When I started Cube Farming several years ago, I didn’t have much to write about regarding international business travel. Then in 2012, I spent an insane amount of time traveling internationally. I finally got to to visit Central America, the South Pacific, and parts of Asia that I always wanted to go to. Traveling oversees takes a bit more preparation than domestic traveling, especially if you’re going to a place that is completely foreign to you. The more prepared you are, the less stress and worry for you when things don’t go as planned.
Bring Basic Medication. Headache, fever, common cold, upset stomach. If you ever end up in a foreign country looking for medication, chances are, the labels may not be in your native language. I was in Japan one time and failed to bring basic upset stomach medication. I had a terrible stomach ache and found my way to a local pharmacy. Every label was in Japanese. I spoke to the pharmacist through a few words provided by the guidebook I carried. He gave me a box of pills. Till this day, I have no idea what I took. That medication didn’t seem to help in any way.
Exchange Rates. Check up on the local exchange rate before you leave. While the company may be picking up the tab for business and travel expenses, there will be times when you get to explore on your own and you want to make sure you’re getting the best bang for your buck. Look for a place that converts currency for a good rate since airport locations usually charge higher rates. Educate yourself on the local norms and customs. Some investigative research through the Internet should also provide you clues on what the locals wear. Sometimes it’s easier to get around and not be harassed if you’re not dressed like a tourist. Can you drink the water or buy bottled, etc.
Bring Cash. Bring cash in local currency, there’s no guarantee every place takes credit cards, especially local markets and small shops.
Credit Cards. Notify the credit card companies that you will be traveling abroad. Failure to notify them may cause the cards to be declined because they may be flagged as a stolen.
ATM Fees. Look at partner banks overseas since they may help you avoid ATM withdrawal fees.
Passport. Make sure to update your passport ahead of time.
Power Adapter Converters. Oh great, your power adapters aren’t compatible with the plugs in the country you are visiting! Bring the right power plug converters. Universal adapters work best because there are usually power outlets on airplanes. It’s usually easier to purchase one before the trip. Airport stores also sell adapters, but usually are more expensive. In case you do not have an adapter, ask the hotel to see if it can provide one.
Embassies. Check to see if your country has an embassy at the place you are visiting. You may be able to sign up for emergency text alerts.
Secondary Languages. Be aware of secondary languages. What may be native to you may be a second language to the people you are working with. So it’s best to avoid street talk, slang, and anything that will cause your audience to scratch their heads from the words that come out of your mouth.
Tipping. Learn about tipping etiquette for dining. The tipping percentage will vary and some countries such as Japan frown upon tipping.
Mobile Phones. Make sure your mobile phone is able to run off of the foreign carrier networks. Most mobile devices these days should have no problem working internationally, but international roaming is expensive. Purchase a SIM card with rechargeable minutes at the destination country instead.
Emergency Numbers. Know the emergency services numbers for the countries you are traveling to. You’ll never know what may happen.A pocket phrasebook for the countries you will visit will come in handy. Basics phrases and vocabulary is usually all you need to get around. Pointing at something and grunting at it doesn’t work too well.