By Rieva Lesonsky

I’m a road warrior and after a few mishaps with back pain due to lugging too much stuff on business trips, I’ve become somewhat of an expert on lightening your load on business trips, while still maximizing your productivity. I thought I’d share what I’ve learned.

Laptops are a must-have when you’re traveling, of course. For me, lightweight is paramount, and that’s why I was so excited when netbooks started hitting the scene. Although I rely on laptops for many things, my new netbook has changed my life—it’s tiny enough to stuff in my purse, but still lets me check e-mail, surf the Net and even write blog posts like this one.

Accessories can be key to productivity while traveling. For instance, I love my laptop touchpad, but I know plenty of people who don’t like touchpads. If you’re one of them, bring a wireless mouse.

You can get online just about anywhere these days by finding a wireless hotspot, but don’t get complacent about what your hotel has to offer. Before you book, always make sure your hotel has Internet access available and what the fee is.

Beyond the tech tools you bring with you, find out what’s available at your destination. Does your hotel have a business center or facility where you can print, fax and otherwise do business? If so, you may be able to avoid the cost and hassle of shipping things like brochures and signage to your hotel (or lugging them in your suitcase) by getting them done at the business center instead.

Planning to drive? In many cities, hands-free cell phone devices are required by law, so this is a good excuse to spring for a hands-free Bluetooth headset.

Another tool you’ll want if you’re driving is a GPS device, either in your car or your rental car. I just started using a GPS this year and I can’t tell you how many hours it’s saved me—not to mention the trees that are thanking me for not printing out maps anymore. If you’re in your car a lot, advanced units can give you real-time traffic reports—a real lifesaver.