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Genius Travel Bags (That Fold Into Nothing!)

Paravel Travel Bags

Do you have any trips planned for the holidays? Traveling is great, but getting there can be bananas (flight delays, nutty seatmates). I’ve found that when you organize whatever you can, it helps keep things calm. To that end, I recently discovered these genius bags from Paravel, which weigh almost nothing and make organized packing easy…

Paravel was started by two design-obsessed travel junkies who craved the perfect travel bags, without sky-high prices. They teamed up with the world’s best mills and factories — the same ones used by luxury brands for years. But because they sell direct-to-consumer, their bags are available at lower costs.

paravel

I love their the fold-up duffle, which comes in four punchy colors, is made of super durable nylon and weighs hardly anything — it’s like packing a piece of paper. It’s the ideal size for overnight trips, for your personal item on flights (the back pocket lets you slip it over the handle of your carry-on) or every day for the gym. And when it’s not in use, it zips itself into a little pouch for easy storage — or to throw in your luggage as an extra bag for the trip home.

Paravel fold-up duffle bag

Look at it go! The duffle was also just chosen as one of Oprah’s favorite things.

Packing Cubes

For trips, Paravel’s packing cube trios are also a game changer. Have you ever tried them? They keep everything organized, while saving a ton of space. You can separate items by category (makeup, pajamas, clothes) or by look. Pop everything in, then stack them inside your luggage.

paravel packing cubes

Voila! Perfectly organized packing, and they work in both checked and carry-on size bags.

Like the duffle, the backpack folds flat in a teeny tiny pouch, so you can store it anywhere when it’s not in use. Like the rest of Paravel’s nylon collection, it’s virtually weightless and fits a ton. I love it for hands-free travel, whether I’m holding my kids’ hands at the airport or going on adventures around town. Thank you, Paravel!

Do you have any upcoming trips? Or any packing tips? I’d love to hear…

(Photos by Julia Robbs for Cup of Jo. This post is sponsored by Paravel, a brand whose products we love. Thanks for supporting the brands that help keep Cup of Jo running.)

  1. Mash says...

    I have very similar backpacks and duffels from IKEA. They fold up tiny into a zippered pouch and weigh nothing. I have probably close to 10 of the duffels. I love them, they’re machine washable and they cost a couple of bucks each. And they’ve held up to several years’ worth of schlepping. I’ve also got IKEA packing cubes of all sorts. Basically, everything I own is IKEA and I love it.

  2. Meg says...

    Yes to the compact duffel. We brought one to Italy last summer in our suitcase (thanks, Rick Steves, for the suggestion). It was the perfect way to bring home beautiful gifts (minus the proscuitto that Customs confiscated!) for everyone.

  3. Kate says...

    My husband teases me, but I am a travel gadget-aholic. Packing cubes really are a game changer, as well as sleeves for shoes (the idea of my dirty shoes touch my clean clothes horrifies me) and a compact laundry bag… it all brings order to the general chaos of traveling.

  4. Flight 001’s packing cubes are great! Each bag has a separate zipped compartment for laundry and clean clothes. They even have a lingerie bag with a mesh bag inside for doing laundry!

  5. Lindsay says...

    I have thier packing cubes, so cute and I like keeping things organized like that. I want the duffel now!

  6. I know this is a (very well done) sponsored post – but Patagonia has a great light weight bag that works as both a tote and backpack. We use it as our diaper bag. A strap once got caught in our stroller and we happened to be by a store. We took the bag in thinking they’d send it in be repaired but they just gave us a new bag on the spot!

    • Kate says...

      Nora – would love to know which Patagonia bag you have? We’re looking for a diaper bag and Patagonia is a brand we’ve supported for years. Thanks!

  7. Lisa T says...

    I love packing cubes as I typically wear a travel uniform consisting of mostly black clothes and the packing cubes help me from the whole scrambling in my suitcase full of black items to find the one tee I need:) I just bought compressed packing bags at TJ Maxx and will use them for our upcoming trip to Australia to see if they are better than the regular packing cubes.

    • Mari says...

