Vacuum bags

This item appears on page 33 of the May 2011 issue.

You probably have seen ads for plastic bags that use a vacuum cleaner or other special gadget to compact clothes for efficient packing. The idea is good. The problem, however, is that when you’re away from home, where do you find a vacuum cleaner to use when packing for your return trip?

Our solution is to buy large (two-gallon or larger), resealable freezer bags from our local supermarket. We keep heavy socks in one bag and underwear in one or two others.

We partially seal the bags, then simply sit on them, forcing the air out before completing the sealing.

This way, we don’t need the vacuum cleaner. Another plus — the cost is very low.

Skokie, IL

There are Space Bag® (San Diego, CA; 800/469-9044) travel roll-up bags that do not require a vacuum. These reusable transparent bags, available in two sizes (13½"x19½" and 18"x22½"), have a zip-lock closure, making them air- and water-tight. After the bag is packed, you roll up the bag while forcing air out of the bag through the one-way valve. They are available online and through retailers such as Target and WalMart. At, a set of four bags costs $12.99.