Getting ready for your first business trip abroad can be very stressful! I’ve put together a comprehensive list of items that can help you prepare, hopefully cutting down on your anxiety. Click here to read the first installment, which covered passports, travel advisories, and vaccinations.
Eating and drinking. It’s not always the best idea to eat certain foods when traveling internationally, and the same goes for drinking water. In Manila (and many other places!) they don’t recommend you use tap water. Don’t forget that if you are served a soda in a glass with ice that the ice may have made from tap water. Many nicer hotels filter their water but until you know drink bottled water.
This is especially important if you are pregnant! When I was seven months pregnant my best friend got married in Mexico. The only way my doctor would let me go was if I promised to only eat foods that were cooked. That eliminated guacamole and fruit, which was not super fun, but I still had a great time. This can apply to many countries that you may travel to even if you’re not pregnant. The link I shared last week about finding out vaccination recommendations based on location can also be used to find out information about what is safe to eat and drink. You’ll find many other helpful categories based on your destination down there as well so take a look at all of the provided information on the page.
While food safety is obviously important, it’s also nice to know what your options are for getting your meals. When I go to Manila I usually only eat at either the hotel or the office. This was primarily because it was most convenient, but also because of safety concerns. If this is your plan as well go to your hotel website to see if they have information on their food options. If it’s not on their website try to email them for the information, or do a Google search to see if something comes up. If that doesn’t work make a call to the hotel. If they don’t speak English ask for someone that does. Find out when the kitchen is open too. In Manila I work US business hours which means my breakfast is at dinner time, my lunch is in the middle of the night, and my dinner is the glorious hotel breakfast buffet. See what I mean?? The one time I stayed at a different hotel than usual I didn’t check their restaurant hours, and was pretty angry to realize I had missed the kitchen by thirty minutes and would have to wait another seven hours to eat.
Transportation. One scary part about traveling to the Philippines for the first time was getting from the airport to my hotel. There are just a lot of unknowns. The State Department has a website where you can find the safest forms of travel based on your destination. The site also has links to the countries’ official travel websites, which is helpful in getting more detailed information about available transportation. I always take the hotel car in Manila because it’s the easiest, safest way to get from my airport to the hotel. As reader Santastico noted during last week’s post, “It may cost more but it’s a business expense, and your safety comes first.”
The CDC also has a section on selecting safe transportation when you enter your travel destination on their website. These sites, along with consulting your travel department and hotel, should get you to your destination safely. Be sure you check with your hotel prior to arriving to find out how much a taxi or private car should cost when traveling from your hotel from the airport, then confirm this amount with the taxi driver before departing. I’ve never been scammed but I know people who have.
Also be sure you have some tip money available when traveling if it’s recommended. Tipping etiquette varies widely across the globe. In Europe people tend to tip minimally, and in parts of Asia tipping is seen as rude. So you want to be sure you know what the custom is! Try out the app GlobeTipping. It’s highly recommended for navigating tipping internationally.
When traveling internationally there are likely going to be language barriers (Pictured: Rosetta Stone Spanish). If you’re not lucky enough to speak the language of your host country, be sure you have the full name, address, and phone number to places where you are going written down ahead of time. That way there’s nothing lost in translation. You could learn a few words of their language but they may think you know their language well if you start speaking it so watch out! It might be good to learn the phrase, ‘I don’t speak ______________,’ just in case that happens. One option is to try the Google Translate app to help you translate certain words, but be careful with that too because words may have different meanings internationally just as they do here in the US. Through the State Department website you can visit a country’s official travel page to see if they have helpful words and phrases to use (here’s an example for the Philippines). When all is said and done having addresses and phone numbers written down is your best bet to getting around, then you can learn words along the way.
Next week we’ll cover Credit Cards, Currency Exchange, Points, and Cell Phone, Data, and Text Plans.
Readers, what have your experiences been with international food, transportation, and language barriers?
Have a travel question or suggestion? Send it to RoadWarriorette @ gmail.com.
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