Saint Augustine once wrote “The world is a book, and those who do not travel read only one page.” As a business person, if you aren’t playing on the world stage, you are not taking advantage of global business opportunities. The benefits that come from adventuring beyond one’s comfortable local business climate cannot be measured. There’s magic found in stepping away from the familiar and plunging headfirst into an unknown zone of new sights, smells, sounds, tastes and, most importantly, perspectives.
So maybe you know the drill when it comes to packing for a domestic weekend away, but how does one prepare for a global expedition? With these easy, manageable steps, you’ll soon be on your merry way
First things first: Check that your passport is up-to-date, and do research as to whether a visa is required by your destination country. (Note: Some nations require that your passport’s expiration date be at least six months after your trip ends.) Also assess whether you’ll need any vaccinations or preventative medication (like malaria pills, for example). Also look into special travel documents that might expedite your business travel.
For example the APEC Business Travel Card will allow you to eliminate the need for a visa in many Asian-Pacific countries.Next, make sure you have the right bag. You want as large a bag as you can get without risking airline limits. Currently, a bag that is 22″ x 13″ x 9″ will meet all major airline’s carry-on maximum limits. This is always subject to change! Always look up major airlines’ current standards before buying new luggage.
The lighter you pack, the more you’ll praise yourself later. Remember that, on extended trips, you can always find a way to do laundry en route. Consider items like earplugs, an eye mask, a rain jacket, a day pack, an adapter, sunscreen, insect repellent and over-the-counter pills to combat headaches and/or gastrointestinal strife.
Alert your bank’s fraud department that you will be using cards overseas, become familiar with the exchange rate and look into additional fees you may accrue if using your debit or credit card abroad. Getting cash from an ATM once there often proves the most economical way to withdraw funds, although some travelers feel more comfortable exchanging at least a small amount of money before leaving home. Also be sure to stop in at your bank ahead of time and get enough currency from your destination country to pay for small expenses before you get a chance to go to a hotel’s or bank’s exchange window.
Since bulky guidebooks have become a relic of the past, download apps and maps ahead of time that might be helpful in navigating new lands. Scour review sites and blogs where fellow travelers share their secrets. You can even BYO tour guide these days, thanks to podcasts. Put together an itinerary. In this itinerary, list flight information; ground-transportation information; the hotel name, address, telephone number, and reservation number; meeting times and places — with telephone numbers, if possible; host names, telephone and fax numbers, and e-mail addresses; meal arrangements; and scheduled entertainment.
Make sure someone knows your trip plan. Give a copy of your itinerary to your assistant or an employee, and give another copy to a friend or relative. If something goes wrong, and you don’t arrive back when you say you will, someone will be able to initiate a search with accurate information about you.
Taking screenshots of map routes when connected to the Internet ensures you won’t lose your way later on. Another tip: Pick up a business card from the hotel’s front desk, so that you can show taxi drivers or other citizens and they can help you find your way “home.” (This is especially useful if you don’t speak the host country’s language!)
Before you leave, look into data plans for using your mobile device abroad; chances are you’ll want to keep your phone on airplane mode the bulk of your trip and connect to Wi-Fi only at your hotel or cafes along the way. If you plan to make a lot of phone calls for logistical planning, consider buying an inexpensive cell phone and then purchasing a SIM card once at your destination.
If you love food, one of the top things about traveling internationally is being able to try the local cuisine. Most likely, if you’re traveling for business, you’ll be wined and dined on your trip. However, you should still do research about great restaurants that are near the hotel or apartment where you’ll be staying. Also, this is important, be sure to be informed about the safety of local foods. Is it alright to drink the tap water? Should you eat food from street vendors? If you find that it will be a problem to find food you feel safe eating, make some room in your luggage for packaged snacks, or canned meals.
Most of all, consider talking to a travel agent who can help plan your trip and ensure that you enjoy it, stress-free. All of the logistics will be taken care of for you leaving you fully able to concentrate on your business opportunities and possibly enjoy the sights around you.
When mentally preparing for this exciting foreign investment, remember that—above all else—you’ll need to tote along your open mind, go-with-the-flow attitude and sense of humor. When in doubt, rely on locals for assistance and tips. Of course, most business adventurers want to do a sufficient amount of planning and booking before leaving home turf, but also consider keeping your schedule open for unexpected detours and opportunities. After-all, there are many pages of the book to turn!