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How to Prepare Business Travelers to Head Abroad

Business travel has changed quite a bit since the onset of the pandemic, as many companies have reconsidered how and where they travel. Here are some factors to consider for those abroad.

You don’t want to send an employee abroad for an important set of meetings only to see them botch an opportunity by being unaware of cultural norms.

Even if they understand how to maneuver in a different part of the world, passport issues can threaten a trip if workers don’t prepare correctly. The better they can use their resources to get prepared, the better they’ll be in a position to represent your company well.

Have employees keep body language in mind

People communicate very differently in other parts of the world, and they may read Americans’ actions as dismissive or disrespectful even if they do not mean to come across that way. Prior to having them research body language cues in the region of the world to which they are headed. Meeting in-person is an excellent way to make connections, but inherent in that is the chance to offend. That’s something you obviously want to avoid given the relative importance of these meetings and the vast resources that go into securing them. Greeting with a handshake is common in the States, but not everywhere. Sustained eye contact is also common for many in this country, for example, but many others around the world would consider it to be rude.

Anyone traveling abroad should check your company’s insurance policy before their departure

International travel can have a host of snags, and you want to be in a position to know what’s covered if someone happens to get hurt, or miss a flight, or whatever else. Make sure employees are aware of their policy and the coverage it provides. Being proactive will help quell any concerns and ease the minds of both those stateside and abroad. Since sometimes Americans can be targets for theft and fraud abroad, you want to be in a position where you have girded yourself against sometimes unavoidable theft or loss.

Have employees plan for sustained jet lag

Bodies may need time to adjust after a long flight, and you don’t want your employees looking haggard heading to a business meeting in person. Have them build in some time to simply rest so they will feel and look better when it matters. First impressions are very important no matter where you go in the world, so make sure they know how to govern themselves. Finding water when you land is vital, since hydration can help your body adjust once you arrive at your destination. Bringing noise-canceling headphones is beneficial too in helping quiet the drone of the airplane engines on a long flight.

Recommend employees speak to the U.S. Embassy personnel upon arrival

Embassy personnel might be a big help trying to figure out where you might be able to stay safely while you’re in some other part of the world. Don’t be afraid to let them know the length of your stay, but you can also let them know you’re looking for lodging. They will know people who can help you find one they can trust. Personnel there can be vital in contacting you or your family if there happens to be some unrest or emergency that takes place in the country where you’re staying. From a natural disaster to civil unrest, they can help Americans find flights to leave or otherwise find shelter and safety if possible.

If possible, suggest local media sources

If a free press exists anywhere in the world, it’s a good way to stay informed on happenings that may impact the country you’re heading to, or that country’s region. Civil unrest can make it too dangerous for business operations, and you don’t want to have the same plight as passports holders in Sudan. Reporting oftentimes happens in neighboring countries or from the United States, and anyone headed abroad owes it to themselves and their employer to get informed.

Keep the main thing the main thing

It can be tempting, especially as an American, to get into a litany of activities abroad that you might not have access to domestically. Remind employees that the U.S. and their employer can do so much about legal disputes or health issues in some other part of the world. The objective should be to do your job, and get home as soon as possible.

Make sure employees don’t forget to bring the medicines they will need

Most of the rest of the planet does not have access to the vast array of remedies that Americans are accustomed to, and if they don’t prepare well enough, and employee could find themselves abroad without the pills they need, Combine that with what could be a shoddy medical infrastructure or a healthcare market rife with counterfeit drugs and you have a problem. Some drugs that are legal here are illegal abroad, by the way. If that’s the case, no one should be trying to sneak them in. An American should be able to help anyone find an alternative given the circumstances.