Traveling overnight? Use a packing cube as a pillow to save space and get some sleep.

  • Packing cubes are designed to condense clothing and other items while traveling.

  • I always travel with packing cubes to save space in my backpack or carry-on luggage.

  • Packing cubes stuffed with clothes also work as pillows on red-eye flights and overnight trains.

I always travel with packing cubes to save space in my bag, but I recently learned they serve another purpose as a pillow when I'm traveling on overnight trains and red-eye flights.

Whether I'm traveling with just a backpack or a carry-on suitcase, I fill the cubes with clothing so I can fit as many outfits as possible into my luggage.

Last October, I packed a cube of clothing for a two-week backpacking trip through Europe where I traveled on night trains and flights. One of my overnight train rides was in a regular seat, and the booking didn't include amenities like pillows and blankets.

As I tried to get comfortable in the reclining chair, I had an epiphany: What if I pull the packing cube out of my backpack to rest my head on?

Since I filled the cube with clothing, it felt soft. And because I stuffed it to capacity, it was firm like my pillows at home.

This realization made me think of all the overnight rides I've taken in the past.

I've spent hundreds of hours traveling through the night by plane and train. In my experience, red-eye flights typically have pillows and blankets in the cabin, but they sometimes cost extra. And most of the train bunks I've slept in have had pillows that were too thin for my liking.

In all of these cases, I had exactly what I needed to keep me comfortable — and I didn't even know it.

Since my backpacking trip, I've been on several more adventures with just my backpack as well as with a larger carry-on bag. And when I'm craving my own bed at home from the seat of a train or plane, I know a comforting pillow is just a zip away.

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