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What is Modular Packing (2023)? Plus Tips on How to Master It

Posted by Jelinne Navarro on
Herschel brown bag with modular packing modules

**Thanks to Paula for this awesome photo!

What comes to mind when you read the words module or modular?

Let’s be technical about it (just for a second).

There are modules for school lessons and also modular architecture for buildings or homes. Now you have a general idea of what modular packing might means in terms of traveling. You can still have all the wanderlust you want while traveling, but let’s teach you how to stay organized and pack efficiently.

What Exactly is Modular Packing?

Girls backpacking with EzPacking

When we talk about modular design (in an engineering or architecture point of view... I know kinda boring but stick with us for a second) it means that a product is subdivided into smaller parts or sections, called modules or in our case, packing cubes. We can adapt the same definition in terms of travel!

Modular packing is a means of organizing one bag into separate functioning compartments. If you’re a fan of rolling or folding clothes, these methods can’t be categorized as modular packing unless you’re using them alongside some type of packing organizer, like these clear packing cubes! 

Woman using packing cubes for modular packing

A packing cube system allows you to access the things that you need without disrupting your entire luggage or bag. If all your items are in one compartment, it’s easier to find them and separate them from the other items. If all clothing items are separated into different cubes, it’s much easier to plan day-to-day outfits without having to dig through the other parts of your suitcase. This is the beauty of the modular packing cube system! The advantages of using packing cubes? Check them out below.

Advantages of Packing Cubes:

✓ Separates similar items into sections - Using various cubes allows you to divide your luggage into different sections or modules. So instead of throwing clothes into one big pile, you’ll have mini “traveling drawers” in your suitcase.

✓ Keeps bag organized and neat ALL the time - Having a special place for everything keeps everything in its place. Not just after you pack, but throughout your entire trip and even when unpacking!

✓ Saves time and money - Using packing cubes saves time because you can take out the specific cube you need one at a time, without messing up the whole suitcase. Plus, you’ll save money in the long run if you utilize the packing organizers to save space in your suitcase.

✓ Makes packing for trips a breeze - With normal packing, you’d have to start from scratch to organize your bag. But with modular packing, you will organize like items together into separate cubes. When arriving to your destination, simply take out the cubes and place them on a flat surface. Use them as your traveling drawers without having to unpack at all!

✓ Suitable for families, couples, and solo travelers - If you want to feel organized when traveling, this system is definitely for you. Whether you’re a solo traveler, a couple or a family of five, modular packing with clear cubes can take your travels to the next level!

How to Master the Modular Packing Cube System

Set of cubes for modular packing

Do you want to master the packing cube system? Go through this step-by-step guide below and you’ll be packing your way into cubes in no time!

1. Backpack, suitcase or duffle bag? - Choose whether your clear packing cubes are going into a suitcase, backpack or duffle bag. The bag you choose will tell you how many cubes you’ll need. How many days will you be traveling? How many outfits do you think you’ll need? What’s the weather like? These questions will help you decide on a bag.

Clothing module and toiletries module for modular packing

**Thanks to Aimee for this awesome photo!

2. Use clear packing cubes from EzPacking - These clear, rectangular cubes are the perfect example of modular packing and our favorite way to travel. The cubes come in different sets, various sizes and awesome colors.

3. Pack each cube with “like” items together - Think of the whole suitcase luggage or bag as the system you’re working with. You want to be able to quickly find what you need. Lay all your items onto your bed and categorize into different sections before placing them into the cubes. For example, larger items like jeans and jackets can go together, while blouses, t-shirts and leggings can stick together.

Here’s a few ways you can think about organizing your bag:

✓ Cube for Toiletries - Use an Extra Small Cube (TSA approved) for liquids you’re packing on your carry on and a Small Cube for your larger or non-liquid toiletries

✓ Cube for Clothing Outfits - Can be divided into multiple cubes (depending on how many clothes you are packing)

✓ Cube for Undergarments - Don’t forget socks!

✓ Cube for Electronics - Including cords / chargers


✓ Documents - Pack your passport, visa, itinerary, flight ticket and accommodation details into one place.

✓ Makeup / Jewelry - Use clear travel organizers to keep these items safe, such as the EzPacking Clear Makeup Bag and the Travel Jewelry Roll.

