Travel Tip: Double Your Luggage Space With Vacuum Bags

by Paris B on · 32 comments

in Tips,Travel

In recent times, I’ve learnt to travel with just a carry on bag. I’ve gone away for a 2 week holiday, with just a regular cabin sized trolley bag which is quite a feat for me, because I used to be a lot more finicky. These days, with practice, I now pack minimally, and fly with a carry on so I don’t have to wait at airports for luggage, and so I don’t risk losing luggage.

Coming back is of course a different story. I’ve got more time, and I don’t mind waiting for luggage. Also, I tend to buy back random things like bottles of shampoo and body washes over 100ml so those have to be checked in. Sometimes, I buy clothes and then I realise I need an extra bag (which I always pack just in case). Most recently, I forgot this very useful extra bag and was despairing a little at whether I could bring back all my new clothes and existing ones in my trolley bag.

Enter the vacuum bag. God bless the person who invented these things! icon biggrin Travel Tip: Double Your Luggage Space With Vacuum Bags

vacuum Travel Tip: Double Your Luggage Space With Vacuum Bags

I started with a light trenchcoat jacket, a bulky sweater, a pair of jeans, a dress and a lighter cardigan. As you can see from the picture on the left, its already filling up the suitcase. I could compact it with various packing techniques, chiefly among them rolling your clothes, but it’ll still take up a lot of space. Once compacted, I have space for even more stuff! icon biggrin Travel Tip: Double Your Luggage Space With Vacuum Bags I have two of these bags so I could fit in two compressed packs of clothes, line the sides with miscellany and bottles of liquid exceeding 100ml and then check the whole bag into check in luggage.

With the vacuum bag, I literally doubled my luggage space in my suitcase as you can see above. The vacuum bag is made of thick plastic. How it works is simple.

Place your clothes inside the bag, seal one end and then start to roll it, squeezing the air out of the other end. When you have compacted it as much as you can, seal the open end and you’re done! Your pile of clothes are now compressed to about half their size. Its really impressive, and it frees up space so you can pack your other stuff in there.

vacuum2 Travel Tip: Double Your Luggage Space With Vacuum Bags

I think this is especially useful when travelling with thicker clothing e.g. sweaters and jackets. If you’ve had to pack these, you’d realise just how much space one item can take up. Using a vacuum bag, it makes it easier to create space so you can fit more into your luggage.

I will however tend to use these mostly for clothes when I return home. Compressing and squeezing your clothes will crease them something awful so unless you have a way to steam or iron them at your destination, I’d keep the compression for the journey home. The other good thing is that the clothes are insulated by the plastic so if something liquid in the bag explodes, the risk of contamination is reduced icon smile Travel Tip: Double Your Luggage Space With Vacuum Bags

Whilst compressing clothes increases space, its worth bearing in mind that weight remains the same. So if you can fit double the amount of clothes in your suitcase means double the weight. So if your flight has weight restrictions for carry on luggage, its worth noting this.

Another benefit using these vacuum bags is that if you can fit all your return luggage in there, you reduce another piece of luggage, thereby reducing the risk of losing luggage. Having a backpack on hand to take up slack will also help, so you just check in one bag and carry on another.

If you have a vacuum cleaner at your destination, its even easier to compress the bags. Just insert the vacuum cleaner in at one end and suck out the air. But since most of us will stay at hotels where, unless you get friendly with the housekeeping staff, you won’t have access to a vacuum cleaner, get the bags that you can roll as you see here. It compresses it just enough so you save space to pack for your return journey and it keeps it compressed till you get home.

I was in Shanghai, so these vacuum bags were picked up from the Carrefour there at about RMB10 each. I’ve seen similar ones here at Daiso (RM5) and I will suggest that you pick up at least 2 and toss them into your luggage. When its time to pack to come back, its going to come in handy!

Am I late to the party with this travel tip or might this be a new use for the vacuum bag that you haven’t thought of yet? icon smile Travel Tip: Double Your Luggage Space With Vacuum Bags I know many people already use this at home to store bulky clothing items like bedding or sweaters. It frees up space in your cupboard and is good for stuff you don’t use often. But using it when travelling? Might be new to you right? icon wink Travel Tip: Double Your Luggage Space With Vacuum Bags

Paris B

Vacuum bags you can roll can be found at local Daiso stores for RM5. Get a bigger one that fits a few pieces of clothing which makes it more practical for travel.

