It can be a big blessing to be given the opportunity to travel for work. Taking the job you do well to a different environment can be quite enlightening. It can open your mind to bigger, better possibilities and truly help you grow as a person and as a professional.
Traveling for work for the first time can be quite daunting, however — particularly if it will take you overseas and you have no prior experience in being in a completely different country. Here’s a piece of advice from seasoned business travelers: Don’t worry about the material things — you can usually easily get those where you’re going. Instead, prepare yourself physically and mentally for the experience.
Material things, not a problem — so what non-material essentials should you bring for your work trip, then?
6 Non-Material Essentials You Must Not Forget to Bring When Traveling for Work
Knowledge of Entry Protocols
The adventure starts at the airport. You need to know how to make a clean entry into any foreign country. Airports are very strict these days (with some definitely being more strict than others), so you should know what you’re supposed to have with you (such as your passport, flight documents, boarding pass, arrival and departure cards, and others) or what you’re not supposed to have (sharp metal objects such as nail clippers and scissors), especially in your carry-on luggage.
Knowledge of Transport Systems
It’s important to know what modes of transportation are available and which ones fit the budget you’re provided, as well as the schedule you need to follow. There are countries that have a wide variety of highly efficient provisions straight from the airport; plus, they have a card (like Hong Kong’s Octopus Card) that you can use to pay for different types of public transport systems (and even merchandise from select stores).
Understanding the local culture is an absolute must, especially if you’re heading to rather conservative locations where traditions are strictly observed. You want to be respectful at all times and demonstrate your great consideration of their long-standing traditions. You can expect your hosts to understand if you do not know some things, but if you’re traveling for business or as a representative of your company, showing that you’re not entirely clueless will be strongly appreciated (like learning commonly used sentences in the vernacular). This can also be expected to work to your great advantage, especially when closing deals or strengthening ties.
Know your legal rights as a visitor to the country, as well as the organizations that can help you out, especially when you come upon an unfair situation abroad (you have to know the number of the US Embassy). Also, learn the strict laws imposed in the country you’re visiting; anywhere you go, ignorance will never be accepted as a valid excuse. You may ask your passport/visa processing company about these.
The last thing you want when you’re traveling for work is to fall ill, so do aim to boost your health prior to the trip. A strong body will also make you less prone to the usual viruses that circulate in airports and aircrafts. Likewise, you’ll have an easier time adjusting to the change in climate and difference in time zones. It is also worth mentioning that if you find yourself walking frequently from one location to another, you’ll feel less tired afterwards, especially with all the work that you’re required to accomplish.
Having an open mind when you’re traveling will make the experience less scary and stressful. A lot of things may shock you, especially when you head to countries which are just opening up to the rest of the world. There may be a lot of common practices there that go against your personal values, but unless anybody is (or you are) harmed, you simply need to remind yourself that things are different because you’re not in your own country anymore — you just need to let them go.
All in all, you need to be healthy and to have street smarts when you’re traveling for work. Make sure you possess all of the aforementioned essentials so you can ensure a truly pleasant trip.
Bevan Berning is an Immigration professional and owner of Pathway Visas, an Immigration Agency dealing mostly with skilled immigration to Canada and Australia. Bevan’s enthusiasm for the industry has kept in the Immigration field for the past seven years. Bevan is South African by birth and has been residing in Dubai for the past eight years.