Samantha Brown's Solution For Packing Efficiently For The Whole Family

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We love a good packing hack. With 62 countries under her belt, you can bet that Samantha Brown from the Travel Channel, a self-proclaimed airport geek, knows a thing or two about optimizing luggage space. She recently shared with Travel & Leisure that one of her secret weapons is packing vacuum bags instead of laundry bags when traveling with her kids. By the end of the trip, when the bag is full, she rolls out the air and stuffs it inside her suitcase, keeping the dirty clothes separate and freeing up extra space that wasn't there before.

But why stop at just laundry? Vacuum bags are an excellent option for packing all of your clothes, provided that you can stay within the weight limit of your airline's baggage policy. If you can spare the space in your bag, Spacesaver offers a 10-pack of vacuum bags with an electric pump for $49.99. It's a perfect combo to compress your wardrobe and make space for souvenirs on the way home.

Use your luggage as an air compressor

There's one more sneaky space hack, courtesy of Brown's Instagram. She swears you can pack two extra outfits with this little-known zipper trick. Once you've packed your carry-on bag nearly full, grab the "expandable zipper" — i.e., the zipper commonly found around the midsection. Not just for decoration, open the zipper all the way around and watch it add a couple of inches to your suitcase. Grab those last-minute wardrobe essentials and pack them inside your suitcase. Now, as you zip your luggage completely shut, the air will be compressed right out. Who knew?

Brown's luggage collection on the Home Shopping Network (HSN) features these expandable zippers, available in both carry-on and checked baggage options. SWISSGEAR makes a popular choice for Amazon shoppers as well, with a 21-inch carry-on that's suitable for even the strictest of airlines. If you combine these with some compression packing cubes and make the most out of every nook and cranny, says Brown, you'll be able to bring way more on vacation than you ever thought possible.