Whether it’s your first trip this year or you live on the road, increased security measures worldwide have made traveling for business tough. Even for seasoned travelers, higher threat risks in certain parts of the world combined with the dangers of an unfamiliar country can be intimidating. While it can be an extremely rewarding experience, it’s now more important than ever to be prepared in advance. Even if you think you have it down to a science, one rookie mistake can have a huge impact on your trip—especially in the ever-changing world of travel. Here is a guide for your next business trip—showcasing some of the best tips from around the world:
1. Book everything in advance
While booking flights in advance of business trips isn’t always feasible, it will both save you money and peace of mind in having a solid itinerary. Because of uncertainty in the travel industry, flight prices may rise this winter, so take advantage of inexpensive European flights this fall. “The sweet spot for affordable European Travel is September 16 to the 23,” according to Couponbox.com. Many search engines and now phone apps offer a ‘flight price tracking’ feature—simply fill in your departure and return details, and set a ‘flight watch’ notification. You’ll receive updates via email on the flight such as price increase or decrease, cheaper routes available or future projections for your trip. When it comes to hotels, book in advance instead of relying on trying to find a room once you get there. If anything, you can likely cancel 24-hours in advance if your trip itinerary changes.
2. Host/schedule meetings in less popular tourist destinations
While Rome, Paris and London are lovely, these cities will be some of the most expensive places to travel to and find accommodations in. You can cut costs by going to less popular tourist locations, like Lisbon, Berlin or Prague. These cities are scenic and come with a far more reasonable price tag, especially if you choose to travel this autumn.
3. Know when Wi-Fi is too good to be true
Unless you’re traveling with an international phone, you’re probably going to be heavily reliant on a wireless internet connection. While a random free Wi-Fi hub might seem like a godsend, think twice before you connect. Fake Wi-Fi hubs are set up by hackers and designed to entice an inexperienced traveler. After you connect, the hacker gains access to all of the information on your computer such as passwords, credit card numbers and other sensitive information. To avoid this, always ask your hotel for their official Wi-Fi information upon arrival. If you’re still concerned, you can encrypt your online activity with a virtual private network (VPN). Depending where you go, Internet may be fantastic or terrible and it’s not uncommon for very expensive hotels to charge high rates for Wi-Fi, so clarify these before you book. In some cases, it’s cheaper to buy an international data plan for the duration of your stay. Compare the cost of a data plan to the cost of the hotel’s Wi-Fi, and you’ll be sure to get the best deal.
4. Watch out for exchange rate scams
Exchange rate scams are very common in Western Europe, and most of the time, you won’t even realize it’s happening. The merchant will simply hand you a receipt with a US dollar amount. This means, however, that you could lose up to 7 percent per transaction. The exchange rate is calculated by the merchant’s bank, and your bank has no part in the rate calculation. To avoid this, ask the merchant what currency they’ll be using to charge your card, and request they do so in local currency. Or, if you can, exchange in the US at your bank before you leave.
5. Print your boarding pass
While printing your boarding pass might seem old school, it can save you time when you’re getting ready to board the plane. First of all, you may not want to hand your phone over to the airport and airline staff and secondly, your phone could lock between check-in and boarding. This may not seem like a big deal, but having to manage pulling up your boarding pass on your phone when you’re already at the gate and encumbered by hand luggage isn’t an ideal situation. In addition, anywhere you go there’s always a chance your phone could be lost or stolen in route to the airport or the duration of your stay. Printing confirmation numbers, boarding passes and important documents is always a good idea.
6. Make a note of your room number
This is especially important if you travel for work often or stay in multiple cities during one trip. By simply opening the notes section of your phone and writing down the name and room number of the hotel you’re staying at, you can eliminate that embarrassing moment when you can’t remember the name or room number of your hotel. It’s easy to accidentally go to the room number of the hotel you stayed at the week before. Jotting down your room number can also be a good way to avoid a common scam. Some business travelers will be woken in the middle of the night, and told that the front desk needs to confirm the credit card details for their room. However, the call isn’t coming from the front desk of the hotel, it’s coming from a scam artist aiming to take your card details and drain your accounts. Never confirm credit card details over the phone and always confirm your room number with the caller before going downstairs to the front desk.
7. Be aware of recent restrictions when you’re traveling to and from Middle Eastern countries
Over the past few months, travel to and from countries in the Middle East has changed dramatically, and business travelers will feel the impact. While carry-on luggage requirements have always varied depending on the airline, President Trump’s travel ban has resulted in new restrictions. “The administration has banned electronic devices larger than a cellphone in the cabins of direct, inbound flights from airports in ten Muslim-majority countries,” reports the New York Times. This restriction means that laptops will not be allowed on these flights, thus it’s important to have your presentation completed before your business meeting in the Middle East. The travel restrictions aren’t just limited to carry-on luggage. In addition, Emirates Airlines has recently announced its plans to reduce flights to major American cities due to a significant drop in bookings, which the airline attributes to, “the issuance of entry visas, heightened security vetting and the inconvenience of not being allowed a laptop in the cabin area.”
8. Board the plane as soon as you can
It’s no secret that you can pack for most business trips in a carry-on bag, saving you (and your company) a significant amount of money when you don’t have to check a suitcase. With so much carry-on luggage in the cabin, however, it’s worth lining up to get on the plane first to secure the best spot in the overhead compartment. When you can, start lining up as soon as they call passengers to board. If that’s not appealing, speak to the airline and find out if frequent flyer miles entitle you to any preferred boarding opportunities. If your luggage won’t fit on board, most airlines will gate-check your luggage for free, but some may charge, especially if your luggage is too large for their specifications. Airline carry-on restrictions change all the time, so it’s something to look in to even before you start packing.
9. Only accept rides in authorized taxis
Taxi scams are some of the oldest in the book and are the easiest to carry out. Many taxi scams happen when tourists aren’t careful and get into unmarked or unofficial taxis off the street. The scams vary from country to country—one of the most popular in Europe involves the taxi driver insisting that his meter is broken and then charging an exorbitant fee. Alternatively, the taxi might quote a price at the beginning of the ride and then add a zero to the price when the ride is over, citing some charge that they hadn’t mentioned at the offset. Some of these taxi drivers may get aggressive, relying on the idea that a tourist will pay anything to exit a confrontation. Most travelers are rushed or will feel uncomfortable during an altercation in a public place so scam artists try to prey on these feelings. Avoid taxi scams by asking your hotel to book you a taxi or by researching the markings of authorized taxis in countries that you’re visiting.
10. Beware of distraction scams
Distraction scams are common in Europe and can take many forms. They vary from country to country, but some of the most common include gangs of street-children who will crowd you and show you their signs written on cardboard. While you’re reading their signs, they’ll expertly go through your pockets. Women can combat this by wearing a cross-body bag in the front and men can bury their wallets so they aren’t easily accessible. Or all can wear money-belts to hide some valuables. Distraction scams rely on a commotion being made, and scammers are looking for people who have their hands full. Always be aware in public places and make sure that you know where your phone, wallet and laptop are at all times.
Always research about the country you’re visiting, even if you think you won’t leave the hotel. The best way to ensure your business trip runs smoothly is to remain alert and aware, and trust your instincts if you feel like something is not quite right.
Latest posts by Holly Rollins (see all)
- 10 Tips to Know if You’re Traveling for Business in the Near Future - July 18, 2017
- Running a Business From Your Car: The Financial Details - June 12, 2017
- 10 Ways to Revamp the Office Culture of Your Small Business - June 5, 2017