1. Understand the customs of your destination
Many countries know foreign travellers won’t be aware of all customs, but there’s a general expectation of business people to do their research and make the effort. The most important custom to learn is how to greet others
; it’s going to be their first impression of you.
It’s also important to understand the customs in areas where you’ll be catching connecting flights. Again, greetings are vital. You’ll be in an airport with thousands of international travellers, but the airline employees are locals and appreciate being treated with familiar respect. Customs apply to business cards, too
Think twice before handing your business card to someone you’ve just met. Some countries like Hong Kong, Singapore, and India have strict etiquette requiring that two hands be used when handing out a business card. Business cards must also be handled with care.
Before travelling, reference this helpful business etiquette infographic
to learn your destination’s basic business etiquette and customs. 2. Get travel insurance and read the fine print
Travel insurance is one of those things many people pass over and then regret it later
. When travelling internationally, you may experience unexpected illness or injury that wipes out your bank account. Even minor medical attention can cost a fortune depending on where you are.
Be aware that healthcare costs in the US are much higher than what you’re used to. If you’re travelling to the US and need emergency medical care, you will need travel insurance to cover your expenses.
In addition to medical coverage, you should also consider personal liability insurance to cover accidental harm to another person or their property. 3. Travel with water purification tablets
Clean drinking water isn’t available everywhere you go. Five-star hotels provide bottled water, but you may not get that when you go out to a restaurant with your colleagues.
No matter where you travel, it’s important to take control of your health by carrying water purification tablets with you. By doing so, you’ll always be prepared in case your trip takes an unexpected detour, or your flight is delayed in an area with sketchy water.
Clean water is essential for your health, and even drinking impure water on a short-term basis can adversely affect you. Bacteria in the water can creep into your bloodstream through sores in your mouth, and toxic heavy metals can accumulate quickly. As one dentist states
, “Without access to clean water, people who live in developing and underdeveloped countries may suffer oral health deterioration well into their adulthood. This leads to tooth loss, gum disease, and even oral cancer.”
The article also references an important Indonesian study, which proved tooth decay in children aged five to seven years was the result of unclean, unsafe, highly acidic drinking water.
Nobody knows how to purify water better than backpackers, hikers, and survivalists. For a thorough understanding of various purification processes, read this highly informative excerpt
taken from The Backpacker’s Field Manual
by Rick Curtis. 4. Travel with vitamin and mineral supplements
In addition to purifying your water, pack some high-quality, whole-food vitamin and mineral supplements for your trip. You may not have access to your regular diet when travelling, so packing supplements will ensure your nutritional needs are met. 5. Know the laws
Some countries don’t let foreigners off the hook for violating laws they take seriously. For example, Singapore became well known for its ban on vandalism when American teenager Michael Fay was caught spraypainting a car
and was sentenced to being caned. Despite all US efforts to rescue him from this fate, Singapore’s government wouldn’t budge and Fay received four excruciating lashes.
Don’t assume your daily habits like smoking, chewing gum, and tossing an apple core into the dirt will be acceptable in another country. If you aren’t sure what’s acceptable, be on your best behaviour and suspend personal habits until you understand the culture you’re visiting. Enjoy your travels
Once you arrive at your destination, take Richard Branson’s advice
: “Once you get into a new country, make sure you get out and about. Don't fall into the business traveller trap and get confined to airports, taxis and hotels. Go and see the sights, soak up the flavour of the destination. You'll create some memories to make the trip worthwhile.”