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No checked bag fees! Easily become a carry-on traveler with these 10 products

Checking bags add up. Skip this expensive (and overrated) step and head straight to security with these picks.

No checked bag fees! Easily become a carry-on traveler with these 10 products

There are so many perks to traveling. You get to sight-see, try new foods, experience new cultures ... where it gets stressful is when the logistics like checking a bag come into play.

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Bag fees on their own are at an all-time high right now with airlines charging up to $45 for your first checked bag. Not to mention if you make the mistake of having a slightly overweight bag, you may be charged an additional fee. To avoid this hassle, some folks prefer to cut out the middleman completely and become "carry-on travelers." They do just what the name suggests and pack everything they need for their trip right in their carry-on and personal item bags, avoiding the potential headache of checking a larger piece of luggage.

Of course, to become a carry-on traveler, you have to be more conscious of how and what you pack. From compression packing cubes and TSA-approved travel bottles to a compartment-packed (and flight attendant-approved) carry-on and the right pair of noise-canceling headphones that comes with an AC cord for indulging in the in-flight entertainment, we've rounded up 10 products that will get you right to your gate.

Traveling with just a carry-on can be limiting, so it's best to do whatever you can to maximize the space you have. One of the easiest and most effective ways to do this is with a set of compression packing cubes. Just pack your clothes inside each cube, zip them up with the standard zipper then once more with the extra compression zipper. 

Popular travel accessories brand Bagail says these should free up about 60% of space in your luggage, allowing you to pack more than you originally could. And, with over 14,000 five-star reviews, they're definitely worth the investment. Even pilots swear by these!

"I am a pilot and travel a lot. In hotels 14-16 nights a month and seldom in the same hotel for more than one night," one impressed shopper wrote. "These bags (bought two sets) keep me organized, save time packing and unpacking, and keep my clothes wrinkle-free."

$25 at Amazon

Somehow, you never think you really need a portable charger until you actually need one. Between loading your digital boarding pass to having enough juice to call a rideshare, a fully charged phone is essential when traveling. 

This portable charger by Anker is rugged enough to withstand serious drops (just in case you're a little clumsy) and charges your phone up to 2.3 times, depending on the model. And, with over 77,000 five-star reviews, it's no surprise that it's a shopper favorite.

"I can sit in the airport or on a plane and recharge my phone battery," one reviewer wrote. "Great for keeping online at all times."

$20 at Amazon

Chances are your portable charger isn't the only tech accessory you'll be traveling with. And unless you like being tangled in a sea of cords and adapters, you'll need something to keep everything organized. This sleek pouch has enough space for all your tech gizmos and cables. Plus, it's waterproof, slim, lightweight and has two spacious compartments.

More than 15,000 Amazon shoppers adore this versatile little bag. One even got one for her flight attendant daughter who uses it for more than just tech. "It's compact and easy to drop in her bag," the reviewer explained. "It can hold a little of everything — chargers, Band-Aids, medicines, jewelry, etc."

$10 at Amazon

E-readers like the Kindle make traveling with books so easy, but if you're a page-turning purist, this rechargeable book light will come in handy.

Airline overhead lights can be a bit harsh (and downright rude, if you're flying a red-eye). This tiny gadget casts a contained glow on the page you're reading, so you won't distract the passenger next to you. It also has an adjustable brightness setting and clips right onto your book so you don't have to manually prop it up. Even better, it's hailed for it's ultra-long battery life: "The battery life is worth a mention," one shopper wrote. "[It] lasted my seven-hour flight to London!"

With over 17,000 perfect ratings, it's safe to say that this one's a hit among traveling readers.

$10 at Amazon

If you're not checking any luggage and plan on packing toiletries, you need to make sure that the products in your bags are in containers that are 3.4 ounces or less. Otherwise, the TSA agents will confiscate them and there goes your expensive shampoo — right in the trash.

To make sure you're in the clear, it's best to get a TSA-approved travel bottle set. It does all of the guesswork for you and all you have to do is fill the containers with the products you plan on traveling with. Each bottle and twist-top jar is leak-proof and fits in the included clear pouch.

One shopper who used this set on a recent trip called it "a game-changer for anyone who values convenience, organization and compliance with TSA regulations." We definitely agree.

$13 at Amazon

Having to endure a long flight with no in-flight entertainment is definitely a bummer, and sometimes, the entertainment they provide just doesn't measure up. Here's your genius plan B: This phone holder lets you prop your device up to watch your favorite shows or movies, hands-free, at eye level. It easily attaches to your tray table or luggage handle, so it's a no-brainer, space-saving add-on. Flight crew members even use it for travel and then keep using it once they're back home.

"As a commuting flight attendant, [this] comes in very handy!" one reviewer said. "At home, I like it propped up on the counter."

$13 at Amazon

You've probably already heard about Travelpro, but just in case you haven't, long story short, it's flight crew members' favorite luggage brand. So, if you're planning on being a carry-on traveler, it's only right that you use the luggage that the pros swear by.

This carry-on is the one that pilots, in particular, both use and praise. It's lightweight, durable and has tons of pockets to hold anything that you don't want to keep in your hands or store in your personal item bag.

"I like the two-wheel pull version that I have used for years as an airline pilot," one five-star reviewer on Amazon said. "My wife wanted this version with the four wheels. It worked very well over various surfaces."

$144 at Amazon
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$216 at Kohl's$145 at JCPenney

I've tried tons of personal item bags over the years and none are as travel-friendly as this one from Monos. What I love most about it is how roomy it is while still being easy to store under the seat on planes. Most duffels I've tried slide easily under the seat, but are still too wide and end up sticking out, giving me less space for my legs and feet. This one fits completely flush with a little room to spare.

It also comes with the brand's unique QuickSnap Modular Kit System that's easy to remove if you need more space or just don't feel like taking it with you on your trip. I, personally, love using it to store my passport, a pen, lip balm, my wallet, keys and anything I need to easily access while I'm in transit. Best of all, though, it has a trolley sleeve in the back that slides right over your roller carry-on's handle. So you never really have to hold it. 

$210 at Monos

I've used headphones from Sony, JBL, Bowers & Wilkins and more — this pair by Sonos is one of my favorites. They block out any excess noise for hours on end without straining my ears (if you're a part of the "big ears brigade" like I am, you get it). Amazon shoppers agree: "I wore these for an approximately four-hour flight and they did not become uncomfortable," one Amazon shopper wrote.

If you've ever heard the sound that comes out of a Sonos soundbar or portable speaker, these headphones give you that same premium home theater quality in headphone form — and seeing as it's the brand's first-ever wearable product, I'm so relieved that they got it right!

Now, here's where they'll come in handy when you're in flight. While most Bluetooth noise-canceling headphones are made for wireless use, you need wired headphones to take advantage of the free in-flight entertainment that some airlines offer. The Sonos Ace comes with an external AC cord that connects to the headphone jack at your seat, so you won't have to buy those low-quality wired earbuds the flight attendants offer for sale. I've used these while on a recent flight and fully felt like I was at the movies. 

Also, if you're concerned about them bulking up your bag, they come in a case that's surprisingly slim. For perspective, it only occupied a couple of inches of space in my personal item bag.

$449 at Adorama
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$449 at Amazon$449 at Macy's

The reviews quoted above reflect the most recent versions at the time of publication.

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