What are some things you should never do when traveling for business? originally appeared on Quora: The best answer to any question.
I will answer in generalities rather than regarding specific countries, since every culture in the world is different and has different customs.
1. Always behave as if you are "on stage". My rule of thumb (for me only--others may disagree) is that I am "at work" the moment I step out the front door and get in the taxi to the airport. For instance, if your company is paying for your hotel room, and you throw a wild party, it reflects on the company. Get drunk at a business dinner, same thing. Act like an ass to the waiter in the restaurant...
You are always being watched and judged, and when you represent a company, so goes it.
2. Even in countries where there is a business drinking culture (like Korea or Russia), watch your alcohol intake. This can be challenging. Saying you are taking medication can be a good excuse, as can learning how to really nurse your drinks.
3. When connecting between major airports, always allow at least two hours for a connection. Never think you can connect between LHR and LGW or JFK and LGA in under 4 hours.
4. Never rely solely on company credit cards. Always have a personal stash of available funds.
5. Never believe stereotypes about how Indians / Chinese / Jamaicans / etc. do business. This is different than cultural awareness.
6. Avoid discussing local politics and religion. However, asking people about their country or culture is always welcome.
7. Never think that your Western / American / European upbringing means that you are more important than your overseas colleagues. I once had a highly arrogant boss who turned a business trip to China into an unmitigated disaster by lecturing our hosts on how much China could learn from the USA. Most people are not that blatant, but you can easily slip into an "us vs. them" mentality.
8. Realize that in some countries, that $300 per night hotel room exceeds a full month wages for most of the staff working there.
9. Always at least taste or try any local foods you are offered. In some countries, practices like veganism are unknown or uncommon. If you are a picky eater, claiming to abstain for religious or health reasons is usually acceptable if mentioned quietly and politely. For instance, I was once offered stir fried bat in Malaysia. I told them that I was under a doctor's orders to abstain from meat, so I ate the rice and other vegetables offered and made sure to praise those dishes highly (I later tried bat and didn't like it).
10. Never assume that whatever big political issues back home are either known or cared about in other countries.
11. In many countries, police are sometimes as crooked as criminals. Always assume that you are on your own. If you are in trouble, your first call needs to be to your embassy and your local contact.
12. Never joke with, lie to, or screw around with immigration or customs officers. In most countries, their authority is absolute. You would think this is self evident, but many people push their luck.
13. Never assume your rights are the same as back home. Likewise, never assume that laws are the same. In some countries, a commercial business dispute can land you in prison.
14. Never think that what happens on the road will not reach the ears of the home office. I have had to deal with many incidents regarding staff acting up in Asia in terms of KTV, hostess bars, etc. Not fun when I receive a call from someone's wife (yes, this has happened).
15. Screwing around with expense reports never ends well and can quickly derail a career. Always abide by your company's expenses policy. If exceptions need to be made, I have found that accounting departments are generally OK as long as you tell the truth and let them know what is going on.
16. Always carry your passport or a copy of it (a scan in a Dropbox folder on your phone is usually OK).
17. Buy travel insurance. Nothing sucks worse than falling seriously ill abroad (I was hospitalized twice for a week each in 15 years). In some countries, hospitals need to be paid in cash, in advance, before treatment. An annual policy is cheap and easy to obtain.
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