International business travel can be equal parts exciting and stressful. But if you plan ahead, you can make sure it’s more of the former and less of the latter. Here are several tips to make it a safer and more productive trip for all.
1. Do Your Research
Always do your research on the countries you’ll be visiting ahead of time – particularly if you’ll be visiting a new place. Every country has different immigration and customs requirements. In many cases, they vary based on your nationality and country.
If, for example, you’re from a country that adheres to the European Travel Information and Authorization System (ETIAS), you’ll need an EU travel authorization to travel between these countries.
The last thing you want to do is arrive at the airport and realize you don’t have the proper documentation to get where you need to be. Plan ahead!
2. Pack With Purpose
When it comes to packing, you want to get away with bringing the least amount of items possible. At the same time, you also have to make sure you have everything you need. The key is to bring versatile items that give you more options without requiring more space.
Thankfully, it’s fairly easy to look good in a professional setting without overpacking. Pick one or two business suits and several pairs of neutral shoes and shirts that you can swap out for different combinations each day.
3. Get Plenty of Rest
Don’t underestimate the importance of rest on an international business trip. Jet lag is a very real thing, and it can have a direct and detrimental impact on your performance.
There are dozens of tips for beating jet lag. Some work and others are a little bit kooky. But the best piece of advice is to set your watch to the local time zone as soon as you board your plane. Upon arrival, resist the temptation to go straight to bed. Force yourself to adapt to the local time. (Hint: Going on a walk or jog around the neighborhood makes it easier to stay awake than lounging around your hotel room.)
4. Choose the Right Accommodations
It’s possible that your company will be selecting your accommodations. However, if possible, you want to have some say in the matter. Ideally, you want to be as close to where you’ll be working/meeting as possible. Being close to the action cuts down on daily commute time and limits your need to navigate confusing public transportation. It’s also helpful to choose a hotel that has breakfast included. Not only will this cut down on your expenses, but it gives you one less thing to worry about. All you have to do is walk downstairs to the hotel lobby and you’re ready to go.
5. Have a Plan for Language Barriers
Thankfully, knowing English gives you a leg up in almost any developed country. It’s widely spoken throughout the world and helps you communicate with locals. (Not everyone will know English, but you can usually find someone who does.) Having said that, make sure you have a backup plan for when there are issues with language barriers. One super simple option is to download a translation app like Google Translate. This allows you to translate speech, as well as text from a photo.
6. Find Local Contacts
Before traveling, it’s always a good idea to find local contacts who can provide you with assistance when you’re “on the ground.” Ask colleagues and clients if they have any family members, friends, or connections that reside in the area. And, if so, politely request their contact information in case of an emergency.
Having local contacts makes it much easier to navigate sticky issues and/or find answers to questions or problems you may have while on your trip. Plus, you never know when someone’s aunt or uncle will invite you over for a home-cooked meal!
Taking the Stress Out of Travel
Business travel can be stressful on multiple accounts. Not only do you have the pressure of the job at hand, but you also have to deal with the stress of travel and dealing with everything that comes with airports, accommodations, and navigating a brand new place with a unique culture. Thankfully, it doesn’t have to be stressful – if you plan ahead.
Every international business trip is different, but the same basic principles apply. Put these tips into action and you’ll enjoy less stress, more productivity, and a better overall experience. Good luck!