By Stacey Vogler 

Whether you’re getting ready for your 1,000th business trip or heading to your very first, there are a few things you can do to ensure that it’s a successful and productive trip, for both you and your clients. You don’t have to spend hours preparing, but a little time spent from your everyday office can go a long way when you’re working from a hotel, far from home.

For a small business, being prepared for whatever a business trip may bring can be even more important, because it can help save time, resources and most importantly, money. Check out our tips on critical activities to do before leaving for a business trip.

Book Details Early

Sometimes, business trips can come up unexpectedly: an unhappy client that wants an in-person meeting ASAP, a last-minute meeting that you must attend. But when you can, booking details like flights or hotels as much in advance can save you a lot of resources and money, plus you will have to juggle less staffing issues and other details.

Prepare, Prepare, Prepare

When you’re visiting a client or another office, there’s no such thing as being too prepared. Make sure you plan ahead and start working on any presentations a week before you leave, confirm meeting times and locations and set the agenda early so you’re not missing anything critical. If you have multiple meetings in the same city, plan ahead to ensure you have plenty of time to make it everywhere on time (or early!).

Set Expectations

Make sure you set expectations with colleagues and clients you’ll be meeting with, to ensure that you are accomplishing all you need. Set agendas early and send them out prior to your departure so that all participants are on the same page, get feedback and adjust as necessary. Getting everyone prepared early can help to make sure that the meetings are fulfilling and successful.

Familiarize Yourself with the Location

Before you leave, especially if it’s a city or location you’re unfamiliar with, take a few moments familiarize yourself with the area. Have a good idea of how long it will take you to get from your hotel to the meeting locations, the airport, etc. If you’re also on a time crunch between meetings, you may also want to plan ahead with transportation. Rent a car (and a GPS!) so you can be in control of driving, or make sure you have the phone numbers of taxi companies or car services.

Plan for Downtime

Whether your down time will include client dinners or lunches, dining with colleagues or just some relaxation, it’s nice to have it planned ahead so you aren’t struggling to find reservations day-of. Find restaurants nearby to take clients for meals, and don’t be afraid to ask clients in advance where they’d like to dine – they’re the local experts, after all.

Plan for the Worst

With business trips, as with all travel, you never know what can happen to disrupt your plans. Inclement weather cancelling flights, missed connections, stolen luggage, last minute cancellations from clients, car accidents with a rental car – it can all easily happen and can put a major wrinkle in your otherwise well-laid plans. Luckily, there are some precautions that you can take that will save you time – and most important to your business, money. Investing in travel insurance and rental car insurance can help protect against common mishaps, trip cancellation and much more.

Some of the things travel insurance can typically protect against include:

• Trip cancellation and interruption
• Medical and dental emergencies
• Flight delays and missed connections
• Lost, damaged or stolen baggage
• Rental car damage and theft

For rental car insurance, key features typically include:

• Damage and theft coverage
• Primary coverage (will help you avoid claiming on your personal auto insurance policy for rental car damage)
• 24/7 roadside assistance
• No deductible

Plans and services vary depending on the type of insurance purchased, so make sure to pay close attention to the details. Travel insurance can typically be purchased all the way up to the day before departure, and rental car insurance can also be purchased any time prior to departure, however, it cannot be purchased after picking up the vehicle.

Go in Positive

Above all else, the most successful business travel is the kind that you’re happy to be on. It’s not always fun to be away from home, family and friends, but if you’re positive and excited to be traveling, your enthusiasm will rub off on clients and colleagues!

Stacey Vogler is US Managing Director of Protect your Bubble by Assurant ( Protect Your Bubble helps protect the things in life that matter a lot, like phones, tablets and travel plans.