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12 Dry bag Hacks For Travelling

Before my last trip I had this spare little dry bag sitting in my closet.  It took up hardly any space so I thought about tossing it in my travel pack.

It seemed harmless, but since I travel with only one backpack, every little item gets scrutinized for it’s practicality.  I was really on the fence about this dry bag.

It was a Sea-To-Summit Ultra-Sil dry bag.  They are supper thin and portable, but I just wasn’t sure how useful the bag would be on my trip.  At the last minute I decided to pack it, and boy am I glad I did.

This little Sea-To-Summit Dry bag is  the Swiss army knives of bags.  Here are all the ways I used this bag on my travels.

1. Pillow

Most places I stayed, I had a pillow available to me, but occasionally, I stayed at a guesthouse that didn’t have a pillow.  I also had a few over nighters on buses and in airports.  The Ultra Sil bag holds air well enough it can be made into a make shift pillow.

It’s not the world’s best pillow.  I won’t be replacing my goose down pillow back home with it, but in a pinch it’s way better than nothing.

The nylon material stays cool to the touch so it won’t get too hot or sticky on your face either.

2.  Vacuum Packing Cube

My last trip I went entirely without packing cubes, but to keep things a little more organized I kept my shorts, bathing suit, and a few shirts stuffed in the dry bag.

Lay everything in it flat. Then, kneel on it to squish it down and then roll up and close the bag while you’re on top it.

It will hold your compression.   It’s nearly as good a true vacuum packing cube.  This saved some precious space in my only travel bag.

As a bonus these clothes stayed perfectly dry in the rainy humid weather of South East Asia.

3.  Floating Marker

I love diving. In Thailand a few backpackers and I went searching for a hidden reef in a nearby cove.  It wasn’t easy to spot as the cove was big and there were a number of semi-submerged boulders to swim around before you got to the hidden reef.

It took us a while to find it but eventually we did.  It was a great find though.  There was so much color and life at this hard to spot reef.

One of the guys in the group wanted to show it to a friend.  So he didn’t have to search through the cove twice, he borrowed my dry bag, inflated it, and tied it to a rock.  He place my bag out by the reef so he and his friend could go back later that afternoon.

4.  Day Bag

When I was packing for my trip I didn’t take into account how often I would be hanging out on beaches and what I would need to bring for a beach day.  I never thought to pack a beach bag.

Lucky for me, this lightweight dry bag made the perfect day bag for the beach.

With the folding top it was great at keeping the sand out and kept everything inside from getting soaked when the surf washed out my picnic spots.

5.  Snack Bowl

I met this crazy guy who traveled all over South East Asia with a movie projector.

I know.


He really loved movies and everywhere he went, he’d put on movie nights for other guests.

Before attending one of his move nights, I picked up some local snacks.

Snacks in South East Asia are a big deal.  They have so many interesting options.

To make it easy for everyone to reach in, I grabbed my dry bag and rolled the edges in to make the perfect snack bowl.

The projector guy liked it so much he asked if he could have it, but I said “No Way.”  That dry bag was too handy to give up.

6.  Dirty Laundry Hamper

This was probably the most common use for my bag and before you think it, yes I cleaned the bag before using it as a snack bowl.

7.  Laundry Machine

While this ultra thin dry bag isn’t completely waterproof, it does hold water well. (The fabric just gets damp, but nothing more than that)

I prefer to wash my clothes in a sink, but in a pinch I’ve used the dry bag.  Just add a change of clothes, some water and a little soap. Get as much of the air out as you can and then seal it up and start rolling it around.

The old laundry in the sink trick does work better, but when you are sharing a sink, or somewhere there is no sink, a dry bag works too.

I usually did my own laundry while travelling.  It saved me a few bucks, but more than that I didn’t have to wait around on a laundry facility.

8.  Expansion Gear Bag

I tried to avoid picking up souvenirs on my trip, but after a few months of travel, you will end up accumulating a few things.  When my backpack could no longer hold everything, I ended up using my dry bag like an expansion pack and lashed it to the bottom of my backpack.

9.  Extra Waterproof Protection

Most of my trip took place during rainy season.  Actually rainy season was not as bad as I expected it to be, but there were a few very rainy days.  When I was out and about on those days, I packed my critical electronics like my camera in my dry bag before placing everything in my backpack.

My main bag had a rain cover, but with as wet as things were, the extra protection for my gear was great piece of mind.

It ended up being a good choice when all my gear got dropped in a flooded drainage ditch along with my motorcycle and me.

Everything in my main bag was damp, but the extra protection saved my electronics from getting ruined.

10.  Rain Gear Separator

On a few smaller weekend trips in Bali I was faced with the rainiest days of my trip. I made it through all of rainy season in Thailand and Vietnam without a rain jacket or poncho but Bali finally broke me.  I bought a poncho, and an umbrella. To keep my wet umbrella and poncho from soaking the rest of my gear, I kept it all neatly tucked away in my dry bag under the seat of my rental scooter.

These aren’t the only uses for a dry bag.  I thought of a few more after my trip that could prove handy.

11.  Water Bowl.

If you are travelling with a dog, you could use the snack bowl setup to create a water bowl for your dog.  You probably have the foresight to bring a portable dog bowl, but if you find yourself in a place without one, know you have options.

12.  Bear bag

With some string and a dry bag, you can make a bear bag to hang in a tree and protect your food.  We used to carry a specific bag for our bear bag on camping trips, but a dry bag would have worked just as well.

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Travelgrammer Of The Week: Chelsea Yamase