Flying isn’t what it used to be. Beverages, snacks, pillows and blankets, all previously expected comforts on even short flights, have become costly luxuries. Leg room has been sacrificed in favor of fitting more seats–and more profits–onto every flight. Ancillary charges for things like checked baggage and pre-boarding privileges have become a frustrating part of the air travel experience. With all the hidden taxes and fees tacked on to our tickets, the original fare becomes the least of our concerns.

Up against huge corporations and a largely unregulated market, it’s easy for consumers to feel powerless. We may feel as though we have few options–besides just driving to our destination, which, depending on the circumstances, is impractical at best. In May of 2013, the Department of Transportation will decide whether or not to require airlines to fully disclose all fees and taxes to outside services (think Orbitz and Expedia) and consumers. Doing so would make it easier for prospective travelers to comparison shop. Sure, that $100 fare from LAX to JFK is a steal, but the odds that you’ll only pay $100 when all is said and done are quite slim indeed.

Until the DOT makes their decision, there are options. For one, travelers can invest in larger, more space-efficient carry-on luggage. The Eagle Creek Travel Gateway 2-Wheeled Upright 22 is a vast improvement over an overstuffed, disorganized duffel that would require divine intervention in order to fit under the seat in front of you. At 22″, it’s the maximum size that most airlines will allow for carry-ons, and it’s loaded with extra features that make it special.

Corner bumpers and a Bi-Tech nylon bottom help protect it from obstacles it might encounter from the parking lot to the overhead compartment. A padded, zippered front pocket is great for e-readers, tablets, travel documents, or anything else you might want quick access to in-flight or at the airport. Contrasting accents make it easily identifiable in a sea of black bags, and padded top and side handles enable you to carry it if the terrain doesn’t permit rolling.

Inside, a mesh pocket is perfect for undergarments and accessories, while compression straps keep your clothing organized and wrinkle-free. The main compartment is expandable by up to 15% for the extra space that souvenirs or bulky jackets require. If your getaways tend to be less than a week or during the warmer months, it’s entirely possible that the Eagle Creek Travel Gateway 22 will be the only piece of baggage you require, putting less stress on you as well as your bank account.

Delta pulled in over $230 million just in baggage fees during this year’s third quarter. In 2013, make a resolution to carry on your luggage, avoid ridiculous fees, and vote with your wallet.

Photo credit: caribb / Foter / CC BY-NC-ND