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[ 32 comments… read them below or join the discussion ]

electronicfly
Twitter:
September 18, 2011 at 8:53 am

Space usually isn’t much of an issue for me, but weight is! T.T

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ParisB
Twitter:
September 18, 2011 at 10:51 am

Hehe comes with the territory eh? ;) Budget airlines paltry weight restrictions are such a pain! :P

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xin
Twitter:
September 18, 2011 at 10:32 am

i brought 5 vacuum bags from daiso to me for the NZ trip. and i packed practically EVERYTHING into the vacuum bags, including socks and what not. heh they are life saviors!
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Stephy September 18, 2011 at 10:39 am

BTW, where does Daiso place this bags?
Everytime I have problem searching things in Daiso..lol..
And when I asked the worker, they will say “Stock habis”… I wonder if that is the case…haha…
Stephy recently blogged…Picture Of The Day – Tuesday 13.09.11My Profile

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xin
Twitter:
September 18, 2011 at 10:52 am

hmm it’s placed always at the sides, together with the handiwork/felt cloth that side, it is reusable, as long as you dont destroy it.

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ParisB
Twitter:
September 18, 2011 at 10:53 am

butting in. I spotted this at the home organization area at Daiso at Pavilion. Just head for the “aunty” areas of Daiso for household products :P

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ParisB
Twitter:
September 18, 2011 at 10:51 am

Wootz! Great minds think alike! :D

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Stephy September 18, 2011 at 10:37 am

Is it reusable?
Nice tips anyway! Will keep that in mind when comes to traveling =)
Stephy recently blogged…Picture Of The Day – Tuesday 13.09.11My Profile

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ParisB
Twitter:
September 18, 2011 at 10:52 am

Yes it is. I personally don’t think they’ll last very long – its just RM5 anyway :P so don’t expect it to last 10 years. But it’ll last you a few uses thats for sure so long as you don’t puncture it and it can then be used as a storage bag once it loses the vacuum effect.

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stephy July 27, 2012 at 2:46 pm

Finally the day has come. I bought 2 from Daiso for my trip!
Hope it can flatten my sweater..hehe

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Shay September 18, 2011 at 10:46 am

I travel light for personal trips. But this idea is great for business trips. Thanks!

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ParisB
Twitter:
September 18, 2011 at 10:53 am

Especially for coming back! You know after you’ve hit up the shopping and all… ;)

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Amanda September 18, 2011 at 12:31 pm

I agree that these vacuum bags are best reserved for returning trips, because if you use them at departure, you will probably end up bringing too much things…
Amanda recently blogged…Lesson Learned From an Old Beauty StashMy Profile

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ParisB
Twitter:
September 19, 2011 at 2:07 pm

LOL Yes indeed! If one has to utilize these bags on the way there, that’s a serious error in judgment ;) Well unless they are going overseas for months or as students or something :)

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Jamilla September 18, 2011 at 5:30 pm

It’s such a good idea, but all I do is layer my hub’s clothes in dry cleaning bags or tissue paper so they don’t wrinkle – works a treat! Besides, he’s a man and doesn’t pack much!

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ParisB
Twitter:
September 19, 2011 at 2:07 pm

LOL But perhaps for him to compress his clothes so when he returns he can bring back all your goodies! :D

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Ria
Twitter:
September 18, 2011 at 9:02 pm

I have still yet to master how to pack light.^^ I have the urge of buying gifts for all cousins and aunts every time I return home. How I wish I got these on my last trip to avoid – picture this: sitting on top of my suitcase while my brother tries to zip them close.^^
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ParisB
Twitter:
September 19, 2011 at 2:09 pm

Ah bringing back presents is fine then :) You’ll make people happy and then when you leave, you have all this extra space you can fill up with presents for yourself! :D

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Catherine September 19, 2011 at 7:44 am

Seems like quite a good idea. When packing I usually roll my clothes though- saves space and doesn’t crease them at all. Then again I never travel light nor do I travel short distance… Usually the only time I travel is every 4 years or so for up to 4 weeks overseas so I use my full weight allowance! I take a lot of stuff and bring a lot back :/

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ParisB
Twitter:
September 19, 2011 at 2:11 pm

Yup I roll my clothes too but I realised that with bulky items e.g. jackets or sweaters, rolling them just takes up space (height) but as others have pointed out, I’d save these for the return journey when I can compress all the clothes and crease them and it’ll still be fine. Travelling for 4 weeks will need a decent suitcase, I don’t think I’d survive with a carry on either! LOL!

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Michelle Hui September 19, 2011 at 9:51 am

Hi Paris,
I use the vacuum bags for all my travels and also for storing my “winter clothes”.
But after sometime, they will lose their vacuum seal and also for the fear of mildew, I will store them with a piece of dehumidifier pack that I bought from Daiso. Apparently, it could be reactivated by drying them in the sun or after the pink gel turns blue again.
However, one thing to note about the vacuum bags. They tore quite easily and you have to be careful when squeezing the air out. It pays to take note to not be overzealous in compressing the bag as I have torn a few myself. LOL!

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ParisB
Twitter:
September 19, 2011 at 2:14 pm

Hi Michelle! Yep, I have to agree with you about the reinflating part. Even after I placed the compressed bags into the suitcase, they were already inflating a little. But they stayed compressed long enough for me to carry everythign home :) At home, I don’t use these bags because of this problem. I just hang up my winter stuff and hope for the best :D Thanks for the tips!

