Category Archives: Uncategorized

11-12-2017 A Few Frugal Things – Cat Tower, Yard Sales, Thrift Finds

Our 2 young cats are scratching the furniture, breaking things and destroying our blinds. We figure at this point it could only help to get them a cat tower as a distraction. We priced them everywhere and Amazon was 1/3 the price so that is the one we got. B spent about 1 and ½ hours putting it together today but the cats are using it already.

A Few Frugal Things
– We moved a few months ago and there is nothing like moving and having to haul your stuff around to make you want to get rid of junk. The picture above is of even more stuff I added to the yard sale pile the night before. While I will never be a minimalist, I have been collecting stuff in the garage to donate. I was already considering if it was worth the effort to have a yard sale when I received a notice for a neighborhood yard sale where we live. I decided to go for it because it would save me from having to put out signs or advertise.
– We had the yard sale this Friday and my mother and friend joined me. Collectively we made about $175 which isn’t bad at all for stuff we were going to donate anyways. We also didn’t have any large items. It was all small stuff. We had fun, got rid of junk, got to hang out, got some exercise and made some money.
– We had to cancel the second day of our sale after some traffic events beyond our control. My father is going to try to have a Sale next Saturday so this is motivating me to go through the house even more to try to find even more stuff to sell.
– We also had some great finds at the other neighborhood sales. I purchased a black, knee length, winter pea coat that I have been searching for at the fantastic price of $3. I also purchase a Sunbeam kitchen mixer for $5 with all the accessories. I also got some great clothes from my friend for $1 each and a set of matching lamps for free!
– My mom needed toilet bowl cleaner and I had some I could give her so she didn’t have to buy it. We also needed more face wash and then I found a large, new container of it in the back of a cabinet. I needed tights for work in the cold weather and my mom found a pair for me that she wasn’t using. I love figuring out ways to get things for free that we would otherwise have to pay for.
– We have been cooking a mix of awesome and simple meals at home rather than getting take out.
– I found out at the vet that they now have some 3 year vaccines for dogs instead of every year and they are a lot cheaper, not to mention not having another vet visit to schedule or pay for.

– I found my sister a Baby Magic Bullet in the box for $8 so that she can use it for my nephew. Her and my brother in law use their regular Magic Bullet constantly so I bet they will use this one all the time too.
Not so Frugal
– I tried to drive my mother home and we ended up getting stuck in traffic for 3 hours before realizing that there literally wasn’t an option to get her home that wouldn’t take the next 8 hours when it should have taken 30 minutes. Luckily, I filled my gas tank as soon as we left or we might have run out of gas. But it also stinks to spend that money on gas and then have to waste it on traffic before heading back home to the house we just left to stay the night and start over in the morning. However, I am grateful that we all made it home safe and sound when we saw so many accidents.
– We spent hundreds of dollars fighting fleas on our pets and in our home after the hurricane. Thank god, we finally seem to have it solved but I have learned my lesson, I will go directly for the expensive treatments first in the future. This is one area that trying to save money just cost more in the long run.


Extra Income
– I made $100 at the yard sale.
– I sold a book on eBay that, no lie, I had been relisting with all of my other listings for at least two years.
– I bought a vase at the thrift shop for $5 that I think will sell on ebay for $80-$100. I love these finds!
Harmful Chemical Free Living
– The chemical free options for flea treatment didn’t work and caused so much chaos in our house. I’m still sad that we had to use some selective chemicals in the end but soooo grateful to have that plague *hopefully* over with.

 

 

8-14-2017 A Few Frugal Things – Moving to a Rental with a Pool

I am on summer break which is always exciting! We found a new rental house with a pool as the owners of our current rental have decided to sell.  We have been seriously farm hunting for over 8 months and have put in multiple offers but so far, no luck. It’s incredibly frustrating and we will likely have to rent for another year. That being said we, are really enjoying the pool in our new house and having a lot more space.

 

I took the puppy to the thrift shop today and found a couple of outside chairs for $9 each that fold up really small but can be used in both seated and laying positions. Now that we have a pool I we will definitely use them and can also fold them up to take to the beach. I saw the same chairs sold brand new today for $50-$100.

Moving is EXPENSIVE because of the deposits and higher rent we will now be paying. However, we are thankful to have a new rental home with a pool in a nice neighborhood.

Now that we have moved into a 4 bedroom house we don’t have enough furniture. I did find the above vintage table with leafs that fold out and it’s great for my new sewing table.

