Thanks to globalization, our world may be getting smaller, but flights to business hotspots across Asia, the Americas and Europe have stayed the same: long.
Leaving on a jet plane for two or three weeks – or more – to seal deals from Sydney to Stockholm sounds like a fabulous way to see the world. But in reality, the constant change in time zones, seasons, cuisine and culture can just plain wear you out.
So how do road warriors get ready for the long international haul?
Get a jump on jet lag
“Returning from India through Frankfurt to Seattle was my worst jet lag experience ever,” says Christopher Juneau, Concur’s senior director of marketing for the Asia-Pacific region. “We flew out at 3 a.m. from India and arrived in Seattle at 11 a.m. – over 24 hours of travel. I felt awful.”
So how do you beat jet lag when you’re dead tired? One idea: sleep. Before you fly, up in the air and a good night’s rest after you land will help set your body’s clock.
“I also set my watch to the local time I’m arriving in. I try to put myself immediately in that time zone at least mentally while my body catches up,” says Juneau.
If you’re traveling around the world on business, chances are you’ll be in some pretty busy hubs – nearly all of which count on you needing an extra pair of socks or shampoo at some point. Pack for your trip as if it were only seven days, buy small items on the road, and be prepared to do laundry.
“I always pack my most comfortable clothing that I can dress up or down,” says Juneau. “My stand-by is a blue blazer, especially my linen one for hot climates. You can dress anything up in a blazer – it’s my must-have on long international trips.”
Be mindful of your mobile
Using your mobile device overseas can rack up some considerable roaming charges if you’re not careful. There are a few options: enhancing your service, using airplane mode or turning your device off. But the easiest route is to use an unlocked smart phone and buy a SIM card.
“I try and purchase a prepaid SIM card for each country I visit – it makes a huge difference in my bill,” says Juneau. “For countries where it’s tough to get a SIM card on arrival, I ask my fellow employees to purchase one and expense it for me.”
Make copies for customs
It should be standard practice to make copies of your documents before leaving the country – just in case. A digital copy of your passport, work permission forms or visas will be a savior in cases of theft or lost documents.
“I travel so much that I have two passports,” Juneau says. “I secure all of my visas on one – sending it out to embassies with visa applications. The other, I carry with me to countries that don’t require visas. This system enables me to travel, even when one passport is being processed with entry or work permit paperwork.”
Involve your loved one
Back-to-back business trips abroad are taxing not just on your body – but also on your personal life. Keep kids, spouses, friends and loved ones connected to your travels with little things – postcards, photos, local candy. Souvenirs can be great conversation starters back home, and can give you a moment to reflect on a fun part of the trip – not just jet lag, customs lines and dirty laundry.
“I always bring something home to my wife to let her know I was thinking about her,” Juneau says. “It gives me a reason to shop around locally, and it keeps her connected to my travels.”
Tricks of the long-haul trade
“I always try to meet the hotel general manager when I stay for a long period of time,” Juneau says. “They are typically very nice and become your best friends when you want to sightsee, upgrade or seek help.”
Other helpful items? Noise canceling headphones and a good book (or e-reader). “They are my favorite traveling companions – I never leave home without them,” says Juneau.
Did we miss anything? Let us know your international business trip tricks in the comments below! Or tweet us at @SAPConcur.