Planning an International Business Trip, 2-4 Weeks Prior

A few years ago I started putting together all of my suggestions for planning an international business trip. There were a lot of topics, including passport and visa requirements, vaccinations, credit cards, safety, packing, time changes, culture shock, and more.

I’m prepping for another major international trip, and reading through these posts has been incredibly helpful. So I’m updating them and putting them back up here, and hopefully they’ll make someone else’s next big trip a little easier.

When I found out that I would be taking my first international business trip I was both excited and nervous.  I was excited to go to a place I had never been before (Manila), plus excited about all the points I would be racking up.  I was nervous about all the questions I didn’t have answers to. How would I deal with language barriers to get to my destination? Do I need to have vaccinations? What should I wear? And the list goes on. (Interestingly, even now that I’ve been on dozens of international trips I still get nervous, and checklists still help so much!)

Reminder: In the previous section, we talked about items to prep 4-8 weeks prior:

  • Passport
  • Visa
  • Credit card applications
  • Vaccinations
  • Global Entry

Here are some things you should prep 2-4 weeks before your trip:

Loyalty programs. Be sure to sign up for loyalty programs for any airlines or hotels you’ll be utilizing during your travel.

Cell phone plans. If you need to change or upgrade your cell phone plan do that at least a week ahead of time. Sometimes they can take a few days to go into effect and you don’t want to be stuck abroad without cell service. That reminds me… <<takes break from writing post to go upgrade phone plan>>

Travel advisories. Start checking travel advisories for your destination. Before one of my trips to Manila the Home Warrior found a travel warning for terrorist activity. Yikes! After he had a mini freakout we looked more closely and realized that was thousands of miles and several islands away. Phew!

Regardless, I was still on guard for that trip. I didn’t go out at night, I stayed at the best hotel with the highest security (which is a very short distance from where I do business) and when I went shopping during the day I went with a group of people.  At your destination it may be advised to not even go out to shop or go to a local restaurant, so be sure to do your homework and lean on your travel department (if you have one) for advice.

Also if someone in your company has recently traveled where you are going you may want to chat with them before you leave. If you don’t know anyone ask your travel department to recommend someone.  If that doesn’t work, online forums are often a good source of information.

What to wear. Start researching office etiquette in your destination country. One example of this is appropriate office wear. For example, in India it’s not recommended to wear dresses without leggings. In many places in Europe people wear full suits to the office, even if their US counterparts are more casual. Start looking into this early so that you have time to go shopping if needed! This leads me to….

Packing list. There’s no need to start packing your suitcase this early (unless you want to!) but I would definitely start working on your list. For the few weeks before my trip I always have a running list going in my phone’s notepad with things to pack, things to buy, and things to do. You want to include what to wear on the plane, what clothes to wear while you’re there, and what you need for your carry-on.

Readers, anything else on your list for 2-4 weeks before an international trip?

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