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Business Trip Basics

Many of the international jetsetters we see are heading off to a business trip. But, it doesn’t have to be all business and no pleasure! From fighting jetlag to squeezing in some incredible sightseeing, we’ll help you make the most of your next international business trip.

Overcome jetlag faster

Often, there’s little time between stepping off the plane and heading into your first meeting. Jetlag can easily delay you from giving an important presentation or impressing a key client. Instead of suffering through the time change, these small changes could save your trip and get you back on track faster.

  • Shift your bedtime before you leave: Check the time difference and start moving your bedtime by an hour or two in the weeks leading up to your trip so your body adjusts faster to your destination’s time zone.
  • Eat right: Choose the chicken breast instead of the heavy pasta for your in-flight meal. A lighter, protein-packed meal in the air will help you recover faster on the ground.
  • Avoid alcohol or caffeine: Don’t sip on anything that might prevent you from sleeping those first couple of nights. Keep yourself awake as long as possible, but relaxed enough to fall right asleep when it’s time.
  • Change your watch: It may sound simple but before you take off, set your watch to the local time. Getting your mind adjusted is part of the battle. Avoid calculating what time it would be at home – that may just make you even more tired.

Schedule sightseeing

We know your schedule is probably going to be packed with meetings and important dinners. Even if you only have 30 free minutes, squeeze in any opportunity to see the sights. Try these tips:

  • If you book your own travel, choose a hotel located near attractions. Keep in mind, prices will be higher near the hottest sights.
  • Talk with the concierge as soon as you arrive to identify the quick tours or must-try restaurants you can squeeze in before you leave.
  • If appropriate, suggest meeting your contact at a museum café or a restaurant near an area you’d like to explore. What could be better than talking shop in a restaurant within walking distance of the Louvre?
  • Give yourself a little extra time when you’re heading back to the U.S., especially if you’re gaining time when you fly back. Those extra minutes will pay off as you marvel about life’s mysteries at Stonehenge.

Use your phone

It’s critical to check your phone plan before you leave. If you want to use your smartphone to stay connected to the office, or your loved ones, you’ll need to do a little pre-trip planning.

Most major U.S. carriers offer pay-as-you-use-it voice and data packages for customers traveling overseas. Check your carrier’s website for the cost of roaming fees for calls, text messages and data.

If you’re a frequent overseas traveler, consider upgrading your plan to include international travel. These packages add an extra fee to your monthly bill, but will “unlock” your phone to use anywhere in the world.

Make sure you can drive

While many countries will accept your U.S. license, some will not. If you are traveling to an English-speaking country, you should be just fine. For those traveling to a non-English-speaking country, consider getting an International Driving Permit (IDP). The permit will allow you to get behind the wheel of vehicles in more than 150 countries.

You can get an IDP from AAA or the National Auto Club. Just visit one of these organizations with your valid U.S. driver’s license, $15 and two passport-size photos. The entire process should take around half an hour, and you can walk out with your permit. No driving test required! If you cannot visit an office, just fill out the application and send it to one of the organizations. Mail requests are usually processed in two days.

Remember that the IDP is just a permit. You will still need to present your U.S. license to drive a vehicle.

Be on your best behavior

Even if you’re well acquainted with the customer or client you’re flying to visit, it’s important to research common etiquette and culture for your destination. A guidebook and a quick Google search are great places to start. Understanding nuances, like Spanish business dinners lasting long into the night, Germans preferring to avoid business talk at a meal and Japanese people appreciating the time you take to admire their business card, will keep you from accidentally offending your hosts or their colleagues.

If you’re traveling to a non-English-speaking country, try to learn a few basic phrases in the native language. While no one will expect you to be fluent, being able to say, “hello,” “thank you” and “nice to meet you” will go a long way.

Gift giving can cause another sticky situation. In some countries, like Poland, China or Hong Kong, a gift is expected. Elsewhere, like Portugal, Finland or Venezuela, gifts are only expected if you’re making multiple trips, and in countries like the U.K., Australia and Italy, gifts are infrequently given. Guidebooks will help you determine whether you need to bring a gift and what kind would be well received.