As a businessman or woman, you know that life is stressful enough when you have to attend a business meeting across town or in another state. However, traveling to Europe for a meeting or conference can introduce a variety of other concerns, some of which might not even occur to you until you get there and find out that you are ill-prepared for your lodging, dining or transportation. These five life hacks will help you understand the differences between traveling in the United States versus Europe and will help you prepare with ease for your next business trip to the UK or the European continent.
Look for the Transit Area for International Layovers
When you fly into Europe, you will need to go through immigration and customs in most circumstances. While this may strike you as stressful, it does not have to be, especially if you know the steps to take. However, if you are on a long layover in Europe on the way to your final destination, you may want to consider staying in the airport rather than heading out to visit the city for a few hours. If you stay in the airport and follow the transit signs, you are often able to avoid one extra trip through customs on your way to your final destination. Airports in countries that are part of the Schengen Zone will have these transit areas for travelers simply going to their next flights.
Pack for Europe
Instead of blithely packing your cell phone charger and heading to the airport, remember that European countries use different electrical adaptors from the United States. Your best bet is to purchase a couple adaptors that can change your U.S. plug into a European one. Also, be aware that adaptors are different in continental Europe than they are in the UK or in Ireland. If you are trying to pack everything in a carry-on to avoid checked luggage, remember that the rule for international travel is that liquids should be in bottles no larger than 100 ml.
Check Cell Phone Plans
Cell phone plans have changed dramatically in the past decade, making it much easier for you to use your business or personal cell phone in Europe without a problem. Check with your provider before you leave the country to ensure that you have an extended plan on your device and to determine what your charges will be in the country you are visiting. You will definitely want access to your smartphone in Europe to find apps for language translations, exchange rates and maps.
Stay in Central Locations
In the United States, it is often cheaper to stay outside the city and to drive in or take public transportation to your meeting. But where should you stay in London and other European areas? Well, because everything is so close, in Europe it is often cheaper to stay centrally in a major city and to walk to your restaurant or meeting location. Depending on where your business takes you, hotels that cater specifically to business people are plentiful. In London, for example, these places include Langham Hotel in Marylebone, Royal Garden Hotel in Kensington, St. James’s Hotel in Westminster and Melia White House in Regent’s Park.
Book Meals through a Hotel Concierge
In the U.S., you are most likely used to booking your own dining and entertainment. You know that most of the time, you will get the same service that anyone else would get. However, when you travel to Europe, you may find that your hotel concierge may be the best person to get you booked at that restaurant to which you want to take your client or colleague. While you might be denied a table or be seated in a poor spot, the concierge often has clout at a variety of local restaurants and may be able to get you in at your preferred time and at an excellent table.
While your first business trip to Europe can be stressful, you will find yourself getting through customs and immigration with ease on your next trip. If you are traveling to the same country you visited previously, you will also feel more comfortable choosing a place to stay and communicating with hotel and transit staff. Because the culture is different in various European countries than it is the U.S., consider investing in a traveler’s guide to the country you are visiting so that you will have in-depth advice about traveling, tipping, eating, dressing and more. You will also be able to learn about local laws that will keep you from getting in trouble with the authorities.