Business travel has been paused for some time because of the COVID-19 pandemic that has shaken our lives to the core. Even though it will hardly ever be the same, business travels must get back on track. When they do, you should be ready to tackle that challenge with ease.
You must admit that business trips sound like getting the best of both worlds – you get to earn money and head to a new destination along the way. Not to mention that you’ll get to stay in a great hotel, meet new people, and explore a new place at the company’s expense.
However, when you need to prepare for the first business international adventure, some doubts can start knocking on your door. The initial excitement can easily transform into worrying followed by dozens of questions from what to wear to how to prepare.
There is no reason for concern. All it takes for you to handle this first business trip like a pro is knowing what to expect.
1. Collect Key Information about Destination Country
Going into the unknown is rarely a good idea. You will represent your company (and maybe even your country), so you should make a good impression.
Different countries have different business customs, regulations, rules, and so on. Breaking the rules won’t be an issue if you collect some basic information about your destination country.
What are their COVID regulations? Can you drink tap water, or must you stick to bottled water? What is the best way to show your respect to someone? To gather all the info, do some research or talk to a colleague who had recently visited that country.
2. Get Your Travel Papers Ready
One of the worst experiences for a traveler is getting sent back because of expired documents or lack of them. Don’t let this happen.
Check if your current passport has over six months until expiry. Double-check if you need any special authorization. Also, you want to ensure that your Visa (if you need one) is suitable for business travel. Find this information online or get in touch with a Travel Manager.
It is highly advised that you keep all your travel papers in the same place. Put them in your briefcase or bag so that they are within your reach.
3. Create a “What to Pack” Checklist
If you haven’t realized how incredibly useful checklists are, you are about to make that discovery. That pre-travel jitters will be less intensified if you have a checklist.
There are lots of apps you can download for this purpose. Having the list on your phone will make it easy for you to modify it whenever you get a new idea.
When you come up with a must-carry item, add it to your checklist. Write down every little thing from a toothbrush over a face mask to business papers. Tick of items only when they are safely stored in the bag.
Taking that one last glance at your ticked-off checklist will calm you down before you hit the road.
4. Ensure that You Are Insured
Is your travel insurance taken care of? In case it isn’t, you should do it on your own. If you are traveling abroad, don’t even think about not getting insurance. It is essential.
Even if you have travel insurance, you want to check if it covers the region where you are heading. Consult with your insurance agent if you have any doubts.
5. Pack Light
Unless you are going on a 2-week business trip, you should forget about suitcases. You don’t want to waste time at luggage pickup nor struggle with dragging a huge bag across a bustling city.
Keep your packing light. Stick to a single carry-on.
Pick out clothing pieces that can be mixed and matched. In that way, you can create different outfits with a few basic items.
Travel-size toiletries will be more than enough for a few days. For organized carry-on, you can consider buying packing cells. If you need more detailed packing guidance, check out popular travel influencers, as they can teach you the ropes.
6. Adjust Your Sleep Cycle
Since you’ll be having a few very busy days, you want to stay sharp and awake. If you are going to switch time zones, that can be a problem.
Linda Ferguson, CEO of Subjecto gave great advice for adjusting to a different time zone, “Some people (yours truly included) don’t have a chance at falling asleep at an airplane. So, the trick is to reset your body clock a few days before. For example, sleep for a few hours one day, then get an afternoon nap and prepare your body for some “daytime” sleep that you’ll need to adopt in a different time zone.”
7. Prepare Your Travel Entertainment
Long flights can be a real drag. But not for a prepared traveler. Download your favorite music on Spotify and your top picks on Netflix.
Instead of books, you should bring your Kindle or tablet. Books take up more space, and you can take more diversified reading material in a digital format.
8. Plan Out Your Stay
There is a high chance that your days will be packed with meetings, conferences, or appointments. When you catch those few free hours, you should make the most of them.
Make a list of must-see places. If you already have an itinerary, preplan your sightseeing. Careful planning will open up more space for enjoyable activities.
9. Keep Track of All Your Expenses
Reporting your travel expenses will be much easier if you arm yourself with a good compiling method. Prepare an envelope where you’ll keep all the receipts. Keep that envelope closely by your side at all times.
If you don’t get a recipe at a restaurant, café, or taxi, don’t shy away from asking for it. Make sure that you get your expenses fully reimbursed.
10. Prepare for Networking
This is your opportunity to make some important connections. Use it wisely. You can meet some interesting people, and you want to be ready to win them over.
Besides bringing your charm and good communication skills, you should prepare business cards. Ending a captivating conversation with empty hands isn’t the best idea. Slip your card to your newly-made business friends, and your networking game will be on.
Get Ready. Get Set. Go!
No matter where you are heading, these tips can turn you from a rookie to an experienced business traveler. It’s all about preparation. If you know how to prepare, pack, and act when you get there, you will be able to make the most out of this trip.
Lastly, there is just one piece of advice that you should know about – remember to have fun. Traveling and meeting professionals from your industry can be such a rewarding experience. Enjoy it.
Marie Barnes is a journalist, freelance writer, and editor. She has worked for many major publications, but she also ambitiously pursues challenging freelance projects. Her love for traveling motivates her to explore the world. Marie wants to inspire people to follow their dreams by sharing her experiences online.