What to pack in each cube size?

✓ Large Packing Cube - Ideal cube size for your bulky clothes like jeans, jackets and sweaters. Also perfect for packing your dress shirts or formal clothes to avoid wrinkles.

Large packing cube for clothes module

Medium Packing Cube - The perfect size cube for your various outfits, including shirts, blouses, leggings, shorts and more. This size can fit 7 to 12 blouses or shirts!

Medium packing cube for clothing module

Small Packing Cube - This size cube is a great size for undergarments, such as bras, underwear, socks and pajamas. It could also be used for smaller items, such as electronics, airplane essentials or even for your kid’s toys.

Small packing cube for underwear module

Extra Small Packing Cube - This is the smallest size & perfect for toiletries!  It fits way more than expected for how cute and small it is.  It’s TSA Approved, so airport security will love you when you whip out all your 3 ounce items packed securely into this cube. We can fit about 10 to 13 mini toiletry items in here!

Extra small packing cube for toiletries module

*If you want more info on these EzPacking Cubes, check out all their color and size options here.

4. Attach extra external pouches (great for backpackers) - If you’re using a modular backpack, they usually come with external webbing. You can attach extra pouches in this webbing for added storage. For example, instead of storing your bulky shoes inside the bag, you can instead attach a pouch to the webbing and store them outside.

Modular backpack with external webbing

Additional webbing pouches for modular packing:

✓ Tools Pouch - This is a pouch for those bringing gears or tools, usually ideal for those going camping or hiking.

✓ Gadgets Pouch - This is a pouch where you can place smaller gadgets like a smartphone, GPS or radio.

5. Separate gadgets from cords - Cords and chargers are harder to organize because of their tangling ability. It’s best to invest in an Electronic Travel Organizer (comes in 3 different sizes) which has a built-in cord organizer. You could also use an Extra Small Cube to organize your chargers and cords if you only have a few.

6. Pack only what you need - With packing cubes, it’s hard to overpack. A system overflowing with unnecessary items won’t be as efficient. If you can leave out items that don’t have much purpose for the trip (aka you’ll wear it once or maybe not at all), you’re making packing easier already.

We like to go by this rule: If your items don’t fit into the cubes, they can’t come on the trip. #sorry

How to pack only the essentials:

 Choose clothing items that are both practical and versatile (neutral items that match with many outfits)

 Pack only a week’s worth of clothes, regardless of whether your trip is longer than seven days

 Pack 2 to 3 pairs of shoes ONLY (one for day, one for night, one athletic)

 Cut out unnecessary toiletry items (only bring mini versions to save space)

7. Find your own puzzle piece formula - It might take a few tries before you find the ideal organization system for you. One tip is to put lesser-used items at the bottom of the bag. For example, if you have a long flight ahead, it’s not ideal to position your photography cube at the top of your carry-on bag. Instead, place your toiletries, entertainment and medication cubes at the top of the bag for easy access during the flight and throughout your trip.

How would I pack the cubes inside my bag:

Depending on the bag being used, pack the cubes vertically (standing up) or horizontally (flat down).

✓ Packing cubes horizontally / flat (great if you have equally split suitcase, like the one below)

Cubes stacked horizontally on suitcase

Packing cubes vertically / standing up (great for suitcases with a deeper body, like one below)

Cubes stacked vertically on suitcase

Fill in empty spaces with shoes, toiletries, makeup and jewelry items

Is Modular Packing for You? 

Mom with with kids using travel cubes for packing backpack

**Love this photo capture from @HeyitsJenna - get the kids involved!

All travelers can benefit from a modular packing system! But there are a few who really are struggling without it.  Backpackers, moms and couples...we’re talking to you! Some families nowadays are choosing to travel light in carry on bags only. If that’s your case, modular packing is a perfect packing system for you.

Gone are the days when folding clothes is truly organizing your suitcase.

Come on, really?

Now we have packing cubes -- a new way of packing that allows us to divide our bag into different sections.

Why wouldn’t you want this for your suitcase?

Find the color you love, choose a set that works for you and get packing for your next trip! 

P.S. Want more packing tips? Check out our post on Smart Packing Tips: Guaranteed to Make Your Travels Easier.

Modular packing tips

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