In 2016, bloggers Laura and Chris decided to make the plunge and pack their belongings into their bags and travel for 12 months, covering four continents and 13 countries. Along the way, they learned a little bit about how to organise their things into packing cells when on the road.
Related Article: Our guide to how you can travel more responsibly in 2021
Chris and Laura Travels sat down with the creators at Kathmandu to discuss all the great things about Packing Cells It was the beginning of 2016.
Laura and I were both working shift work: night-shifts, weekends, public holidays, and there was a whole lot of not seeing each other.
That lifestyle left us longing for something more.
It was a reality that saw us earn good money and comfortable lives but as it turned out not a whole lot of enjoyment in the routine.
Bogged down in the fatigue of the mundane and with a desire to seek more in our lives, it was in that moment we decided we needed a change.
We needed more than a change of pace or a temporary relief. We needed a complete shift in perspective, one that some people obtain through a lifetime of meditation.
We figured twelve months of backpacking around the world might have a similar effect.
In the planning phase of our journey, we realised we would be heading across polar opposite weather systems that required everything from snow and rain-resistant clothing all the way through to boardies, singlets and thongs.
So how do you organise, let alone pack for a year away?
Imagine this…you have a backpack the size of a golf club bag that’s holding everything you own, all crammed inside in no particular order.
You’re at the check-in counter for your flight when you suddenly realise you will need a jumper for your flight. It’s buried deep in the pile of non-deodorized jocks and socks from a week ago.
Jump to an image of you spreading your stuff out across the airport floor like a street vendor hoping for a sale.
You miraculously find the item of clothing before it suddenly hits that all your stuff has to go back into your bag.
Perhaps you will buy that Marie Kondo book at the airport bookstore after all.
Introducing, Packing Cells: a traveller’s best friend!
These inventions not only simplify packing but they make it easy and quick. They made us feel good, too!
Depending on the size of the packing cell, each is made from recycled plastic bottles; the bigger the bag, the more recycled plastic used.
In actuality, the annual production of plastic reached an annual 210 million tonnes in 2010; equivalent to the mass of early 2/3rds of the population.
They allow you to compartmentalise everything you own into smaller, manageable spaces, and let me tell you, manageability is a godsend when you live out of a backpack.
The over-exaggerated example I used before of the panicked traveller in line at the airport is what happens when you don’t manage your ‘stuff’ well.
I had once forgotten a pair of socks and a jumper in my bag just prior to checking in and saying adios to my bag for eleven hours.
The flight was cold, but Melbourne was hot, and had I not carefully organised my cells into similar clothing items, I would have looked like the vendor in the airport selling his clothes.
Not only do packing cells/packing cubes let you organise your things, they actually take up less room in your bag when they’re properly managed.
How to use Packing Cells
You can strap them down on top of each other, inside each other, the perforated top lets them breathe whilst in your bag, and every time you use them, you feel a sense of joy knowing you helped the environment by purchasing products that have been recycled and reused.
Laura and I purchased about eight packing cells between the two of us, and to this day they are in good nick, have held up extraordinarily in spite of our best efforts, and believe it or not have given us an appreciation for ‘less is more’ in life.
Everything we owned in that year we carried on our backs, and they fit into a few packing cells each.
We didn’t need more, we didn’t need less, and that sense of minimalism has extended into our return to home lives. That is, until the next journey.
Our journey took us to thirteen countries across four continents, countless chance meetings with amazing individuals, experiences you could only describe to those present in the moment, stolen passports and a recovered appreciation for life.
Would we have had the same experience without packing cells? Sure. But did they make things a lot easier?