11 tips for overseas business travel

If you’re ready to expand internationally – perhaps you plan to open a store overseas, start working with international clients or make a leap into exporting – these tips will help you prepare for hassle-free business travel.

Travel tip 1: Check your passport – The earlier you can get your passport documentation in order the better. In many countries it takes several weeks to receive a new passport once you’ve submitted your paperwork. Note that even if your passport doesn’t expire for a few months it’s wise to renew. Some countries will refuse entry if there is less than six months before your passport expires.

Travel tip 2: Research visa requirements – In some countries you can apply for a visa before you land; in other cases you’ll need to line up for a visa on arrival. Find out the requirements for every country on your itinerary and prepare accordingly.

Travel tip 3: Get your immunizations – The World Health Organ­ization recommends all international travellers have their immunizations up to date for measles, rubella, mumps, diphtheria, tetanus, whooping cough, and polio. Depending on where you intend to travel, you may also need additional vaccinations – some of which may require multiple doses. Be sure to visit your travel clinic at least four weeks before your departure date.

Travel tip 4: Be on alert for travel advisories – Your government may release travel advisories for any country in which there is an elevated risk of political unrest, health emergencies, a natural disaster, or acts of terrorism. Be sure to check your national government’s website for up to date travel warnings.

Travel tip 5: Locate your nearest consulate – It’s wise to have contact info on hand for the nearest embassy and consulate in every city or town you visit. Consulate personnel can provide resources and help if you need emergency assistance (e.g. if you’ve been the victim of a crime, you need medical attention, your passport was stolen, or if you need help getting home).

Travel tip 6: Invest in travel insurance – Struck ill and need to cancel your travel plans? Hospitalized overseas following an accident or injury? Change of plans due to a natural disaster? Travel insurance will protect you from losing money when your itinerary has to change suddenly.

Travel tip 7: Bring appropriate adapters – Make sure you have the correct voltage adapter to charge your electronics (e.g. cell phones, tablets and laptops) as well as high wattage devices (i.e. blow dryers and travel irons).

Travel tip 8: Know your communication costs – Is your mobile phone carrier network compatible with the country you’re travelling to – and if so, what are the costs for international calls and texts? It’s wise to ask whether your cell network offers a business plan that will help you save on fees while you travel. Keep in mind that wifi may not be available everywhere you go, and if it is, it may not be free.

Travel tip 9: Exchange cash into local currency – In smaller countries especially you may discover vendors don’t accept credit cards or traveller’s cheques, so be prepared.

Travel tip 10: Learn about local culture – Nothing can ruin a business meeting faster than an innocent misunderstanding. Learn a few key phrases in the local language and get tips on non-verbal communication. Business is frequently conducted very differently across cultures, so you’ll want to understand values, behaviors, and social customs before any meeting.

Travel tip 11: Try not to overschedule – If you’re unfamiliar with a city, leave yourself lots of time to get from meeting to meeting – and so you can enjoy exploring! By building free time in your schedule you’ll be able to accept a spontaneous invitation with a colleague, and you won’t feel stressed if a meeting runs longer than expected or you experience transportation delays.

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