How to get ready for international business trips

Planning to travel internationally for business? Read these tips for managing visas and passports, vaccines, testing requirements, currency exchange and more.

1. Prioritize wellbeing

Travel fatigue from flying long distances and jumping time zones can affect traveler wellbeing and hinder productivity on a business trip. To help ease jet lag, travelers should book the best flight times and class of service allowed by their travel policy. Time flights to align with the usual wake and sleep patterns – and avoid layovers when possible. If a layover is unavoidable, take advantage of it. Ask airline or airport workers for the best places to eat, rest or catch up on work. Many airports are home to art installations, live music performances, and even mini flora gardens or amusement parks (we’re looking at you, Singapore Changi Airport). During the layover, watch the clock and leave ample time to reach the gate for the connecting flight.

2. Manage passports and visas early


Applying for a new or renewed passport can take weeks or months, especially in countries now resuming travel and tourism following the shutdown. Depending on the country, a passport must be valid for a specific length of time after the departure date, typically three or six months. The rules vary by destination country and traveler nationality.


Procure necessary visas and passports well in advance. Some countries offer visas upon arrival; some require advance applications. Most countries use an e-visa portal for online visa applications. A passport must have enough empty visa pages to meet destination country requirements. When in doubt, check travel information on the destination country’s official government website or contact the designated government agency in the traveler’s country of citizenship.

3. Heed travel advisories and warnings

Travelers should check official government sources for travel advisories and notices that might affect a trip. These could include risk, weather or health events.

BCD’s TripSource® provides clients and travelers information and alerts to help keep them safe before, during and after the trip. Travelers can receive alerts about security, weather and transportation events.

4. Schedule mandatory vaccinations and testing

Travelers should be aware of destination-specific entry requirements for testing, quarantine, medications and vaccinations. Travelers are responsible for contacting healthcare providers for information and to schedule necessary appointments. Allow plenty of time to get required vaccines or medications. Vaccines may require multiple doses over time. Some preventative medicines, like those used to treat malaria, must be started before travel. Share health concerns, itineraries and planned activities with the provider so they can better provide advice and recommendations for staying healthy on the trip. Make sure to get proper documentation for testing, vaccinations and medications.

5. Pack properly

Baggage rules for international flights may be stricter than for domestic trips. Usually one personal item (like a purse, briefcase or laptop bag) and one carry-on item are allowed on board. Quantity and weight allowances for checked luggage vary. Refer to the airline for specific fees, rules and restrictions.

Know before you go

With travel risks and requirements seemingly changing by the minute, real-time information is a must-have for confident decision-making. Our award-winning Information Hub helps travelers and travel managers make smart, confident decisions in a constantly changing business travel landscape

6. Exchange money

How much money will you need for an international business trip?That’s a good question. And one we can’t answer. It’s a good idea to keep cash handy, though. When deciding how much, consider how easily you can access funds at local banks and ATMs should there be a need. Keep safety in mind. It’s never a good idea to flash large amounts of cash anytime; get a good mix of currency denominations.

Decide whether you’ll exchange currency at home or at your destination. Currency exchange fees are usually less expensive at financial institutions compared to airports, train stations or hotels.

Will that be debit or credit?

Travelers may find themselves in a souk, café or other shop wondering which type of card to use for payment. Making the best choice between a credit card and debit (bank) card could mean less hassle, better record keeping, and savings – for travelers and their employers.

Before you go

  1. Inform credit card, cell phone and other relevant service providers about travel plans to avoid services disruptions or freezes for fraud investigations.
  2. Take advantage of official government traveler safety programs like the United States’ Smart Traveler Enrollment Program (STEP), a free service allowing U.S. citizens and nationals traveling and living abroad to enroll their trip with the nearest U.S. Embassy or Consulate.
  3. In case of emergency: Use the TripSource Document Vault to store digital copies of your important travel documents. These include passport, state- or government-issued identification, trip itinerary, vaccine documents, emergency contact details and local embassy information. If print copies are preferred, store them separately from original documents in a secure place.
  4. Help protect your internet-enabled devices against cyber attacks. Update antivirus software, back up important information, and only connect to networks you consider reasonable secure.

How-to guides

Get more done with our How-to series for people who work and manage travel.

Questions? Email: [email protected]

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