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. 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:
- Credit card applications
- 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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