When traveling abroad for business, there are several more essentials than usual that you should bear in mind than when traveling domestic. Learning about cultural expectations is the key to successful international travel. Chiefly, you should take time to acquaint yourself with the cultural norms and expectations of the country you’re traveling to, in order to avoid starting off on the wrong foot with any inadvertently negative first impressions. For instance, knowing when and where to tip versus when and where not to, is vital. If you obliviously fail to tip the maitre d’ when necessary, you could cause a negative impact on your stay, while if you offer a well-meaning tip in China or Tahiti, you’re likely to offend your recipient. Knowing when and where to – and when and where not to – offer or accept gifts or food or payment on one’s behalf is also pretty important. Sometimes, the matters that are of the greatest importance may be matters you’d never think to look into specifically, so be sure to check in with other travelers from your home country who have visited your destination, for a sense of their past experiences and their guidance.
Make sure to develop a plan for contacting home. Before departure, contact your cell phone carrier to determine whether your phone will still operate overseas if you replace your phone’s SIM card with one from your travel destination, what your international call rates will be like, whether there are any international roaming plans that you can add to your current plan in order to keep costs down, or whether there are any other options you could consider for staying in touch while you’re gone. Otherwise, you may want to acquire an international travel phone, which you can buy or rent at a discount with a little shopping around. Other options you may want to explore and compare for pricing are international calling cards or an inexpensive internet phone service like Skype. Make sure that important colleagues and clients will be aware of the temporary changes in how you may be reached, if there are any who may vitally need that information.
Since you definitely don’t want to leave anything important behind at home when it comes to international travel – seeing as how it can be much more difficult to acquire the things you need in another country than in your own if you happen to forget something – make yourself a special packing checklist for international travel to keep on hand, stored in your computer, for when international travel plans arise. Be sure to include on this list items like passport, driver’s license, visa (if required), and travel adapters.
Another essential thing to do is to cover your financial bases. Be sure to bring along credit cards from multiple providers, since some locations will accept one type of card but not another. American Express is most commonly welcome abroad, and it also offers convenience when it comes to currency exchanges since foreign AmEx offices will allow you to unload your foreign currency there to pay toward your bill, whether you have a balance or not. However, in some parts of Europe and Asia, Visa is accepted in more places than American Express – yet some other places will only accept Master Card – so be prepared. It is also probably best to keep some methods of payment in a separate place from your others in case anything gets lost or stolen. Credit cards can be extremely difficult to replace while traveling in another country. However, do leave behind, in a safe place, credit cards that you know you won’t be utilizing overseas, such as store credit cards. That way, if anything does get lost or stolen, there will be fewer items you’ll need to worry about replacing upon your return home. Common sense ideas such as these can help you to stand out as a valuable employee and lead to corporate recognition in the future.