How to Prepare for Your First International Business Trip
Most people tend to over pack for trips in general. For business trips, you want to be prepared for any unexpected event. However, if you look at your itinerary, you can plan for flexibility without taking everything in your closet.
Traveling to another country requires more preparation than if you are flying to another area of the US. Here are some steps you should take before you even pull out the suitcase to help get ready for your first business trip abroad.
Check Your Passport
Do you have a passport? If not, you’ll need to get one. Although you can expedite the process, it may be expensive. Fill out the application and get photos taken at a location that verifies they adhere to Federal requirements as soon as you know you’re traveling. If you do have a passport, check the expiration date. If it expires within six months after the trip, renew it now as some countries won’t accept it.
Finding out what vaccines you need and scheduling them can take time. Talk to your primary care physician 4-6 weeks before you travel. This allows time for your body to build up immunity once the vaccine series is complete.
Cash and Credit Card Transfers
Some credit cards charge very high fees when used out of the country of issue. If you have time, look around for a card with low international transaction fees. It could save hundreds of dollars over the course of your trip. . If you want to use a card already established, make sure to notify the credit card company. Otherwise, they may see a foreign transaction and freeze the card.
Exchange some of your cash for the local currency before you leave. Creating a budget before you take off can help you determine how much cash to bring. Shop around for the best currency exchange rates. In some cases, banks that have branches in your destination country may be less expensive than international exchange outlets
Many people suffer from nausea, headaches and other symptoms when they fly. Make sure you have the medicines you need to make the journey as smoothly as possible. If you take medications regularly, make sure you have enough to get you through the trip. Speak with your doctor or pharmacist if you need an early refill.
Learn Local Etiquette
How are meetings conducted and what is the dress code for the area you will be visiting? Many American business customs are unacceptable in other countries. Make a good impression by learning your host country’s business etiquette, from bringing gifts to dressing appropriately and respectfully presenting business cards.
What to Pack and How Much
It may be tempting to pack all of the clothes you have in one (or two) big suitcases. However, you’ll find that hauling it behind you through crowded airports, across uneven cobbled streets and onto elevators gets tiresome very quickly. The goal is to pare down what you need to keep your bag as light as possible.
Choose a Neutral Color Palette
Whether you prefer navy blue, black or gray, choose suits and business attire in these colors. Depending on the formality of the meetings and events you are attending, these are likely appropriate. Select a couple of shirts of different colors, and a few accessories to fill the business attire needs. Use the same plan for casual clothes.
Keep Shoes to a Minimum
Shoes take up a lot of space in a suitcase. Take a pair of shoes that coordinate with the business outfits and is comfortable in a variety of situations, from sitting to walking on uneven surfaces. Chances are you’ll have some long days, and sore feet will be a distraction. Think about slip-on loafers or other casual footwear for sightseeing. They are still comfortable but take up less space than tennis shoes.
Use Travel Sized Toiletries
Toiletries take up space and can add substantial weight to your suitcase. Buy small containers for your favorite soaps and lotions if they aren’t available in travel sizes. They’ll meet airport security requirements and won’t weigh you down.
Use Adapters for your Electronics
Outlets in Europe and Asia carry different voltage and are shaped differently than those in the US. Even if they look the same, they could still short out your device, causing smoke and sparks. Protect your razor, curling iron, laptop and smartphone by bringing an adapter made for your host country’s amps and voltage.
Your first business trip overseas is an important step in your career, and you want to nail it. Taking the time to be appropriately prepared can help you dress the part and navigate through meetings with culturally diverse colleagues and networking events.