Luckily, I have always hoarded resealable sandwich bags, aka Ziploc bags, or Glad bags. And I found that when I began packing for a ‘life lived out of a bag’, they quickly became my best friend.
If you depend on your local supermarket you will probably only get sandwich-sized bags or larger, plus maybe a few snack-sized ones. But if you have been holding onto ones you come across – like I had – you will have every size imaginable. If not, the best places to find unusual sizes is among the packaging when you buy electronic or hardware items – the small bits like screws are often kept in these sorts of resealable bags – or dress jewelry. If you want to buy them check your local craft store or dollar shop.
I love finding a little resealable bag that is the perfect size for what I need. I have a teensy one the size of a stamp – perfect to put my two spare pairs of earrings in. I have one the size of a small business card that perfectly fits the make-shift sewing kit I put together. Then there are others for cords, electronics and clothes.
Now why all the fuss over Ziplocs. I mean, really?
Well, let me put it this way: abandoning a permanent home doesn’t mean you have to do without. It just means things look different – but will often still have the same function. And in the grander scheme of things, ziplocs are only one aspect of this. For most of us, a home is complete when it is filled with a medicine cabinet for pills, organizers for makeup and drawers for socks. But in a nomadic lifestyle, yep, the ziplocs are my drawers. They keep my stuff tidy, organized and protected. It’s important to remember:
This nomadic life is not about giving up all you ever had, but being open to a new concept of WHAT THAT LOOKS LIKE. Realizing that you can have all your old needs met with the same level of fulfillment – but doing it in a way that opens a door to even more than you had before.
Back to Ziplocs!
I have to say in some respects these little resealable bags are better than drawers – light weight, cost next to nothing, keep things dry and have multiple uses. (You can also suck all the air out of them, and they give that satisfying squeak and click as you draw your finger along the seal..)
But aside from the fact that I am spending far too much time with my Ziplocs (clearly), it encourages me to acknowledge what I’m gaining and not just what I’m losing. Sure it’s goodbye to makeup bags and other weighty encumbrances, but it is also “Hello, Ziplocs!”.
So, how can resealable sandwich bags really help you when it comes to packing? Here are a few uses of these bags:
1. Controlling How Much You Take
There were times when I felt like I wanted to pack my whole wardrobe. Selecting a Ziploc bag that is suitable for the task is a way to curb that. For instance, if you want to pack some toiletries in your carry-on, you know that as per regulation, all gels and liquids have to go in a litre bag in little containers. And you know that’s all you can bring.
So you get some little containers and you fill them – and you make it work.
Likewise, if you want to take medicine, get a snack-sized ziploc and – unless you have an urgent health condition – confine yourself to what will fit in the bag. To make it easier (and lighter) remove the outer cardboard packaging and just take the sleeves of pills. Copy the name of the pills and the dosage information from the packages onto a label sticker and stick that on each item to ensure you don’t mix up similar looking drugs.
The point is, if you allocated a Ziploc bag to a category of your stuff and say: “Only what fits in here”, you are at least one step closer to minimizing the items you take.
2. Keeping Your Belongings Organized
Storing similar items together is the best way I have found to organize stuff. So small storage devices like USB sticks and SD cards go together. Larger electronics like power banks and portable hard drives go in another resealable bag.
Often you can get sandwich bags that have labels on them – you can go another step and use these to further inventory the contents of your luggage if you like.
3. Keeping Things Dry
Packing cubes are nice but ziplocs keep things dry (important for your electronic devices), and they are lighter – a huge factor when you are trying to travel with only carry-on luggage. You can also put wet items in ziploc bags – thereby keeping other items in your bag dry, say in the instance that you have wet swimming gear that you need to pack if you have to leave in a hurry.
On the same note, if you have to move quickly they are handy for keeping clothes that you have washed and put to dry on your windowsill – but which haven’t quite dried yet.
4. Airport Security
Having your items packed in ziploc bags makes them far easier to remove – and then replace – if airport security decides they want to look through your things. The bags are clear and usually you group similar items together, so it means it will be pretty simple to see where an item is and show it to an officer – without spilling all your belongings everywhere.
5. Keeping Food
Along your journey you will buy snacks or condiments or you may wish to take food on the plane if you have specific food needs (or just want to avoid the exorbitantly priced airline options) .
Ziploc bags will help keep your vittles fresh and prevent them from spilling into your other luggage. I have used them to keep a few herbal tea bags in when I’m doing short trips and staying in hotels. You usually get a kettle but never get the sort of tea or coffee you like – so why not bring the comforts with you instead?
I also like to keep a selection of hard candy in a mini snack-sized bag for sucking on during flights. Great way to help equalize the pressure and if you pack menthol based sweets it can really clear your airways too.
What Sizes To Buy?
Ultimately it’s up to you, depending on your own unique packing list. However here are some suggestions to get you started:
Documents 27cm x 33cm
Pills in Blister Packs 15cm x 9cm
Clothes 27cm x 33cm and larger
Gels and Liquids 18 x 17cm
Snacks 15cm x 9cm (for dried fruit and loose snacks), 18cm x 17cm (for sandwiches and wraps)
Remember, in addition to those that you allocate for packing, bring along a handful more on your travels. You will find that some of them will wear out after a while, and you will definitely want a few clean ones for keeping food in.
Other Random Uses I Discovered For Ziplocs While Travelling
- Putting wet soap in when packing up to move to new accommodation
- Keeping mixed dried fruit in for cheap travelling snacks
- For tidying cords
- Keeping my power bank and mobile phone dry in my day pack when I got caught in a rainstorm
- Keeping small items tidy and easily accessible
- Keeping my boarding passes dry
- Keeping a wet towel from making the rest of my luggage damp when in between stops taking a long train journey
Whatever you decide to use Ziplocs for they are hugely handy. If you are packing for life out of a bag or any travel in general, consider using them in the ways mentioned above. Failing that take along a handful of different sizes – you never know what use you can put them to while you are on the road.
What uses have you found resealable bags like these on your travels? Let us know..in the comments below..