Make the Most of Your Onboard Personal Item

My jungle bag matches our Savage brand.

My jungle bag matches our Savage brand.

You already know you can usually take one carryon bag and one personal item aboard flights. Now that the most airlines charge extra for checked luggage, we travelers are getting creative with our personal items.

My solution is to use a large zippered bag with exterior pockets. It has a jungle motif that fits the Savage Sisters brand. My purse and netbook fit inside, along with a water bottle (empty while going through security, of course), my liquids zip-top bag, a few snacks, and a book to read.

But sometimes I also carry a loaf of homemade cranberry bread or other thank-you gift for my destination hosts, and I need even more room. For that purpose, I transformed a shopping bag into an attractive personal item with a little more space.

The vertical stripe of black cotton fabric hides the bag’s logo.

The vertical stripe of black cotton fabric hides the bag’s logo.

  1. I started with a large red custom-imprinted shopping bag made of a nonwoven synthetic fabric. Since I preferred not to advertise the shopping bag’s pedigree during the entire trip, I sewed a remnant of black cotton around the bag vertically to cover the logo and reinforce the bag at the same time.
  2. Then I sewed a strip of the black cotton around the opening, rather like bias tape, as edging.
  3. Next I sewed a long strip of loop tape at the top of the opening between the handles and a matching strip of hook tape on the opposite side to ensure a secure closing.
  4. Finally, I threaded elastic under the cotton edging at each end of the opening—in other words, the top corners of the bag. The elastic gathered in the corners for more security at the opening.
The bag features elastic gathers on the corners and a hook-and-loop closing to keep items from falling out easily.

The bag features elastic gathers on the corners and a hook-and-loop closing to keep items from falling out easily.

The resulting bag is large enough to hold everything I need in a personal item, small enough to fit under the seat in front of me, and cheap enough that I won’t be out any money if anything happens to it on my journey.

And who knows? I might even use it as a shopping bag when I’m not traveling.

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Fiercely Frugal Savage Sister Diana has gathered packing pointers over the years on numerous domestic and foreign trips. Most recently, she travels in conjunction with the publication of her latest book, 52 Heart Lifters for Difficult Times.

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