Planning for an International Business Trip – When to Do What

Business Trip Planning

When we travel for business, we can often leave things until the last minute. While that may be okay for national travel, travelling internationally for business comes with a whole different set of preparations.

Your travel manager can take care of a lot of the pre-planning, but there are a few things they can’t do for you, such as vaccinations, passport renewals, visa applications, and more. Those preparations can seem overwhelming, but if you follow a simple timeline, you’ll have things organized well before your departure.

Four to Eight Weeks Before Departure

Travel Visas

Depending on where you live, and the processing times of your documents, you’ll want to check the entry requirements of the country you’re visiting as soon as you know you’re going! As Canadians, we have the luxury of Visa-free travel to many countries, but several countries require a Visa, Electronic Visa, or Waiver form completion before arrival. Some countries will issue a Visa on arrival, but it’s important to know what the requirements are well before you travel.

We recommend checking www.travel.gc.ca and selecting your destination to find out the entry/exit requirements. If you are travelling with a Passport from a country other than Canada, please ensure you check the specific requirements and restrictions relating to your passport.

Passport Renewal

Travelling internationally with a passport that is set to expire within six months AFTER your return date, will very likely cause problems either before you depart or on your arrival. Check your passport at least four weeks before your scheduled departure, and if the timeline is tight, it is best to renew your passport.

Vaccinations

Obtaining vaccinations before travelling in some countries is highly recommended, and in some countries is required. It’s important to note that some vaccines are only effective after a certain period, so you’ll want to visit a travel medicine clinic to receive up-to-date information for the country you’re visiting.

Two to Four Weeks Before Departure

Notify Your Credit Card Company of Travel Plans

When you’re leaving the country, especially if you’re travelling a great distance, it is important to notify your credit card company of your travel plans. They’ll make a note of your destination and the dates of travel, so they can keep an eye on your purchases while you’re travelling. This will also make sure you don’t have any issues using your credit card in the destination.

What to Wear

Depending on your destination, there may be cultural differences in appropriate dress for business meetings, social gatherings, etc. To make your best impression and put your best foot forward, you’ll want to have done your research and collected any pieces you may need.

Check Your Cell Phone Plan

Many mobile providers now offer travel packages that you can utilize for a daily fee rather than racking up an enormous cell phone bill. Make sure you check with your provider to see what offers they have that will enable you to be available while you’re travelling.

Loyalty Programs

Now is a great time to check in and see what loyalty programs you’re eligible for that will maximize your benefit at different hotels, car rental companies, etc.

One to Two Weeks Before Departure

Travel Advisories

If you’re travelling to a country that experiences hurricane seasons, monsoon seasons, or other adverse weather, or has experienced political unrest, etc., you’ll want to make sure these occurrences will not impact your trip. Have a look at Travel Advisories in the weeks before your trip so you can feel prepared, and of course, contact your Travel Manager if you have any concerns.

If you plan accordingly, you will have prepared for your business trip to come. Not having to worry about last-minute documents, expensive cell phone bills, or finding appropriate business attire in the destination, will make your trip much smoother and leave you feeling relaxed, calm, and collected for your meetings. Happy Travels!

How to Make Air Travel Easier on Your Mind and Body

Flying can be tough for anyone, even more so for those who travel frequently. Long distance travel can especially make your mind and body feel disrupted, as though your digestive system is out of whack, and your energy levels are drained. Since you can’t change the environment, it is even more important for you to do small things to prepare yourself. Taking care of your mental and physical wellbeing for travel ensures you have a better experience in a destination and on your arrival home.

Here are a few things you can do before, during, and after travel to make the entire experience a little easier:

Before Travel

woman exercising before travel

Cut your alcohol consumption the day before and day of travel – Because alcohol can leave you feeling super dehydrated and impact your immune system, avoiding in the days before your flight will make you feel a whole lot better.

Get a few good nights of sleep – Set yourself up for a successful night of sleep by cutting electronic use at least one hour before you head to bed. You may want to consider a magnesium supplement as magnesium helps to relax your muscles and make it easier to fall asleep.

Stay Hydrated – Drink loads of water in the days before travel to ensure your body is well hydrated before you get on a plane.

Exercise and Get Outside – In addition to drinking a lot of water, you’ll want to get lots of fresh air and exercise so you feel your best on the day of your flight.

Eat clean – Fuel your body with nutrient-rich foods before you fly so you have a healthy digestive system on the day of.


During Travel

Man on airplane

Bring your own food and healthy snacks for the trip – Most airline meals are not packed with quality proteins and nutrients. Packing healthy snacks to supplement this will help to keep your belly happy, so you can avoid bloating or an upset stomach.

Avoid Coffee and Alcohol on the plane – While it may feel like you need a cup of coffee to keep yourself awake, or a glass of wine to wind down, avoiding these on the plane will make you feel a whole lot better. Coffee can tend to upset stomachs, as well as contribute to dehydration similar to wine. Instead, opt for green tea and water as your hot and cold beverages in-flight.

Use a nasal spray – The dry airplane air can make your nose feel super dry and can contribute to a congested feeling in your sinuses. Using a hydrating saline nasal spray can help alleviate those symptoms, and cut out that stuffy feeling.

Use a comfortable neck pillow for sleeping – It should go without saying, but having proper neck support when you’re sleeping upright is very important to the quality of your sleep. Test out a few pillows to make sure you get one that fits your neck properly. In addition, try to sleep in accordance with your destination’s time zone to minimize jet lag.

