Preparing for a trip for your small business involves a lot more than booking airline tickets and a hotel. Careful preparation makes the difference between a trip that runs smoothly and lets you make the best possible impression with customers and clients, and one in which you feel, and appear, harried.

Use the following tips to make the next business trip for your small business the best yet.

Locate directions
Use online mapping services to chart your course from meeting to meeting and determine how much time you need to get where you are going. Print your directions enough ahead of time so that you can call the people you are visiting to clarify any part of the directions that do not make sense. Factor in time for traffic since many mapping software programs give you the time it would take to make a trip without traffic. Ask for suite numbers, floor numbers and any other details that can make the difference between being on time and being late.

Prepare a list of key phone numbers
In addition to having the numbers of all people you are visiting, it pays to have direct numbers to their assistants or other people in the company. These numbers will enable you to get past security or find someone to speak to if your primary contact cannot be reached.

Confirm appointments
Few things are more annoying than showing up for a meeting that someone has forgotten. In the best case, the person is in the office, but has overlooked the meeting, which is embarrassing all around. If the person is out of the office, and the meeting is cancelled, your visit is a complete waste of time. Call to confirm appointments several days before a meeting.

Prepare for meetings
Print out notes from previous meetings or phone calls and have all presentations printed out and ready to go. Start this well ahead of your departure to avoid running out of time waiting for a slow printer to produce the materials you need. Also, have a list of attendees when possible to give yourself a better chance of remembering everyone's name when you get to the meeting.

Transfer key files to your laptop
If you usually work on a server in your small business, transfer files you need on the road to the hard drive of your portable computer. This will enable you to access important information and work on existing documents on the road.

Arrange for transportation
If you are unfamiliar with the area you are visiting, research transportation options before you arrive. While a taxi from an airport or train station is almost always an option, some locations are better served by van services or public transportation. Factor in the time of day you are arriving to account for the impact of traffic on your transportation.

Prepare your office
Leave key contact information for your staff including timing for when you will be traveling between locations. This will enable the office to phone you, send important documents, and otherwise contact you if a meeting is cancelled or they need you for some other reason.