How to Prepare for Travel to a Country that you’ve Never Visited Before
If you’ve not traveled overseas recently, odds are that you soon will. In today’s increasingly competitive environment, businesses often compete in far-flung marketplaces. That means that employees and executives often find themselves planning trips to foreign countries. Before setting foot in an unfamiliar city, business travelers need to consider the risks that come with overseas travel. Here’s a checklist to help you, or the people that work for you prepare for the safety and security risks they may encounter while traveling overseas.
- Learn about the destination. Take the time to learn about your intended destination(s), including the current economic, political, and social climates. Prior to your trip, create Google Alerts with your travel destinations as the keywords and read the articles they generate from respected news agencies.
- Learn about local customs. Ensuring your safety and security overseas often depends on your ability to avoid attracting attention. Gather information on the local business etiquette, and learn about the local customs and standards of dress. By doing so, you’ll minimize the chances of inadvertently offending people and potentially placing yourself in harm’s way.
- Determine if you destination requires a visa. Depending on the passport you hold, and whether your country of destination participates in the visa waiver program, you’ll need to apply for visa. While each countries visa application varies, bear in mind that it takes time to complete the process. In lieu of a visa, some countries require the payment of entrance/exit fees. If they apply, make sure you understand the forms of payment that the country’s authorities accept.
- Select your accommodation with safety and security in mind. If you don’t have access to a local security consultant with in-depth knowledge of a hotel’s ability to ensure its guest safety and security, ask your corporate travel agent for recommendations. Search online for reviews of your intended hotel and pay particular attention to comments from former guests make about the hotels location, and its security. In countries with poor relations with the United States, staying with an American hotel chain may not offer the best choice. Instead, consider a locally-owned hotel or a boutique that caters to business travelers.
- Enroll in the U.S. government’s STEP program. Before your departure, register your trip with U.S. Department of State. By doing so, you’ll receive safety-related information about your destination. Registering also provides the Embassy with the means to contact you in the event of emergency such as an earthquake or civil unrest. In addition, learn about your intended destination by accessing the S. government’s country specific research. It includes information on entry, exit, and visa requirements, and ways to help ensure your safety and security.
- Research travel insurance policies. While many credit cards offer a degree of medical coverage, the amount varies according a number of factors, including the card type and the event that triggered the need for medical assistance. Check with your corporate travel manager or travel agent to determine if your company provides it travelers with some form of travel insurance. Make sure you understand the limitations of the corporate policy and consider whether it makes sense to secure supplemental coverage personally.
- For high risk countries, prepare a “bug out” bag. In the event of political or social unrest, a bug out bag provides two to three days of critical supplies. The contents of the kit varies by individual, the countries visited, and what they determine important to their survival over a two to three day period. Click here for more information on what to include in a bug out bag.
Ensuring the safety and security of business travelers starts long before an executive boards their flight. We’ve highlighted some of the important tips we provide our multinational clients, however, each business trip presents unique challenges. Ideally, before traveling your company should seek advice from an experienced security consultant with extensive experience helping companies protect their traveling executives.