Wednesday, February 4, 2015

27 things to pack for a Spirit-approved carry-on bag

I’ve traveled quite a bit over the past few years—always coach—and am constantly looking for the best deals in terms of price, flight extras, airport location, trip duration, etc. I’ve flown on JetBlue (my personal favorite for its free carry on and free checked bag, free snacks, cheap headphones and more legroom seats), Virgin (same as above, and so many movies!), Frontier, United, and my least favorite, American Airlines/US Airways (they lost my suitcase for almost three months last year and, though I’m sure there are some nice people, I always seem to deal with assholes who work at that airline).

Though I've never been a huge fan of flying Spirit, I am a fan of travel deals, so I booked trips with them more often than usual last year. The fares are affordable, but it’s the extras that get you if you’re not careful. I’ve made it on without any additional fees by doing these three things: letting the airline pick a seat for me (there’s a huge possibility you’ll end up in a middle seat sandwiched between less than amicable seat mates, but beggars can’t be choosers), carrying liquids only under 3 oz. in a ziplock bag, and adhering to the strict personal item/bag size limit (no checked bag, no carry on). Over the summer, I packed an entire week’s worth of clothes (aka bikinis and a bridesmaid dress) for Costa Rica, which was quite the feat, in a 16 x 14 x 12 inch bag. I did the same when I went to Chicago (but instead of a bridesmaid dress and bikinis, I carried a coat and gloves).

I’ll be flying to Europe in the summer on a one-way ticket to London, for a wedding in the English countryside. From there I’ll be traveling to Paris, then possibly Berlin, and that’s all I know so far. Because I’m on a budget and I’ll be booking last minute planes, trains, and maybe horses, I’ll need to pack light—something I’ve somewhat mastered, but realize isn’t easy for a lot of people. Thus, this list of mix-and-match items plus toiletries that I think are essentials (and can take you as far as a week) when you're pressed for luggage/storage space: 

THE BASICS:
1. Black high-waisted denim is a must. Tuck anything into them and you automatically look a little more put together. Cheap Mondays are my fav. I recently lost mine to a rip in the thigh after years of thrice-weekly use. 
2. A gray tee is happy, easy, multifunctional. Daytime, nighttime, whatever time. I like the one above from Madewell. 
3. A crisp, classic white button down from Uniqlo
4. A black bow-blouse is a little fancier (day-to-night) and also from Uniqlo. 

THE NOT-SO-BASICS:
5. A printed scarf that doubles as a blanket for the plane—I like this double-sided polka dot and floral one from Zara.
6. Floral printed day-to-night dress (Zara again); wear with flat sandals for day, or a leather jacket/booties combo for evening. 
7. A statement necklace is essential when you're doing a lot of black, white, nude and gray. I love this one from my friend Stef’s Brooklyn boutique, La Di Da Dee
8. A novelty skirt that doesn’t really match with anything you packed, because tiger print. 

LEATHER:
9. A nude flat sandal for daytime. 
10. My dream flat bootie for any trip and for life would be a Rag & Bone pair, but since this list should be affordable (we're trying to budget travel, right?)… I'll stick with Zara’s Brogue Leather Ankle Boot, which is beautiful and also under $100. 
11. A black open toe heeled bootie for night that you can wear with tights if your toesies are cold. 
12. A black jacket; I found this one on sale (always good considering the simplest of leather jackets can cost you upwards of $500) at ASOS.

ENTERTAINMENT:
13. The Best American Travel Writing 2014 book; I haven't gotten past 2013 yet, but maybe I'll be caught up in time to take BATW 2014 with me on the plane (train?) to Paris. 
14. Get your smarts on with The Atlantic. So great. 
15. Something pretty to doodle on/journal in, like this Forest Animals notebook.
16. And for art, fashion in the form of weird/cool editorials: V Magazine.

Then, of course, THESE MISCELLANEOUS THINGS:
17. A roll-on scent (since you can't travel with perfume bottles unless checking a bag). Going on seven years as my fragrance of choice is Kai's roll-on perfume oil. So good. 
18. Wipes for the face
19. Wipes for the snatch (or one set of wipes that can be used all over; always nice to feel so fresh and so clean as you exit the airport).
20. Deodorant
21. Contact solution/case (if needed)
22. Toothbrush
23. SPF moisturizer for the face
24. Socks
25. Undies (not including bras, because I prefer to go braless)
26. Black tights
27. Last on the list (I just learned how great this is), a memory foam neck pillow, which doesn't technically go in your bag, but around your neck, for the duration of the flight. 
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