5 Reasons You Should Always Pack A Ziploc Bag In Your Carry-On

Whether you're packing your carry-on for a seven-day vacation or a weekend trip, you probably have a go-to packing list. If it doesn't already, that list should definitely include a Ziploc bag (or two or three). They're lightweight and take up basically no space in your bag, so there's really no excuse not to bring some. You don't need a full box of them by any means, as that could take up some valuable space in your luggage, but since we can think of at least five reasons to include them, aim to take about five with you.


They can be wildly helpful in a number of different circumstances, whether it's saving leftovers, bringing laundry detergent with you, or keeping your damp swimsuit from getting the rest of the clothes in your bag wet. Note: Ziploc, in this case, will be used to refer to any plastic zip-top bag. Ziploc-branded bags aren't a requirement for success in these scenarios.

Keep toiletries contained in your carry-on and checked bag

While some items are exempt from the TSA's 311 liquid rule, for the most part, you have to pack your liquids in containers of less than 3.4 ounces, and they all have to fit into one quart-size clear plastic bag. But if you, like so many of us, use the same bag over and over on all your trips, you run the risk of eventually breaking your liquids bag. While some airports may have extra bags for you to use in cases like that, not all of them do. So having an extra spare Ziploc will mean you don't have to throw away your toothpaste, perfume, or other toiletries.


It can also help keep toiletries in your checked bag safe. If you end up buying something like perfume or a locally made lotion that's too big to fit into your carry-on, putting it in a Ziploc bag before packing adds a layer of protection. While your item hopefully doesn't break in transit, just in case it does, the bag means things will be contained and easier to clean up. As much as you may like the scent of your new perfume or lotion, you probably don't want your bag to smell like that forever.

Ziplocs can efficiently carry snacks and leftovers

Anthony Bourdain had a trick for finding the best local eateries while traveling, and if you have a Ziploc bag with you, you have a trick for storing your leftovers more easily and compactly — you don't want to let that tasty food go in the trash! Restaurant takeout containers may be unwieldy and hard to fit in a bag when you're on the go. While not every leftover can easily be transported in a Ziploc — soup, mashed potatoes, etc. — a Ziploc can easily be used to more efficiently carry things like a sandwich, waffles, pizza, or even fried chicken when compared to a standard restaurant to-go box.


It helps cut down on food waste if you're able to take leftovers with you, which can be a big problem when traveling. Plus, if you plan it right, you then have a snack to munch on while you're in the airport, so you can skip paying expensive airport prices for food on your way back home. Having Ziploc bags also makes things easier if you're staying in an Airbnb or VRBO and planning to cook some of your own meals on your trip. You can't be guaranteed that they'll have bags for you to use, and you don't want to have to buy a whole box on your trip. So, if you bring some from home, you'll be able to prep for a day of sightseeing by packing lunch and snacks.

Protect your phone and camera from water damage

If you're on a trip that's taking you anywhere that's rainy, having a Ziploc bag to put your phone, camera, and other electronics in can be a lifesaver. It adds a layer of waterproofing that you may not have with your regular purse or tote bag. There's nothing like the sinking feeling in your stomach when you look in your bag and realize that your camera or phone is wet.


It's also a good strategy at Disney or any theme park where you'll be going on a water ride. While there may be waterproof bins available for your bags on some of these rides, you might still want more peace of mind. For example, on Kali River Rapids at Disney's Animal Kingdom, some guests have said that their bags still get wet even inside the provided protective bins. If you want to be super cautious, put your camera and phone into one Ziploc, close it, and then put it in another Ziploc with the zip side of the first bag at the bottom of the second bag. This will give you a double layer of protection.

Ziploc bags make doing laundry on the road easier

When you go on vacation, it's nice to get away from the everyday chores at home like doing dishes and laundry. But, if you're going to be on a longer trip and you don't want to pack a lot of clothing, you may need to find yourself a place to wash your clothes. Some hotels and resorts have in-house guest laundry options, as do many homestays, and they may have laundry detergent available, but at a massive markup. On the flip side, you don't want to bring a full detergent container with you from home.


Solution? Pop some powdered laundry detergent or some eco-friendly laundry strips into a Ziploc bag to bring with you. It takes up very little space and will end up saving you money on your trip. Pro tip — label the bag as laundry detergent to avoid any confusion with TSA. Also, if you label it, you won't store your leftovers in an empty laundry detergent bag.

Keep the contents of your suitcase clean and dry

If you want to squeeze in fun on every minute of your trip, you might find yourself at the pool or the beach in the morning before you fly back home. Even with the best dryers, you'll still likely find yourself facing the dilemma of what to do with your damp suit. If you have a larger Ziploc bag with you, there won't be a problem.


While you don't want to leave a wet swimsuit in it for a long time — hello mold! — it's safe enough to leave it in the bag for however long it takes you to get home, and you won't have a full suitcase full of slightly damp clothes to worry about. The same scenario applies if you've gone on a hiking holiday. A large enough Ziploc will work to keep dirty shoes away from the rest of the stuff in your bag.