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Anyone who has traveled extensively knows that each region, country, and area has its own set of customs and societal norms. What’s culturally acceptable in some places is offensive in others. For instance, the use of your left hand for eating, shaking hands, or exchanging money or goods is completely unheard of in places like India where the left hand is used only for hygiene purposes. Additionally, some regions see certain gestures as offensive when other countries don’t even acknowledge the gestures at all.
In addition to understanding a region’s cultural expectations, there is also a great amount of information that you should know before visiting that place. With a little bit of research, an open mind, and a willingness to try things in a different way, your trip to a foreign country will be a success! In today’s blog, we’re going to look at some of the most important tips when traveling in Europe.
Tip #1: Check Visa Requirements
We’ve found that when it comes to what a country requires from visitors and Visas, it’s best to try and stay updated with the latest information. As of right now, business travelers and tourists can visit almost any European country for stays shorter than three months without needing to have a Visa. However, Visa policies are given to change from time to time to make sure that you have the most current information before you venture to Europe.
If you know that your stay will be longer than three months, you’ll need to apply for a Visa when traveling to most places in Europe. This might only apply to military personnel receiving a PCS (Permanent Change of Station), or folks intending to take an extended business trip.
Tip #2: Book Flights Through Budget Airlines
Many people who go to Europe end up traveling around a bit. The great thing about Europe is how close together everything is. You can travel the span of the continent in mere hours. Whether you’re going to Europe for business or pleasure, we advise everyone who visits to try and get out and see a bit of the historical sights and memorable structures. Since even business travelers tend to need to get around the continent quickly and efficient, we recommend booking flights within Europe through budget airlines.
There are currently over a dozen cheaper airlines that fly people all over Europe and what’s more, seats on many of these flights are even cheaper than taking a train. Skip the expensive airlines and overpriced train ride, seek out the lower prices of budget airfare!
Tip #3: Make Sure Everything is in Line With Your Passport
Many of us who don’t travel internationally often may not realize the time that’s passed since we got our passport renewed. Passports issued to people under the age of 16 expire after ten years, and those issued to people over 16 last for 15 years. This rule makes sense when you think about how much a child or teenager can change in a decade.
Though most countries European countries don’t require you to have a Visa, your passport will be required of you if you wish to travel internationally. After ensuring that your passport isn’t expiring any time soon, make sure that your information is current, your picture is still presentable, and that your passport as a whole is still in decent shape. Don’t try traveling internationally without your passport; it will end up being a frustrating waste of time.
Tip #4: Use International English
Language barriers can be tough when you’re trying to conduct business in Europe; not being able to get onto the same page when negotiating can literally mean the difference between a deal made, and a deal that falls apart. Since English is the most internationally used language and is often the language preferred. However, when using English with people who do speak the language but not as their mother tongue, try to use international English. This is a form of English that avoids euphemisms, idioms, plays on words, and expressions. Avoiding sayings like “rule of thumb,” “the whole nine yards,” “that cost me an arm and a leg,” and “sit tight” will help you steer clear of confusion and help everyone remain on the same page.
Tip #5: Be Mindful When Using an Interpreter
Though many business exchanges that take place in Europe will be conducted in English, don’t be surprised if an interpreter is needed at some point during your international business endeavors. If you do enter into business dealings when an interpreter is present, remember to speak to the person you’re addressing instead of looking at the interpreter. If your eye contact is going to the interpreter the entire time, your business associate might start to feel disrespected.
There is truly so much to think about when you’re traveling to Europe for business. You need to think about your travel documents, traveling throughout the country, and business cultural norms that can’t be placed on the back burner. These are only a few of the great tips for traveling internationally for business; we hope that you’ll join us next time for part two of our blog series in which we’ll continue this line of thinking.
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