How I keep my backpack organized

I’ve become such a smug packer. On my last trip, I packed for three states, two countries, and three climates, which varyied from Alaska winter to springtime Mexico, and I would proudly show off display my bag (which I carried on each flight) to anyone who was (or wasn’t) interested.

What’s ironic is that I’m a total mess – I’m famously disorganized, and the contents of my bag will spew over the floor and bed of my hotel room in a colorful vomit until it’s time to move on. So, in order to contain my sloppy piles, I’ve implemented a packing strategy that has changed my travel life. Well, it’s less of a strategy and more of a product: Eagle Creek’s packing cubes. (Full disclosure – I receive a pro-purchase deal on Eagle Creek products, but I was buying packing cubes long before that privilege.)

For my round-the-world trip, I used a Marmot Diva backpack, which is thin and deep, and only has a top opening. With the packing cubes, I could color-coordinate (pants in the yellow cube, shirts in the blue one) and grab exactly what I needed rather than dig blindly through the black cavern of the backpack. Though the pack is cylindrical and the cubes are square, I could use the empty space along the sides of the cubes for stuffing dirty clothes, books, and shoes.I found that the half-cube size works better for me than the full size. The full one is so big that it ends up becoming just as disorganized as my pack would be without one, unless I’m taking bulky winter gear. The half cube is perfect for my lighter clothes: I simply roll everything up into tubes and line them up inside. I use a long tube cube for my underwear and one or two pairs of socks. Once I’m home, I’ll throw all my travel accessories (pack towel, hand sanitizer, headlamp, etc) into a cube or two and keep it in a drawer, where it’s all in one place.

I would have included a picture of my own stellar packing job, except that I’ve been home a month now and my stuff is currently spilling out of my cubes and pack on my bedroom floor….