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How Supply Chain Employees Can Simplify International Travel: 8 Tips

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How Supply Chain Employees Can Simplify International Travel: 8 Tips

Travel is an unavoidable part of supply chain operations. Supply chains often reach across borders, involving parties in multiple countries, making international travel a necessity to cooperate with these global partners.

Travel spending is increasing for medium and small businesses as COVID-related restrictions loosen. Organizations beginning to think about these trips should simplify them to keep expenses and disruptions to a minimum. Here are eight tips for supply chain employees to ease international travel.

1. Reserve Travel, Lodging and Activities Early

One of the most important considerations for international travel is reserving things ahead of time. That applies to travel, lodging and anything employees want to eat or do at their destination.

The earlier companies can make reservations, the more options they’ll have. Businesses will have an easier time finding the most streamlined routes to their destinations. Planning has financial benefits, too. The best time to buy airline tickets is four months to three weeks before the departure date, as they tend to be cheapest during this period.

Employees that have reservations for dining and activities will find it easier to pack light. These plans remove uncertainty, helping travelers decide what they do and don’t need.

2. Read up on Regulations

Regulatory considerations are another important factor in international travel. Employees that don’t know what they’ll need to meet other countries’ travel requirements or laws will likely run
into complications. By contrast, understanding local regulations means they can prepare to meet them as efficiently as possible.
This applies to the return trip, as well. The U.S. may have stricter international travel restrictions than the destination, even for citizens. The last thing employers want is to get stuck at security
coming back from their trip. Businesses must stay on top of developing regulations in both locations to streamline travel.

3. Pack for Versatility

Packing light is an excellent way to simplify international travel. The less employees bring with them, the less time they’ll have to spend finding what they need as they unpack. Any security stops and baggage checks will also go by more quickly.

The key to packing light is to opt for versatility. Instead of bringing multiple clothing items for different occasions, employees should bring attire they could dress up or down to fit various scenarios. Travelers can apply the same principle to electronics, toiletries and other items.

Packing for versatility will also help prevent unnecessary expenses. Overweight baggage fees cost between $100 and $200 on average, so encouraging employees to pack light can save businesses a lot in the long run.

4. Choose the Right Bag

Employees should choose their luggage carefully. They want something large enough to hold everything they’ll need for their trip but small enough to enable easy handling. Security, weight and organizational features are other important considerations for international travel.

Generally speaking, hard-sided security bags are often the best option. These cases are virtually impervious to thieves, can withstand any jostling they experience during the trip and
won’t expand too widely as employees pack them. Employees should also look for colors that stand out to reduce any confusion at baggage claims, further streamlining their trip.

5. Consider Flying Private

It makes more sense for some companies to fly private than to book commercial flights. Since businesses can choose when to leave with a private plane, they don’t have to worry about delays or cancellations. Similarly, they can use smaller, less crowded airports that many larger aircraft can’t. Having more options can reduce travel time, especially when going through customs.

It may seem counterintuitive, but flying private can save travelers money, as well. Over time, it may be more affordable to buy a private plane outright than to pay for frequent business class tickets. This also enables more flexible schedules, potentially avoiding extra nights in hotels and the fees that come with them.

6. Stay Organized

Supply chain employees should be as organized as possible, regardless of how they fly. The less organized a bag is, the more time travelers may spend looking for what they need. That can make them rushed or late to meetings or hold them up at security checkpoints at the airport.

Employees can organize their baggage whichever way makes it easiest for them, but generally speaking, items they’ll need first or often should be the easiest to access. Along those lines, it may be better to carry passports, other forms of ID and tickets on-person instead of in a bag.

Workers should also be organized in their plans, having a set schedule to reduce decision-making delays.

7. Carry Cash

Many international travelers run into money issues, so supply chain businesses should prepare for these complications. Remember that 41% of banks use AI to detect transaction fraud.

Purchases in other countries may look suspicious to these algorithms, leading them to pause cards. Using travel cards or informing banks of plans ahead of time can help, but carrying cash
is a more reliable solution.

International travel brings too many complications for electronic transactions to be reliable. Cash is simple and free of these considerations, so employees should always travel with some.
International airports have money exchanges if they need to convert their money into a different currency.

8. Maintain Communication

Supply chain management should keep in regular contact with traveling employees. Unexpected disruptions or delays can arise, even with sufficient preparation. Quick, effective communication channels help workers adapt to these situations.

Traveling employees should contact their company at least daily, whether through phone, email or instant messaging platform. That way, all parties can stay on top of ongoing developments and respond faster to any news. Workers should also have a way to contact support immediately if they need to in an emergency.
Both parties should go over communication protocols and services before the trip. Having a predefined plan for who to contact in different situations will minimize confusion and delays if
something happens.

International Travel Doesn’t Have to Be a Hassle

International travel carries some unique considerations, but they don’t have to be disruptive. Proper planning ensures supply chain employees have minimal trouble traveling overseas.
These eight steps aren’t a definitive list of what businesses can do to simplify international travel, but they’re the most important. Companies and their workers that follow these guidelines will find international business trips can be quick, affordable and easy.

