Those of you lucky enough to have half a day to explore a foreign city in the heart of Europe can enjoy seeing the sights.
Unfortunately, the sights for the majority of us probably won’t extend much further than a café on the corner, with most of your time being spent indoors meeting clients, partners and potential customers. Whether you’re one of the lucky ones or not, you’re likely to want to bring the same travel essentials to get you through your time away from the UK.
If you’re looking to make your European business trip a breeze, here are the five essentials you need to make sure you pack.
1. The travel adaptor/ extension combo
First things first, this should be part of your packing list for any trip abroad. Don’t struggle with the single European plug socket in the room when you’re trying to charge your phone and use your hair straighteners at the same time; bring a universal adaptor and an extension block and you can use all the good old-fashioned British plugs you need.
2. Bilingual business cards
Business cards should be a staple of any business trip, domestic or foreign. The problem with business trips abroad is that you can’t always assume that everyone speaks English and so your business cards may need a little tweaking.
If you have a name which is difficult for foreign people, you have it written phonetically in the local alphabet.
If you’re travelling to Greece, for example, you could add Νικόλαος under the name Nicholas to clear up any potential pronunciation issues.
Likewise you can’t assume that the English words ‘phone and ‘fax’ are obvious to non-English speakers – adding τηλέφωνο and φαξ under ‘phone’ and ‘fax’, respectively makes life much easier for everyone involved.
The real bonus to bilingual business cards is that you can slip them in the baggage tag for your hold luggage. This way if any of your bags go missing, the chances of it coming back to you quicker are significantly higher.
3. A pocket notebook and a pen
There’s nothing quite like being prepared. As highly professional as carrying a tablet with you may look, it runs on a finite battery supply and jotting things down is significantly slower than good old-fashioned pen and paper.
Keeping a notebook and a pen in your jacket pocket can be a lifesaver when it comes to jotting down those ideas that come and go in the middle of your meetings, when you’re on the train or at the back of a taxi.
4. A travel iron
Nobody wants to be the person showing up for an important meeting with a heavily creased shirt. Sadly, not all hotels provide irons and those that do don’t always provide one you’d happily put to your shirt.
The best thing you can do here is iron your shirt before you travel and re-iron it once you’re at the hotel if need-be.
This is especially important in countries like Spain and Portugal whose hotels are notorious for refusing to provide irons.
Pro tip – if you’re worried about the smell of your shirts (if packing them in the same case as your work shoes, for example) pack a few drier sheets in there between them. The odor-eating properties of a drier sheet can be a real lifesaver.
Trying to concentrate on speaking a foreign language when you have a banging headache is no mean feat.
Trying to struggle a meeting in a foreign country when you have diarrhoea or nausea can be even more difficult. Make life easy and pack a small first aid kit with all the basic medication you may need at the hotel before heading out for the day.
While you’re at it, make sure that your EHIC is in your wallet or purse – you’ll need a valid one on your person should the worst happen and you need emergency medical treatment at local rates.
Without an EHIC you could face a mountain of medical bills and you can even void your travel insurance in many cases.