So, you landed your dream job. The one that jets you off to Tokyo one week and Argentina the next, and you’ve earned it. You’re bi or tri lingual, have a masters degree in a highly competitive field of business or politics or journalism, now all you’ve got to do is avoid looking like a rookie when you board your first flight as a jetsetting professional.
If it all sounds a little too terrifying, don’t panic. The following list of tips will help you look and act like you’ve been an international person-of-the-world since the day you were born.
1. What to take, how to take it
It’s essential for an international business traveler to know how a suitcase should be packed. It will save you physical pain and discomfort, reduce awkward suitcase tumbles, and keep your clothing from becoming wrinkled in transit.
Since you’ll need to pack one pair of shoes for every 48 hours you’ll be abroad (this isn’t just a fashion rule, there’s nothing worse than a blister when you’re hustling to catch a flight), remember that placing them in the bottom near the wheels is best.
Finally, do not pack more than you can carry. Under no circumstances should you ever check luggage when traveling for work. There are multiple reasons for this, but put simply: having luggage in-hand enables maximum flexibility, and that is a trait you should strive to embrace.
2. Be smart enough to know what you don’t know
This lifestyle will allow you to encounter and learn about many cultures, lifestyles, traditions, and taboos, but that’s only if you are open to learning in the first place. So many travelers make the mistake of believing they know all there is to know about a culture because they’ve read the bold sections of their travel guide. This is especially true for well educated, savvy travelers.
Instead of assuming you will manage the nuances of each culture you encounter without guidance, be prepared to ask questions, education yourself as you go, and always be prepared to hire translators who can make face-to-face negotiations smooth, or guides who can traverse a landscape or city with little effort.
3. How to pack your paperwork
It’s no longer enough to have multiple hard copies of a contract, times have changed. But, it’s not considered acceptable to forget the paper and carry all your content in the cloud either. What you want is to be as dynamic and flexible as possible, so if someone asks you for a hard copy, you should have some on hand, ready to provide as easily in person as you would via email. Finding a reliable cloud service is paramount.
The same wisdom applies to copies of your hotel reservation, itinerary, and boarding pass. This way, when your phone dies, you won’t need to find a plug before you make your next move.
4. Network on the road
There’s no reason you shouldn’t maximize any downtime you’ll experience during your trip (and you’ll experience more than you suspect) by meeting up with former acquaintances, classmates, or business associates.
If you don’t know anyone in the city you’ll be visiting, ask your company to set you up with a casual drink contact, someone not directly related to the purpose of your trip, but who could prove a useful ally in the future. This will not only broaden your connections, it will make you look like the go-getter you already are.