Perhaps you’re a frequent flyer, or maybe you rarely head overseas to do business in person. You might recognise your own experiences in the following, or pick up a few tips…
Paul Walters, International Trade Compliance specialist shares his insight on making those important trips:
“I am often asked as a regular traveller, what some of my top tips would be for those less experienced business travellers.
My absolute top tip would always be to find the time to visit the local British embassy, consulate or trade office. They will be delighted to see you. They will give you good advice on local business culture – its very easy to make a faux pas if you don’t know the country or its culture. They will discuss the details of meetings, how to dress, how you address people and the do’s and don’ts you will need to know.
Understanding local culture is vital. The influence of cultural factors on business is extensive. Culture impacts the functional areas of marketing, sales, and distribution. It can affect a company’s analysis and decision on how best to enter a new market.”
Paul’s top tips:
Here’s Paul’s top-ten points for a good business trip
- Don’t overload your hand luggage
If you’re travelling for business, apart from a short trip, you will no doubt have hold luggage, so why overburden your hand luggage? Stick what you don’t need into your suitcase.
It can be quite frustrating to have to wait in line for security as people unload all manner of items from their hand luggage. Get yourself prepared, belt off, laptop to hand ready to just drop then in the trays, that way, when you get there, the process will be a lot quicker.
- Use travel time to prepare and acclimatise to your destination
As soon as I get on to the aeroplane, I set my watch to the time at destination to try and train my body clock into the new time zone, particularly to try and fit eating and sleep patterns into the time at the destination. More than half of the human body is made of water and it’s easy to become dehydrated while traveling. Drink plenty of water, both during your flight and before it. Personally, I generally avoid alcohol as it dehydrates you whilst flying.
- Print out essential travel details
Think about how you are going to get to where you are staying. It’s easy if someone is going to collect you, but if not, I will usually print out the hotel address in advance. If the local language doesn’t use the Latin alphabet, then email them and ask them to send the address in the local script. That way, if you want a taxi and the driver doesn’t speak English, you can just show them where you wish to go. I like to try public transport if I can, so I also ask for advice on how to get there from the airport / rail station. Once you arrive at your hotel, pick up a business card and then if for any reason you find yourself needing to get back whilst not knowing where you are, you can just show the card.
- Share your travel plans
I always leave a copy of my itinerary and where I can be contacted with someone in the UK for security purposes, God forbid anything may happen to you but better to be safe than sorry, and if needed people know where you are (or should be). Keep a spare copy of important documents in case things go missing.
- Add extra time
Patience is important when travelling, not everywhere runs the same way as home, so relax and be understanding, but make sure you leave yourself time. Add a little extra time to any journey in case of delays. It is much better to be early than late. In the Middle East they can be very laissez faire about meeting times, however the opposite can be true in places like Japan, where punctuality is very important.
- Get a little local lingo
Take time to get a feel for the pulse of a place, learn a few words in the local language, even if it is just, “please”, “thank you”, “hello” and “goodbye”. I guarantee it will get you a smile. If you can, try take a break and observe local life around you.
- Choose accommodation wisely
If you travel to the same city, stick with the same hotel. Choose a hotel based on its location, meaning how close it is located to amenities, your clients etc. Prioritise convenience over price, it saves money in the long run.
- Have two of everything
I have two toiletries bags and two sets of computer and phone cables, one set is for home, the other is for travel. The one’s for travel are always left in my suitcase, so I never get to my destination late at night only to realise I’ve left my toothbrush at home.
- Secret credit card
Hide a credit card in your suitcase, on the very rare chance that you might lose your wallet or purse, have a credit card hidden away in your luggage so that in a worst-case-scenario, you’ve got a backup.
- Basic medical supplies
Travel with a basic health kit, always check beforehand regarding inoculations, but make sure you take the basics such as headache tablets, plasters and I never leave home without Imodium (other brands are available). Also be aware that carrying not just prescription drugs, but also some over-the-counter drugs can cause issues in some countries, keep them in your hold luggage or make sure you have a letter from your doctor explaining why you need them.
Most importantly, have a good trip!
If you liked Paul’s tips, you might be interested in this article from nutritionist, Carola Becker about healthy eating whilst travelling: