This blog post was updated on February 2, 2016.


For budget travelers, plastic bags provide convenience beyong the 3-1-1 liquid policy (Flickr: javajoba)
Plastic bags provide convenience beyond the 3-1-1 liquid policy

The plastic bag. It comes in an assortment of fashionable colors: dark green, black, white.  It is durable (hello, super industrial leaf/lawn bags) and ready to take on the world – extra-heavy-duty with thick plastic bands to pull tight, keeping everything safely inside.


Cheap flights are just one way to save money when planning travel. While on most days, these plastic bags are used for, well, trash, it doesn’t have to always be their fate. Budget travelers can use the well-versed plastic bag in oh-so many fantastic ways.


To protect your luggage. Forget spending the money on expensive water-proof rain covers for backpacks and luggage. Bring a big trash bag to throw over your bag when the rain starts to come down. For extra safe measures, spray on some water-proof spray before you leave town.


To protect your important documents. The passport, proof of insurance, copies of important information … all of these things needs not only to be easily found, but also protected from water damage. No good will come of a soggy piece of paper with blurred credit card numbers should you have to report a card missing. Instead, take a freezer bag and place all of those important pieces of paper in there. Organization, easy access and protection against the elements.


To protect electronics. Day-to-day exploration likely means bringing along that nice camera or little laptop for sipping coffee at a street café. Instead of not bringing those electronic gadgets along due to iffy weather, put them in plastic. Depending on the size and amount of electronics needing to be protected, grab a small trash can-sized bag or a freezer bag and put the camera, laptop, etc. in there. Seal it up and bring it along.


To keep your body dry. Caught in the rain? Don’t spend a small fortune on a rain jacket. Instead, use a big trash bag, cut the bottom of it off, and two holes in its side. Voila. Instant poncho. While the fashion may be questionable, you will stay dry.


To haul your toiletries. Nothing is worse than having the shampoo ooze onto clothes during transit. Spending money on a nice carry-all for toiletries is one way to keep everything organized. Or, you could spend a lot less money (or no money should these items be in the house), grab a freezer bag, and load each item into its own plastic bag. If you’re taking toiletries in a carry-on, the TSA even mandates the use of a small plastic bag to enforce its 3-1-1 liquid policy.


Be sure to find out the local rules regarding plastic bags. In some countries, like Rwanda, they are illegal.


Flickr: javajoba

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