Consumer Reports helps you pack for spring break

(CONSUMER REPORTS) — Traveling can be exciting, but don’t let the adventure begin at the airport check-in desk trying to decipher luggage rules. Consumer Reports has some easy pretravel tips to help you navigate your way.

A Consumer Reports survey found that 40 percent of people who flew in the past year chose a higher fare just to avoid baggage fees. And we’re not just talking about checked bags. In CR’s survey, 30 percent paid for a carry-on bag.

Consumer Reports says careful planning when you book your ticket may save you money, not to mention a headache, later at the airport.

It’s always smart when booking a flight to see if the airline offers a discount for prepaying baggage fees online.

And keep in mind that luggage marketed as “carry-on size” can be bigger than what an airline considers a standard. CR found that out during its recent luggage testing. A bag that should fit in most overhead bins and won’t break the bank is the Amazon Basics 21-inch hard-side spinner for about $80.

For now, most airlines will still let you bring a personal item onboard free of charge, so make the most of it. A great choice is a travel backpack. A good one will have plenty of compartments that are easy to access in-flight but will also be small enough to fit under the seat in front of you.

The Patagonia Black Hole Mini MLC for $199 was a staff favorite, along with the eBags Pro Slim for $75.

Two more tips: Be sure to sign up for frequent flyer programs if you travel often on the same airline, and consider its co-branded credit card for more perks, though those cards can sometimes carry high fees.

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