We’ve all been there, next to the hotel pool, debating whether to jump in or not because we don’t know if our swimsuit will dry (it won’t) before we have to put it in the suitcase. Here’a a tip: Pack an extra bag … or eight.

Whether we are traveling to Europe for 14 days or taking a weekend road trip, we almost always bring along extra plastic groceries sacks. Trust me, they can be used for more than just carrying Froot Loops into the house.

Bring several extra bags on your trip, and give them a new life. They are light weight, fairly watertight, and reasonably strong. Here are eight ways we’ve found them useful.

– Pull one out for use as a trash bag.

– Carry one along the beach with you to collect shells.

– Use one as an overnight bag at a hotel so you can leave the big suitcase in the car.

– Bring another for your wet swimsuit.

– Put your dirty laundry in one to keep it separated from your clean clothes.

– Put your dirty shoes in another before repacking.

– Use as a placemat at a picnic table when you stop for lunch.

– Use as a makeshift glove when touching something dirty (gas nozzle, dog doo, etc.)

These infinitely useful, free sacks take up almost no space in your bag–if you take a little time before you leave to prepare. I’ve found that if I re-fold the bags carefully, making sure to get all the air out of them, I can get a bunch in a very small space. They fold up well, and you can fit several in a ziplock bag. Here’s how I do it (please excuse my bad hair — it was very early morning).

The photo at the top of this post shows eight bags “au naturale” next to eight bags folded carefully in a ziplock bag.  The loose bags are large, bulky, and kind of a mess. The eight folded bags take up almost no space and weigh next to nothing. It isn’t hard to fold them up, and you’ll be glad to have the bags along on your next trip.

Do you take extra grocery sacks when you travel? What other uses have you found? Let us know — we’d love to hear from you. 

  • Just over two years ago, we stopped in Pawhuska to have lunch at Ree Drummond's @PWMercantile. From the person opening the door for us to the folks tending the line giving us water, we felt welcome from the moment we set foot in Pawhuska, Oklahoma.⁣
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But it turns out it wasn't just @thepioneerwoman and her husband, Ladd, who went above and beyond to welcome visitors. No, it turns out what they did was just par for the course in this town that's home to some of the friendliest and most welcoming people we've met in all our travels. ⁣
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So we bought a house there. We got it in part, so we could be a part of the community we've come to love. But we also got it so we could help welcome folks to town and let them know how glad we are they came to visit. Come and see Pawhuska. And when you do, stay awhile.
  • Fried dill pickles are a little different in North Dakota than they are in most other places we've been. Instead of just dipping some dill chips in batter, dropping them in the fryer, and then serving them in a basket with ranch, the folks there take their time and make a dish to remember.⁣
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They start with a dill pickle spear, wrap that in Havarti cheese, then put a wonton wrapper around it all. Then, they fry it, and slice it open just so before serving them alongside a spicy aioli dipping sauce. We had these at a complimentary meal at Outlaws Bar and Grill in @visitwilliston, North Dakota.⁣
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Let's be honest, these pickles are just one of many reasons we look forward to our return to @northdakotalegendary next year.
  • Have you ever had the chance to watch a cruise ship come into or leave port? These massive ships, often 1,000 feet or more long, can maneuver themselves by the dock so gently that you don't even realize you've stopped (or started) moving.⁣
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In Bermuda, we had the chance to watch the Norwegian Escape depart. We watched as she pushed away from the dock, then spun 180 degrees on a point before heading out to sea.⁣
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We've seen ships do this dozens of times. In fact, we've been on ships and have been part of this type of maneuvering dozens of times. And yet, given the sheer size of the vessels, it never ceases to impress.
  • You know you want to. Do it. Just book the ticket and go. At the end of your life, you likely won't remember most of the stuff you bought in 2019, but you will always remember the journey you took and the experiences you had. So enrich your life and go. We've never regretted spending money for a trip.
  • This just might be the sweetest, best pecan roll we've ever had. At the @PWMercantile, they bake these delicious treats daily. Covered in a luscious caramel and finely chopped pecans, these rolls are the stuff dreams are made of. Have you had one?
  • Smack in the middle of Portland, Oregon, we found the International Rose Test Garden. Set on 4.5 acres of land, the garden offers visitors a chance to see 10,000 rose bushes from about 650 different varieties. ⁣
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We spent more than an hour walking the carefully tended paths, snapping photos, and just enjoying the beautiful flowers. Our visit here made us glad that we literally scheduled time on this trip to stop and smell the roses.
  • Set in a renovated middle school in Grinnell, Iowa, Hotel Grinnell is one of our favorite boutique hotels. The owner thoughtfully designed the space and included touches from school including “Hall Pass” key card sleeves, and a bar cleverly named, “The Periodic Table.” We wrote a story on this hotel, you can read all about it on our blog. Link in bio. @hotelgrinnell #hosted @traveliowa
  • Everyone has a happy place, a spot where the world melts away and a sense of relaxation and calm settles in. For Steve, this place is on board a cruise ship, out on open water. He can spend hours sitting and watching the water, the ship's wake, and looking out for other ships. He loves soaking up the sun and fresh ocean air while cruising along on the sea. ⁣
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What's your happy place? ⁣
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