How to Pack for a Week In a Free Personal Item Bag – Even with Allegiant and Spirit Airlines Restrictions

How to Pack for a Week in a Personal Item Bag

By NEY

When my sister Candy (one of the authors of this blog) and her husband moved to Texas for his job I knew that airports and flying were going to become a way of life since there was no way I could go more than a few months without seeing my sister!

We are really fortunate that we live between two airports: a major airport and a smaller more local airport. We have a lot of flights to choose from when flying between Florida and Texas. However, recently the least expensive choice has been flying in and out of the smaller, local airport on the discount airline Allegiant. I know that there are many people who hate this airline but I have mostly had positive experiences with them but you do have to expect that you will probably be leaving and arriving somewhat late. Usually the delays are under an hour and they are frequently $200 less than the next cheapest flight. In addition, they are the only option when flying our of the small airport and you don’t have to arrive very early if you aren’t checking a bag.

All of this being said, the only bag you are allowed to bring on this airline included for free in the price of your ticket is a personal item bag.

From their site

“Every passenger can bring One Free Personal Item

Your Personal Item (like a purse, briefcase, or a small backpack) must be stored completely underneath the seat in front of you.

Maximum dimensions are 7 x 15 x 16 inches (17.8 x 38.1 x 40.6 centimeters)”

personal-item

While I was actually on the plane I measured with a pocket tape measure and the under seat dimensions where the bag has to fit is actually closer to 15 x 10 x 16 so if you are a little over 7 inches you should be okay. They don’t usually check the personal items that closely. I’ve actually never had one checked at all but I have seen people charged right before getting on the plane when their bags were obviously too big and then it costs $50 per carry on bag.

It costs $30-$50 to add a carry on or checked baggage prior to a flight. I would be lying if I said I didn’t see this as a money saving challenge.

I wanted to make sure that this process is as easy as possible because I fly frequently and don’t like feeling like I’m dragging around a ball and chain while waiting at the airport.

The difficult part way trying to find a bag that would fit as closely into the maximum dimensions as possible so that I could bring as much stuff as possible in what would ultimately still be a very small bag. For me it was an easy decision to purchase a rolling laptop bag because being able to roll a bag is much easier on my back.

I ended up purchasing the above Protege 16″ Rolling Briefcase with Laptop Section, Black bag from Walmart (I try not to shop at Walmart but I needed it right away) for about $35. You can find it here or in a store. The dimensions are 16 x 8 x 13. I know that this is technically 1 inch over the requirement for Allegiant but if I don’t stuff it until it bursts it can still measure at 7 inches. I’ve boarded 5 flights with this strategy and I’ve never had a problem. No one has even looked twice at my bag. 

If you are looking for a bag, I also think this very similar $40 Targus bag from Amazon Prime would work.

To start with I will show you what I wore to the airport in the following picture.

What I Wore

I wore-

  • A tank top
  • A Lose T shirt
  • A Tight T shirt
  • A comfortable jacket with huge interior pockets
  • Skinny Jeans
  • A pair of sneakers

This is what I packed in the bag-

What I Packed

In the laptop bag I packed-

  • A shirt
  • A pair of shorts
  • A pair of PJ shorts
  • A swimsuit
  • A Full length Maxi Skirt
  • Flipflops
  • A pair of High Heels
  • My laptop and mouse and charger
  • My iPad and charger
  • My Kindle
  • My phone and charger
  • My Makeup Bag and Brushes
  • A Small purse
  • Another Shirt and Dress that were gifts
  • Underwear
  • A small clear plastic case I used as a toiletry bag
  • Sunglasses
  • Glasses
  • Dramamine and Ibuprofen
  • Headphones
  • A wallet
  • A travel pillow
  • A protein bar as a snack for the plane
    • since water is not provided on the flight unless you pay for it
  • My Hydroflask aka refillable water bottle
    • since water is not provided on the flight unless you pay for it
  • The Cat is only in the picture. I doubt she would have made it through TSA!