The house is definitely larger than what we need, however, the price was decent for the area and we wouldn’t have saved much by going for a smaller house without a pool. Having the extra rooms is a huge benefit because family came to visit 3 days after we move in. No pressure! There is a huge thrift store near our new place and also some really cool discount stores that I can scope out now that we have moved in.

Recent Natural Product Purchases

Since having my son I am becoming even more conscious of what I put on my skin. Here are a few products I have tried out recently:

 

I have loved Renpure products since I was a freshman in college. I recently ran out of my liter of conditioner I bought last year on sale at Ulta and decided to pick this up on a whim. It smells really good, but I do not think it does much for my hair. I have been using it for about two weeks now and it seems like my hair is much oilier than normal. I will continue using it up and give an update! $6.99 @ Target

Although this product isn’t 100% natural I love it. I feel like it really makes my skin feel nice. I more than likely will not repurchase it because I am going to try to make it. I just need to find someone to give me their old coffee grounds since neither my husband nor I drink coffee. Price: Around $13

I was super excited when I saw this deodorant at TJ Maxx for $3.99. Ive been wanting to try deodorant paste since seeing an episode of Shark Tank that featured a brand. I really like this deodorant. The smell is nice and goes away soon after application which i prefer.

 

It comes with a small spatula that you use to put the paste on your fingers and then you apply to your underarms.

I recently decided I wanted to make my household cleaners with essential oils so I ordered this set of Amazon for around $15. I’m sure there are better brands out there, but for cleaning this should do the trick.

I have been wanting to try this mask for a few years but never got around to ordering it on amazon. My husband and I went to an HEB (our local grocery store) a little farther away from our house and I found it for around $6. I love it. Since I am breastfeeding I cannot use a lot of acne fighting ingredients. This really helps my skin stay clear.

Since finding out the Garnier Miceller water had cancer causing chemicals in it I have been trying to find a replacement that is just as good. I picked this up today at Costco for $6.97 which is a good price considering the 6.7oz size would be at least that much at Target. I haven’t used it yet so I will update with my thoughts.

 

These are a few new to me products I have purchased recently. I will do a followup post and let you all know how I feel about them!

 

 

 

Salvation Army Family Day Finds!

 

Wednesdays at the Salvation Army all clothes, shoes, purses, and jewelry are 50% off. Since having my son I am a completely different size. Surprisingly I am smaller now than when I was pregnant. I have one pair of jean shorts and it is now getting hot in Austin, Texas. So instead of buying brand new clothes I am trying to only buy used.  Before my husband went to work I quickly went to the thrift store. Here are my finds:

 

A Halo Sleep Sack for .99

 

A cute Alice shirt for .99. It was too small for me so I am going to try to see it on ebay.

Carters Child of Mine Pj’s .99

A Billabong scrunch butt bathing suit bottom .99. The only clothing item I bought for myself that fits.

Hollister shorts $1.99. These did not fit either.

 

After baby I have no idea what size I am. I guess I am forced to go back next week!

-Candy

Dec 2016 Recent Thrift Finds

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One of the fun things about winter break is having more time to do some thrift shopping! With my sister and good friend both expecting babies I had a lot of fun looking for baby items! Thrift shops are great places to get baby items because they don’t usually get worn for long and people tend to buy a lot of nice stuff for baby showers. Thankfully both my sister and friend don’t care if items are brand new or not.

In the above picture you can see:

  • Burp cloths on the left
  • Cute baby clothes in the middle
  • Some cute dog clothes on the right

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One of my favorite local thrift shops sells shoes for $1 on Fridays and I was very excited to find two basically brand new pairs of ballet flats and then a pair of 9 West Black Sling back heels that I have been search for forever!

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I’ve wanted a closet hanging jewelry holder for a long time and this one was only $4 and I love the color and pattern.

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I was excited to find this Boppy Pillow cover for my sister for $2 because I know they are usually $15-20

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B found these Timberland boat shoes for $1. This isn’t a great pic of them but they are comfortable and he can wear them to his office job.

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More cute baby clothes with Gimli testing them out.

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I was excited to find the adorable basket on the left with the tags still on it and the queen sized sheet set for our bed in green. The cow pot holder will be a gag gift.

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We use all towels in this house until they are falling apart and then use them as rags. The hand towels were 75% off because they are Christmas themed and the other two towels were in great shape. I’m really picky about towels.

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More cute, cute baby stuff!

