Resource Guide for Short-Term Business Travel

Categories: Global Mindset, GlobeSmart

No one knows what to expect on his or her first business trip across cultures. If you’re like Nicole, a professional preparing to embark on a short-term rotation to Shanghai for the first time, you’re probably experiencing a mix of emotions. Anticipation, dread, confusion and unrest are common as you think about your upcoming trip. It’s exciting to explore a new part of the world through your work, but it’s not the time to neglect proper preparation.

Nicole leaves for Shanghai in a week, and she’s been preparing for her short-term business trip since she learned of it two weeks ago. Nicole began to prepare for her corporate trip by conducting research and utilizing the resources available to her. Through Aperian Global’s GlobeSmart®, an online cultural inventory, Nicole found information on China’s core values and implications for business, advice for giving presentations, dining etiquette and office attire, as well as travel tips on money, safety, passport/visa, and health.

Nicole also realizes her upcoming trip can be much more than a work experience. It isn’t the same as planning a vacation, but if you’re a wise traveler, you’ll know how to make the most out of a business trip. You don’t have to be a seasoned traveler to be a wise traveler, either. As author of “Global Dexterity”, Andy Molinsky notes, the tumultuous pace of short-term business travel can leave you feeling disoriented — which often leads to a less-than-ideal overall travel experience.

A guide for short-term business travel can help you properly organize and execute a successful trip. Molinsky explains that business travel isn’t glamorous, and traveling across cultural boundaries takes knowledge and preparation.

However, if you approach this type of travel correctly, it comes with many benefits, such as:

An extended business travel checklist will help you navigate your business trip without feeling perplexed or unprepared. Consider the following tips from Aperian Global as your guide to business travel.

Know Before You Go

Things to Know Before You Go on a Short-Term Business Trip

Familiarize yourself with your company’s policies before your trip. Your company should provide you with all the details you need, but be sure to ask the following questions about travel policies:

Awareness of your company’s policies before you leave will minimize the chance of potential problems during and after your trip. Travel policies vary greatly at global corporations. Some companies require you to save every receipt, while others require you to use an app to track your expenses. You should prepare yourself beforehand to avoid surprises or unexpected hassle as you travel across cultural boundaries for work.

You should also consult the appropriate resources before you travel, ensuring you’re well prepared, including:

Print a GlobeSmart Report and Read It on the Plane

Before your trip, you should also contact your bank and credit card companies so they’re aware of your travel dates. Sometimes credit card companies will decline a purchase if they believe it could be a fraudulent overseas transaction. Avoid this scenario and make them aware of your travel plans before you leave. Also, some credit cards include foreign transactions fees and possibly have a daily cash allowance for ATM withdrawals. Be aware of these policies before you travel.

It’s also wise to enable international calling on your mobile phone before you travel. Ask your carrier about international data plans. Roaming charges while traveling internationally can be particularly expensive. If you’re planning to use your phone while traveling for business, organize ahead of time so there are no surprises when your bill arrives.

You should also call your health insurance company to ensure you’re covered while out of the country. Health insurance for short-term business travel is a necessity, as accidents and emergencies can occur at any time. Many health insurance companies will pay for hospital stays abroad, but most won’t cover a medical evacuation back to your home country. Your company should ensure you’re properly covered at all times, but be sure to check with your provider, as well as your company, so you’re aware of your exact coverage.

Keep your travel documents organized and make copies of your visa, passport, airline tickets, hotel confirmation, and credit cards. Keep these documents, as well as local currency, on your person as you travel.

Keep Your Travel Documents Organized on Short-Term Business Trips

Once you determine your visa requirements, are aware of the possible weather conditions of your travel dates, and learn what to expect as you traverse across cultures, you should focus on the nuances of your unique trip. Aperian Global recommends:

For instance, if you’re expected to attend a business lunch and formal dinner in the evening, it will affect what you pack. If you’ll be working eight hours a day, then given leniency to do as you please after working hours, you can plan short sightseeing adventures in the evening or choose to retire to your hotel room and order room service. It helps to know what’s expected of you and how much free time you’ll have in advance.

Proper planning before your business trip is crucial. It’s likely that something won’t go as planned as you’re traveling, which is why it’s important to control what you can about your trip. If you plan appropriately and know what to expect before you leave, it’ll help you be flexible when problems arise. You can’t control flight delays and cancellations, but you can react to those situations quickly and knowledgeably with proper planning.

