Business trips to other countries are vital for institutions or companies to get their name out there on an international level. This trend of globalization is commonplace in the world today, mainly thanks to the advancements in modes of travel and policies supporting this movement.
Regardless of your field of work, it’s fair to assume you might be asked to represent your company on an international business trip at some stage.
In such a situation, it is important to be armed with all the information you could need. There are certain precautions to be made and considerations to be taken. These steps, as minute as they may seem, help ensure that the trip goes smoothly and that you gain the most out of it.
Here are some things you should consider when going on a business trip abroad:
Prepare for your trip in advance
You should start preparing for the trip well before you actually depart for it. The first thing to do is to get all your travel documentation in order. Make sure you have a valid passport.
You might not need a visa for certain countries, but for others, you may have to apply for it. It’s best to hire a travel agent/ travel consultant to help you with this process. If you have an invitation letter, such as that for some conference, keep it with you.
It is usually best to book your plane ticket beforehand to get the lowest price. Once bought, keep it safely with you and don’t forget the time and date of departure!
You might want to take a road trip
If you travel a lot to nearby countries for extended business trips, you could save considerable amounts of money by traveling by road instead of air.
Should you choose this option, you might have to sell your old car and buy a new one that is more suitable for long journeys. For those living in the UK, this buy car London site may come in handy.
Prepare yourself for possible emergencies
The next thing to do is prepare yourself for any possible emergencies during the trip. Your travel agents number should be stored on your phone and also be noted down somewhere else (in case the phone gets lost).
You should also find out the address and contact number of your country’s consulate/ embassy in the place you are going to. These two sources will provide guidance in case something goes wrong.
Keep your passport with you at all times, even while going out for dinner. If something does happen, this is your identity. Do get travel insurance as well. The sum is nominal compared to the peace of mind you’ll have.
Make sure you know exactly what circumstances are covered by your insurance. Leave your travel schedule with your family and stay in contact with them as much as possible so that they know exactly where to reach you.
Be aware of the political situation of the country you’re traveling to
Before leaving for the trip, it is important to be aware of the current affairs of the place you are going to visit. Use the news and internet to your advantage. You should know of any endemic outbreak, political unrest, war or terrorist threat or natural disasters in the area.
Nothing is more important than your safety, so be mentally prepared to postpone or cancel the trip altogether if needed. In any case, if you must make the journey, get the necessary vaccinations and take appropriate security measures.
Pack light – but practically
Now let’s talk about what you should take with you on the trip. For the sake of convenience, it’s normally a good idea to pack as light as possible.
However, on a business trip, your suitcase shouldn’t be so small that it crumples all your formal clothes. Do check the weather forecast beforehand and pack clothes according to the temperature. If rain is predicted, take an umbrella and a raincoat.
Carry basic medicines
Our body may not respond to the new environment and food well at first, which is why a lot of people get ill during travel. Carrying some basic medicines is advised. Some that you should carry include anti-inflammatory drugs, antipyretics, anti-diarrheal, anti-emetics, antacids, etc.
The hotel you stay at will probably provide basic toiletries, but you should still carry tissue papers, sanitizers, an insect repellent, etc.
Invest in converters
Other than that you’ll be taking your laptop/ tablet and mobile phone. Know the power supply of the country you are visiting. Most western countries’ power supply is 120V while that for most eastern countries is 240V.
Buy an adapter if needed as plugging a device into the wrong power outlet can fry it. Lastly, plan your expenses beforehand and carry extra cash and a credit/debit card that works in that country.
Learn the customs and culture of the country you’re visiting
You should do your best to know as much as you can about the culture of the place you are going to. Knowing the basic practices such as the manner of greeting, gift giving, etc. will help you a lot.
Dress as best as you can in keeping with the local culture and learn local body language and gestures. Be aware of any business customs to be followed during a meeting – for example, is small talk expected before important matters are discussed?
It will go a long way if you learn some of the basics of the local language such as greetings or words like yes and no. Not only will this help you get by, but it will also make a good impression on those you wish to conduct business with as it will show them you cared enough to make an effort.
One might employ humor to lighten the mood, but steer clear of any jokes that the locals may find even slightly offensive. Generally speaking, avoid discussing polarizing issues such as politics or religion.
All these things seem insignificant, but you never know what might upset someone or make them uncomfortable. Indeed, developing a good image is important for you to get your point across effectively. Finally, conduct yourself with dignity at all times as you are there as a representative of your institution.