In theory, international business travel sounds like a dream come true. Who wouldn’t jump at the opportunity to see the world on the company dime? The reality is often much less glamorous: delayed flights, lost luggage, jet lag and culture shock can make it difficult to get business done, much less enjoy yourself.
The good news is that it doesn’t have to be that way. These international travel tips for the business traveler will help you avoid common problems, stay healthy and safe, and enjoy your trip!
Booking Flights to Avoid Delays
Nothing messes with an international itinerary like a delayed flight. Some delays are unavoidable, but here are some tips to improve your odds of flying on time:
- Try to book flights in the mornings, before 7:00 a.m. Or, take a red-eye after 11 pm and try to sleep on the plane.
- Also, consider local weather patterns that could cause delays, like foggy mornings or afternoon thunderstorms.
- If you have more than one major airport nearby, depart from the one with the best track record for on-time departures.
Of course, you should still schedule your flights to accommodate minor delays if they occur.
International Travel Tips: Passports and Visas
Passports and visas are another potential trouble spot for international business travelers. It doesn’t matter if your plane is on time if you’re not on it – and without a passport, you’re not going anywhere.
Pro Tip: Check the expiration date on your passport! Many countries won’t let you in if it expires in the next six months, even if you’re only planning to stay for a few days. Plus, you’ll need at least 2-4 blank pages in the back for visa stamps.
Need a passport within two weeks? You’ll need to make an appointment at the nearest regional passport agency. Consider using an expediting service like RushMyPassport instead – you can get your passport when you need it without the hassle of making an appointment, traveling to a regional agency, waiting in line, etc.
But a passport may not be all you need. Visa rules can be confusing. Often, countries you can visit visa-free as a tourist require visas for business trips. Additionally, getting that business visa can be more difficult than you’d think.
Pro Tip: Cut through the red tape with a visa expediting company like RushMyTravelVisa. You’ll get expert help with the paperwork, and they’ll deal with the embassies on your behalf!
How to Pack Like A Pro
The best way to avoid lost luggage is to pack everything into a carry-on. You are exponentially less likely to lose your bag if you keep it with you.
Does that seem impossible? With planning, even the most stubborn pack rats can avoid checking luggage. Here are some tips to help you pack light:
- Pack clothes you can layer, mix and match, preferably in dark colors that won’t show stains.
- Roll your clothes instead of folding them, so they’ll take up less space.
- Consider using packing cubes to keep things organized.
Flying in Style
How many business travelers get to fly business class? If you’re stuck on an economy budget, here are a couple of ways to score an upgrade:
- Look for an economy ticket with a Y or B booking code. You’ll pay full price, but you’ll be next in line for an upgrade if space is available.
- Dress nicely and be kind to the airline staff. Then, ask if there are any upgrades available for purchase. You might be able to snag one cheaply, or you might be offered a free upgrade as a reward for being nice.
International Business Etiquette
Good manners are not the same around the world. Want to avoid unintentionally offending the people you’re trying to do business with? Study the business culture before you leave. For example, did you know that in France, it’s not impolite to be 10 minutes late to a business meeting? But don’t take off your suit jacket during a business meeting- that IS considered rude!
Not sure where to start? Cyborlink.com is a website devoted to international business etiquette and maintained by the Global MBA program at UT Dallas. HubSpot also has an excellent international business etiquette guide.
International Travel Tips to Keep You Healthy and Safe
Jet lag, sleep deprivation, stress, and convenience food: these are just a few of the reasons that business travel can affect your health. And guess what? International travel means more of all of these things. All this, plus more new germs that your immune system hasn’t learned to fight.
Want to stay healthy? Take care of yourself with the tips below:
Get enough sleep
Yes, it sounds obvious. However, research shows that most people don’t get enough sleep on business trips. International business travelers are especially prone to sleep deprivation because they often must cross time zones. Meanwhile, a 2000 study on sleep and business travel by Mark Rosekind, Ph.D., found that sleep deprivation caused a staggering 20% drop in productivity among business travelers. Yikes!
If you’re taking an overnight flight, try sleeping on the plane. A C-shaped travel pillow will give you the best neck support, and a sleep mask and earplugs can help block out your surroundings. Skip the in-flight drinks, though. You’ll just end up tired, irritable and possibly hung over.
Yes, exercise is still essential, even when you’re traveling, and even if you’re sleep deprived. According to Rosekind’s study, business travelers who exercised performed 61% better than those who did not. And it helps fight jet lag by resetting the “molecular clock” in your muscles and your lungs. If you already have an exercise routine, the key is to maintain it during your trip, exercising at the same time you would if you were home. If you don’t have a pre-existing exercise routine, morning is the best time.
Get vaccinated if necessary
Depending on your destination, a bit of preventative medicine may be in order before you travel. Nobody likes shots, but I promise you’ll like yellow fever or Hepatitis A even less.
Eat healthy food
Let’s face it; some indulgence is unavoidable while you’re traveling. But if you treat every business trip like Mardi Gras, you’ll feel sluggish and find it harder to sleep. Plus, you’re likely to come home with a few extra pounds as a souvenir.
To minimize the damage, start the trip off right and pack your own healthy snacks. Try to book a hotel near downtown, which will give you more options for eating out. Of course, you should always research food and water safety in your destination. Sometimes, apparently “healthy” foods like salads carry contamination risks.
Know the way back to the hotel
Getting lost in unfamiliar territory is no fun and could be dangerous. When you check in to your hotel, ask for a map and a hotel business card. The map will help you find your way around, and if all else fails, you can give the business card to a cab or Uber driver to get back to the hotel.
We hope these international travel tips make your next business trip something to look forward instead of something to dread. And remember, RushMyPassport specializes in helping business travelers get the documents they need to get where they need to go when they need to be there. We can expedite your passport application so that it gets processed, with passport renewals as quickly as one week!
If you need a passport in a hurry, check out our services and get started with our easy application process. We’d love to help!