A Travel Manager’s International Travel Checklist
International travel is exciting!
If you want your trip to go as smoothly as possible for your team, you’ll have to do some due diligence as you prepare.
Whether you’re sending a team member to another country for a quick in-and-out meeting or sending an entire team overseas for a seasonal construction project, there are a few things that you (and they) should do before showing up to board the flight.
Below, we’ll provide an international travel checklist to help you prepare for your trip.
In this guide, you’ll learn all the steps you need to take (and everything to pack) to make international travel successful for your team.
Let’s dive in and get it sorted out.
Go Over Travel Restrictions and Customs Requirements
It’s in your best interest to make sure that your team has everything they need to travel abroad and return to the country without any border complications.
They should know everything they need to not only leave the country successfully but also to re-enter the country upon returning.
There are a lot of websites and databases to help you with this, but the most useful resource is Travel.State.Gov.
Before making any concrete plans, you’ll want to consult this website for important documents, visa requirements, and other safety and legal travel tips to help you navigate these sensitive legal waters.
Before the Trip
Now that you understand the legalities of leaving and re-entering the country, it’s time to start making preparations for your trip.
Here’s what you’ll want to do before you go:
1. Make a Plan
Every international travel outing should be preceded by a period of planning.
Here are some of the plans you’ll want to make:
- How your team will get to and from their destination
- Where they’ll stay (hotel, short-term housing, etc.)
- How they’ll get around during their stay
- How they’ll pay for food and incidentals (company credit card, per diem, etc.)
- What you can do to help them stay safe during their trip
A lot of this will be further fleshed out in the itinerary.
But even before you create the itinerary, you’ll want to nail down the basics so that you’ll have a rough guideline for the overall plan.
This will help you with your packing list, researching your destination, researching prices on bookings, etc.
2. Do Your Research
You’ll definitely want to do some serious research about your destination before embarking on the trip.
This helpful guide, written by a nomadic couple named Kelly and Lee who’ve been traveling the world for over a decade, offers some helpful tips on researching travel destinations.
Here are some of their recommendations:
- Watch YouTube videos about your destination
- Find the Reddit community for your destination city and ask any questions you may have
- Read posts by travel bloggers who’ve been to your destination (and consider reaching out to them if you have any questions they didn’t answer on their blog)
As a travel manager, you might even want to compile some of these links into an informal travel guide to help your team make the most of their trip.
3. Start Preparing Necessary Documents
There are a number of travel documents you’ll want to sort out before leaving the country.
Here are some of the most important ones:
In some countries, you’ll need to have a travel visa to enter and conduct business.
Visa laws vary from nation to nation. Therefore, you’ll need to do specific research based on what your travel plans are for each country you plan to visit.
Here’s a guide that can help you with this research.
You’ll most definitely need a passport if you want to travel abroad, especially if you plan to re-enter the country at some point.
You’ll want to make sure that everyone on your team is passport-ready.
Keep in mind that this can take a while — the State Department says to give yourself at least 11 weeks to obtain a passport.
Check out this guide to help you apply for a passport and knock that item out of your international travel checklist.
You’ll need a boarding pass to board your flight. You definitely won’t want to forget this vital bit of documentation.
International Driving Permit
An international driving permit is basically a driver’s license that’s valid in 150 countries worldwide.
In the U.S., you apply for your IDP through one of two different organizations:
- The American Automobile Association (AAA)
- The American Automobile Alliance (AATA)
Check out this helpful guide to learn more about getting your IDP.
4. Create an Itinerary
Building an itinerary is going to be an essential part of finalizing your travel plans.
If this is the first time you’ve ever put one together for international travel, consider reading this helpful article by PitchTravelWrite.com.
5. Finalize All Bookings
Finalizing flight, lodging, and car-rental bookings is another essential step in the process.
Obviously, this is slightly more complicated when it comes to international travel, but a travel management company can help.
If you’d like a hand with booking travel lodging for your team, consider giving Hotel Engine a try.
Our free platform gives you access to more than 700,000 hotels worldwide. We make booking lodgingeasy, and we even can get you corporate hotel discounts for group business travel.
6. Get Your Team Some Language Resources (If Needed)
If your team is traveling to a location where there’s a language barrier, then you’ll definitely want to help them out.
Thankfully, there are quite a few different options with this, from apps and language dictionaries to classes where your team can learn the language for themselves.
Check out this helpful article by GoOverSeas.com for more information about language resources.
7. Address Any And All Safety Concerns
Safety is obviously a massive concern when traveling overseas. Here are some common-sense steps you can take to make sure that your team stays safe while they’re out in the field.
