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How to Pack for a Ski Trip in a Carry-on Bag

With a three-night ski trip to Park City, Utah, on the docket, I had a challenge on my hands. How to pack for a ski trip in only a carry-on bag? I had no interest in coughing up the $50 in baggage fees I’d incur if I checked my luggage on my hour-long Delta flight from Grand Junction, Colorado, to Salt Lake City, so I turned to my new secret weapon in packing: Ziploc Space Bags with a vacuum seal.

Here’s a shot of all the clothing and winter-weather gear I packed in my carry-on bag during my stay at the Washington School House Hotel in Park City. Note the items include snow boots, tennis shoes, hats, mittens, several base layers, a couple of sweaters, goggles, thick socks, bathing suit and pajamas.

space bags for travelAnd here’s how I fit it all in my 22-inch Travelpro rollerboard (admittedly the largest of all the rollerboards I own): I crammed all of the soft-sided stuff into two medium-sized Ziploc Space Bags that I’d bought at Wal-mart for about $20. This is what one of the bags looked like before I vacuumed the air out of it:

vaccum seal space bags

And here’s how it shrunk down several inches in “height” after I vacuumed the air out:

space saving compression bag

I used two of these, and put one in the “top” of my carry-on rollerboard, and one on top of my boots and other small, rolled items in the “bottom” bottom of my carry-on. You can see the bottom one here; it fits perfectly in my 22-inch-tall rollerboard!

space bags for travel

Now, some of the Ziploc-brand bags I’ve seen on the market (or at least online) are meant to be rolled to squeeze all the air out. (Like this set of five, compressible travel bags-pack I found on Amazon.com.) However, the particular box of two, medium-sized space-saving bags I bought at Wal-mart, weren’t really supposed to be used for travel; they’re meant for long-term storage. So, I didn’t have the “roll up” option when I needed to re-pack my bag for my return trip home after my stay at the Washington School House Hotel.

Thankfully, housekeeping there had a vacuum with a hose that I could use to suck the air out of my compression bags. (And the accommodating front desk staff didn’t even blink an eye when I made the strange request to borrow such a vacuum!)

Many travel-related and luggage companies make these compression sacks, like Pack Mate, Eagle Creek and Samsonite. I’ll likely purchase some “roll the air out” bags if I’m ever traveling to a location where I think I might not have access to a vacuum. But until then, my vacuum-seal bags from Ziploc will do just fine when I want to make all of my clothing (or ski gear) fit in my carry-on bag.

4 Responses to “How to Pack for a Ski Trip in a Carry-on Bag”

  1. 1

    So those vacuum bags really work??? Now the question is what about coming back home? Does the vacuum fit into your travel bag without adding weight? If so, I’m getting one.

    • 1.1
      Kara Williams says:

      I used the hotel’s vacuum! I wouldn’t travel with a vaccum. Would only use in places where I KNEW there would be a vacuum to borrow for my return trip.

  2. 2
    Ross says:

    I did a similar thing skiing over new years. I didn’t use the vacuum packs but lots of downward pressure on my bag!! Those vacuum packs sound brilliant though.

  3. 3
    Adam says:

    Wow…great idea ;))) My feet are 48 (US14) therefore I have my suitcase full with just a pair of shoes ;) I will definitely try this trick next time. Thanks for sharing

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