Ten pm, New Delhi. The magnetic strip of my debit card got chewed by the ATM. I had no way to get cash as my other card was a debit card, not linked to cash transactions. Damn! No one else would give me cash. so I had to return to the hotel. A salutary lesson.
In the last twelve months I’ve travelled to Germany, Israel, Thailand and India (twice), delivering Miller-Heiman sales programs like Strategic Selling, Conceptual Selling, the Large Account Management Process and Power Messaging. Here’s what I’ve learned during that and other travels.
1. Make a travel checklist.
Include even the simplest of items, because they’re the ones you often forget. I forgot the belt to my Army uniform once – only once. I have the list inside a clear plastic sheet protector that lives inside my travel suitcase.
2. Keep your travel documents in a clear plastic wallet.
Airline tickets, boarding passes, hotel vouchers, passport, travel receipts all live here in the one place. It saves a lot of stress when you’re in foreign airports with high security requirements.
3. Get a small amount of cash in the local currency.
Do this before you leave. This is essential if you don’t have a pre-booked cab. Believe me, not everyone takes Visa, Mastercard or Amex. In fact in India, no cab driver did.
4. Double check your credit card details.
Murphy’s Law applies. Your card will expire during the trip. Also make sure your cards can access cash. Take two cards at least and keep them separate. My pocket was picked in Paris, but fortunately I only had cash in my wallet. I kept the cards separate.
5. Get an aisle Seat in the plane. Check that your preferences apply to multiple legs of your journey.
Personal preference I guess, but I really hate crawling over other people when I want to walk around or go to the bathroom. I got on a plane in Bangalore, and was advised that I had an aisle seat. They didn’t tell me that it was only to Singapore. The big leg to Brisbane was the centre of three seats with an overly friendly passenger invading my personal space.
6. If you have to go economy, fly Thai airways.
Their legroom is superior to other airlines.
7. Find out how to get a local sim card for your mobile phone.
Using international roaming rates can be very expensive otherwise. It cost me over $1000 for ten days of routine phone home calls in India because I couldn’t get a local sim card. The reason I couldn’t was because I didn’t have a photograph of myself. No no, a photocopy of your passport was not good enough. Who carries a photo of themselves? You do as of now, in the clear plastic wallet.
8. Use Skype for calls where you can.
It’s only sensible as it is free to Skype users with very low rates to other telephones.
9. Find out about the local culture.
Learn how to greet people in their own language. Find out any linguistic or cultural traps. Americans! “Fanny” can mean something entirely different in other English speaking countries.
10. The weather.
Find out what the weather is like and take appropriate clothes.
I’m sure there are hundreds of other tips and look forward to your comments.