Any business trip is an opportunity for success for your company. It can be a big sale that puts your company in a solid position for the future. Or, it can be a chance to forge some partnerships that last for years. That’s a lot of pressure on a business traveler to handle.
There is also the possibility that a business trip goes wrong. In this scenario a deal could fall through or a relationship can get soured. The best way to avoid such a scenario is to make sure that you are as prepared as possible before you even get on the plane.
You should have a lot of little details ironed out so the trip can go smoothly. You definitely don’t want to be troubleshooting small problems during the trip when that time should be better spent getting actual business done.
In this article, I will go over how you can be prepared for your first international business trip.
Have any visas sorted out
If you are American then you have the advantage of many visa free destinations. Your passport is like a key that unlocks a lot of countries to visit and do business. Now, many people often get passports and visas mixed up. The Difference Between a Visa and a Passport is simple. A passport is your travel document that contains your vital information. Without it, you can’t pass any borders.
A visa is special permission for foreigners to enter a country for business or pleasure. Not all countries require visas to visit and some only put limitations on residents of certain countries.
It can take quite a long time to get a visa so you need to make sure that you first find out if you need a visa to enter the country and for how long you are allowed to stay. For instance, many countries will allow Americans to enter the country but will need a visa if they plan to stay for longer than 90 days.
If your business trip is going to be a long one then chances are good that you will need a visa to stay there without any issues. Contact your local consulate for the country in question and ask them what the requirements are. At the same time, if a visa is required make sure to find out how long the processing times are for the visa to get issued.
Make sure your debit and credit cards work
There is no need at all these days to take travelers’s checks along with you on your trip. Though they do offer you protection in case they get lost or stolen, they are incredibly inconvenient.
Cashing them for local currency involves going to a bank and filling in a lot of paperwork. Not to mention you will likely be cashing more than you eventually need so you can avoid having to go through the process too frequently.
Instead, take along your credit and debit card, before you leave for your trip, you should call your card issuer and let them know the dates you will be abroad and where you plan to be. If you don’t do this then your card may get blocked when you try to use it abroad.
You may even want to consider opening a borderless account if you don’t already have one. These are online banks that allow you to use your debit card at any ATM in the world free of charge. This saves you a lot of money and time since you can take out just the amount that you need and in a matter of seconds.
And using an ATM ensures that you are getting the best exchange rate that is updated to the hour.
Learn the local etiquette
When you are meeting your international colleagues you’ll definitely want to make a good first impression. Unfortunately there are many instances where it is easy to make a faux pas and set out on the wrong foot. Cultural differences are a fact of life when traveling internationally for business but can be smoothed out by learning about them beforehand.
Do a little bit of research before the trip to understand how to deal with a culture you are unfamiliar with. There are certainly norms to consider when attending a business meeting, for instance or a night out with your associates. Ask some of the colleagues in your office who have already made the trip about some of the things you should be aware of.
Not only will you avoid any pitfalls that could sabotage your effort, but you may end up making an especially good impression that helps you land that deal. You may come back being hailed as a hero for your efforts just because you went above and beyond to learn about how your international associates do things.