The Checklist Gets Longer for International Business Travel
Business trips can be a breeze or a nightmare, depending on when and where you are traveling to. Holding your passport in your hand for an overseas' jaunt is only the beginning of the checklist nightmare of today's international travel. You have a packing checklist for your bag so you don't forget your undies, you have organized your "out-of-office" automatic email reply and sent your itinerary to anyone that actually cares about where you will be.
Firstly check that your passport is current, that you have a sufficient number of empty pages and do find out if you need a visa for wherever you are going. If a visa is required, most can be done on-line these days.
Do You Have Current Travel Insurance?
Next step on the important list for everyone is travel insurance. Don't leave home without it! Also make sure you understand the conditions, restrictions and limits. That $5,000 laptop may not be fully covered if you leave it in a taxi after a big night out with a customer. When in doubt check with your travel cover provider.
Register on your government travel website. At least you know someone will go looking for you if caught in the middle of a mudslide. Don't rely on your personal assistant to raise any alarm bells, unless you have been extra nice to her/him of late.
Consider the changing weather patterns where earthquakes and tsunamis are becoming more frequent. Throw in the odd tornado or cyclone, or the ash fall out of active volcanoes and the "acts of god" appear to be occurring all the more frequently. Checking the weather is not as silly as it sounds.
Does Your Credit Card Work Overseas?
Notify your bank of your intended travel, so that they know it is not a Nigerian fraudster trying to remove money on your credit card. More and more banking institutions are setting geographic restrictions unless to minimise fraud, so ensure they know where you will be. There would be nothing more embarrassing than attempting to pay for a business dinner, only to find that your credit card won't work. When I say "you" paying for it, I mean on your business expense credit card. This situation would not win any client's admiration, if you had been the one to invite them out.
Global Roaming For The Global Roamer
Mobile phone coverage is always a drama that should be solved before you leave your home city. You certainly don't want gremlins downloading unwanted and unnecessary data whilst on roaming, and returning to a phone bill in the thousands. Yet you do want to be able to retrieve any important emails or take any necessary telephone calls. If you will be in a foreign city for a few days or more, simply grab a local sim card and email the number to anyone that you are dealing with in the city, or check out some of the options for regular intentional travellers and travellers visiting multiple countries in a single trip. These are now increasingly more accessible.
License To Drive
Renting a car in another country is a whole different can of worms, which brings in the question of international driving licenses, ensuring that you do have insurance and once again, that your credit card will actually work. If intending to hire a car and or drive ensure your domestic drivers license is acceptable. Work out the insurance cover you may need and check you will be able to pay with your intended credit card.
Grab some cash upon landing at the airport so that you have change on hand for any emergencies or small charges such as taxis, or if you wish to tip the friendly porter at the hotel who lugged your bag to your room. The rates may not be as good as that outside of the airport, but the convenience is worth it.
Everyone, these days, needs to be connected, whether it is for business or leisure travel. Never book into a hotel that doesn't have Wi-Fi, yes there are still some around. Better yet, make sure when booking your accommodation that Wi-Fi is included in the nightly rate and it is not one of those nasty hidden extras. Remember also to make sure that the Wi-Fi is not just available in the hotel's public areas, but in your room as well. There is nothing worse than having to get dressed properly, when you are relaxing in your fluffy bathrobe, to go to the lobby to check your emails. This also gives you the added benefit of being able to Skype local numbers and talk in private.
Security is another issue of your laptop and mobile phone, so ensure that both are password protected and of course, backed up. Indulge in some anti-theft software, which will be able to locate your phone or laptop if stolen or lost and may even be able to erase your data remotely if needed. Bottom line, your data is worth more than the hardware so backup, backup, backup.
Where Are Those Documents?
It is definitely time to clean out that fat wallet of all unnecessary identification cards and extra credit cards that you won't require on the trip. In some areas of the world it is actually better not to have anything on you that has a company logo proudly announcing who you work for. Take photographs of all of your important documents such as passport, driver's license, and medical prescriptions. Email them to yourself just in case anything gets stolen.
And of course, take extra prescription drugs as a just in case measure. The local pharmacy may be swallowed up in a tidal wave and you will be left with no means of replenishing your stock or even getting out of the city of where you are. There are many reasons why a flight may be delayed and you don't want to be caught without your daily dose of whatever drug your body craves or needs.
To Jab Or Not To Jab
Check if you need any needle jabs prior to going to some of those "infected" far-flung countries. Particularly when travelling to less developed destinations in Asia, Sth America or Africa.
Bonjour, Hola, Ni Hao
Learn a few local phrases, it will impress if you can at least say "hello" and "thank you". Maybe throw in "I need a doctor", just in case.
There Are Carry-On Limits
Do remember that airlines have become very rigid about carry-on size limits, so check this out before you get to the check-in desk.
After organizing all of the above, it may be easier to have a face-to-face Skype meeting and you can stay sitting at your desk.
Gail Palethorpe, a self proclaimed Australian gypsy, is a freelance writer, photographer and eternal traveller. Check out her website GailPalethorpePhotography.com