For many professionals, travelling is as much a part of the job as checking e-mails and conference calls. Today businessmen and women can be in Dublin in the morning, Dubai in the afternoon and Durban by evening.
Travel is part and parcel of the corporate world and although going across the world isn’t as hard as it used to be, immigration, visa issues and luggage restrictions can still be a nightmare.
Many people have to drop everything with only a moments notice, so having a bag ready and knowing where your passport is can help stop the last-minute panic. Here are just a few top tips for a successful trip:
When you are preparing for a business trip it is important to pack lightly, quickly and efficiently. Packing is usually a test of your organisational abilities and efficiency.
As professionals, these are skills on which business travellers pride themselves. Having a packing checklist will help keep you organised and prepared for anything. “Most businessmen and women agree packing light is an absolute essential for business travel.
“Easy-to-carry luggage that is not too bulky is helpful. And if you plan to take trains and local planes, easy-to-lift bags will help you with overhead storage.
Stick to carry-on luggage if possible, but if you have to check in bags, ensure to pack a change of clothing and toiletries, in case the luggage gets lost,” says Dr Tracey Wilen, author of International Business: Basic Guide for Women.
For some business executives, international travel may mean spending several weeks in one location before moving on to the next stop. “To keep luggage minimal in this situation, packing considerations should include having enough variations in your wardrobe to keep outfits fresh,” adds Dr Wilen.
If you already have a passport, make sure it will not expire during the trip. Also be aware some countries require that your passport be valid up to six months from the start date of your trip. In addition to a passport, some countries will also require a visa.
RESEARCH THE HOTEL
Is the hotel you are staying at in the financial district? Does it have a business centre or internet connection in the room? Look on the web or call the hotel in advance to make sure you are near the area you need to be in.
“Choose a hotel close to your meeting place, since many cities have heavy traffic congestion and require extra travel time. If you can, stay in a major hotel in a populated area,” advises Wilen.
Find out what transport links are available – will you need to hire a car? If there is a business centre you might not even need to take your laptop at all.
It is also worth finding out whether you need to take internet cables. Most hotels have their own facilities, especially if they are aimed at the business community, but finding out before getting there will make for a smoother trip.
CHECK CURRENCY AND TECHNOLOGY
Not all countries work on the same frequency band, so you might find that your mobile phone or BlackBerry are useless while away.
Japan is one such example where people need a quad band phone to make and receive calls, so it is best to buy one before going. In America Tri-band is needed, so make sure your company provides you with the right mobile or be prepared to upgrade your mobile phone on arrival.
“Find out if you can plug your computer into the electrical outlet. Is the computer application you are trying to use compatible with the country? These are all questions that need to be answered before setting off,” says Michelle and Curtis Cook in their book Planning a Business Trip Abroad.
“To avoid queues, exchange enough money for the taxi ride to the hotel before boarding the international flight. And remember to use your credit cards because they offer the best currency exchange rate at the moment,” say Michelle and Cook.
- If you know you’ll be travelling several times in the coming months, find out about elite frequent-flier status on airlines
- To beat jet lag, United States’ soldiers swear by the Zone diet; a pre-departure regimen that helps them adapt quickly
- Watch your wallet when using credit cards and ATMs overseas. Large banks add a surcharge to foreign currency
- Negotiate taxi fares up front when travelling abroad to avoid being ripped off. See if there is a fixed fare for airport runs