Tuesday, September 4, 2007

Travelling Abroad

This entry isn't so much about leadership as it is about the nature of the job, Travel.

It is so easy to get caught up in domestic travel and the convenience of the US that when it comes time to fly abroad you may not have thought through your trip. Here are some tips and reminders.

  1. Buy a travel alarm. Chances are that when you are tired and worn out, setting a new euro style alarm clock will be a daunting task and there is no snooze on a wake up call.
  2. Watch your bags very carefully at train stations. Many people make their living at snatch and run with your bags. I have seen this more than once. If you have a bag with a strap, place an arm or a leg through it while you sit.
  3. Keep your passport on your person not in a bag (for tip number 2). Getting a new passport will certainly ruin a vacation but totally blow a business trip.
  4. Get your money exchanged at home or just use an ATM machine. While most places will take a Visa/MasterCard/AMEX you will still need cash for things like a taxi or a beer.
  5. Call your bank and let them know you will be charging abroad. Nothing stinks more than getting to Europe and not being able to get money out.
  6. Buy an international calling card. This will help you if you need to make any calls home and you find your cell does not work over there.
  7. Check the expiration date of your passport. Many countries want from 3 to 6 months left on your passport to let you in the country.
  8. Pack an extra set of passport photos along with a photocopy of your passport information page to make replacement of your passport easier in the event it is lost or stolen.
  9. Copy all contents of your wallet and leave one copy at home, take the other with you and store in your suitcase.
  10. Taxis. Only take taxis clearly identified with official markings. Beware of unmarked cabs. Also get a price for the cab ride up front if you can. They can range from what you should pay to more than four times what you should pay. Trains are generally cheaper.
  11. Don't forget your laptop power supply. It is so easy since you probably use your docking station. I have forgotten mine many times basically making my computer useless after 2 hours or so.
  12. Buy an outlet adapter that converts US plugs to European outlets.
  13. Insurance. Make sure you have medical insurance prior to leaving.
  14. Bare essentials. Pack an extra change of clothes for your carry on in the event that your luggage is lost or delayed. The more important the trip, the more likely your luggage will get lost. It's an international law.
  15. Do your homework. Foreign embassies or consulates in the United States can provide up-to-date information on their countries.
  16. Ordering Passport. Inevitably you will need to order a passport with less than a week to go. Here is a site that can help you with that. Be prepared to shell out about $400.

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