What is one thing to consider when preparing for an international business trip?
To help you prepare for an international business trip, we asked business leaders and travel professionals this question for their best insights. From updating your vaccinations to securing your devices, there are several considerations that may help you best prepare for your international business travels.
Here are 12 things to consider for international business travel:
• Update Your Vaccinations
• Register With the State Department’s Step Program
• Keep Updated With Travel Advisories
• Read Up On Local News
• Review Your Company’s Travel Policy
• Learn About the Country’s Culture
• Be Prepared to Socialize
• Factor in Time Zones and Jet Lag
• Learn Some Basics of the Local Language
• Identify Your Primary Agenda
• Create a Well-planned Itinerary
• Secure Your Devices and Data
Update Your Vaccinations
Some countries require proof of having received certain vaccines in order to enter their borders. This is why it is important to update your vaccinations. While COVID-19 is at the top of everyone’s mind these days, there are also other vaccines to consider like yellow fever and routine vaccines like MMR, Tetanus, and the flu.
Many countries also require a COVID vaccine to facilitate entry or avoid quarantine. When it comes to the COVID-19 vaccines (Pfizer, Moderna, etc.), it is also important to know if you are considered fully vaccinated. According to the CDC’s website, you are considered fully vaccinated 2 weeks (14 days) after you have completed the full series of a licensed COVID-19 vaccine.
Norman Bizon, TravelBug Health
Register With the State Department’s Step Program
The State Department’s Smart Traveler Enrollment Program (STEP) is a free service of the State Department. Enrolling in the program allows American Citizens and nationals to get up-to-date information about safety and security. The program also gives the State Department the ability to contact you in the event of an emergency or help you connect with your friends and family.
I always enroll in STEP for my business trips in Latin America. In March and April 2020, the State Department kept me updated on humanitarian flights home, and I stayed current on constantly changing and strictly enforced local regulations.
Wesley Jacobs, Apollo Medical Travel
Keep Updated With Travel Advisories
You can plan out the most detailed itinerary, learn the native customs, and calculate all of your finances, however, it only takes one change by local or national governments to throw a wrench in your plans, which is why you should always check travel advisories. There are a number of issues that can have an impact on your business trip, so checking status updates and having a backup plan is critical.
Natural disasters, terrorism, political upheaval, health issues, or even upticks in crime, can create the need to change times, venues, or travel plans and arrangements. A wise business traveler will stay abreast of all the latest news by routinely checking advisories and creating a backup itinerary in case there are unforeseen events. A seasoned business traveler always hopes for the best but prepares for the worst.
Cody Candee, Bounce
Read Up On Local News
Alongside brushing up on local culture and customs, consider investing some time in reading up on current news for the region. Being aware of the biggest news items specific to the country you’re visiting shows that you care to learn about them and are immersing yourself in their media, both of which help build a strong first impression. Being up to date can also help you generate conversation starters with any new connections and stave off any awkwardness as people try to find their footing with each other.
Stephen Light, Nolah Mattress
Review Your Company’s Travel Policy
If you are traveling as an employee, the first step to a successful international business trip is to read the company’s travel policy. In the document, you may find information about the air travel and accommodation processes, expenses covered by the company and even extra perks they might offer.
Rebeca Sena, GetSpace.digital
Learn About the Country’s Culture
If you’re preparing for international travel and want to make it a successful business trip, do as much research as you can about the country’s manners and etiquette. The people of your destination will likely understand if you don’t know every single thing there is to know about their culture and practices, but the effort here will go a long way. Do some research on things like how the country expresses politeness, what the general dress code is, if there are any business practice customs that are common, and anything else that may be relevant for your trip. Researching about the country’s etiquette and will demonstrate your cross-cultural awareness will help ensure that your trip runs smoothly and that you leave a lasting positive impression on the client or company.
Saneem Ahearn, Colorescience
Be Prepared to Socialize
One business travel tip is to be prepared to socialize. That means understanding the expected dress code and also researching the etiquette on tipping in your destination country. You want to make sure that you don’t embarrass yourself in front of clients or potential business partners. Always be as cordial and respectful as possible, even if you don’t fully understand a country’s customs. Learning is one of the best parts of traveling!
Lisa Odenweller, Kroma Wellness
Factor in Time Zones and Jet Lag
As motivated as you may be to jump into work as soon as you reach your destination, it’s important to account for jet lag as you travel through different time zones. It can leave you feeling extremely disoriented and tired which is why it’s important to give yourself some much-needed rest as you slowly get accustomed to the new time zone, rather than burning yourself out.
Demi Yilmaz, Colonist.io
Learn Some Basics of the Local Language
When you’re gearing up for an overseas business trip, one small thing that can add some major value in terms of making your trip smoother is learning some basics of the local language. Even simple things like introductions, directions, and asking where the bathroom is can reduce headaches. Sure, most people in international business destinations speak English, but not all. And learning the basics doesn’t take much time or cost much. Signing up for an app like Duolingo or Babbel costs less than $10 and in just a few hours you’ll know enough to get by. I think this is especially important if you’re staying for a few days. If your trip is multi-day, there is a very good chance you’ll have to interact with cab drivers, waiters, bellhops, and other locals. Speaking some basic Japanese, German or Mandarin can go a long way.
John Ross, Test Prep Insight
Identify Your Primary Agenda
Know what you need to accomplish before you embark on your trip. Some of the most common objectives include finding new clients or suppliers, strengthening relationships with existing ones, negotiating deals, product launches, training events for client staff, and contract negotiations. Knowing the trip’s agenda will help you plan better, anticipate challenges, and steer clear of distractions.
Marc De Diego Ferrer, MCA Assessors
Create a Well-planned Itinerary
A well-planned itinerary will ensure you can comfortably accomplish your goals for the trip. It will avoid the stress of you rushing from one meeting to the next, worried about being late. Make sure your appointments are confirmed well in advance and spaced comfortably apart. Your schedule should be flexible to allow for unforeseen events like transportation delays or unplanned business lunches. Leave a copy of your itinerary with trusted colleagues, family members, or friends to ensure they know where you will be at any time.
Dean Kaplan, Kaplan Collection Agency
Secure Your Devices and Data
One of the most important things to consider when traveling internationally for business is the safety of your company devices. Being in an unfamiliar place can offer up a number of different security and cybersecurity issues that could have major effects on company data if you’re not careful. I suggest using luggage equipped with TSA-approved combination locks, so your company devices can stay safe, even in transit. Also, disable functions like auto-connect and Bluetooth during your travels to reduce the risk of hackers accessing your devices.
Cybersecurity should always be a top priority for business leaders, especially if they have employees traveling overseas. To mitigate the risk of data theft or loss while traveling, ensure that you clarify steps to take if a device is compromised, and always invest in some sort of remote IT management for your company. This allows some sense of control over sensitive company data, even when it’s across the world.
Peter Robert, ECS Office