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International Business Travel

International Business Travel in a Post-September 11 World

International Business Travel and travel in general have been forever impacted by the terrorist events of September 11, 2001.  Do you remember the good old days?  You can pull up to the airport parking lot 30 minutes prior to flight time and make a quick dash to the terminal.  I've even had airlines holding the gate door open for me when they see me running down the terminal.  Well, those days are long and gone.

Seven Tips for International Business Travel

Even prior to September 11, International Business Travel has always been a challenge for even the most experienced business travelers. When you are dealing with a world of unfamiliar cultures, safety in a foreign country has always been a concern for not only men but especially Women Traveling Alone.   You need to be aware of any potential Travel Warnings about your country of destination.

The international time zones play havoc on our physical and mental well-being.  Upon arrival, you may not speak the language and wish that you had taken a Body Language Course to figure out what the different people with different cultures are trying to tell you.

Giving the new world of travel, the key to successful, hassle-free international business travel is planning.  International Flight Booking is more complex than booking your domestic travel.  You often have multiple stopovers with multiple airlines.

Photo Credit: Trip - Clix

You may think that you have conquered business travel based on your domestic experience but international travel is a totally different scenario altogether.

1. Airport Line Ups

You will notice that the international line up at the airport is almost always longer than the domestic line ups.  Everything is twice as long from security checks to weighing baggage.  Often times you are in the same line up as foreigners who don't understand the local language or rules of the airport.  So everything takes extra long.  Listen to the advice when they ask you to arrive at the airport 3 hours before flight time.  Do it.

2. Departure Taxes

Many countries have a departure tax that you pay at the airport on your return trip back to your home country.  It is inconsistent whether you pay at the ticket counter or the security check point. To make matters worse, they'll want the taxes paid in their local currency and in the exact amount.  They don't provide change.

So if you are not prepared, you need to step out of the line and find an currency exchange location at the airport.  Of course, you'll be charged a ridiculous exchange rate and you'll be stuck with excess foreign currency when you arrive home.  It pays to plan ahead and make a few phone calls and set aside the exact amount in the local currency with your ticket on your international business travels.

3. Jet Lag

One of the biggest issues facing international business travelers is adjusting to international time zones.  Your body takes a tremendous punishment five miles up in the sky sitting in a cramped seat for half a day with dry recirculated air.  Even if you able to sleep on the plane, your whole body feels exhausted by the time you land and get to your hotel.  

Dehydration is your enemy.  So drink plenty of water and avoid alcohol. Try to adjust to the time zone a few days before your departure.  Sunlight will help you to adjust.  Get plenty of sunshine once you arrive to help you to acclimatize.

4. Take a Train

In many parts of the world such as Europe, traveling by air may not be your best option especially if you are stopping by multiple cities.  Taking the train can be a cheaper and faster alternative. High speed trains with sleeping accommodations are often available on longer trips.

5. Car Rentals

For those who want to drive in a foreign country on a regular basis, you should consider an International Driver's Permit.  This is written in eight languages and is recognized in many parts of the world.  It's a way to demonstrate to authorities that you do have a valid driver's license in case of an accident.  Otherwise, you'll spend hours trying to prove to them that your local driver's permit is indeed real.

You should always tell the rental agency where you are intending to take the car.  In some countries, the insurance coverage is only applicable within certain boundaries.  Traveling outside of the area will make your insurance void.   You could end up driving in a foreign country with no insurance.

6. Health Tips

Prior to visiting your country of destination, it is a good idea to visit your doctor to make sure that your immunization is up to date.  Some countries now demand HIV testing prior to entry.

For those who wear contact lenses or eye glasses, bring a copy of your prescription written in metric just in case of an emergency.  Make sure that you contact your medical insurance coverage to see if your policy is valid in the foreign country. You may be required to purchase additional insurance.

7. Water & Food

Most European countries have a water supply that is safe to drink.  However, many undeveloped nations have a water supply that contains organisms which cause diarrhea in humans.  If you are not sure, be safe and drink bottle water.  Try to buy bottle water with a brand name that you recognize.  Even use the bottle water to brush your teeth.

Raw fruits and vegetables are always the foods that will mislead foreigners.  While they look delicious and locally grown, the food could be rinsed in local contaminated water.  The diarrhea causing microorganisms will stay alive on the fruits and vegetables.  You eat one and you could end you going to the bathroom more often than you care to.  Showing up in an international business meeting after a night of diarrhea is something that you should absolutely avoid.

You can see that international business travel is quite different than domestic travel.  A few precautions are required to ensure that your international business meeting is as successful as it can be.