Traveling abroad for business can be beneficial, productive and exciting for your company. It can produce new business and networking opportunities, but it can also be hard on you. Especially if you are a business-travel novice.
One of your most important considerations, especially for international business travel, is staying connected— to your office, to your contacts overseas and to anyone in the States who you rely on to conduct business. Start by managing your technology to preserve your ability to communicate en route: put your laptop, tablet, digital camera and anything else electronic in your carry-on luggage, rather than in your checked luggage. To make sure you have access to smartphone technology while traveling abroad, your best bet will be Internet-based solutions, which depend on data instead of cell technology. Voice-over-Internet Protocol (VOIP) applications like Skype let you make free calls to other users of these apps and very inexpensive calls to land lines and mobile phones— anywhere in the world. For text messaging, use free services like Google Voice.
Send Things Ahead
Sending materials ahead of time if you’ll be presenting at a conference may be a necessity or simply a convenience. Either way, one of the most important steps in the shipping process is international address verification. The last thing you want to worry about is undelivered mail.
Take Care of You
Jetlag is a common problem for business travelers. Drink plenty of water in the days before your trip, and cut back on alcohol and caffeine. If you’re going to a destination that requires more than 12 hours of air travel, stopping in a city en route for a night or a few hours or arriving early at your destination can help to break up your trip and allow your body to adjust to the time differences. Try to sleep and eat according to your new time zone, not the one you’re coming from.
To protect your data, files and presentation materials while traveling, Microsoft recommends these precautions:
- Don’t carry your laptop in a designated computer bag— it’s a dead giveaway that you’re carrying a laptop. Instead, consider a suitcase or a padded briefcase.
- Create strong passwords with capital letters, numbers and symbols. Don’t carry them anywhere near your laptop.
- Encrypt your files.
- Use a screen guard to make it difficult or impossible for anyone to see what you’re looking at on your computer.
Familiarize yourself of common cultural practices through books and videos before your trip. Take note of idioms (whether or not you speak the language of the country) and customs. You can even pass the time on the plane by reading up on the culture of your destination. If you can do this, you and the people you meet will all feel much more relaxed.