Do a Risk Assessment Evaluation
Our Trip Risk Assessment Guide provides the information you need to perform an in-depth risk assessment for your business trip.
Make sure that you walk through all of those steps, in addition to the ones listed below.
Subscribe to STEP
STEP stands for Smart Traveler Enrollment Program.
Run by the Bureau of Consular Affairs and the U.S. Department of State, STEP operates as a free service to help U.S. citizens to stay safe while traveling abroad.
When you register your trip with STEP, you’ll receive safety updates about the area you’re traveling to, and the U.S. Embassy will be able to contact you in the event of an emergency.
Sort Out Quality Travel insurance
You’ll definitely want to make sure that your team has health insurance while traveling, which means that you’ll need to secure some high-quality travel insurance.
We have an in-depth guide about travel insurance on our blog. Check out that post to get up to speed on exactly what you’ll want to look for and purchase.
Viruses and Vaccinations
Before your team embarks on their trip, inform them of any CDC international guidelines for viruses, vaccinations, and all other health/safety concerns.
This is a pretty specific area of research because the CDC gives individual guidelines for each different country.
You can find a complete list of CDC destinations and guidelines here.
Put Together Emergency Contact Information and a Plan
Make sure that you have emergency contact information on file for every team member who will be traveling. Also, make a plan for how you’ll contact family members and loved ones in case of emergency.
First Aid Kit
Your team should have a first aid kit to help get the team through potentially dangerous situations or disasters until they’re able to receive specialized healthcare.
8. Communication and Connectivity
Staying in touch with your team and communicating on a regular basis is important.
Thankfully, there are a number of modern technologies that make this possible.
Every team member should have a cell phone with international service.
That international service is important!
A lot of phone service plans don’t actually include international coverage, so make sure to double-check the plan in advance.
With Wi-Fi access, your team will have multiple ways to contact each other: email, social media, online messenger services, video calling, cloud servers, etc.
Therefore, making sure that your team has a plan for accessing Wi-Fi is important.
You may even want to arrange for a hotspot if you can’t guarantee that there’ll be Wi-Fi on location.
9. Credit Cards
There are a few things you’ll need to do to make sure that your team has access to funds while traveling abroad:
Notify Your Bank That You’ll Be Traveling
Credit card companies and banks will need to know if you plan to travel internationally so they can lift any restrictions that may be in place on your debit cards and credit cards.
Ask About International ATM Fees
Figuring out which ATM services will charge you fees while overseas can be helpful.
You don’t want to rack up huge transaction fees for withdrawing cash in another county.
Be Aware of Currency Exchange Rates
Currency exchange rates are important to know and understand before your team travels to a different country.
It’s also crucial to understand where you can get the best exchange rates to avoid needlessly spending extra money on currency exchange fees.
For a breakdown on how to go about this process, check out this guide.
Figure out how your team will travel to/from the airport and job site while they’re on-location.
Will they use public transportation? Car rentals? Does the hotel have a shuttle that can bring them to and from the airport or train station?
Make sure to consider every aspect of transportation when planning your trip.
You’ll also want to make sure that your team is equipped to navigate once they reach their location.
Make sure they know how to use the GPS app on their phone (most people do, but just in case). You may want to give them an old-fashioned paper map and some local guidebooks, too, in case they find themselves lost without phone access.
12. Hand Out the Itinerary to Your Team
You should also make sure that every team member has a physical copy of this information.
Now for the Necessities: International Travel Packing Checklist
Here’s a checklist of the physical items that your team may want to pack as they prepare for their next long-haul flight overseas.
- High-quality carry-on bag
- Chargers and adapters
- Safe container for valuables
- Eye mask
- Water bottle
- Notebook/journal with blank pages
- Hand sanitizer
- Caffeine and/or melatonin (for jet lag)
- Rain gear
- Face mask
This is the bare minimum, of course. If there are any particular items your team needs to do their job or participate in the trip’s events, make sure to add those to the checklist you give your team.
We hope that the list above helps you to prepare yourself and your team for the big trip.
All that’s left now is to start packing and get a move-on.
And if you need help with business lodging, don’t forget to give Hotel Engine a shout.
In any case, we wish you luck on your journey.
Audrey Fairbrother is the Content and SEO Manager at Hotel Engine. She spends her days writing about all things business travel, researching topics that are important to Hotel Engine’s audience and cultivating the company’s brand voice. When she’s not working, Audrey enjoys spending time with her family, and hiking in the nearby Rockies with her dog, Albie.