When you tell people you are off to Barcelona or Paris on business, they probably have visions of a glorious European vacation, give-or-take a meeting or two. The reality for traveling abroad for business can be very different. Living out of a suitcase, dining alone and other aspects of business travel, regardless of the destination, can be tiring.
Trips to foreign countries for fun or work can involve dealing with differences in languages, currency and customs. But the opportunities and value, personally and professionally, are many. According to the government, more than 5 million Americans travel abroad on business in a given year. Here are some of the best and worst things about traveling outside the U.S. on business:
“Corporate or Business Tourism” is when you take advantage of business travel to visit local landmarks, museums, or leisure hot spots. According to International Trade Forum Magazine, two-thirds of business travelers extend their business trips for pleasure when they can. The plane and hotel are paid for, why not take advantage and visit the famous art museum, nearby ruins or another well-known site in the vicinity?
Traveling across several time zones leads to jet lag for nearly everyone, but it is harder for business travelers. Those on a leisure trip can give themselves time to adjust, maybe taking the first day or two easy. But, business travelers typically hit the ground running and need to get up and be alert in meetings right off. People develop different ways of dealing with the fatigue, but you need to acknowledge it will be there.
Good and Bad:
Visiting an area with a different native language offers challenges and opportunities. How else can you get serious practice with that French or Spanish learned in school or get to know phrases in another language? While you may feel comfortable asking for directions or ordering in a restaurant, do not be overly confident with your language skills in business dealings. Professional translators, like those available through MI Translations, can help you with the nuances and precision needed for successful business transactions.
While you might be reluctant to try street food in some countries (with good reason), visiting a foreign country lets you try a food you may have tasted in the U.S. in a more authentic way. Things we are used to here are very different in their “native” lands. Just for fun, try what Americans call Chinese food in Beijing, crème brulee in Paris, pizza in Naples or fish tacos in Ensenada. But be sure to sample other local cuisine that you might not have tried at home.