While travelling for work is an exciting opportunity, the reality isn’t always as glamorous or easy as it seems. So here are some top tips to help plan your trip and ensure you make the most of your travels, both personally and professionally.
1. Get a feel for the cultural differences
No matter which country you travel to there will always be cultural differences, and so building relationships can sometimes take a little longer. Ask other colleagues or friends who may have already visited the place to share their insights on local customs, and read up on national culture or current news in order to build up a picture of where you’re going. This will also give you interesting conversation topics to connect with your colleagues over coffee.
2. Get your outfit right
Think businesswoman meets backpacker: pack for the climate, keep outfits simple, make-up light and jewellery to a minimum. Be sure to find out about the dress code for the places you’re visiting, as it can vary dramatically from country to country, and adopting the right attire can instantly help you to fit in.
3. Give yourself the time you need
Travel budgets can often be tight and you may think that you are saving your company’s money by doing a round trip in a day, but don’t underestimate how tiring travelling can be. Journeys always take longer than expected, rush hour is an international problem, and if you’re running from meeting to meeting on a few hours sleep then it’s unlikely you’ll be performing at your best. Give yourself plenty of breathing space and time to engage with colleagues on a more personal level. This will make the trip much more productive.
4. Learn some lingo
Even if English is the international business language, making the effort to learn some local phrases and gain some local knowledge of the place you’re visiting will make a big impression on your colleagues. Even just basic numbers and please and thank you will help you negotiate with taxi drivers, order dinner or get directions with a little more ease.
5. Build your global network
Not everyone in your organisation will have the opportunity to travel, so it’s a fantastic chance to build your profile and make connections across the globe. Take the time to arrange face-to-face meetings with as many colleagues as possible, as this will make future virtual conversations much more effective. Having strong international connections will also make you a really valuable resource within your organisation and could open up future opportunities.
6. Ask the locals
Connect with at least one person based in the location you’re travelling to ensure you get the most up-to-date advice on the best places to stay and how to get around. This will also give you a contact on arrival to introduce you to people, show you around and a friendly face should you have any questions or difficulties.
7. Make the most of being away from home
Although it’s far from being a holiday, trying to arrange your meetings for the start or end of the week will give you the chance to add a weekend or few days on to your trip. If not, then be sure to get out of your hotel room and explore further afield in the evenings and see what the place has to offer.
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xx CGD team
Written by Hayley Wintermantle.