Budget Travel Thriftness

Last minute travel is never easy, especially when you need to book airline tickets. I had two weeks to purchase a roundtrip ticket for a quick visit to my family, but I am on a tight budget.  So what affordable option did I find? Spirit Airlines.

For those who don't know, Spirit Airlines is a super cheap, no frills airline.  Your ticket includes your air fare and that's it.  You pay extra for luggage, comfortable seats, water, peanuts, even for them to print your boarding pass! The only thing you're allowed to carry for free is a personal item (purse, laptop bag, etc) that's no bigger than 14" x 15" x 16".

If you don't pay for your carry on ahead of time, it cost $100 at the gate.

But I am a super thrifty shopper, and a $130 round trip from Atlanta to Houston was too good to pass up.  So I figured I could get around their rules.  I printed my own pass, ate a big meal before flying, suffered though non-reclining seats, and crammed as much clothes as I could into my "personal item". But why buy a bag or use one of my own that didn't quite fit the dimensions, when I can maximize my volume?


I made a travel bag to the exact specifications outlined by Spirit Airlines.  I cut the pieces exactly to the 16",14", and 12" dimensions and then used a half inch seam allowance. In total the bag measures 15" by 13" by 11" which gives me space for the the sides to bulge and wiggle room for fitting it under the airplane seat.

The main fabric is an Ikea remnant probably meant for curtains or cushions.  I had just enough for the top and sides, which bummed me out at first but then I realized it was the perfect opportunity for some contrast fabric. The bottom and straps are made from a cheap burlap I got from Walmart (yea, I know, but it was on clearance!). It wasn't too difficult to work with, but I need to add something to the handle portions of the straps to make them stronger and prevent potential fraying. I made sure to zigzag all of the cut edges though. For stiffness I interfaced all the Ikea fabric with a lightweight fusible.

The interior is a cotton fabric I had in my stash.  In fact, all the materials (fabric, interfacing, batting, thread) are from my stash with the exception of the zipper. I quilted the lining pieces and added a large pocket, a small pocket, and a zippered pocket. The large one is just the right size for my laptop. In between the lining and the outside I put a stiff piece of cardboard at the bottom.

All packed!

I was able to fit a dress, 2 bottoms, 8 shirts, underwear, toiletries, laptop, and my everyday purse. Plenty of stuff for a week and a half considering I can do laundry at my parent's house.

I had no trouble with using the bag at the airport and I'll definitely be using it in the future.  It's colorful, functional, and saved me the $40 I would've had to pay for a carry on. Take that, Spirit Airlines!  

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