12-23-2016 A Few Frugal Things- A Very Frugal Couple of Weeks

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– On the last day of the semester I brought my home brewed coffee to work in my .50 cent Starbucks reusable coffee mug and was given the above pictured amazing Dunkin Donuts donut and a Ghirardelli chocolate.

– Then for lunch that day I was given Papa John’s pizza, cheese and fruit at our last faculty meeting.

– The dean gave all of his faculty a bag of white chocolate pretzel cookies and a lotto ticket for the holidays.

– I really wanted to buy lunch between finals earlier in the week but I decided to bring food from home instead.

– A month ago, I bought chemical free, amazing smelling soaps to give to my colleagues for the holidays. They were only $1 each from Dollar Tree and I printed little thank you notes to go with them. I love giving gifts and my friends loved them.

– I returned a couple of items to Publix today and used the gift card to buy a few things we needed including dog food, cat litter (that had a $2 off attached coupon) and rice to use for rice warmer Christmas gifts. The dog food was labeled BOGO but it didn’t ring up right. Turns out the sign was old so they gave us both bags for free as per Publix Promise.

– The prescription I picked up at Publix was also free.

– We used an old gift card that was gathering dust to buy 3 Awesome Christmas presents. I won’t say what they are in case they read this but the items were on sale from $35 to $15 and frankly I want one.

– We are out of Dr. Bronner’s Castile soap but instead of paying $10-15 to replace it we are using up what we have and also using other chemical free bar soap in place to delay this purchase. It is also motivating me to go through our bathroom cabinets to find items to get rid of or use up.

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– I combined a whole bunch of my face makeup container remnants. You would not believe how much is left over in the packaging once they appear “empty.” I used a spatula and put them in the small glass container in front (see above picture) that my aunt gave me to reuse.

– I am watching the documentary minimalism on Netflix.

– I sewed 6 rice warmer heating pads that can be used for your neck, belly, etc using a pair of PJ pants that I bought at Goodwill and rice that I got for free from returning something to Publix.

-I made a lot of returns that had been sitting around the house waiting for the semester to end.

-We have been doing an unofficial eat from the pantry challenge the past couple weeks leading up to Christmas. I LOVE it because we are finally clearing out

Not So Frugal-

-I wasn’t able to return a few items because I waited too long. Oh well!

-I paid very little for Christmas gifts this year mostly using gift cards or making them. However, there were a few bigger gifts I purchased. At great frugal prices but still spending money.

-We also decided to do Christmas at home this year instead of traveling and taking our usual 10 hours of driving around to all of the relatives. Thanks to our fuel efficient car this isn’t expensive as far as gas goes but it’s tiring. Instead I bought some great food for a fancy Christmas dinner and dessert. It will last for more than one meal and will be worth every penny but it’s fancier than our usual meals.

Extra Income

– My dad is planning a yard sale. I’m using it as motivation to get rid of junk! Even if the sale never happens we hope to move in the next few months and if we don’t love it or use it or need it then there is no point in keeping it. Maybe this will motivate me to take some clothes to the Plato’s closet type store for dress clothes.

-I just posted my first sewing pattern for sale on Craftsy

Chemical Free

– We once again have gnats in our kitchen. I wish we could figure out where they are coming from but I honestly think it’s just the area we live in. I refuse to have the house sprayed for bugs so we use an alternate solution. We have a small cook pot and we boil water. For some reason the flies are drawn to it and drown. This is chemical free and costs very little.

12-1-16 A Few Frugal Things-

football

– Brant made Salmon and rice for dinner and we had the leftovers again the next night. It’s healthy and inexpensive.

– I randomly add cash back deals (for free) to my Bank of America (not a huge fan of this bank but it is what I currently use) debit card and then forget about them. If I use them great but if not, then it doesn’t take more than a few seconds. I just looked and I’m getting $6 cash back unexpectedly from a purchase I made a month ago. Free money!

– We visited my in-laws for Thanksgiving and went to three huge dinners. Everyone made a dish and I bought our ingredients at ALDI before we left but we were in such a rush I forgot a few things and we went to a Walmart Neighborhood Walmart to get what we needed. Our ingredients were bought inexpensively but the food was amazing and there was plenty to go around.

– My semi-ban on shopping at Walmart has probably ended because now that I sew I know that they are one of the only stores that sews fabric, much less affordably. I still don’t plan on making them my main shopping place but I guess it will be harder to avoid them. I will also continue to buy fabric from the thrift shop including items that I can use as fabric.