Be Smart During Your Stay

Once you arrive at your destination, it’s important to be smart and stay organized. Jet lag can be especially hard to deal with, especially if you’ve never experienced it. Jet lag is more than extreme tiredness — it’s a breakdown in your circadian rhythm due to traveling rapidly over time zones. Your body needs time to adjust as your internal clock resets to the local time. Sometimes, it can take several days and come with numerous possible side effects, including fatigue, confusion, lack of awareness, indigestion, headache, or irritability.

Take Care of Yourself During Short-Term Business Travel

You probably can’t eliminate jet lag, but you can employ these strategies to help you lessen its effects:

Once you’re adjusted to the local time, you can focus on a successful work experience and navigating a positive short-term trip. Keep these tips in mind to stay smart during your travels:

Use Key Phrases in Local Language When on Business Travel

After you arrive at your destination and make smart decisions about navigating an unfamiliar area, you can focus on making the most of your short-term business trip. Amidst the exhaustion and confusion that often comes with traveling for business over the short term, you can gain a great deal of experience and come home refreshed and stimulated with new ideas and insights.

Immerse Yourself When You Can

Try Local Food During Business Travel

Make time for local exploration during your stay. The local culture should define your trip, even though you’re working. Learn from the locals, get to know the history of the location and aim to experience the setting instead of simply seeing it. Consider the following tips for immersing yourself in the local culture during your short-term business trip:

As you submerge yourself into the local culture when there’s time, it’s important to pay attention to your body and its needs. The excitement of the new location paired with your job responsibilities can easily be a recipe for exhaustion. Listen to your body and make smart decisions when it comes to your health while traveling.

Don’t Neglect Your Health

Your health should be your top concern while traveling abroad. After all, you won’t be able to fulfill your job responsibilities or experience the benefits of a successful trip if you fall ill. After your plane lands, set aside time to stretch to alleviate any stiffness from your journey.

Short-term business trips often seem like a whirlwind of culture shock, work responsibilities and new experiences. It’s vital to get enough sleep while traveling. Allowing yourself enough time to decompress and sleep well will help you process the day’s events as well as mentally and physically prepare for the remaining days of your trip.

Know Your Go-To Drinks During Business Travel

Experiencing local food should be part of your travel experience, but remember general hygiene tips as you brave a new menu. Contaminated food and drinks can cause traveler’s diarrhea or worse, so keep the following tips in mind:

Remember to stay active while you’re traveling as well. Make time to maintain your workout routine, even if that means modifying it to fit your traveling schedule or environment. Consider doing yoga in your hotel room or going for a walk or jog if you don’t have access to a gym.

Use Technology to Your Advantage

Utilize Local Translation Apps During Short-Term Business Travel

There’s a great deal of information to organize and retain when traveling for short-term business trips. It’s easy to become overwhelmed with everything you have to remember, all while performing work duties in an unfamiliar setting. Use the technological tools available to ease the stress of your many responsibilities and let your smartphone and computer do some of the work for you. Consider the following:

Approach Your Business Travel with Confidence

Confidence emerges with proper preparation — and this fact holds true when you’re traveling for business, especially short-term business. Plan appropriately before your trip, and you’ll have more time to focus on getting the most from your experience while you’re there.

Traveling anywhere is an opportunity to step outside of our comfort zone. Many challenges come with short-term travel — you learn to adapt to unfamiliar situations, which can be a huge confidence booster. When you spend time in a new, unfamiliar setting, your brain is forced to think in new ways. You’re forced to innovate to find solutions. You can learn new problem-solving skills and ways of approaching a task, and then bring those new skills back home with you.

Download Our Quick Guide to Business Travel

You can read all about traveling abroad for business, but nothing can compare to real-life experience. Don’t dread your upcoming trip. There are numerous personal and professional benefits to short-term business travel, and with the right tips for short-term expats, you can experience each of these and many more. Download our Quick Guide below to receive free 2-week trial access to GlobeSmart®. We also welcome the opportunity to discuss how our virtual country briefings can help you build a foundational understanding of the cultural and communication factors that can impact business relationships and extended business travel.

Download Our Quick Guide