      We bought some compression bags a few years ago to use on a trip (instead of our cubes) and discovered that our ( …ahem, my… ) well-packed cubes held the exact same amount as the compression bags, so it didn’t really gain us any extra space in our luggage. In the end, after the side-by-side comparison, I preferred the cubes because the clothes stayed neatly folded and not mushed up in the bag.** However, you may not stuff your cubes as much as we do and the bags may gain you some extra space. :)

      ** we also compared the rolled clothes method to neatly folded to fit the exact size of the cube method too – no difference in space gained there either.

  8. Amanda says...

    Our family of 6 has been using the Gonex bags for the last 3 years. They are $30 and have held up great. Each member of our family has a different color so that helps us easily keep things organized plus the colors they offer are really great! We go on a lot of road trips and they are the perfect things for throwing inside our Thule roof box.

  9. Christy P says...

    I got packing cubes based on a Disney travel blog in preparing for Disney. So helpful! So I bought more for our international move. My husband isn’t on board totally yet BUT since we have been 40+ days of living out of our suitcases and have another estimated 60+ days they have been wonderful. Keeps my suitcase much more organized. I don’t have to dig through everything just to get pjs or socks. I can move them around and see everything else. Plus my clothes are protected from my extra pair of shoes that I have. So I don’t have to worry about shoe dirt getting on my clothes.

  10. Kelly says...

    The new nylon stuff is a much better price than even Baggu. But, I mean, the prices on their main line are sky-high….I’ve always wanted one of their stowaway bags, but there’s no way I can pay $325 for a single canvas bag when that’s twice what our 4 suitcases and 2 carryons cost us combined.

  11. Lori says...

    We are a traveling family of 5 and packable backpacks/bags are a necessity! Also, once you use packing cubes you’ll never go back to packing without them. They keep everything organized and as you use the clean clothes out of one, you put you dirty clothes in so everything stays separate. Oh and btw, lots of different price points for these. We are just as happy with our IKEA cubes (although the design may have changed by now) as we are other pricier ones.
    Get out there and explore the world!!

  12. Ellie says...

    This is such a fab guide!! I love using packing cubes, such a game changer

  13. Laura C. says...

    This is making increase my usual desire of traveling. I just want to pack and go, no matter where, I just wanna go and visit some new places… I like those Packing cubes. Are they really spaces savers?

    • Z says...

      I don’t have these packing cubes specifically (mine are from Muji) and they really do work! It compresses your clothes so you definitely can pack more in!

  14. Erin says...

    I understand the organization benefits of packing cubes but I’ve always been confused about how they save space? Wouldn’t they take up more space? I’ve never tried them so I’m not sure, just curious!

    • Ally says...

      I use a different brand, but they save space in that you can compress stuff in before you zip them up, especially soft things like clothes.

      You get a nice tight full cube instead of lots of loose stuff flopping about.

    • clue says...

      Hi Erin
      I use Muji packing cubes and have discovered that it definitely save space in your luggage, just because it’s tightly neated!! I’m totally sold now, and wouldn’t go back to another way now ;) (my friends really joke about this too… until they try ;))

    • Julie says...

      Ah.. packing cubes… Erin you raise a good point. I’ve been using them on my long haul travel for a couple of years now. They are super brilliant for organising… t shirts in one pouch, skirts and trousers in another, knickers and bras in another. They make life on hop sooo much easier than rifling through a suitcase trying to find an item which drives me nuts. They’re not so great if you plan on a shopping spree at your destination because they do take up space.

    • Joanna Goddard says...

      “They’re not so great if you plan on a shopping spree at your destination because they do take up space.” = but! that’s where the fold-up duffle and backpack come in. it’s amazing if you think you may need more luggage room on the way home, say, if you’ll be shopping in a city, or getting holiday gifts from relatives on a trip. i love these so much for that reason!

    • Emily R says...

      Some of them work by squeezing all the air out after you pack them. Thus saving space. It doesn’t look like these are that type.

    • Maren says...

      I thought this also! I think the key is that they sort of compress everything, so there is more space. But I will say, I usually use them for my large items and then fill in those random nooks and crannies with socks to save space.

    • Kellyann says...

      I thought the same thing until I got them. Because you’re able to stuff them full and zip them shut they keep everything more contained. It freed up a lot of room around the bag for shoes and blowdryer/flat iron that would usually never fit in a standard hard sided suitcase. It still surprises me every time I use them.

    • Wendy says...

