I always travel with ziplock plastic bags (often Ziploc but other brands, too). Some leave the house filled with things, but I usually toss 3 or 4 empty ones in my suitcase and carry-on or backpack, too.

They’re handy for organizing, separating dirty and wet things from clean and dry ones, and storing things that need to thrown away, but can’t be just yet.

To be friendly to the environment I save and reuse them when I can. And I also have increasingly been buying long-term reusable bags made of  cloth or silicone. They work just as well for snacks and even craft materials and mini-first aid kits. With multiple kids you can assign a pattern or color to each kid, to help fend or argumnts about whose pretzels or crayons are whose.

Ten ways we use ziplock bags

These are our best ideas. How do you use them?

1. Protect Your Suitcase

I put shoes in them to protect my clothes. And  I use them to stash items that are too big for my toiletries bag like sunscreen or bug spray, both to keep me organized and to protect my clothese in case those things leak. And I use the empty ones when we need to pack up and bathing suits or towels are still damp.

Ziplock bags organize crafts
2. Organize Kids Stuff

Whether we travel by air or by car I always bring lots of art supplies and small toys with us. A ziplock bag with a few party size tins of Play-Doh and some molds, or a blank pad, stickers, an activity book and crayons or colored pencils is a grab-and-go solution for airplanes, restaurants and more. They also come in handy if you want to grab a few handfuls of Legos or beads or craft sticks out of your larger stash.


For yourself, use a ziplock bag to as a central stash for all the chords and chargers you’re bringing along. Don’t zip it until you’ve packed every last cord to avoid leaving any behind.

3. Manage Motion sickness

Here’s a clever tip we picked up at our last #MOMtravelchat. If you have a family member who gets car sick, take a plastic container, line it with a resealable bag. If they get nauseous you can contain the mess fairly quickly and neatly until you’re able to stop and toss it out. (And add a new bag to the container.)

You can keep a second bag handy with wipes, a small water bottle, some mints or ginger chews, a change of clothes, and paper towels for cleaning up the car (in case they miss the container).

Ziplock bags make games portable
4. Make Games Portable

Ever notice that games, puzzles and even decks of cards often come in boxes that are twice as big as they need to be? Get rid of those boxes and games like Zingo are suddenly compact enough to be portable. I replace the box with a clear plastic bag and voila, it takes up half the space in my bag.


Sometime I keep them in the bags when we get home to save space in closets and bins as well.

5. Contain Messes on the Go

Most moms learn pretty quickly to keep an empty plastic bag in their diaper bag. It’s essential for containing dirty diapers when there’s no place to toss them away.

Even when your kids are out of diapers they can get their clothes pretty darn filthy. A plastic bag is handy for toilet “accidents” juice and ice cream spills, impromptu sprinkler runs and more. There’s been more than one occasion where if I didn’t have a plastic bag handy I would have been tempted to just throw the clothes away on the spot. But I’m always glad afterward when I manage to save them.

Ziplock bags protect electronics
6. Waterproof Your Stuff on the Fly

Want to protect your phone, camera or wallet as you run through playground sprinklers, go boating, or make your way through a water park? A reusable plastic bag is not going to be as foolproof as a case that is made to be waterproof, but if you zip it tight and fold it over and you’ll have fairly good light protection.


Tablet, phone and e-reader touch-screens work through these clear plastic bags. So you can protect your device from sand and water at the beach or poolside. And you can protect your devices from sticky fingerprints when your kids borrow them.

7. Carry Your Toiletries

I don’t like living out of a plastic toiletries bag. But when I’m flying I will often line by regular bag with a ziplock one. It contains the mess if anything breaks or spills over at high altitude. And when you have a carry-on bag it makes it easy to remove your toiletries for inspection if you need to. When I get to my destination, I take my items out of the plastic and keep it for the return flight.

Ziplock bags make great personalized first-aid kits
8. Make A Personal First-Aid Kit

I used to buy pre-packed first-aid kits, but they quickly get picked over and have to be refilled and they usually overlook travel essentials like blister pads, rehydration tablets, bug-bite gel and medications for gastro-intestinal problems. So now I just fill a reusable zip bag with my family’s first-aid essentials. With a clear bag it’s easy to tell at a glance what I’ve used and need to replenish before the next trip.


Parents who road trip a lot also find it handy to have a version of this bag just for the car. They include first-aid basics, bug spray, sunscreen, wipes and/or hand sanitizer, a small multi-tool, small flash light, and some shelf-stable snacks (not chocolate; it melts!). Keep it in the car near a spare umbrella and extra bottled water.

9. Improvise A Juice Box

You’ve gotten to the beach house and realize you forget one or several of your water bottles. No sweat, fill small resealable bags with juice or water and a straw. Reserve this trick for kids you can trust to not try unzipping the bag!


If you have a freezer handy you can stash the juice bags in there overnight, and pack them in your cooler to help keep the other food cold and provide a refreshing slushy on a hot day.

Ziplock bags let you pack for one night
10. Pack for One Night

If you you’re stopping at a place for one night only you might not want to traipse all your bags from the car. Even if you have your bags, you might not  want to unpack too much.  Use large resealable bags to organize a night-pack for each family member with PJs, a change of clothes, a toothbrush and any other essentials (one book, stuffed animal, etc.)

The one-gallon size is often fine for kids; Ziplock makes an extra large size that’s perfect for adults or for older kids who clothes are bigger.


Use different color Sharpies or craft or washi Tape to tell you at a glance which bag belongs to which family member.

Pin it for later!

Ziplock bags are one of my favorite travel hacks for family vacations. We use big one and small ones two keep organized, contain spills and stash wet clothes. Here are our best uses for resealable zip bags

This blog was part of Weekend Travel Inspiration. Visit our partners:

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  1. you can take puzzles that don’t have too many pieces, like 24-30 piece or so at most. I mostly take them in the car. This way if we lose a piece at least I know where it is!

  2. Love this. I use zip lock bags for liquids like shampoo, toothpaste, etc., anything that would prevent a spill. When I get home, I take things out, wash them if anything did spill, and put them right back in the suitcase. Zip locks are indispensable!

  3. These are clever tips.I use ziplock bags to pack one set of diapers (including tissue and other needy items).I also use ziplock bags to pack another set of games or books for my son.At home I use ziplock bags to organize puzzles,but I still dont take jigsaw puzzles with us when we go out.I am afraid of missing parts. 🙂
    Interesting and helpful post.

  4. A lot of frequent travelers use those packing cells. They seem to realy save space. I just always wonder about the hassle of packing and unpacking the individual cells.

  5. I always use zip lock bags for packing. I pack liquids eg shampoo into them just in case the air pressure when flying causes them to burst open. No one wants to open a suitcase to discover shampoo all over their clothes.

  6. I use packing cells for a lot of the tasks you mentioned above but Zip lock bags are a great idea for on-the-fly or messy stuff

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