Our Business Travel Roundtable was held in the morning of Friday, February 22nd at the WTC Offices. The discussion was part of our Global Trade Topics Roundtable Series and focused on international business travel experiences. WTC members Kim Willing (HydroWorx) and Adam Say (RoomMates- a division of York Wallcoverings) lead the roundtable, along with Dr. Debra Bell from Wellspan. In fact, it was a full house!
The numerous topics discussed included everything from cultural customs to health issues that are associated with traveling. Great advice was given by all who attended and there were many stories shared. We all learned something new from our colleagues, whether it was how to build friendships or being mindful of verbal differences in legal contracts.
The roundtable also brought up some good travel tips. Everyone had something that they contributed to the discussion and I have listed some of them below.
Before You Go…
- Current Travel Warnings. Your first step should be to check the US Department of State’s Current Travel Warnings. If the country you are about to visit is listed, it is recommended you avoid or consider the risk of traveling to that country. A warning is issued when long term, protracted conditions make that country unstable or when an embassy or consulate closed and the government’s ability to assist American citizens is constrained.
- Remember to check the CDC’s website. The CDC will give you specific medical information for each country in their travel section. Carry those medications on you and take them as directed.
- Check out the Country Commercial Guides. The US Department of Commerce’s website includes a market research section. There you can find the “Country Commercial Guides”, which include a wealth of information about the country you will be traveling to.
- Copy your passport and insurance card. Put a copy in your suitcase, purse or wallet, and anything else you’re carrying. Maybe even take a photo and keep it electronically on your phone, tablet, and laptop. This will come in handy if you lose your passport and need to go to the Embassy.
- Embassy Information. Write down the information for the US Embassy in your country and keep it in a safe place. Make sure you know the phone number and address in case of any emergencies.
- Brush up on your Travel Knowledge. Check out websites like Frommer’s, Lonely Planet, and Fodor’s. Amazon also has thousands of books relating to your specific country.
- Business Etiquette. Kiss Bow or Shake Hands provides a comprehensive resource for global business etiquette. Without understanding international business practices, businesses cannot develop a competitive network of customers or suppliers. It lists phrases that can be used with confidence for greetings and basic interactions when conducting business in over 70 countries. The website delivers vital information in a downloadable form for on-the-go access.
- Be sensitive to different cultures. Remember that you are visiting their home, so educate yourself on cultural differences before you leave.
- Extra Layovers. For peace of mind, sometimes it is easier just to pay an extra $100 to limit unnecessary, long layovers.
- Get up and walk every hour, on the hour. Get your blood flowing throughout your whole body by trying some light stretching.
While You Are There…
- Always be yourself and be humble. Americans can be stereotyped very easily, so always treat others with the respect they deserve. Regardless of language barriers, they do know when you’re talking negatively about them behind their backs.
- Stress is never good for your body. Even though you are thousands of miles from your home, remember to take care of yourself and your travel worries. If you need to, call or Skype home to tell your loved ones you miss them.
- Remember to exercise. Bring resistance bands, a jump rope, and other small items with you in your suitcase. You can also utilize your luggage as faux weights. (Check out this Hotel Workout from Men’s Health magazine) If your hotel doesn’t have a gym or pool, go outside and explore everything the city has to offer on foot. Walking is great if you are restless or need to de-stress. You also might find something you never would have otherwise!
- Take time readjusting to time zone differences. It might help to stay awake on the first day you are there and fall asleep at a true bedtime when it becomes dark. If you are jetlagged upon arrival back to the States, take a day or a half day off to recoup. You will be more productive at work once your body is back on track.
Other topics included: Travel visa services like CIBT and Travisa, what to (and what not to) eat, using local transportation, sightseeing, best and worst experiences, safety and security, unexpected illnesses, luggage, currency exchanges, travel insurance, knowing local laws, and emergency signals and fire alarms.
For more information on best practices when traveling, please read Dr. Bell’s “Tips for Business Travel”.