Best Packing Tip Ever: Sit & Zip

Every now and then, FareCompare asks a well-traveled employee to share a favorite tip. Editor Anne McDermott’s best packing tip is especially good for carry-ons.

Does this sound impossible? A 12 day trip to Europe with a single carry-on bag. I did it and had plenty of  neat and wrinkle-free clothes thanks to Sit & Zip. [Don’t miss the video below.]

What is Sit & Zip?

Sit & Zip is what I call my space-saving packing method that will help avoid bag fees. I’d like to think I invented it but I’ll bet others have been doing this for years. Here’s how I do it.

The goal:

Create more room in a suitcase by placing clothes in plastic bags with the air squeezed out. You could buy relatively expensive bags designed for this purpose (I’ve seen six for $20) and you might need a vacuum. Sit & Zip is a lot less complicated.

What you need:

  • Box of gallon-size zip bags. Note: I’ve used both brand names and supermarket bags (50 bags for $3.99).
  • Your behind (yes, the part of your anatomy you sit on).

Directions:

  1. Take an item of clothing and fold lengthwise.
  2. Tightly roll up the item so it resembles a tube.
  3. Put the tube in the zip bag.
  4. Place the unzipped (open) bag on a bed or a chair, and sit on it hard to expel all the air.
  5. While still seated, zip up the bag to seal.

Result: A satisfyingly flat bag to place in your luggage. I got about a dozen into a small, no-wheels carry-on (plus a pair of shoes, toiletries, documents, random unbagged items and more). Total bag weight: 15 pounds or 7 kilograms. Here’s Sit & Zip in action.

VIDEO: The Sit & Zip packing method.

What You Can and Can’t Pack

I did not pack any 100% cotton must-iron items so I can’t say if it would keep a shirt like that looking nice (doubt it!) but I do know it works on polo tops, pullovers, simple dresses, denim jeans, khakis and more. Next time you travel, consider Sit & Zip – and if you do, tell me how it worked out.

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Updated: November 12, 2015