If you are new to business travel or struggling to get to the airport with suitcase, laptop and work files in tow, you may wonder how the seasoned pros do it. They never look ruffled, always seem to get that upgrade, and are able to get on and off the plane in two minutes or less.

To make business travel less of a chore and more of a breeze, check out the following 5 tips for stress-free trips...

1. Plan ahead.

It is easy to procrastinate when it comes to packing for a business trip - you would probably rather stay at home and likely have a million other priorities in the meantime. However, if you take 15 minutes to check out the weather where you are going, examine your itinerary to determine dress codes and timelines, and prepare for any free time you may have, you will be able to pack faster and better.

Planning pro-tip: If you are unsure of the dress code, opt for business casual.

2. Pack for success.

Keep it simple. Pack wrinkle-free cotton and wool, fabrics that won't look worse for the wear after a day in a suitcase, and neutral colors that are easy to mix and match. Some regular travelers recommend packing in layers based on what you will wear first. If you have time for a workout or need to prepare for a special event, ensure you have the right footwear as well as clothes that travel well.

Packing pro-tip: Merino wool clothing can be worn multiple times without needing to be washed and it won't smell!

3. Don't forget the essentials.

Even if you only travel for work once a month, having all of your toiletries (toothpaste and toothbrush, floss, deodorant, medicine, lotion, etc.) replenished and packed will save you time and ensure you never land in another city without your favorite mouthwash. Even better, if you sign up for the TSA Pre-check process, you won't have to remove your liquids prior to the boarding process.

Packing essentials pro-tip: Buy everything you need to travel with (e.g. an additional toothbrush, deodorant, and shampoo) and keep it stored in your luggage, even when you're not traveling. That way it you don't risk forgetting something.

4. Choose the right luggage.

If you are still using the suitcase you got for high school graduation, it is probably time for an upgrade. Fortunately, travelers today have a variety of easy-to-transport options to choose from. Unless you are traveling overseas for weeks, carry-on luggage with wheels that swivel is likely the way to go. You never have to worry about lost luggage or canceled flights, as you would with checked baggage, and you won't have to waste precious time waiting for your suitcase at the end of each flight. Make sure you meet the airline's requirements in terms of size (you never want to be the person arguing with the flight attendant about whether your bag will fit in the overhead compartment and holding up the rest of the plane). Another great option is a rolling duffel bag, which is more flexible in terms of fitting into tight, overstuffed overhead bins. However, if you bring breakables or valuables with you, you may prefer a harder shell. Ensure that your laptop, files, devices and any other work-related items will fit comfortably in whatever option you choose. Before you purchase your new bag, pull it around the store and make sure it fits your frame and your needs. Some bags have awkward handles, zippers and pockets that can impede your ability to lift, pull or travel in style.

Luggage pro-tip: While there are tons of "smart luggage" options out there, it might be less expensive to buy a universal smartphone charger and luggage scale to use with your current luggage instead.

Final Thoughts

Finally, don't be afraid to ship larger items ahead. If your luggage feels too heavy after picking it up once or twice, just imagine how heavy it will feel after hours of traveling with it. Your business will likely prefer the expense of an advance shipment to overweight luggage and it will make your life and travel experience easier as well.

Published on: Sep 27, 2017
The opinions expressed here by Inc.com columnists are their own, not those of Inc.com.