Between what I was wearing and what I packed I ended up with 5 tops, three bottoms and a dress which is more than enough clothing for a week long trip.

I measured and remeasured the bag before and after I packed and it still fit into the strict Allegiant Airlines Personal Item Guidelines. My bag wasn’t stuffed when I was done and I could have fit more inside.

It made a huge difference that I put my clothes into gallon freezer bags and removed all of the air inside the bags and that save a ton of space. This gallon bag strategy worked out much better than using my packing cubes that I originally thought I would use.

I have learned my lesson and I also usually pack the above duffel bag from IKEA that is meant to fold up in a square that is almost flat. That way if I decide to go shopping while on vacation and bring a bigger bag home then I don’t have to buy one. It also costs significantly less to bring an addition bag home than it would to bring one round trip.

I also am no longer as worried about not stuffing my bag to the limits. I know that my bag will fit the dimensions under the seat and I put as much as it can carry into it.

 

Here is the breakdown of my strategy:

1. Find out the dimensions of the personal item you are allowed to bring for free and purchase a bag that is as close to the maximum dimensions as possible without going over. I highly recommend a rolling bag because it is easier to maneuver through the airport and then you don’t have to worry about the weight of your bag as there is no weight restriction on most airlines personal items.

2. Wear your bulkiest clothing items on the plane so that you don’t have to fit them in your bag. I always wear a couple of shirts, a jacket and my bulkiest shoes because I am usually cold anyways.

3. Wear a jacket with large pockets on the plane. This way you can put additional items in the pockets like snacks, your water bottle, etc. that would usually take up more space in your bag.

4. When packing choose clothing items that can be mixed and matched for different outfit combinations. I usually choose black basics so that they match with everything. I also bring clothes that can be dressed up or down. Look up the weather before you go so you know what you are most likely to need. I actually find that I usually bring more clothing than I need.

5. Put your clothes into gallon plastic bags and press on them to remove the air. This will condense the bulk of your clothing so you can pack more in a small space. I am amazed at how well this works. I tried using packing cubes but this works 10x better and they are cheaper. Don’t forget to pack a few extras in case they rip.

6. Make good use of your technology so that you can pack less stuff. My phone is my camera, guidebook, GPS, ticket etc. My kindle allows me to bring plenty of reading material on every trip instead of hard copy books. Remember that often pictures are the best souvenirs anyways!

7. Bring a water bottle like My Hydroflask (to fill once through security) and snacks for the plane so that you are not tempted to buy them during the flight and you aren’t starving when you get off the plane.

8. Pack a flat folding duffel bag in case you decide to bring more home than you brought with you. I enjoy thrift shopping in new places so I am often guilty of wanting to bring more home than I took with me. This way, I never have to buy a bag to take home. The above duffel bag from IKEA was a great buy and it’s cheaper when purchased directly from the store.
9. Measure and re-measure your bag once it is full to make sure that it fits the maximum dimensions. If you personal item bag is too large you can be charged $50 just to board the plane. I have never had this problem but I have seen angry people with their too large bags who have. You don’t want this to be you.

10. Put items you need to remove during security and on the plane in easy to reach places in your bag so you don’t have to pack and repack. This also ensures that you aren’t left searching through your bag at the last minute.

Taking one small bag means that I don’t have to arrive early to check a bag, I’m not juggling a bunch of luggage, I don’t bring more than I need, I’m not worried about dealing with the overhead bins and it overall streamlines the whole travel process.

Best wishes! Enjoy your flight and your trip! 🙂

Swagbucks: Celebrate July 4th with MyGiftCardsPlus

In America, we do everything big. Big hair. Big portions. Big parties. Celebrate the 4th of July with MyGiftCardsPlus (Powered by Swagbucks) – where you have the freedom to spend big AND save big!

