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Pack For A Trip in Just a Personal Item-Sized Bag

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You’ve found an amazing airfare but the price only includes a personal item.

What does this mean? Should you pony up and pay extra for a larger carry-on or checked bag?

Is it possible to take a trip with only a small backpack or handbag?

Although not ideal, traveling with only a personal item can be a great way to take a super cheap getaway for a few days. And if you’re into the minimalist lifestyle, you can even stretch this out to week-long trips or longer. More and more airlines are selling super cheap flights that only include a personal item with the hope that most passengers will pay extra for bags and/or other ancillary fees.

The exact dimensions vary by airline, but are usually a maximum of around 18x14x8 inches and up to 22 lbs. Each airline and individual employees will vary on how strictly these limitations are adhered to.


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There is no room to bring any items on a “just in case” basis. A general rule of thumb is to bring along a total of about three outfits, including what you decide to wear while traveling.

The number of clothing items really depends on how lightweight your clothes are and how long you plan to travel. Remember to wear your bulkier items and a few layers on the plane.

It’s time to cram all other items in your small personal item bag. To save as much space as possible, roll your clothing and you can keep things more organized by placing your clothes in a drawstring bag or a reusable shopping bag before placing in your personal item sized bag. Do the same for your pair of sandals or flip flops so other items don’t get dirty or if space is of the essence, you can easily attach a pair of sandals to the outside of your bag with carabiners.

Items such as heavy coats won’t fit in a personal item sized bag, so if you’re going to a colder climate, you’ll need to wear or carry these items on the plane outside of your bag.

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