Travel Hack: How to Make Ice Without Ice Cube Trays

There’s one thing you can count on if you work while traveling: given enough time, you’ll definitely run into some technical difficulties. We certainly did while spending our first month of workation in Aguada, Puerto Rico!

Fortunately, we were able to hack together some solutions on the fly, and we decided to keep track of the issues we encountered and how we worked our way around them in case other digital nomads ran into them along their journeys. There’s no need to reinvent the wheel, as they say.

If you want to hear about all of the technical difficulties and travel hacks we, uh, grew from, be sure to check out The Workationing Podcast on iTunes or SoundCloud (Episode 5). Subscribe and give us a rating, if you’re feeling that generous 😉

Technical Difficulty #1: You Have No Ice Cube Trays

This sounds minor, and it would be…if it wasn’t so damn hot in Puerto Rico. There weren’t any ice cube trays in our Airbnb, and we couldn’t find any at the grocery store or local farmacias.

Eventually we found some (and gifted them to the Airbnb along with our snorkel gear and beach towels – road karma!), but before we found those precious pieces of plastic we travel hacked our way to a solution: Ziplock baggies.

Travel Hack: How to Make Ice With No Ice Trays

You might not have (or be able to find) an ice cube tray, but resealable baggies are everywhere in every country. Those, you can find – Step 1 of this travel hack is to get some of those bags, and they might already be in your Airbnb.

Kelly and I take our ice very seriously, and so we A/B tested the hell out of this to determine the best way to achieve optimal iceage. The prototype ice bags are what you see in the photo above – toward the end, we’d really stepped up our game.

The original strategy was to create ice rods that we could put vertically into our cups. This was achieved by dangling the water baggies from the shelf in the freezer, and was fairly successful.

However, in our expert opinions the best way to make ice in a Ziplock bag is to use what we call the “pancake method.” To achieve this, fill a resealable bag about 25% full with water – you don’t want the ice to be too thick or you won’t be able to break it up. Next, lay it flat in your freezer and let the freezer do its thing for a few hours.

Once it’s solid, you’ll have a flat square of ice in a bag. Smack that bag against something hard or drop it on your tile floor, and you’ll get a delightful crushed ice experience.


Have you used the Ziplock-bag-as-an-ice-maker method before? How have you travel hacked your way around ice shortage issues? Share your secrets with us!


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