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via GIPHY

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This offer expires at 11:59pm PST on July 4th. Your SB will credit when your electronic gift card is delivered. Must purchase a Gift Card with a value of $50 or more to qualify for a SB bonus. Only one SB Bonus is available per retailer (ex. If you buy two $50 Gift Cards to one retailer you will ONLY receive one (1) 100 SB Bonus). You will not get a SB bonus if you stack smaller denomination Gift Cards (ex. 2 Gift Cards of $25) to equal $50, $75, $100, or more.

6-16-16 A Few Frugal Things

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-The three toys above are the three our cat Pickles pulled out of her toy box and dragged into our room. She has way too many toys for one cat and yet of the three she chose none are actually cat toys. One was given to us and the other two were clearance Christmas ornaments. They are:

  • An alligator
  • A pink elephant
  • A coffee cup

-Taking a Frugal Trip to Texas. I’m flying a discount airline, received a $50 rebate for the flight, staying with my sister so no hotel costs or rental vehicles, and I’m packing all of my stuff in a personal item bag (more on how to do that will be posted soon).

– I made a huge pot of split pea soup (Mmmmmm my favorite!) using leftover ham my mom gave me. Unfortunately, I didn’t have anything besides the spices and ham so I had to buy carrots, an onion and the peas. Thankfully that only came to about $4 and B was given a gift card. We have soup for lunches and dinners for a week for FREE!

– Downloaded some free Kindle books to occupy me on my flight this week.

– My dad was given a free sewing machine for my sister, packed it up and wanted me to mail it to her in Texas. Instead I figured out how to take it on the plane as my mom’s personal item bag for free! I can only guess but I’m sure a sewing machine is expensive to mail and I feel more confident it won’t get damaged if I can deliver it directly.

– Got $200 worth of free Publix groceries thanks to 2 gift cards B was given for his Bday.

– I skipped the 50% off day at the thrift store today because I need to work since the Summer B semester starts on Tuesday and I fly home Sunday.

– I am now teaching a 4th summer class which is great because it’s only 6 weeks long and little additional planning mostly just more grading but nothing too bad. This will also raise my income for the year if when we start trying to buy a house.

– Did another sponsored Swagbucks post

6-15-16 A Few Frugal Things

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– I cut open our bottle of organic ALDI ketchup and got a huge amount of ketchup out of the bottle for the current meal we were having after I had been repeatedly assured it was “empty.” I try to always use up everything to the last drop and if you don’t do this you will be shocked at how much is left in “empty” product and food bottles.

– I used the above Betty Crocker double ended spatula that I love that can be found for $1 at Dollar Tree! I love it so much I own 2 and I think I’m going to buy one for everyone’s stocking this Christmas.

– I mailed out a couple of items I sold on eBay this week

– I resisted going to the thrift shop to look for other items to sell because I have some items here that haven’t been listed yet

– I ran on my thrift store bought treadmill at home for free exercise

– I’m watching free TV (We don’t have cable) on my Flatscreen TV from Goodwill

– I received a $50 rebate in the mail for a plane ticket I bought at the end of last year

– I don’t have to buy any groceries this month because B was given some Publix gift cards for his Bday

– I’m combined a work errand that was an hour away tomorrow with visiting my mom and going to some local thrift shops. Unfortunately, I had to drive an hour each way but I’m glad I can combine work with fun.

– I listed more items on eBay, I’m using my free listings and eBay is running a deal where they are capping their final value fees at $20 for the whole month so I would love to sell enough items to get over that amount

6-10-2016 Thrift Finds – 25 Cent Clothes and a Griswold Cast Iron Skillet

 

2016-06-12 11.59.472016-06-12 11.59.58

I had a fun day out and about thrift shopping last Friday with my mom. The best find of the day was definitely this above Griswold Cast Iron Skillet for $5. These skillets are basically heirlooms because they can be used forever. I haven’t decided if I will keep it or sell it on eBay. I already have a cast iron skillet in this size but it’s not as high quality which is ironic because the one above is probably many, many years older.