– While we were out of town for a week we turned off our AC, unplugged all electronics, and turned off our water heater so hopefully our electric bill will go down.

– While we were out of town our family fed us most of our meals (although we contributed), provided a place to stay and we didn’t have to pay for any activities other than gas to get there.

– I enjoy being home and playing with the Puppy which is FREE and fun.

– Now that I am sewing I have not yet bought any patterns as I can just print free ones off of the internet. I am also repairing various items that need to be sewn around the house.

– Our neighbor is a retiree but a huge fan of the local university’s football team where I used to teach and we are alumni. She gave us 3 free tickets to Saturday’s game and we went with my brother. She also gave us a free parking pass for the day. We ate before we went and shared a refillable soda during the hot game since we weren’t allowed to bring anything, including water, into the stadium.

– My mom came to visit us this weekend and after the game we took the puppy out on the tennis courts at our townhome community and ran around and hit tennis balls back and forth. It was a beautiful day to be outside in Florida.

– For lunch we went to one location of the restaurant chain my brother works at and had a great meal for half off. We brought home so many left overs that we ate again for dinner and will again for lunch.

– I’ve been teaching myself to sew over the past year. I recently joined a Facebook group called Fluff Love Sewing and their impressive and fun projects have inspired me. I have learned how to sew small shirts for my little dog.

– My sewing group highly recommended some felt blankets for $2.50 that many of them were using for projects and we went to the store and found some

– I have been sewing dog shirt/sweaters out of the fleece blankets which are better quality than inexpensive dog clothes you can buy in the store.

– Out of my fabric scraps I have been cutting out fleece circles to use to remove my makeup instead of cotton balls or napkins. This also helps reduce waste in our house.

– I made a huge pot of spaghetti for dinners this week. It’s frugal and saves time making multiple dinners.

 

Not So Frugal-

– I forgot that my Kindle was in the bottom of my school bag after our trip and I broke the screen. It sucks but there is nothing I can do.

– I think I lost my Hydroflask water bottle. It’s like a Yeti but it seals so you can throw it in a bag and it won’t spill. Thankfully I have another one but I will keep looking for it.

 

Extra Income

– I am now teaching a night class at the college where I work after another professor’s family emergency. It means that my Mondays are now very, very long but I am being paid very well. I don’t have to do any extra driving since I am already on campus. I am looking at it as extra Christmas money but I’m also very tired right now. I’m looking forward to Christmas break.

8-20-16 Thrift Shop Finds

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I was excited to pick up some clothes for teaching like the Ann Taylor skirt on the lower left.

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This Express dress was only  $6 and I think it will be perfect for all of the baby showers I will be attending this year!

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Nine West shoes (left) are my crack cocaine of shoes because I can wear them for 12 hours without them hurting my feet. And I adore the Christian Siriano (love him from project runway!) slingback heels on the right!

the tightwad gazette

I was also super excited to pick up this copy of The Tightwad Gazette for $2! This is only the first book and I have the complete one you can see below but I absolutely love this book! It’s full of amazing money saving ideas! I will pass it along to someone else who wants to read it.

Swagbucks- How to Earn $10 From Your Mobile Device

Swagbucks is the web’s most popular rewards program that gives you free gift cards and cash for the everyday things you already do online. Whenever you shop, watch videos or search the web, Swagbucks gives you points called SB. You can use your SB to redeem gift cards to hundreds of your favorite stores.  With the Swagbucks Mobile and SBTV apps I can use my spare minutes to earn free gift cards on my phone! Like the Swagbucks website, I can rack up SB by shopping, answering surveys and watching videos.  [if you have any more ideas that relate to you personally, replace a below example or put them here!] While you wait for the coffee to brew, download free games and other apps through the Discover tab: 20 SB During commercial breaks, take a featured survey or fill out your survey profile: 60 SB While standing in line at the grocery store, answer the daily poll: 1 SB When you’ve finally made it to the gym, watch style, tech and celeb news through the SBTV app: 2 SB for every 10 videos Just as you’ve put dinner in the oven, your Swagbucks app tells you there’s a new Swag Code!: 3 SB Before you go to sleep, use the Swagbucks app to shop from your favorite stores. You deserve it!: 100 SB  By downloading the Swagbucks mobile app, I can earn a free $10 gift card by the end of my week. Who knew playing on my phone could be so productive! Invite your friends to download the Swagbucks Mobile app so they can start earning their way to free gift cards. It’s 100% free to download and 100% easy to use. Its available for both iPhone and Android devices.

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! 🙂

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