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Smart travelers pack light, and not just because they don't want to haul an exceptionally heavy suitcase. Overloaded bags also can weigh on your wallet.

Many airlines are increasing their charges for checked luggage weighing 50 pounds and up. You could end up paying as much as $25 per bag if your luggage is heavier than the airline limit, according to Susan Foster, author of "Smart Packing for Today's Traveler."

To avoid this extra "baggage," Foster recommends checking your airline's regulations. Restrictions on the number and weight of checked pieces vary by carrier. Make sure you know the rules before you arrive at the airport.

Lighten your empty luggage. Weigh each empty piece using a bathroom scale. Larger bags can weigh as much as 15 to 20 pounds, so it's easy to go over the airline's weight limit. If you find your bag won't make the cut, look for new, lighter luggage.

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