Cast iron is prized in the chemical free community for not leaching harmful chemicals into food like the non-stick coating on so many pans.

I also got the below clothes. They were .25 cents to $1 which is significantly cheaper than the $3-7 each item at Goodwill. I love smaller, less expensive, charity thrift stores but happen to live closer to several Goodwills. Still secondhand is sooooo much cheaper than buying new and has a lot less of an impact on our planet.

2016-06-12 11.59.28

Swagbucks – MGC+ Father’s Day Sale [US Only]

 

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Plus, from now through June 12th earn Cash Back and a 100 SB bonus** when you purchase Gift Cards to Lowe’s, The Home Depot, AMC, eBay, and Sears.Make dad feel like this on Father’s Day:via GIPHY *Cash Back is paid in the form of SB points good for popular gift cards or PayPal cash.**The SB Bonus Offers apply to one purchase per gift card listed above (Lowe’s, The Home Depot, AMC, eBay, and Sears). This offer expires at 11:59pm PST on June 12th. Your SB will credit when your electronic gift card is delivered.

Dear Abby Weighs in on Shopping Sales for Gift Giving and Gift Exchanges

dearabby

I love Dear Abby! I have been reading her advice since I was a little girl. Today when I was reading her column she addressed something that my family has addressed but I always wondered about it.

If a gift exchange has a gift limit of $20 but you find an item on sale for $10 that was originally worth $10 then it is perfectly acceptable to buy the sale item and she calls it smart!

In my family we do a $10 gift exchange limit. However, getting items on sale, secondhand, free or bargains is considered part of the fun. We usually end up spending the whole $10 on each person but the gifts are usually worth a lot more!

Click below to read the full article-

http://chicago.suntimes.com/lifestyles/dear-abby-the-man-i-love-has-a-secret-girlfriend-baby/

Swagbucks Father’s Day Infographic

What does dad want for Father’s Day? Well, fun facts, of course! Check out these cool facts from a survey of moms and dads, and then swing by Swagbucks to pick out your gift from his favorite stores!
PRT-3399-fathers-day-info-graphic-v2-1 (1)
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  • Living Social – 4 SB per $1
And many, many more!

Selling on eBay- Flamingos Sweater – Unusual Thrift Finds

Flamingo Sweater

I found this really crazy but adorable but so not my style Flamingos Sweater for about $3 when I was thrifting the other day and I was super excited to find out that it sells on eBay for $45-$120! Who knew???? I currently have it listed here but I will let you know what it sells for but this is a great reminder that eBay is all about unusual and unique items so if it stands out to you some might be willing to pay a good amount for it.

2016-04-30 13.04.44

5-24-16 Thrift Finds

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I had so much luck when I went thrifting on Tues. The local thrift store is 50% regular items with a school ID. My total was $25 which would have been $50. I had just been in there but decided to go back because their jeans are usually $5 but I wanted to buy some to try to sell on eBay for $2.50. I got the jeans but I also got some stuff for our house. We have family coming to stay with us this weekend so finding extra sheets and a larger coffee pot was great timing.

For the longest time I have been looking for sheets for our queen sized bed. No lie, we have been stretching our old full sized sheets to fit it for about 4 years. I’m of course very, very picky when it comes to sheets but these were so spotless. I never find queen sheets but today I found two complete sets with pillow cases in green and black and they ended up being $3 and $5 each! I also found an additional IKEA sheet for about $1.

2016-05-24 14.49.45

I was also really excited to find two more pairs of 9 West heels (my fav to teach in)!

2016-05-24 14.55.27

I got the above old navy flowered sweater, converse jacket, black sweater (love those buttons) and J Crew sweater also. The J Crew sweater is to sell on eBay.

2016-05-24 15.08.21

This Black and Decker coffee pot was just $2 and in great condition. We had been using a small coffee pot for so long that this is a huge upgrade but I wasn’t going to upgrade until it was for $2!

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