Business travels are prone to stress. When they are to the United States, expect twice much stress. From procuring your visa or ESTA to booking and confirming your flight, and then to getting cleared by customs, travelling to the US for business comes with many hurdles. It takes proper preparations to make your trip hassle-free.
Apart from wanting to avoid any incidents, there is also the issue of worrying about your business in the US and hoping you make the right impression on your counterpart and return home with success written all over your face. This is why it’s important to deal with your travelling arrangements before the day of your departure so that you can focus on the business part of the trip.
To do that, here are things you need to keep in mind:
- Start Planning Well in Advance
Never rely on last-minute arrangements. They will only limit your options and delay, if not suspend, your travel. Make sure you get the date, time, and location of your business meeting right. If you are not sure, confirm from your counterpart in the US. Then consider unpredictable circumstances like flight delays and traffic jams and plan to arrive at your destination at least a day before your business meeting. So that if anything happens on the way, you would still have ample time to meet up.
- Get Your Travel Documents Ready
Do you have a valid e-passport, one that isn’t going to expire within the year? Apply for an ESTA at least 72 hours before your departure. That is if you are a citizen of one of the 38 countries under the Visa Waiver Program (VWP), haven’t been to Iran, Iraq, Syria, Somalia, Sudan, Libya, and Yemen since March 1, 2011, and your business trip in the USA isn’t going to extend beyond 90 days.
You can obtain your ESTA online at esta-visa.ie. But if you are not eligible, then you will have to procure a visitor’s visa from the US embassy or consulate near you.
Also, check other documents you need for your business travels in the USA. That includes purchasing a refundable airline ticket (tickets are usually much cheaper when you purchase them weeks in advance), verifying with your bank that you can use your credit or debit card in the USA, purchasing travel insurance, and preparing the documents for your business transactions in the US.
- Book a Hotel and Rent a Car Online
You have to have a place you can stay in the USA already prepared for you. So make your accommodation reservations in advance. Also, if possible, rent a car that offers unlimited mileage (possible from the hotel providing your accommodation, as some hotels offer car hire service) and verify the charges for cancellation of both accommodation and car hire service in case you cancel your trip or later do not need the hotel reservation or vehicle in the USA.
- Ship Bulky Items
If you are travelling to the US with large items, ship them prior to your departure, possibly to your hotel or to your business venue. Travelling with them would only inconvenience you and delay you both in your origin and destination airports.
- Create a Checklist for Other Items
Suits are ideal for Business meetings in the US. So pack two pairs. Make a checklist of other things you would need. For instance, compatible device chargers for US’ power outlets and voltage. Pack as light as possible. Avoid including items you can purchase in the US or that might be provided by your hotel (verify from the hotel during booking)—good examples are toiletries.
- Verify Your Flight and Arrive Early
Call your airline or visit their website a day to your business trip and verify your flight’s status, so that if something has changed, you can make adjustments on time and still meet up with your business meeting in the USA.
On the day of your travel, arrive at the airport early–two hours to your departure is ideal. This is so that should you encounter circumstances like a long queue, traffic jam, security problems, you will still have sufficient time to resolve it.
Take the time and make proper travel arrangements. They can spare your business travel hassles and possibly save your business. Never forget that.