Planning an International Business Trip, the Week Before

a screenshot of a login screenA 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. Last year I started updating them but ran out of time and couldn’t finish. Now that I’m headed on another international trip I’m finishing!Hopefully they’ll make someone else’s next big trip a little easier.

A decade ago 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!)

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

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

And items to prep 2-4 weeks prior:

  • Loyalty programs
  • Cell phone plans
  • Researching what to wear
  • Starting to work on your packing list

Here are the things to work on the last week before you leave:

Shopping. Make sure you have enough time to fill in the gaps on your packing list. Amazon can get most things to you within a couple of days but you may need to go to a couple of stores too.

Entertainment. If you are checking ebooks out from the library (which is free and I HIGHLY recommend it) this is the time. Also make sure you have any shows or movies downloaded that you want to watch–you typically can only do these large downloads when connected to wifi.

Print your itinerary. This doesn’t come naturally to me anymore, as everything is on my phone. However for many countries it’s imperative that you have a paper copy of your itinerary. During one trip to Manila I did not have my itinerary printed out and they didn’t want to let me into the airport! Better safe than sorry.

Check in for your flights. You can do this at the airport but I don’t want to wait in line. Just do it online and choose your meal (if you’re able).

Send your flight details to your hotel. If your hotel will be sending a car to pick you up make sure they have all of your flight information. For my trip I will need to get in touch with three hotels, so this is a big item on my list. 

Time differences. Make sure you and the office you’re visiting are on the same page with scheduling times.  It’s easy to get crossed when scheduling things in different time zones. Manila is 14 hours ahead of Texas, but the office I visit works the night shift—that can get confusing fast!  So be sure to double (and triple!) check schedules with the people you are working with. Not much is more frustrating than traveling a long distance only to find out they expected you there many hours earlier.  I’ve had personal experience with time mix-ups in Manila—that was a bad day. 

Pack. Packing for an international trip can be daunting. I’ve had packing lists going for weeks that I’ve edited and refined. It’s not just the clothes, but also the little things that make international travel go more smoothly–the comfort items for your flight, the extra medications, bug spray, the packs of tissues, etc. Here is my packing list from my last trip to India, which is fairly similar to my packing list for this next trip. One of the big considerations is what you will wear on the travel days. My plan is to wear a long tunic, super soft leggings, compression socks, and sneakers.

Get the lay of the land. Spend a little bit of time checking out Google Earth to see your hotel and surrounding area. Check how far your office is from the hotel, and make sure you know how you will get there. Look up common phrases in the local language. Are there must-see local areas? A regional food specialty? What are the local tipping customs and safety concerns? The trip will feel much less overwhelming if you have a little familiarity going in!

Readers, any other suggestions for the final week of planning an international business trip?


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  1. I find leggings too hot for travel to India, and other hot countries, its best to wear loose hareem type pants that are more forgiving and comfortable to wear on landing. Leaving UK layered, and shedding the layers on reaching India to just a t shirt. Its the reverse on my return. I carry yoga socks for the flight, padding up and down the cabin to exercise if I get bored.
    I carry ‘anti bacterial wet wipes’ , then clean my face and neck throughly and use a full restorative face cream while in board, only bothering to reapply mascara before landing. The wet wipes also come in handy for wiping down the table, these are notorious for germs. Also Im able also to wipe my skin to freshen uo mid flight and clean my hands to reduce any spread of bacteria. This all sounds neurotic but it works.
    Re mosquitos, in India, I rely on Odomos, its a soft cream in a tube. Neither messy nor smelly! If there are any stop overs I get a good squirt of my favourite perfume as I walk through duty free.
    I take my kindle white then reading in sunshine doesnt affect visibility. Audio books are good too. After a certain number of hours on a plane I find it better to listen than to watch a screen. Its also best for pre sleep as its less stimulating. Flights from UK to India are 9-10 hours without stops. Longer with stop overs.
    I carry my own ear plugs and eye shades, but also have a white noise app. on my phone . I don’t wear earrings on board and find my sports noise cancelling earbuds also suit me well as they have a soft loop across the back of my neck in case I do fall asleep.
    In my cabin bag I carry a light small soft back pack that I take out before putting the rest , locked, in the overhead locker. The back pack has everything Im likely to need and it fits under the seat in front. It saves messing about with finding stuff en route.
    I keep my ticket and passport in a light weight front zipped bum bag (US fanny pack) and keep that loosely but securely fastened on throughout.

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