Pack it small to pack it all

By , Special to The Christian Science Monitor

Worrying that the zipper will pop on your luggage just as the taxi comes? Need a football team to sit on your suitcase to close it? The solution could be in the bag - a special clear bag in which to place your clothes. Available under several brand names, such as Pack-Mate, Pack-Mor, and Travel Space Bag, these transparent travel storage bags look a bit like zipper-lock freezer bags, except they have a special one-way air valve. Put clothing in the bag, seal the zipper, and roll up the bag from the end. As air is pushed out the valve, the clothing compresses. It looks like a giant freeze-dried block when you finish, but it takes only one-quarter the usual space in your luggage - meaning that travelers can pack 75 percent more.

Unlike earlier bags that needed a vacuum hose to pull the air out, these reusable bags can be packed empty and used on the road as you need space. They are odor-proof, too, so you can pack dirty laundry without contaminating clean clothes.

There is a downside to their use: Don't expect shirts packed in them to look like they just came from the laundry. Whatever wrinkles occur in the compression will be well-developed by the time you arrive at your destination. The best use is for bulky items like knits.

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Bags come in several sizes, ranging from 12 by 14 inches to 30 by 36 inches. Cost varies from $7 to $16. Look for the space-saving bags in luggage stores or Or phone 1- 800-469-9044. They can also be found online at www.magsbags.com/pacmor.htm, www.walkabout

travelgear.com/packit.htm, or www.spacebag.com.

They can also be purchased in bulk (www.onlinema

rine.com/online_superstore/interior/packmate_storage_bags.htm) in case you need to outfit a whole football team. Go ahead, send those guys out on the road - you won't need them anymore when it's time to close your suitcase.

(c) Copyright 2000. The Christian Science Publishing Society

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