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10 Essential Items for International Business Travel

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The checklist that guarantees you’ll have everything you need when flying for business.

By Kara Ronin (Founder, Executive Impressions)

Whether you’re going to meet investors, attend a conference, or have finally decided to splurge and book a place in that long-awaited mastermind group, your professional life has probably given you the opportunity to travel to a number of exciting and exotic locations all around the world.

Amongst all that excitement about your trip, it’s easy to overlook some essential items that can really help you feel prepared and look polished when you step off the plane. Wouldn’t we all love that after a 8-hour flight across the Atlantic! To help make your international travel as relaxing and smooth as possible, I want to share with you 10 essential items that I always travel with on international business trips:

A Four Wheeled Suitcase

If you’ve never experienced the smooth, light rolling of a good quality 4-wheel suitcase, then that should be one of the first items you purchase for your business travel. A 4-wheel suitcase is exceptionally easy to manoeuvre, and will make those long walks through airport transit a breeze. To make your international travel even easier, pair your 4-wheel suitcase with a 4-wheel carry-on case.

A Sleeping Mask and Earplugs

Sleeping on a plane is anything but comfortable. But there are a couple of things you can pack into your hand luggage to make your in-flight experience as relaxing as possible: a sleeping mask and earplugs. Being seated next to somebody who decides to read during the whole flight really makes you appreciate how precious a sleeping mask is. Not to mention a pair of good quality earplugs to drown out the constant humming of the airplane engine.

Roll-on Perfume

Perfume can instantly revitalise you at the end of a long-haul flight. But you don’t want to spray your favourite perfume on the plane when others around you could be allergic or sensitive to that particular scent. There is a solution: roll-on perfume. It’s light, travel-friendly, and won’t overpower the person sitting next to you on the plane.

A Small Hand Towel

This is a fabulous tip that I picked up while living in Japan: keep a small hand towel in your hand luggage (I even keep one in my hand bag). Use it when you want to freshen up on the plane or at the airport. When you’re going to a new destination, it’s calming and revitalising to dry your hands on a nicely patterned, soft hand towel that is yours.

A Folder or Plastic Pocket for Your Passport and Travel Documents

Keeping your passport, itinerary and any entry or exit cards you may need in the one folder can really help speed up the process at immigration, and make you feel more prepared and less flustered. I highly recommend printing copies of all your travel documents and itinerary before you depart. Don’t rely on electronic copies on your tablet or smartphone. You never know when they’ll run out of battery.

Closed-toed Shoes and Stockings

Depending on the country you’re travelling to, open-toed shoes or peep-toe heels may not be appropriate for business meetings. In some cultures, you’ll only be considered professional if you wear closed-toed shoes. Pack into your suitcase a pair of closed-toed heels, and hole-free stockings or socks in case you’re asked to remove your shoes before entering a room.

A Business Card Case

When you’re about to exchange business cards with an important investor, you’ll really impress if you use a quality business card case. Invest some money into this. It will be seen by many important people who could greatly impact your business or career. Taking your card out of a quality business card case says that you’re somebody who cares about the smaller details. Placing the other person’s card into your business card case says you hold that person in high regard.

A Dark, Conservative Suit

In some cultures, the professional dress code is highly conservative. If your potential investors belong to such a culture and you want to connect with them better, a conservative outfit is what you should pack. Add to your suitcase a dark suit in navy, black, or charcoal, and a crisp business shirt. If you want to add a little personality to your outfit, you can do this with unique buttons, cufflinks, a scarf, or jewellary.

Scarf or Pashmina

Just like your own hand towel, a scarf or pashmina brings a little familiarity and coziness to your in-flight experience. Wrap yourself with it to keep warmer on the plane and if you’re visiting a culture where showing skin is frowned upon, keep it in your bag so you can cover up if it’s necessary.

Chargers for Your Cell Phone and Laptop

When you’ve done so well with your international travel preparation, the last thing you’ll want is to open up your laptop at the beginning of your business meeting and have it run out of battery. Disaster! Double check you’ve packed into your suitcase, power cords, international electrical adapters, and extra batteries for your smartphone.  Also check the internet access of the country you’re going to. Not everywhere has super-fast, reliable internet access, so you may need to prepare a back-up plan.

Do you have any travel tips for other business travellers?

Kara_Ronin_Executive-Impressions_Oct_2013About the blogger: Kara Ronin is an international business etiquette expert and founder of Executive Impressions. Drawing from 10 years of living an international life, she started the Executive Impressions blog to guide and inspire ambitious professionals and entrepreneurs.