't have too much luggage as my family packed the van we used to make our way through Italy.

A suitcase full of purple packing cubes,
The cubes fit in the suitcase easily.Samantha Grindell/Insider

The packing cubes also helped me stay organized as I traveled

Normally, my suitcase becomes messy within moments of my arrival at a location as I try to pick out outfits or find my toothbrush.

But with the packing cubes, it was simple to pull out items I needed for my time in each location and separate dirty and clean clothes. I loved that my bag and room remained tidy because I wasn't rifling through my luggage to find what I needed.

Plus, it took me mere minutes to pack up each time we left for the next stop on the trip, so I didn't feel like I was wasting any time.

And when my luggage filled up as I bought souvenirs for loved ones, I tossed one of my cubes into my fiancé's suitcase, ensuring my bag didn't weigh too much and incur fees on the plane ride back.

Investing in packing cubes helped ensure the logistics of my trip were as easy as possible. I can't imagine traveling without them again.

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