Remember the good old days when in-flight meals were just part of the deal and checked bags were free? Ah, the olden days. Today, everything is extra (most of the time), and the costs can stack up REAL quick.

The biggest culprit that can drain your account is luggage. Airlines pray on the ignorant, which is why we all need to be in the know, get the right luggage, and learn to be a travel pro.

Whether you’re checking your bag or lugging a load, here’s what you need to ensure a cheap(er) travel experience.

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If you can, always try to carry on. It’ll save you money, plus no waiting at baggage claim, which we all know is super fun.

Before I go into the actual suitcase to pick up, take a peek at the 1000 Travel Tips guide to carry-on luggage. It is chock full of pro-tips (we just ordered our SleepPhones – getting tired just thinking about them!)

Now for the good stuff – your best carry-on bets:

BEST – Züca Pro Travel – $295
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This will keep you completely organized – which can be difficult when stuffing your life into a bag. With five color-coded, removable, zip-closed compartments, finding Mr. Sock is easy as pie. Also, the frame is designed to function as a seat, so when you’re at the gate, you don’t have to sit next to that crying baby and her mom on the phone!

RUNNER UP – Incase Eo Travel Roller – $182
Complete with a Macbook compartment and multiple pockets for chargers and whatever other electronics you need, techies, this one is for you. The weather-resistant coating, expandable main compartment, and neon yellow wheels also help this win runner up.

Okay, I know I said to pack carry-on when you can, but if you’re going on a long trip, you probably need more space for all your stuff. Now, this is where it can get messy – until now. Start with the Cosmopolitan list of 20 Space-Saving hacks. Then, read on for the accessories you didn’t know you needed:

Chances are you have some clothes that need to stay wrinkle-free. Enter the Patrona Shirt Shuttle MK3 ($50) – your savior. Put your work attire in this handy-dandy product, and spend your hotel time on room service and watching trashy TV rather than ironing.

Before I found the Mochithings Underwear Pouch v2 ($28), my undergarments were going in a bunch of Ziplock bags, which inevitably just became part of the mess. This Pouch was a game changer – compartments for everything, and even a built-in pouch for dirty pieces!

The Calypso Tag ($169) will make sure you never lose a bag… or again, in my case. It’s Bluetooth capabilities will let you know when your suitcase is coming out of baggage claim… or where it is, if you can’t find it. Also, the design is pretty cute, which makes for even easier spotting.

For all of your toiletries, make-up, jewelry – really, anything small that needs a space, look no further than the Tumi Cosmetics Case ($93). Sure, it may take up some suitcase real-estate, but it is well worth it with compartments galore to make sure everything stays neat and tidy!

Okay, you’re all accessorized up. Time for the most important part: the actual suitcase. These are the top of the food chain:

BEST – Travelpro Platinum Magna 2 23-Inch Expandable Spinner Suiter – $339.99
Space, space, and more space! In addition to the fact that you can fit anything imaginable, the lifetime warranty doesn’t suck, either. Also, there are enough compartments to make sure you stay organized, and a built-in garment folder so you can ensure everything stays looking great.

RUNNER UP – Traveler’s Choice Tasmania Polycarbonate 21” Expandable Spinner – $89.99
traveler's choice
If you’re on a budget, this is a safe bet. The best aspect of this bad is its sturdiness, absorbing impact under stress as well as being fashioned with an abrasion-resistant diamond cut pattern. Of course, compartments are included to keep you clean, and it even comes with an add-a-bag strap so you can easily run through the airport with all your stuff to make your flight!

Happy packing!