Traveling the globe can be exhausting.
Crossing multiple time zones.
Dealing with climate changes.
Standing in long lines to clear customs and security.
Packing, documentation, shots, and language barriers … it’s enough to make some people just want to stay home.
For others, it spells – ADVENTURE!
Traveling abroad is not for the faint of heart. It can be hard on the body and the brain.
Whether you love the adventure of traveling to foreign lands and live with bags packed and ready, or you prefer to stick close to home and only travel when you must, here are a few international travel tips to make your next voyage safer and more comfortable.
While it’s impossible to guarantee “stress-free” travel, by doing the things within your control you’ll increase the odds of having a pleasant and productive trip.
Organization and planning are essential.
Organizing trip details is completely within your control, and therefore, you should plan as much as possible. Once your flight is booked, the hotel is reserved and meetings are scheduled, etc., you’ll be able to think through what you need to pack. Planning will reduce the chance of forgetting important things like documents and passwords.
Having an organized itinerary can also significantly reduce stress and put you in a better frame of mind for when the unexpected happens. If you’re singled out for a pat-down at every security stop or your luggage gets lost – you’ll be better able to take it in stride.
To help you get organized there are several apps available that consolidate all of your information in one spot. I recently attended a conference and used Tripit to organize my travel information and event schedule.
Also, be sure to make copies of your itinerary to leave behind with family in case an emergency arises.
Fatigue greatly affects international travelers.
When traveling abroad for business, it’s important that you arrive at your destination ready to work. But traveling long hours, across multiple time zones disrupts your body’s circadian rhythms and causes fatigue. This is commonly referred to as Jet-lag and can greatly affect your sense of well-being and, therefore, productivity levels at your destination.
Follow these international travel tips to minimize the effects of Jet-lag.
- Stay hydrated by drinking lots or water. Water plays an integral role in nearly every biological process in the body. It’s especially important at high altitudes. When flying, an average commercial aircraft maintains a cabin altitude between 6000 – 7000 ft. This gain in altitude can intensify the effects of dehydration. I suggest carrying a quality water bottle that you can refill at water fountains once through security.
- Minimize the consumption of carbonated beverages, caffeine and alcohol. Caffeinated, sweetened and alcoholic drinks have chemicals that demand significant amounts of fluid to filter properly in the body. As a result, these nonwater beverages can dehydrate the body.
- Choose water-containing foods. Dried, processed or chemical-laced foods and snacks loaded with sugar will spike your blood sugar, which directly affects your body’s desire for sleep.
- Follow the sun as much as possible. If you’re crossing multiple time zones, you’ll probably be tempted to head for the hotel to sleep when you arrive. Unless you arrive at night, don’t do it. To adjust as quickly as possible you should stay awake throughout the day in your new location. Set meetings for early in the day. Around 3:00 p.m. you’ll likely feel drained – do your best to remain active and eat an early dinner. When doing business in China, most hosts will try to set an early dinner so you can retire early. When it’s dark, go to bed. Even if you can’t sleep, you should stay in bed with the lights out.
- Increase blood flow. Sitting for extended periods can be dangerous to your health. Blood clots also called deep vein thrombosis (DVT), can be a serious risk for some long-distance travelers. When confined to an airplane, do what you can to move your legs and exercise your calf muscles. Get up, walk and stretch at least every hour. Blood clots are rare but can be very dangerous. Know if you’re at risk and take precautions.
- Adjust your watch as soon as you board. If you still wear a watch, change it to reflect the time at your destination. This little trick will help adjust your internal clock and prepare you mentally for the coming time change. On average, it takes about one day to adjust for every times zone you cross, so plan accordingly.
One last travel tip. Check The State Department for any Travel Warnings at your destination. Once abroad it’s advisable to stay up to date on security conditions in the areas where you’ll be visiting and follow standard safety protocols. The US State Department also encourages all US Citizens to enroll in it’s Smart Traveler Program.
Following are a several apps and links that provide additional international travel tips. Just remember, no matter when or where you travel, the more you plan ahead, the better off you will be.
Ana Fontes is a multilingual native of Brazil and an American citizen. She has been working in cross-cultural market for 27-years providing marketing and consulting services to many international and US-based companies. To learn how Ana can help you grow your business in Brazil or across other global markets, contact us today, we’d love to hear from you.