Packing Tip: Cling Wrap

Every year I travel, I pick up a new trick or two. This year, it’s using cling wrap to secure my toiletries and booze bottles that use corks. As I’m traveling on my honeymoon, I figured I’d put it through the test and document the results.

I’ve got a simple plastic travel bottle of shampoo and one of conditioner—the sort of bottles that you get in a 3-1oz bottle kit where the top easily depresses to make a little spigot. I also have some gel-based deodorant, some Dove, toothpaste, and a secure container of body soap. I decided to have the more secured items work as a control, since I trusted them more. (I chose to buy a toothbrush on the ground, or else I would have wrapped the head in cling wrap since I don’t have one of those travel cases.)

Cling wrap in action

I put all that in a Ziploc quart-sized bag, partly because of ease and partly because it’s secure. The night before the trip, I packed all this in my suitcase to be checked, in the outer pocket—as I didn’t want to get my clothes gunked up just in case something happened. After a morning of travel to the airport, two hours of flight, and five hours of driving, we got to our hotel room. I opened up the suitcase.

In years past, I would put all these items in a bag but not wrap them, and the inside of the bag would have some film from whatever opened in transit due to the pressure change or jostling or whatever. This time, a clean bag! I unwrapped each of the items—the shampoo and conditioner leaked a little, but nothing particularly bad.

The deodorant gel didn’t spill out this time the way it did at Gen Con, but as this is my travel bar that I bought fresh for Gen Con, that could have just been a one-time thing. Still, no harm in wrapping it in cling wrap.

The other items, including my sort-of controls, were just fine. (As was my flask, not pictured.)


Part of the reason this works—and why I did this originally for cork bottles—is because the cling wrap helps keep an easily opened lid closed. There’s just enough resistance to make it non-trivial to pop open, if you wrap it right. And if it does open, then the mess is minimized and self-contained.

The Real Trick

It’s easy to do this once, right? But most of the time, we’re doing the return trip thing. So here’s what I do: I bring the cling wrap with me, so that I can do this again going home. Now, that takes of precious space in luggage that could be used for game supplies or memorabilia or a new t-shirt or whatever. Knowing that, it’s the first on my list of “acceptable to leave behind in a hotel room.” Cling wrap is cheap, so if I can’t take it home, it’s no sweat.

(Of course, as someone who grew up playing Tetris, I’m not the sort that’ll leave cling wrap behind easily. But that’s me; the idea is still sound.)

– Ryan