Best Travel Tips: Don't Forget an Extra Bag

June 20, 2022, 4:16 PM · No matter where you travel this summer - or how much you pack - if you will be gone overnight, make sure you bring an extra bag with you.

I'm not talking about an extra suitcase. Unless you are planning an enormous amount of shopping on your trip, you can leave that at home. But you should consider packing an extra, folded plastic or durable cloth sack in your luggage. That's going to be your dirty clothes bag.

When you are planning what to wear on your trip, don't forget that after its first day, you will have a mix of clean and dirty clothes with you. Don't be that stereotypical college student who mixes clean and dirty items, relying on a "sniff test" to tell which is which. Just bring an extra bag for the dirty stuff. Or if you forget, designate a shopping bag from early in your trip to do the job.

Theme park shopping bags

That extra bag also makes it easy to take or send those clothes out to wash, too. Some hotels still provide laundry bags, but ever-growing cuts in hotel services mean that you should not count on one being there for you at your destination. And if you are staying an AirBnB, a hostel, campground, or someone's home, there's pretty much zero chance that anyone will have a laundry bag for you.

Some people might recommend bringing a resealable plastic bag for wet clothes. I won't, and instead will recommend that you dry your wet clothes before putting them away in a laundry bag. Hang them in the bathroom or a clothesline. Don't stick a wet swimsuit or drenched shirt in with other dry clothes to mildew and stink up the bag. Dry them first.

That said, a resealable plastic bag can be useful for storing wet items temporarily, such as on your way back from a water park or the beach. Just don't leave those wet items sealed away long enough to get funky. Rinse and dry them as soon as you can, then fold 'em up in the dirty clothes bag until it's time to wash.

At the end of the trip, when repacking everything to fit in my luggage for the return home, I have turned my laundry bag inside out to fit whatever clean clothes I have left, so that I can continue to keep them separated from all the dirty stuff now filling the rest of my luggage.

Experienced travelers often have their own systems for managing dirty clothes during a trip. If you have a tip you would like to share with other Theme Park Insider readers, please tell us in the comments.

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Replies (4)

June 20, 2022 at 9:16 PM

This isn't a fancy piece of advice but boy is it important and very easy to forget. Unpacking can be tough. It's work. Plus it has the whole "my vacation is in the past" vibes. That excitement to pack and go on the trip isn't there. Having this extra bag available at the end of the trip certainly makes the unpacking a bit more organized and bearable. I had also grown to depend on the laundry bags at hotels but either they were small and only one provided per trip or as Robert alluded to earlier, hotels are bypassing that little detail entirely. Great advice here.

June 21, 2022 at 9:42 AM

IDK, I think this is a bit of overkill for clothing. It's often nice to have a collapsible bag or 2 for one-off souvenirs or other small items you might collect on vacation that don't come in shopping bags (maps, pins, plastic cups, etc...), but to bring bags just for clothes seems silly. If we're staying in a single hotel on vacation, I will unpack my suitcase into the hotel room drawers, and then pack dirty clothes back into the suitcase as they're worn. If we're staying at multiple hotels, I will keep clean and dirty clothes separate in different stacks within the suitcase or use the different compartments within the suitcase (or packing cubes) to isolate heavily soiled clothes from the clean ones. Even if we're staying in multiple hotels, I'll still use the room drawers if we're staying for more than 2 nights.

June 21, 2022 at 12:06 PM

My lifehack in distinguishing dirty from clean is turning my dirty clothes inside out. That way, if I end up not wearing all my clean clothes, I have an easier time determining what needs to be washed when I unpack.

June 21, 2022 at 12:32 PM

I'm a big fan of a small laundry bag. When I was a college student Lucent Technologies handed out free laundry bags to anyone who inquired about jobs at their booth. They didn't offer me a job thankfully (because they no longer exist), but that laundry bag goes with me on all of my travels. Dirty clothes go into it and if I'm traveling to multiple destinations it keeps everything separate.

Not sure about putting clothes in the drawers provided at hotels. That just gives me the chills. There's no telling what small critters could have been left behind by the last guest. I'll keep my stuff in my suitcase.

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