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AT September 19, 2011 at 10:22 am

I have several of these bags. The Daiso ones tend to be iffy for me–sometimes they work, but most times , they don’t! The bags also tend to ”inflate” after some time, so I guess they don’t work too well for long term storage. Then I bought the much more expensive ones (at least 10x more than Daiso’s) from Robinsons, and one of them is a dud. However, not to be deterred, I actually bought one more set–the “travel” one which comes with its own portable pump. Now, this one is pure genius! I know it’s weird travelling with a pump, but I really don’t fancy using vacuum cleaner from hotels (I know they don’t get onto your stuff, but still…). I used this once when travelling with kids–I just dump their dirty laundry (kids’ clothes piled up incredibly fast!) into this huge sack and then suctioned the air out and voila! flat! :)

The other thing I must recommend here is packing cubes. I packed for 3 (myself and two kids) when we travel and these packing cubes are a real boon for separating out stuff. I used to buy those manga/DVD storage zipper cases from Daiso, but their zips tend to be wonky, so I’m now using proper packing cubes. I haven’t looked back since. :)

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ParisB
Twitter:
September 19, 2011 at 2:16 pm

Hi AT, thanks for the tip for packing cubes! I’ve been wanting to try those to be a little more organized in packing but I never got round to hehe… I’ll take your advice and go straight for proper packing cubes – do you have a recommendation? As for the vacuum bags, I think the Daiso ones do the trick for simple travel packing, but not for long term storage at home. For home storage I do think a better quality option would make more sense :) I loved the idea about using these for soiled clothes – perfect! :D

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AT September 20, 2011 at 4:22 pm

Sigh, the problem is that it’s hard to tell if the better quality ones (if based on price point alone) are indeed better quality. At least with Daiso, your expection won’t be raised too unduly.

For packing cubes, I’m using the ones from ebags–they are much more economical (than say Eagle Creek) and come in a variety of sizes. However, you may want to try the Daiso magazine storage bags first to see if this way works for you. That way you can also have an idea of what size cube would work for you. I was initially shocked at the huge size of the largest ebags packing cube, but in the end, found that they are the best for my needs as I just pack 4 of those (one for my clothes, one for each kid, and another one for diapers). Undies you can just put chuck them at the sides of the cubes. I find small cubes the most unnecessary, as we would usually have pouches to hold small items (a pouch for travel adapter, a pouch for cosmetics, a pouch for toiletries etc).

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ParisB
Twitter:
September 22, 2011 at 5:48 pm

Thanks for the recommendations :) I’ll try to give packing cubes a try for future travels and will start with Daiso as you suggested so the pain on the pocket is less ;)

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beetrice
Twitter:
September 19, 2011 at 10:49 am

I love these – actually, it would make sense to do that only for the return journey since the overload would come from what you bought! :p

There’s another way you can use these as well though. If you have access to a vacuum (alas doesn’t work well with those where you compress the air out yourself), what I did previously was to roll up any fragile bottles and products in the clothes before putting them into the bags and vacumming the air out (works especially well if you’re coming back from a cold country and you’re vacumming up knits and sweaters!).

It kept my products from jostling around during the trip, and the clothes helped to pad any bumps during the leg back! :) Now if only I wasn’t tempted to squeeze even more stuff into the bag and risk going over limit after getting said extra space, I’d be over the moon! :D
beetrice recently blogged…Friday Smiles – A 5-yr old Makeup Guru (?) and more…My Profile

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ParisB
Twitter:
September 19, 2011 at 2:19 pm

Good tip about packing in bottles between clothes! Only problem is, wouldn’t it leave the clothes “stretched” where the bottles/items are placed? Because I found my clothes were totally flattened so having a product in there would cause the material to mark won’t it?

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beetrice
Twitter:
September 19, 2011 at 3:18 pm

Not really in the case of heavy knits and sweaters – just a quick tumble and shake, they’ll be back to their original state. I did that when I went to Perth to study – all the bulky sweaters worked a treat! :)

The marks would be more prominent if you had square boxes (like palettes) put in between though…for small round bottles it’s not bad (unless they’re huge ones!).
beetrice recently blogged…Friday Smiles – A 5-yr old Makeup Guru (?) and more…My Profile

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ParisB
Twitter:
September 19, 2011 at 7:03 pm

Ah yes, small items won’t make much difference but bigger ones will – was thinking how a bottle of shampoo would look and then realized it might just cause my sweater to have a shampoo sized hole in it LOL

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Applegal September 19, 2011 at 5:18 pm

This is such a good idea! Will try it next time :)

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ParisB
Twitter:
September 19, 2011 at 7:05 pm

Glad you think so :D Daiso has these bags for cheap ;)

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