      I also don’t think they save space but they are amazing for packing things for multiple family members in one suitcase or just for not losing your underwear and socks amongst everything else!

    • So I’m not the only one! I have never been able to figure that out.

    • Emma says...

      They are usually squishy-ish so they shouldn’t take up more space- great for packing a kids stuff and your stuff in the same bag in theory (if I could only remember where mine are when I need them!).

    • Lindsay says...

      I would say they do take up a little more space. But I love it because it makes it super easy for me to know what is in each cube, tops, bottoms and socks/underwear is typically how I sort them. I find them most useful because I’m typically traveling and packing for my husband and daughter. We usually try to share 1-2 carryons for each trip. So everyone gets their own color and I can easily sort through what I need. It’s really helpful not digging for my daughter pj’s if we get in late.

    • Andrea says...

      They help compress everything into a tight package and the shape helps it fit neatly into a suitcase. In my carry-on (clamshell-style) I can fit two of the medium size cubes, a folding-board style shirt cube (eagle creek), plus a pair of jeans (not in a cube) on just one side, leaving the other side free for shoes and toiletries. Plus at the hotel you can just unzip the cubes and put them in dresser drawers, keeps things tidy.

    • Andrea says...

      I roll my clothes and put them in large Ziplocs and then compress the air out of them. I can see what I have and keep like items together. Unpacking is really easy.

    • Meghan says...

      Yes, yes, yes to packing cubes! They’re amazing! They keep your things neat and organized, and allows you to compress more stuff into a small space. But beware – due to the increased density, it can be easy to be overweight (as I discovered at the check-in counter on the way home from Budapest).

  15. Heather says...

    The timing of this! I just today received my Paravel packable tote (two actually…one’s a gift) and am so excited to use it! Truthfully I have a bit of a bag addiction and I’m always in search of the perfect bag…but I think this one may be different. It seems much more durable than other packable bags I’ve had, which tend to be made of flimsier material. I usually travel with only one carry-on, but I like to separate my in-flight stuff into a separate smaller bag for the flight so I’m not constantly digging through my main bag for kid snacks and toys. I’m thinking this will work perfectly for that, and then I can just re-pack it into my carry-on after the flight. Oh, and the color…I usually go for black, but this red is a vibrant shade of tomato that is just so cheery! And now I’m very curious about the packable backpack…does it seem as durable and well-constructed as the tote?

  16. Ellen says...

    Packing cubes have been in my life for about a year and they are the greatest! Plus if you are taking stuff for a different season or thermals or whatever you can pack it way ahead of time, throw the cube back in the wardrobe and grab it out when you pack the rest of the bag-easy peasy!

  17. Rachel says...

    This would be a lifesaver for trips when I inevitably overpack because “what if the kids need it??”

    Would love to know where your jacket is from!

  18. Shira says...

    Any discount code for Cup of Jo readers? #wishfulthinking

  19. lesley says...

    you look beautiful, joanna!

  20. Esra says...

    Highly recommend BAGGU’s reusable bags as well! I always keep one in my purse.

  21. kara says...

    Packing cubes are awesome! BTW – very cute jacket

  22. Karen says...

    Can anyone explain what direct to consumer is besides a genius marketing tool? Haven’t brands like J. Crew, the Gap, Eileen Fisher been “direct to consumer” the entire time?

    • Joanna Goddard says...

      This is how I understand it: It means there’s no middleman retailer — for example, if you’re a brand of dresses and you sell wholesale to Bloomingdales and they then mark it up and sell it to the customer. Here, they’re cutting out the middleman.

      And jcrew, Eileen Fisher, etc have brick-and-mortar stores, which cost a lot, while these direct-to-consumer companies skip those costs and can keep their prices lower overall.

    • Jeanne says...

      A lot of big brands buy from wholesale manufacturers too. My friend’s family clothing business was in this arena. They would visit a large brand…say Gap or Nike…and present their offerings and the brand buyer will choose what they want on the floor for that season. Of course each middleman and importing agent has a markup. It works this way in the food industry as well.

  23. Jill says...

    wow, Thank you! I just visited the sight and I think I need everything! So tired of bulky bags. Do you know if they are water proof/resistant? I didn’t see anything in the website.

  24. chris says...

    I finally used packing cubes a few trips ago. What a trip changer!! Really keeps my clothes organized.