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!
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! 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.
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
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? 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?
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.