Travel gear we use: packing cubes and TSA bags for the family

Today in our Travel Gear We Use series, we’re talking about using packing cubes to make family packing easy! Below are the packing cubes we use for every trip, as well as the carry-on liquid quart bag we recommend. Many families consider packing cubes just for air travel, but we use them every time we pack. Most recently, packing cubes made our lives easier en route to a Lake Tahoe vacation rental.

using packing cubes

Any packing cube is a good packing cube to use for family travel. Why? They make parents’ lives much easier on the road, and allow you to take much more in a carry on bag. Packing cubes keep kids’ clothing organized so they can find outfits and accessories themselves, and keep clean clothes away from dirty clothes. If you don’t have packing cubes and cannot buy them, use zip-lock bags! If you are planning to purchase packing cubes, here are our tried and true picks:

Eagle Creek Pack-It Specter Cube Set

Eagle Creek’s packing cubes with compression have changed my life. On a recent trip to Mexico, I knew we needed to bring light rain jackets for the family just in case, but hated the idea of dedicating the needed space to five coats. I was able to fit all five (three in adult size) into one compression cube! How they work: unzip the cube and fill it with clothing (roll clothes to fit the most). Zip up the cube, then zip the outer compression chamber. Packing with cubes already saves space, but these compression cubes also reduce the size of the cubes themselves, sealing in your clothes and giving you much more space in your luggage. We love them! get a set at Amazon for $38, or buy individually.

eBags Packing Cubes – 3pc Set

eBags packing cubes won’t set you back as much, but are still roomy and able to fit more than you’d think. We usually use the biggest for all the kids’ shoes (this works for young kids) and then use the smaller sizes to organize socks, underwear, and other smaller pieces of clothing that usually gets lost at the bottom of the bag. Packing cubes make for great stocking stuffers: get everyone a set for Christmas!

TSA Quart-Size Carry-On Toiletry Pouch

In addition to using packing cubes, we like to stay organized while going through TSA checkpoints with carry-on luggage by using reusable, clear quart-sized pouches. They’re easier to find and grab in your carry-on when you need to present them, and you already have them on-hand at home when packing. We’ve reused ours for years. There are multiple brands out there, but no need to spend much: we have a Timbuk2 version that’s hard to find these days, but the Louis and Clark version linked above is only $5 on Amazon.


More Travel Gear We Use:
Best carry-on luggage for kids
Best overnight backpacking for kids and youth

Photo credit: Flickr/angryjuliemonday

About the author

Pit Stops for Kids AUTHOR: Amy Whitley is the founding editor of Pit Stops for Kids and content editor of Trekaroo. She writes on staff monthly at a number of travel publications, and contributes to OutdoorsNW magazine as an outdoor adventure traveler. Find Amy at Google.

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  1. I’ve been hearing about packing cubes. They seem really cool. also I have seen TSA approved toiletry pouches at my local Walgreens and CVS.

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