How To Use Ziploc Packing Bags For Clothes

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Last Updated on October 8, 2020 by Travels with Kids

So how exactly do you use Ziploc packing bags for clothes?  We hadn’t previously considered it, but we gave it a go.  This is our story!

Those who have traveled with me know that I don’t travel light.  Even when I was a young twenty-something backpacking around the world my pack was a solid 20kg + as I had a whole lot of things that I might “just need”.   I figured it was only me who had to carry the extra weight and hopefully shouldered the burden without comment.  Minimalism is really not my thing!

Update We Bought Packing Cubes!

Since writing this post we have purchased packing cells (also known as packing cubes); this means that the kid’s clothes have been easier to keep in one place.  We’re still road testing our experiences but in the meantime, if you are interested, we purchased the Eagle Creek Pack-It Specter Cube 3pc Set and Eagle Creek Travel Gear Luggage Pack-it Cube.  These are great zip bags for travel.

This post may contain affiliate links, from which we would earn a small commission, at no extra cost to you. More info in my disclaimer.

How To Use Ziploc Packing Bags For Clothes


Steps For How To Use Ziploc Packing Bags For Clothes

Having kids exacerbated the problems.  Spare clothes, spare carriers, extra toys, all of it.  Despite my best intentions and efforts to pare things down I always over-packed.

First, I needed to figure out exactly what type of Ziploc packing bags would be best to use.  There are several Ziploc bags sizes.  I found that large Ziploc bags for packing clothes work best.  The gallon or 2-gallon sizes work well.  Besides sizes, there are also several brands.  Of course, most people think of the actual Ziploc brand, but there are also several (and sometimes cheaper) brands out there.  Depending on what brands are available in your area, it really will be a trial and error as far as quality goes.

Below are some of our tops choices to use as travel ziplock bags.

Second, I had to calculate how many outfits everyone needed for the trip.  I calculated we needed 5 days before a wash, and packed an extra set of undies, singlets, etc.  Each day’s wear was rolled into Ziploc packing bags.  You can choose to separate clothes by days or by clothing type.  I was packing clothes in Ziploc bags by days instead of item types. This process took about 20 minutes for each child as I color-coordinated shirts, skirts, and pants then zip-locked them into the bags.  In the end, I saw how much excess I had originally earmarked for the trip.  Quite a bit.  I did not name each bag or day as I could identify which kid’s clothes belonged in which bag.  However, you may want to label each bag at least with the child’s name for easy identification.

Next, I squeezed the air out of the bag created a vacuum effect.  Presto, the items were much smaller than if I had of just stacked them into the suitcase.  This is important because to maximize space.  If you are traveling super light, you could also carry on a ziplock bag in your purse or backpack.

Note:  This level of organization only extended to clothes.  It did not extend to toys, jackets, beanies, and raincoats (it was winter after all).  This all occurred the day before departure as I hastily reviewed and shoved them into green Woollies shopping bags.  Using Ziploc bags for clothes definitely helped with the organization.  I am not sure that I would have had the same success organizing out toys or accessories the same way.  However, there are smaller sizes of ziplock bags that might be useful for other items like jewelry or toiletries.  PLUS, ziplock bags are waterproof so putting items that might leak (like shampoos or skin-care) in Ziploc bags is helpful for packing.

Here are some Ziploc sizes that might be useful for accessories, toys, and other items.


Note About Nappies – Estimate how many you are using each day and then take enough to get through the first 3-4 days to buy some more.  Also, keep in mind, you don’t want to be lugging a huge pack of nappies back home!  I take these out of the bag they were bought in and put them at the top of the suitcase.  It seems to fit a lot in there. Packing using Ziploc bags for nappies doesn’t seem necessary.

Finally, I highly recommend Nicole, a blogger from Planning With Kids.  She talks about using up mental space for making frequent decisions.  Check out her blog post How To Simplify Your Wardrobe.  In summary, she suggests describes decision fatigue and the benefits of planning.  Explaining that if you don’t have to choose clothes in the morning, you have more mental space and better productivity throughout the day.


zip lock bags for packing clothes
The final product!

Pros – Ziploc Packing Bags

  • This was super useful and the kids looked more color-coordinated than usual!  Zip lock bags for packing clothes really worked well.
  • Because I hadn’t specified days on the bags, there was still some ‘freedom’ involved in what they wore each day.
  • Using ziplock for clothes meant fewer hassles about what to wear.  There were fewer arguments about getting dressed.  For Miss 6 I just put her bag out and she did it.  Even Master 2 seemed to accept that “what is in the bag is what you are wearing”.  I can see that maybe in a couple of years it won’t work so well.
  • There was definitely some time saved (though not necessarily important while on holidays).
  • It seemed very easy and a big thumbs up!

Cons – Ziplock Bags For Clothes

  • For the second week of the holiday, it was “modus operandi” normal – a pretty disorganized suitcase. Which was OK, except compared to the first week I felt lacking in choice.
  • You can only use the zip lock bags for packing clothes so many times before they break down.  They are somewhat easy to puncture and you have to be careful with the zip portion of the bag.  I can certainly see where purchasing an actual packing cube set would be a more sustainable option.
  • Our bath routine doesn’t really allow for repacking clothes into bags at the end of the day, and as a result, they went into a shopping bag shoved into the suitcase.  Need to think about dirty washing and how to handle it.  It is great to pack the clothes into Ziploc storage bags when they are clean, but you have to have a plan for dirty clothes as well.

Lessons Learned – Packing Clothes In Ziploc Bags

Next time, I am going to take a suggestion from the blog post Packing For Kids who rightly points out that as soon as you arrive anywhere kids like to swim.   I am going to have all the swimming clothing including goggles, hats, and sunscreens in a special bag at the top of the suitcase.

For our next trip I plan to:

  1. Plastic bag the clothes for kids. (I am also considering doing it for myself and taking some of the decision fatigue out of the mornings.)
  2. Pack a bathers bag at the top.
  3. Make a strategy for the toys and games which have been copious in the past!

Here are some good articles on packing with practical information:

The Best Travel Packing Cubes

5 Pro Tips For Using Packing Cubes For Family Travel

Best Travel Toys For 1 Year Old

Our Family Travel Medical Kit

What To Pack In A Kids Travel Bag


The Verdict – How To Use Ziploc Packing Bags For Clothes

Overall, using Ziploc packings bags for clothes worked out well.  It helped keep everything organized and did save time.  In the future, I would use Ziploc bags for clothes in a pinch.  However, (as mentioned above) we have now since purchased several packing cube sets and love them.

Have you ever used zip lock bags for packing clothes?  Tell us below how you liked them!


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How To Use Ziploc Packing Bags For Clothes



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Hi! We are a multicultural family from Peru, Nicaragua & Australia. We believe adventures can be global – and local – and are one part of our sustainable lifestyle, and raising children who are global eco-citizens.