International business travel is a golden opportunity for cultural enrichment, exploration, and just plain fun. When you globe-trot for business, take advantage of your good fortune during every moment of your trip. With adventure on your agenda — along with business — you can live life to the fullest from beginning to end.
These four tips for international travelers can help you blend work and life for a getaway that’s as fulfilling as it is productive.
1. Prep for communication and recreation
A smile and a simple “hello” in your host country’s native language sets the stage for warm welcomes, good business, and more. Laura Hodgkinson, certified travel counselor and global leadership professional, says taking time to get familiar with the language, business customs, and cultural opportunities can position you for an immersive visit to a new country.
For pre-trip prep and on-the-ground support, Hodgkinson recommends loading up on apps. A translator app provides language basics plus on-the-fly translation when you need it most, and a currency conversion app keeps business and leisure expenses in perspective. And with hotel apps, like the IHG app, you get helpful travel tools and extra support before, during, and after your trip.
With these tools in hand, you won’t be limited to the items on your business agenda. You’ll be able to push out of your comfort zone and visit neighborhood vendor markets, chat with locals, and engage in unique experiences.
2. Hit your destination early
When you arrive a few days before your planned business, jet lag can’t dampen your enthusiasm or activities. You can explore the local culture, get acclimated to the time zone and the weather, and be at your productive best when meeting time comes. Plus, you can seize early opportunities for added fun.
But before you book, Hodgkinson recommends chatting with your manager about your company’s travel policy. Creative collaboration could allow you an opportunity to expand your trip. If your travel policy allows for you to fly business class, for example, your company may agree to pick up the hotel tab for extra nights if you fly economy instead. “They may only pay for your hotel and your airfare, so you pay for all your meals and things, but that’s a perfect way to blend business and leisure,” she says.
Early arrival also lets you capitalize on professional opportunities that advance your business agenda and enhance international success. Hotel amenities like Crowne Plaza’s Plaza Workspace can help fuel productivity. The adaptive space is ideal for casual pre-meeting get-togethers with international associates, whether that’s over digital displays or dinner and drinks. You’ll find it suits focused solo work, too.
3. Maximize the impact of small tourist moments
Your leisure opportunities on business trips often come in short bursts between meetings. But with some planning, you can make the most of an hour or two here and there throughout your stay.
Hodgkinson recommends fitting in a city tour. For maximum impact, sit beside the guide.
“When they’re not telling you all the things about the city, you can get to know them and ask them some questions,” Hodgkinson says. “They may tell you about a great local restaurant or local place of music or local tours not in the big programs and brochures. Those can lead to once-in-a-lifetime experiences.”
Then tap into hotel staff for tips on how to live like a local for a few hours or a few days. Concierges are great sources, but don’t stop there. “You’d be surprised if you talk to the waitress, who may tell about their favorite Italian place — even though you’re in Mexico,” Hodgkinson says. “You’ll get a local perspective you can’t get elsewhere.”
Focus on the things you love most. If that’s connecting with people, walk the local market and watch vendors and customers interact. If you’re a foodie, hit the street vendor carts. If you’re into sports, try local sporting events. Hodgkinson recommends finding the local last-minute ticket outlet. You may find yourself in the VIP section hearing the Philharmonic in Paris, as she did.
4. Stay rested, renewed, and ready
Staying on top of your sleep and fitness regimens can help you stay ready to seize adventures — and be at peak productivity for business, too. Hodgkinson recommends taking advantage of hotel fitness rooms to keep your body on track, and making time for sleep.
“When you’re in a different place, the sounds of the city may be very different from what you’re used to,” she says. Amenities in the Crowne Plaza Sleep Advantage Program help you get a better night’s sleep so you’re ready to face what each day and night holds. From aromatherapy kits and premium bedding to designated hotel “quiet zones” and guaranteed wake-up calls, you can unplug from the day, drift away, and awaken refreshed and ready to go.
When business takes you global, Hodgkinson says it’s worth remembering that despite different cultures and beliefs, people are people — whether you’re collaborating on business strategies or celebrating with an amazing meal. “I want business travelers to enjoy, so companies and employees succeed,” she says. So, go ahead. Live your globe-traveling life to the hilt.