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10 Safety Tips for Supply Chain Employees Traveling Abroad

Supply chains are global, interconnected networks. It’s only natural, then, that supply chain employees must occasionally travel abroad. Whether it’s for meetings with international partners, inspecting remote warehouses or something else, international travel is a standard part of supply chain management.

While traveling abroad may be an industry standard, it can still pose some risks. In light of those risks, here are ten tips for supply chain employees to stay safe while traveling.

1. Research the Destination

The first step to any international trip is to research the destination. Different countries have different laws and regulations, so employees should know these ahead of time to avoid complications. For example, international COVID-19 travel requirements may differ from the U.S., some resulting in denial of entry for failure to meet them.

Employees should also research cultural taboos to avoid and local crime statistics. Learning a few key phrases in the native language can be helpful, too.

2. Create Backups of Essential Documents

Employees traveling abroad will likely have various important documents with them. In addition to their passports and IDs, they may have hotel reservations, health information or contracts and other work-related documents. Losing these could have severe consequences, so it’s best to have backups.

Employees should have both paper and electronic copies of all their essential documents. Travelers should store digital copies on secure, encrypted cloud services to keep them safe from cyberattacks. Keep in mind, though, that some countries restrict imported encryption software, so employees should ensure their encryption service is legal first.

3. Arrange All Travel and Lodging Ahead of Time

Transportation and lodging are some of the most potentially risky parts of international travel. The best way to prevent any costly mistakes with these considerations is to organize them before leaving. As employees research their destination, they should also find safe, trusted transportation services and hotels and reserve them ahead of time.

When employees are in a new country, it may be difficult to understand which transport services or lodging options are the safest. Looking them up ahead of time gives time to read reviews and get a better understanding of the situation. Reserving them then ensures they don’t have to worry about making arrangements once there.

4.  Don’t Trust Public Wi-Fi

While physical security might be more prominent, cybersecurity is also a concern during international travel. As employees travel, they’ll likely encounter many public Wi-Fi networks in airports and hotels. These networks are often not as secure as they should be, so it’s best to avoid them.

If workers must use public Wi-Fi for work purposes, they should use a virtual private network (VPN). VPNs encrypt internet traffic and hide devices’ IP addresses, helping protect users on networks with minimal other defenses. Employees should also avoid clicking unsolicited links, visiting unencrypted websites or entering personal information on these networks.

5. Keep Essential Items Separate

Travelers often keep items like wallets, passports and cellphones close together for convenience. While this is certainly convenient and can feel safe, it could pose a greater threat than people realize. If everything is in the same area, pickpockets or other criminals could steal them all at once.

Keeping essential items separate helps mitigate this problem. If a criminal does steal from someone’s pocket or cuts into part of their bag, the victim won’t lose everything. Consider storing passports, wallets and other essential items in different parts of a bag or keeping them in different pockets.

6. Choose the Right Type of Luggage

Some bags are easier to break into than others, so traveling employees should keep this in mind. For example, hard-sided security bags are virtually impervious to thieves, while soft bags are vulnerable to cuts and tears. If workers bring any valuable items or documents with them, they should consider using harder bags.

Similarly, bags with multiple latches and places to put locks are ideal. While it may be less convenient, if it’s harder for an employee to get into it, it will be harder for a thief, too. Some bags may even come with hidden pockets where workers can place particularly sensitive items and documents.

7. Try to Blend In

When employees reach their destination, they should try not to stand out. Criminals may target people who look like tourists or seem unfamiliar with their surroundings, as they make easier targets. Blending in with the locals helps pass under the radar of would-be thieves.

Part of blending in is simply avoiding being flashy. While an expensive suit and a gold watch might impress potential business partners, they also communicate to criminals that someone is a valuable target. While not in meetings, employees should dress casually, adopt the behaviors of locals and try to avoid looking lost or surprised.

8. Share Itineraries

Another best practice for traveling safely is to share itineraries with other trusted parties. When an employee goes abroad, they should give their manager or another colleague a copy of their flight and meeting schedule. That way, they can check on delays or other disruptions without having to contact the traveler.

It may also be a good idea to share some of these details with anyone the employee is meeting. That way, if they miss an appointment, the others in the meeting will know something is wrong and can help address the situation.

9. Stay in Contact

Along those same lines, it’s important to stay in contact with people back home. Whenever an employee lands, boards a flight, checks in to their hotel or hits any other points on the itinerary, they should let someone know. This gives companies peace of mind and helps them respond to any potential risks faster.

If an employee doesn’t check in by the time they should, the company will know something may be wrong. They can then look into the situation sooner, even if it’s something as mundane as a delayed flight.

10. Consider Insurance

Finally, businesses should consider getting travel insurance for their employees. Since 15% of international travelers encounter a medical issue while abroad and many people have ongoing medical needs, ensuring they’re insured is crucial. Many U.S. health insurance plans don’t apply internationally, so travel insurance may be necessary.

On top of covering travelers’ baggage, travel insurance often includes short-term healthcare coverage.That way, if something happens to them or they need to care for ongoing needs, they can do so affordably.

International Travel Doesn’t Have to Be Risky

Traveling abroad can seem intimidating, but proper preparation mitigates risk. If supply chain employees follow these ten tips, they can stay safe no matter where they go. They can then accomplish what the company needs without worry.