While preparing for an upcoming international trip, it occurred to me that after 30 years of international travel, I follow a mental checklist. I thought it would be helpful for MBA students, especially for those preparing for their MBA International Study Trip, if I shared my mental checklist. For most international trips, I do the following 12 things immediately after I purchase my airline ticket(s):
1. Review my iGoogle Home Page. iGoogle is my customizable homepage that includes gadgets that I modify for upcoming trips. Once setup, my iGoogle page provides me a single location for important information about my destination(s). Because iGoogle is my Home Page, when I open my browser I have an opportunity to view regularly this information.
2. Modify my iGoogle World Clock Gadget to include my destination(s). The Gadget I use allows me to monitor up to nine time zones. I always display my home time zone along with time zones for my destination(s). I discussed how MBA students could use World Clock Gadgets in a previous post.
3. Modify my iGoogle Weather Gadget to include my destination(s). The Gadget I use allows me to monitor the weather at multiple locations. I always display my home weather along with my destination(s). Monitoring the weather helps me prepare for the trip, especially in terms of dress and selecting clothing to take.
4. Update my information in the US Department of State’s “Smart Traveler Enrollment Program” (STEP), a free service provided by the U.S. Government to U.S. citizens who are traveling to, or living in, a foreign country. I enter information about my upcoming trip so that the Department of State can better assist me in an emergency. STEP also includes an electronic mailing list that provides information about destination cities, including embassy contact information.
5. Update my US Department of State email subscriptions. I subscribe to updates to Travel Warnings, Travel Alerts, and Consular Information Sheets issued by the U.S. Department of State via email. Included are general travel and country specific updates. Subscriptions are in addition to and independent of the STEP program.
6. Review destination Country Specific Information on the US Department of State’s web site. This site includes travel information for every country in the world and updated as changes occur. “For each country, you will find information like the location of the U.S. embassy and any consular offices; whether you need a visa; crime and security information; health and medical conditions; drug penalties; and localized hot spots.” This is a good place to start learning about where you are going, especially if it is a first visit.
7. Review and make copies of my Passport. After reviewing my destination Country Specific Information, I want to make sure my Passport meets the requirements for entry. I also photocopy my passport. I leave a copy at home for family members, one at the office, and I place a copy in my own travel folder. A photocopy is very useful if your Passport is ever lost or stolen.
8. Review my emergency contact information. I want the people I am traveling with or my destination hosts to have contact information for those I designate in case I am involved in some type of emergency. I make this information available by creating contacts in my mobile phone’s address book using the name ICE or ICE1 and ICE2 to designate a prioritized list of people to contact In Case of an Emergency (ICE). Additionally, I have a standard form that I sometimes use when traveling with groups. As a group lead, I want ICE information for each person in the group.
9. Create a leave behind information sheet. At times, I need to let others know my travel itinerary and hotel information. Often I will forward airline and hotel confirmations to those I want to have the information. Another option I sometimes use is a service called Tripit, which lets me organize trip details into one shareable master online itinerary, even if arrangements are booked at multiple travel sites.
10. Download travel guides to my smartphone, iPad, and iPod. Available information includes everything from guided tours of tourist attractions to destination overviews. This is an effective way for me to learn more about my destination before I arrive.
11. Contact my bank. I like to let my credit card issuing bank know that I am traveling internationally. My bank’s web site lets me input information regarding my trip to include which credit cards I will be using, duration of the trip, and countries I am visiting.
12. Review my medical prescriptions. I want to make sure that I have an adequate supply of medicines for the duration of the trip.
My 12 steps serve me well and for the most part are appropriate for any international traveler. Perhaps there are additions or modifications you would like to make. Please do so by adding a comment below.
Rodney G. Alsup, D.B.A., CPA, CITP
Professor of Accounting
Founder of MyeEMBA.com