Preparing for a business trip
An overseas business trip requires more than just a laptop and your best corporate outfit. Careful planning, preparation and awareness are essential for a smooth and successful time away. Here are our tips for those jetting off on business.
Preparation is essential to any trip abroad, but it's particularly important to be organised when going away on business. Failing to have certain things done may prevent you from getting on a plane or entering a country. If you're lucky enough to have a personal assistant, you may choose to delegate some of these tasks, however it's always wise to double check in advance that they've been done (and done correctly).
Before you fly, it's important that your passport has not expired and has at least six months' validity from your planned date of return to Australiai. If it's your first time abroad or your passport is expired, you must apply for a new one well before your planned date of departure as the passport application process can take up to ten working daysii. It's also a good idea to carry extra passport photos with you overseas in case your passport is stolen/lost and you need to replace it.
Whether a visa is necessary or the type of visa you require will depend on your citizenship, the country you will be visiting, and the business you intend to carry out. To find out whether you need a visa for travel, check with the embassy or consulate of the country you intend to visit well in advance of travel datesiii. Take note of the processing time of the visa. Furthermore, a visa application may require you to:
- pay a fee
- present certain documentation
- undertake an interview at an embassy or consulate in Australia.
It is advisable to consult your GP at least 6-8 weeks before departure to obtain information regarding travel vaccinations or other health precautions you may neediv. If you are taking medicine for a pre-existing condition, there may be restrictions on whether you can bring your medicine into the country with you. It's important to research this before you go to avoid complications at the airport.
Travel insurance is crucial when travelling overseas because it provides cover for a range of unforeseen circumstances that may occur before or during travel, such as medical expenses for injury or illness and theft of propertyv. It's important to check that you are covered for your entire trip before you leave.
Be on time
A missed flight can not only be a huge inconvenience but may prevent or delay a crucial business deal or meeting. While the rule of thumb is to be at the airport at least two hours before take-off for international departuresvi and at least one hour before for domestic flightsvii, you should check with your airline. If your flight is delayed, be sure to promptly contact your clients overseas so that you may reschedule your appointments and prevent further disruption to your trip.
Travelling across time-zones can send your body clock into chaosviii, ix. To lessen the effects of jetlag so that you can be at your best when doing business, consider these tipsix:
- Get a good night's rest before you travel.
- During the flight, drink plenty of water and eat regularly, avoid alcohol and caffeine, and try to match your sleep with the time at your destination.
- The best way to reset your body clock is to go with nature: ensure that you soak up some sun during daylight hours and try to stay awake even when you feel tired during the day.
Culture and customs
It pays to do your homework on the customs and cultural expectations of the locals when you are overseas. Social interaction is a major part in developing business, as everything from knowing when to shake hands or present gifts can make or break a deal with potential clients. Plus, correctly understood and demonstrated conduct will indicate thoughtfulness and can be a key factor in strengthening rapport with your clientsviii.
Food and water
It's worthwhile to make sure that you don't eat or drink the wrong thing when overseas. Eat out in restaurants that colleagues recommend and do your homework on whether tap water is drinkable (and if it's not, brush your teeth with bottled water, keep your mouth closed in the shower, and request "no ice" in your drinks when outviii).
Thorough preparation and awareness are essential for a successful business trip abroad. However, sometimes things are out of your control: you may require medical attention or your possessions could be stolen. Travel insurance can help you in the event that something doesn't go according to plan. Get a travel insurance quote from Allianz before you fly.
i Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade (smartraveller.gov.au), 2013, Top Ten Travel Tips, http://www.smartraveller.gov.au/tips/top-ten-tips.html#8
ii Australian Passport Office, 2008, FAQ – How long does it take to get a passport?, https://www.passports.gov.au/Web/FAQ.aspx#faq3
iii Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade, 2013, Visas, http://www.dfat.gov.au/visas/
iv Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade (smartraveller.gov.au), 2013, Health, http://www.smartraveller.gov.au/tips/health.html
v Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade (smartraveller.gov.au), 2013, Travel Insurance, http://www.smartraveller.gov.au/tips/insurance.html
vi QANTAS, International Check-in Times, http://www.qantas.com.au/travel/airlines/international-check-in-times/global/en
vii QANTAS, Domestic Check-in Times, http://www.qantas.com.au/travel/airlines/domestic-check-in-times/global/en
viii Smith, J., 2012, Your Basic Guide to Business Travel Abroad, Forbes, http://www.forbes.com/sites/jacquelynsmith/2012/08/27/your-basic-guide-to-business-travel-abroad/
ix Better Health Channel, 2011, Jet Lag, http://www.abcb.gov.au/en/about-the-national-construction-code/the-building-code-of-australia