Travel Tuesday: Packing a budget airline personal item

August 28
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I am a sucker for a deal. Like, I will go out of my way to save a few bucks no matter what. It is one of my best and worst traits. So of course, I have flown budget airlines. I just can’t resist $30 flights, can you blame me? But of course, that $30 fare does not include a checked bag or even a carry on. They always allow you to add one on, but for starting at $25 each way you know I’m not buying it.

Anyways, I have become a bit of an expert at packing for a long weekend in a free “personal item.” A personal item is defined as a purse, briefcase, or small backpack.  Below are the size rules on three popular budget airlines at of August 27, 2018.

Allegiant
16 x 15 x 7 inches
Frontier
18 x 14 x 8 inches
Spirit
18 x 14 x 8 inches

For the last few years I have been using an old bag that I was given at at work conference as my carry on. It was smaller than the requirements but it got the job done and was something I had around the house. With a few trips in the works I decided it was time to bite the bullet and pick out a bag that would last and be the exact perfect size so I could maximize my packing. I landed on this bag from Madewell. The dimensions are just right so I can stuff the bag and still fit it on Frontier and Spirit flights. I will want to pack a little lighter on Allegiant, but it will still be fine.

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Below is what I pack for a long weekend in my free personal item. This includes four summer outfits, pajamas, makeup, shampoo, and other personal items. In this trip I brought my large black water bottle to fill up past security, but I could skip that and buy a bottle of water at the gate if I needed the space.

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Note that I have a smaller purse in my bag. When you carry a personal item as your bag you do not get an additional purse. Because of this I throw one in my bag and pull it out later. This is another item I could skip depending on the trip, or I could find a smaller purse for these uses. I also utilized gallon sized zip bag to hold my clothes. I am starting to do this with the personal item bag to help keep things organized. I usually end up searching for something at the bottom of the bag at the airport and making everything in to a mess. This just makes it a little easier. Also please note I am on the small side so my clothes take up less room.

In this scenario the bag is packed for summer with simple outfits. I would wear jeans to the airport and carry a sweater as I always like to bring one when I travel. I’d also wear my larger shoes. If it was winter I’d fly in jeans and boots, carry my jacket, and pack extra sweaters and maybe jeans if I have to.

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I like to be as prepared as I can when I travel, but I also like to think of it as a time to practice working with what I have. I only bring the staples for makeup and often skip simple toiletries such as shampoo if I know it will be available where I am staying. I don’t like to spend a bunch of money on travel size stuff, but I do always have travel sized hairspray. That is one item that I have to have. Your list might be different depending on your needs.

Do you use a personal item as your suitcase when you travel? What are your favorite ways to maximize space in it?

Traveling Spirit Airlines? Read about my favorite tips.

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