International Travel Tips

Coordinating international travel arrangements for the executive you support can be confusing. You are dealing with different time zones, unfamiliar territory and language barriers.  Equipping yourself with the right information will make coordinating travel seamless.  All you need is to know what to keep an eye out for.  Here are a few of our international travel tips:

Time Zones

Scheduling is perhaps the most daunting task of all when it comes to coordinating travel arrangements.  It’s important to know where your boss is, for how long, and with whom at all times when he/she is abroad, and that can prove to be difficult when you are in two separate time zones.  Be mindful of the time differences, and schedule meetings accordingly.  Your boss—and his/her clients—will appreciate your awareness of potential jet lag.  Also remember that what may seem to you like an OK time to call may be the middle of the night depending on where he/she is.  On his/her travel itinerary [link] note both the time of the location abroad as well as the time in HQ.  Just as you do not want to mistakenly call your employer in the middle of the night, you won’t want a call at 3AM (emergencies aside) either.

The Lay of the Land

Making reservations at restaurants you’ve never been to is difficult enough, but adding in the fact that the restaurant is in a completely different country where the people may or may not speak your language is an even bigger challenge.  Understanding which unfamiliar neighborhoods abroad are safe is also an important part of scheduling internationally.  Trip Advisor is an amazing resource for becoming familiar with the lay of the land no matter where your boss is travelling.  Trip Advisor offers information on what to do, what to see, and where to dine, and the reviews are from users who have already visited the location in question.  You may also want to consult other administrative professionals whom you’ve networked with for their input; you never know who knows what!

Scheduling appointments within a foreign city can also be tricky when you have no idea of distances and traffic patterns. If your company has an affiliated or partner company in that country, ask for advice there, otherwise consider checking with the car company you have reserved services with to see if they think the schedule is reasonable or if they have any other international travel tips.

Google maps actually has live traffic information for most major cities around the globe.  If you’re really in a pinch, here’s an international travel tip that’s a work-around for when you don’t know the lay of the land.  Go to Google Maps and type in the addresses of two locations, for example, the hotel your boss will be staying at and the location of his/her first meeting.  Check the suggested routes periodically throughout the day; Google maps updates with live traffic information, so checking throughout the day should give you a good indication of how long the commute will take.  You’ll still need to factor in the time zone changes, so keep that in mind.

These directions were pulled on a Tuesday night at 7:20PM EST (1:20AM CEST time in Hungary)

Communication Barriers

One of our biggest international travel tips is understanding the culture and language of the country.  In Brazil, never give the “OK” hand gesture, it’s insulting to the recipient.  In Hungary, never clink glasses when toasting.  Just as cultural nuances are important, so is understanding and speaking useful expressions in the native language.  Create a short list of useful expressions for your employer which include sayings such as, “please,” “thank you,” “yes,” “no,” etc.  For more complex communications, the Google Translate app uses your phone’s microphone to directly translate conversation.  Just speak a phrase into it in your native language, and set a destination language, for example, English to Arabic.  Google Translate will create text in the destination language for the other party to read.  Or, you can press the speaker icon, and a robotic yet friendly voice will speak the text for you.

Kwintessential is an excellent resource for learning about cultures around the world and even provides a few international travel tips of its own.  The site accurately warns that culture is not static, and recommends its users utilize the information provided as a guide. 

For useful expressions, Omniglot hosts a number of expressions in many different languages with sound file attached to some of them so you know how to pronounce them!

No matter how much experience you have, you can always use one or two new international travel tips to add to your arsenal.  Experience and practice make perfect! Communicate with your peers, double check your work, and stay on top of the latest trends share international travel tips with each other!  Only then will you produce the best and most comprehensible itineraries possible.

Do you have any international travel tips of you own?  Let us know in the comments section below!