Support TFG by using the links in our articles to shop. We receive a small commission (at no extra cost to you) so we can continue to create helpful free content. As an Amazon Associate, we earn from qualifying purchases made on Amazon in addition to other retailers featured on the blog. Thank you, we appreciate your support!
Packing cubes are great! They’ve revolutionized the way we pack. However, if you don’t have enough time to buy the set you want, here are four alternate travel organizers – budget friendly too!
4 Random Travel Organizers
Zip top plastic storage bags
This is the traditional go-to for additional packing help. Lightweight and portable, it’s always useful to pack extra plastic storage bags. The zip top bags are ideal as it’s easier to squeeze air out. Additionally, these remain versatile for transporting everything from cameras to food to small accessories.
Sometimes I’ll test out a toiletry case and decide that it doesn’t work for my travel needs. This leaves me with a lot of unused toiletry cases.
Instead of wasting valuable closet space, I’ve started using them to pack my smaller items like tank tops, socks, and underwear. These bags have the added benefit of keeping things organized even while you’re at your destination and minimizing the need for drawers or counter space. They can often be hung vertically and zip open for easy access to your clothing.
Before packing cubes became popular, drawstring bags were the “it” thing in packing. I have an old cotton set with photos of bathing suits and other travel items. I still use them for my dirty clothes.
I like drawstring bags because they’re easily stored inside your luggage and barely take up any space. Like the zip top plastic storage bags, they are versatile and can be used as a carrying bag on the go.
Plastic souvenir packing bags
I like to bring back edible souvenirs when I travel. On a recent trip to Honolulu, I bought bulk packages of chocolate-covered macadamia nuts which are often packed together in a durable plastic zipper bag. Although these can wear out over time, it’s useful to save them for use as a spare travel organizer.
New bed sheets are also packaged in reusable plastic cases. I keep different sized bags to serve as my overflow packing cubes, depending on whether I take a backpack, a day bag, or a wheeled carry-on. It’s also a great way to recycle something that might have otherwise ended up in a landfill.
Do you use random items as travel organizers? Please share below!
For additional tips on travel organizers, please read:
- 8 Step Packing Cube Strategy for Easy Packing
- Packing Cubes: Are they Really Worth the Money?
- Alternate Uses for Packing Cubes
- Video Tutorial: Pack Light with Packing Cubes!
Hope you found this post about travel organizers. Please share with your friends on Facebook, Twitter, and Pinterest. Thanks for reading!
Hi, I have loved ziplock travel compression bags in the past. I traveled a lot on boats in the Pacific and my bag went into the sea once…everything was dry thanks to these bags. However, now I’m doing more traditional travel and prefer to use more environmentally friendly options, I’m looking into compression cubes. Has anyone tried Kathmandu fabric roll-up travel compression bags? Curious to hear about their utility!
Hi Tiare, thank you for reaching out. If you are looking for compression cubes you might be interested in our Compass Rose packing cubes: https://amzn.to/2Vo5F4x If you use this specific packing strategy, they can also compress your belonging: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ZsmninUZqro&t=3s The fabric also offers structure and compression whereas other cubes lose their shape when filled and aren’t made with compression in mind. They are designed to help you pack more efficiently and make the most of less baggage space. To get more responses to your question, I would also highly recommend that you join TFG’s free facebook community and post your question there: https://www.facebook.com/groups/travelfashiongirls/ Its a fabulous group of helpful female travelers that have the best packing advice and recommendations to share. Hope this helps. Happy travels! ?
I use many of the ‘free’ bags that come with cosmetic specials (thanks mom!) in addition to those given out in business/first class, in both my purse and travel bags. I find them very useful for corralling makeup, feminine products, ‘general’ items, etc.
Hi Margo, thank you for sharing your great travel hack for keeping your essentials organized!
My toiletries and other small items go into 1 qt ziplock bags. I use as many as I need so that each one has one type of items: tooth care, shampoo/shower, first aid/motrin, makeup, lotions, etc. The bags are see-through, never very full, and can be tucked into tiny spaces in my carryon. Much less space used than with my old toiletry bags.
Hi Shirley, thank you fo sharing how you like to pack your toiletries when traveling, this sounds fantastic and very organized!! 🙂
I just came back from a trip. I had everything rolled neatly in my suitcase. I don’t know what TSA thought I had – but they made a jumbled mess out of it. I am getting some of these cubes to maybe prevent that next time. Oh and they swiped my flamingo bottle opener. Nice.
Hi Pamala, thank you so much for sharing your travel experiences with us!
You make traveling seem worth it.
Thanks Gail, it is 🙂
I like all of the above, as well as packing cells. I haven’t seen those dinky food/nut bags, but if I had, I’d also use them. I do save similar ones that come with sample cosmetics and they’re useful for the same purpose. In addition to the above though, I make my own. I do drawstring bags for shoes, with space for sox, and tiny zip and drawstring bags for things like my shoe cleaning kit (it’s tiny) and washing kit. I use left over ripstop nylon, plastic and cotton (quilting) fabric. I know some people think all this packing palaver adds weight, which it does, but oh! the comfort of having everything sorted, organised and able to be put in drawers, back in bag and not lose anything is worth it, I think. I’m just making a small bag so I can roll my sunhat up. I just hate having everything all jumbled in together.
Wow that’s very cool you make your own bags! Did you get the pattern somewhere or just create your own?
It’s unbelievable how fast you can pack when everything has it’s own place. I love it! It used to take my anywhere from 30-60 minutes to pack and now I can do it in 5-10 because all my belongings are so well organized!
I am currently travelling with a hanging toiletry case. I will leave it home next time. The clear plastic pouch is best for me.
Hi Wiz! Are you staying at hostels or hotels?
I am travelling right now in SE Asia. I brought a hanging toiletry case and filled it with all my individual medicine and toiletries pouches. The toiletry case, for me, has not been useful and takes up extra space. I will leave it home next time. (Too bad, because it’s a pretty blue one from LL Bean. It seemed like a good idea when I bought it.)
I head the LL Bean kit is great! The hanging toiletry bags are particularly useful when staying at hostels when there’s no counter space available 🙂