Earning a trip overseas through an employee incentive program can be exciting – but if this is your first time traveling outside the country, you may not be aware of some common cross-culture courtesies that every traveler should know. Here are just a few tips that can help make traveling abroad as smooth as possible.
1. Research The Culture
Wherever you are going, from Mexico to Jamaica to Thailand, the culture will almost certainly be radically unlike anything you are used to. Start researching the culture in that country before your trip. There are some phrases, gestures, and habits that, while perfectly acceptable in the U.S., can be offensive or downright rude in other countries! Consider talking to your MTI Events event planner—we’ve been almost everywhere in the world and we can clue you in to the culture of where you’re headed.
2. Pack Sensibly
The more efficiently you pack now, the easier it will be when it comes time to head home. Choose clothing that will be appropriate for the climate where you are going, and is multi-purpose, as well (i.e., a jacket that is suitable for both a brunch date and a dinner date). You shouldn’t need any more than two extra sets of clothes for a weeklong vacation. Keep your toiletries to a bare minimum, and remember to leave some packing room for the souvenirs you are going to pick up on the trip.
3. Be Prepared for the Food
Like the unfamiliar cultural habits of different countries, you may be in for a surprise when chow time comes around on your first overseas trip. Especially if you have a sensitive stomach, study the food of the country you are visiting to get an idea of what you might like to order from a menu in a different language, or try a few native dishes before your departure. Bring along something to help just in case your digestive system suffers, whether that it be antacids, probiotics, or ginger tea.
4. Practice Basic Safety
While practicing basic safety habits at home comes automatically for most us, from locking your car when you’re out in public to holding your children’s hands in a parking lot, keeping your belongings and yourself safe in foreign countries usually requires more thought. Remember to carry a bag or purse that zips, and never put your wallet in your back pocket— doing so could be an open invitation for pickpockets. You should also lock your passport in the hotel safe as soon as you arrive, and don’t take it out until you are ready to go back home. In some cities, it may be safest to stay indoors after sundown. Check out the crime rates of the area where you will be staying to make sure.
5. Pick a Travel Buddy
If you’re traveling with co-workers, make sure to buddy up! That way you have someone that you trust with your money, your belongings, and even your passport. You never know when extenuating circumstances will call for you to need to rely on somebody else to protect your things, so be smart about who you choose. A weeklong vacation abroad may not be the best time to test the strength of a month-old relationship!