How to Pack for Your Spirit Flight: 10 Tips to Keep it Cheap

Budget travelers who love Spirit (and they do have a devoted following), know that to make the airline work for them there are a few key strategies to assure that they pay the advertised price, and no more than the advertised price. If you follow these tips, you can make it happen!

pack light for spirit airlines

1. Choose a uniform
It goes without saying that if you’re planning to fly with a small backpack (the size of the one “personal item” you can bring on board with you free of charge), that you’re going to have to downsize the wardrobe choices. Make sure anything you bring can be worn with the other clothing items in your bag and are wrinkle-resistant and (preferably) versatile (merino t-shirts are known for folding down into tiny packets, keeping you warm when it’s cold and covered when you need sun protection). For a weekend away, we suggest one pair of pants/shorts and two shirts for men, and one dress, one pair of pants/shorts and a blouse or tank for women. People on holiday generally dress casual these days. If you’re going somewhere to relax, keep the clothes choices relaxed as well. You can always pick up a fun item or two once you get there if necessary.

2. Keep the accessories to a minimum
You should be wearing one pair of comfortable shoes on your flight that can work for walking/hiking. If you’re bringing a hat for sun shade, it should be on your head when you board or compact enough to stow in the bottom of your bag. A sun hat is another fun item you can pick up from a beach vendor or local shop in any beach town for next to nothing so we often forgo it on the flight. Ladies, if you absolutely must bring one lightweight pair of sandals we’ll allow it. On the other hand, if the weather could be variable, you’ll also want to have a light jacket with you. Wear that onto the flight as well. You can roll it up and stow it under your seat as soon as you board or spread it over your knees as a temporary blanket on the flight. Multitask!

3. Don’t skimp on the essentials

packing wisely
You’ll need a pair of underwear for each day as well as a pair of socks. Some packing veterans say two of each at a maximum, and plan to wash out your skivvies in the hotel sink each night. We think this is taking things a bit too far unless you’re going to be on the road for more than a week. Just pack what you need and roll them up tightly in a bundle. Roll, you say?

4. Roll your clothes
This is a classic packing technique for good reason. It saves room in your bag for other necessary items and it helps keep a tiny, streamlined wardrobe tidy and unwrinkled. If you did bring a pair of shoes or a hat, stow your inexpensive jewelry inside a small Ziploc and then that Ziploc inside the toe of one of your shoes. This video is a great demonstration of the rolling/bundling technique. Watch it. Learn it. Love it.

4. Weather matters
When you’re going to Florida to lie on a beach for four days, throwing a bikini and a sarong into a bag really might be the best plan. If you’re going for a ski weekend, don’t assume you can fly without checking a bag or two.

6. Don’t forget your meds
This may seem like a no brainer, but many a vacation has been delayed or ruined by someone who forgot to pack that medication that they can’t miss. The last thing you want to do is land and have to put the fun on hold while you try to find a pharmacy that will fill your prescription over a long weekend.

7. Take a break from your high-maintenance tendencies
Yes, we said that. Whatever wellness routine you’re into at home – if you want to travel light, you’re going to have to put it on pause for this flight. Often, reminding yourself that you’re on your way to unplug and relax can help you keep things simple. If you’re the kind of traveler who must bring their hair straightener, dryer, sound machine, purse dog, yoga mat and aromatherapy candles with you everywhere you go, Spirit is not going to be for you. No judgment here at all. We’re just pretty sure this no frills, bare bones experience is not going to be to your liking anyway.

8. Limit yourself to one travel diversion

travel reading
I used to pack four to five books every time I traveled, because I’m a bookish person and I like to have choices. Though I still prefer a book that I can hold in my hand, I’ve managed in recent years to streamline things and now, when I go on vacation, I have learned to embrace the e-reader. You can read as many books as you like on your phone or iPad, and listen to podcasts and music on the flight as well. Variety is the spice of life, after all!

9. Toiletries – who needs ‘em?
Again, if you’re married to your moisturizer or favorite shampoo, you can always bring very small (less than 3 oz.) bottles in your bag. But you can also wait until you get to your destination and use the hotel’s shampoo, body wash, razors, toothpaste, etc. When traveling light, we actually do the research to find out what amenities they have (most of the time you can find the details online), and plan accordingly. When you’re trying to fly as lean as you can, this can save some space. Why not?

10. Leave the beach and bath towels at home
Unless you’re going to be staying in hostels or going on a camping trip, even the most basic accommodation will have remarkably clean and soft towels for your use. Don’t spend time packing things that are just not necessary. Remember. You’re traveling light now.

personal item on spirit airlines

One quick caveat – this “tips” list should easily work for most travelers on a weekend getaway, and for seasoned, low maintenance travelers on longer trips. You should exercise caution when trying to pull it off for much more than one-week journey. We recommend this as a trial balloon to see if you can tolerate “light travel” on a shorter getaway – if it works for you, make the jump to a longer trip.

If you are traveling for longer, you should consider that the most economical way to travel with a bag on Spirit is to pay for a checked bag at checkout online (usually right around $30 for longer haul flights). You could also spring for a carry-on, but the size requirements are smaller and you will pay a bit of a premium for the convenience of avoiding baggage claim.

That’s it! Once you make the commitment to traveling light, we find most people find it liberating. You may never go back to lugging large bags around airports, onto taxis and through cities again. For other helpful hints, check out How to Fly Spirit and Win.

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  1. I have measured my free personal bag at 6″ bottom, 18″ width and 14″ tall which should meet requirements, but how will I know for sure when full it will be allowed even with fold down fabric handles that are obviously taller than 14″ but fold to sides or stuff inside bag but are need to carry on shoulder?

    1. Hi Sam, I’m not sure I understand the question. When full, the bag needs to fit size requirements. They are very strict about this on Spirit. Give it a test pack and make sure the bag fits.

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