Get up and stretch or do your in-flight exercisesWhen you’re not napping, get up and walk the aisles, as well as practice some in-flight exercises. Keeping your blood flowing will alleviate your sore muscles, tight joints, reduce swelling, and reduce the likelihood of blood clots.


After Travel

Winding down after travel

Move your body – After you land, it’s important to get your body moving. Take a brisk walk around the area of your hotel, go for a swim, head to the gym, or find a local yoga class. Exercise will help your body be able to relax and ease into a new time zone.

Allow yourself to wind down before you tuck in for the night – Before you jump into bed and sleep, give yourself some time to relax screen-free. Head to the sauna or hot tub, take a hot bath, read a book or magazine, anything to give your mind some peace before you cozy up in bed. You should enjoy a more restful sleep this way, and be well-prepared for the next day.

Carbon Offsets – Are They Still a Thing?

For over a decade, we’ve heard talk about carbon offsets and programs to reduce our carbon footprint when we travel. It seems that years ago, there was a big push to purchase carbon credits through various airlines, but over the years the discussion has grown relatively quiet. So what is the deal? Are carbon offsets still a thing, and do they really do anything?

While there are better ways that you can reduce your carbon footprint daily, air travel is a tough one to combat. Since electric planes don’t exist, carbon offsets have been put into place to give travellers the option of neutralizing their impact on the environment. However, not all carbon offsets are created equal. Some programs are better than others and discovering which one to contribute to is as important as researching which charity you’d like to donate your dollars.

According to information on the David Suzuki Foundation page, “offsets from tree-planting projects are problematic for many reasons, including their lack of permanence and the fact that these projects do not address our dependence on fossil fuels.” So, although tree-planting initiatives sound good, they don’t make much difference when it comes to air travel.

What you’ll want to look for are initiatives that are putting the money into research and development of cleaner energy and cleaner fuel alternatives. In short, Gold Standard projects stand the best chance of making your dollars count.

Gold Standard is the highest standard in the carbon offset world. This standard makes sure that all projects that wear its label meets the specific environmental criteria. Only projects that focus on renewable energy and energy efficiency can qualify to be Gold Standard, excluding tree-planting initiatives.

There are a few ways to offset your carbon footprint, and different airlines use different organizations to offer this to their guests. Here’s a breakdown of a few to consider:

Less Emissions, Inc – Air Canada
When you book a flight with Air Canada, you have the option of opting in to offset your carbon. Air Canada partners with Less Emissions, Inc., who offer a quick calculator to determine the cost of offsetting your carbon emissions. You then have the option of offsetting through Gold Standard or another standard VER+.

Sustainable Travel International – United Airlines
Several tour operators and other businesses partner with Sustainable Travel International (STI) to handle their offsetting. United Airlines is a significant supporter of this organization, and their passengers have the option to offset directly on the STI website. It’s effortless, go to the calculator, type in your route, and choose if you are supporting the Gold Standard or a reforestation project.

ClimateCare – Air New Zealand
Air New Zealand has partnered with Climate Care which is a big supporter of Gold Standard projects. Similar to the airlines above, you would visit their site, pop in your route, and checkout. It’s quick and straightforward to do, and you’ll feel good knowing your money is going to a Gold Standard project.

It’s true that there isn’t a ton of buzz around Carbon Offsetting programs anymore, but as travellers that are increasingly more aware of our environmental impact, it’s up to us to do the research. On your next booking, speak with your Travel Manager to discuss offsetting your flight, and to ensure the dollars go back to a Gold Standard program.

Flying High – Understanding Cannabis and Canadian Travel

On October 17th, 2018, Bill C-45, more commonly known as the Cannabis Act, will see the legal consumption of personal and medicinal marijuana in Canada enter into effect. This will impact all manners of travel both in, and out, of Canada, including leisure and business travel. Impacts, that Canadian investor Sam Znaimer faced recently when he was denied entry into the USA. His story was covered by CTV News below:

As we approach October 17th, there are things we know, things we don’t know, and things we can assume. Stakeholders in the travel industry, from airlines to corporate travel managers, need to communicate these changes to end-users, like Sam Znaimer, and in a manner that is easy to understand and put into practice. 

What we do know:

  • October 17th sees the Cannabis Act into effect.
  • That taking cannabis or cannabis-based products INTO Canada remains illegal and could result in serious criminal penalties and records.
  • That taking cannabis or cannabis-based products OUTSIDE of Canada’s international borders remains illegal and could result in serious criminal penalties and lifetime records.
  • That possession of cannabis remains illegal under U.S. federal laws in any form and any quantity.
  • That previous use of cannabis, or any substance prohibited by U.S. federal laws, could deny entry at any border point.
  • That involvement in the legal cannabis industry in Canada could also deny entry at any US border point.

What we don’t know:

  • How this will impact entrance to other countries, not including the USA, and especially those with harsher policies on drug/substance use.
  • Does working, or investing in the Cannabis sector leave a shared internationally accessible record for all current and/or future governments to access?

What we can assume:

  • Working, or investing in the Cannabis sector could leave a shared international record for all current or future governments to access?
  • Working or investing in the Cannabis sector may have the potential to impact one’s current and future ability to travel internationally.

Where we go from here:

We need to communicate these changes to Canadian employees, directors, investors that represent any business interest outside of Canada. We need to communicate these changes to international employees, directors, investors that represent any business interest in Canada.

When creating business policy, one could certainly take a laissez-faire page out of Las Vegas’ ‘What happens in Vegas stays in Vegas’ brand playbook, or one could take a more measured approach and recommend limiting the exposure to the substance, citing the known, unknown and assumed positions both in and outside the nation’s borders.

Some additional resources: