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. 

  • The Pioneer Woman's Boarding House in Pawhuska, Oklahoma, is a special hotel. There are eight rooms, each beautifully decorated, and no two rooms are alike. With large bathrooms, a mini-bar, evening reception, room service, valet parking, high-speed internet, and friendly service, a night here is a real treat. Ann snapped this picture of the arrangement of fresh flowers in the Butterfly Room. The bed in the background? That's a Tempurpedic mattress with some of the softest bedding around. We can't think of a better place to spend a cozy night when you @visittheosage and Pawhuska.⁣
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@pwboardinghouse
  • While in Italy, we took a cooking class in the home of a the owner of a small vineyard. During the class, we learned to make several dishes including pasta (which we rolled and cut by hand) as well as Tiramisu. Looking at this picture, we can still taste the freshness of the pasta, the tomatoes picked that morning from vines in the yard for the sauce, and the herbs clipped from a pot on the porch. It was a magical meal, paired with wines they had produced using grapes they'd grown on their own land. Talk about a farm to table meal.
  • The Enchanted Highway near @visit_dickinson, North Dakota, is a 30 mile stretch of road that runs from I-94 to Regent. Along the way you'll find a number of huge metal sculptures that have to be seen to be believed. The size and scale of these creations is such that you'll be filled with a sense of wonder, and a desire to drive on to the next one. This particular creation is called, appropriately enough, "Grasshoppers in the Field." This road is just one more reason for you to hop on up to North Dakota. @NorthDakotaLegendary
  • One of our favorite restaurants whether on land or at sea is @celebritycruises Luminae restaurant. Every morsel of every dish has been thoughtfully considered, prepared, and presented. Take this Chocolate Palet dessert for instance. It's so rich that more than a few bites would be almost overwhelming. But that's okay, as the serving size is perfect. Paired with the scoop of gelato on a bed of chocolate crumbles? Well, it makes a perfect end to a scrumptious meal. A true masterpiece.
  • One of the things we love most about traveling is discovering new things. New destinations, new foods, new cocktails, and new people. What do you like to discover?
  • Our imaginations run wild when we find ourselves in a place so chock-full of history like Deadwood, South Dakota. As we took in the town, we closed our eyes and listened for echoes from the past when Calamity Jane and Wild Bill Hickok lived here. If only the streets could talk. @tripscout @midwestliving⁣
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  • Standing on a hill in present-day Rome, you can look down on the Roman Forum, the center of activity in ancient Rome. We've all heard of Julius Caesar, Augustus Caesar, Marcus Agrippa, and the Apostle Paul, and we know them as ancient historical figures who almost don't seem real. And then you see this space, the very streets where they walked and the buildings they knew. This is why Rome is the eternal city. You can still walk streets and cross bridges built thousands of years ago. Being there makes it's real, and suddenly history comes alive.
  • Is there anything more relaxing than the thought of a beautiful sandy beach? How about one with pink sand, like at Horseshoe Bay in Bermuda? We made a stop here during our visit to the island nation and loved seeing all the folks there enjoying their time splashing in the warm summer sun. ⁣
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Would you like to visit this beach?

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