How To Prepare For Business Travel Again

Various industry pundits are predicting that business-related airline travel may have peaked in the pre-COVID era. That may or may not be the case, and it’s obviously too soon to know for sure. However, it does seem as though things are starting to loosen up a bit.

We may well be entering an era where air travel has begun to feel acceptable and “normal” again. Whether or not business-related air travel returns to the numbers we were seeing just a couple of years ago remains to be seen.

But if you will be traveling for work again soon, there are several ways you can ease any discomfort you may feel about being around people in closed-in spaces or entering other countries. 

 Review Traveling Requirements

First, review the requirements and authorizations, if any, necessary to get where you’re going. Don’t assume that community health standards will be “more or less the same” as you move from place to place. Plan to travel with a ready supply of facial coverings, hand sanitizer wipes, and your personal immunization record.

Second, international travel restrictions have begun to loosen up and the need to secure prior authorization appears to be on the wane. Many countries, especially those that rely heavily on tourism, are redoubling efforts to make international travel easier. Thanks to electronic travel authorizations and visa waiver programs, it’s become much simpler for international travelers to obtain authorization to visit other countries again. However, double check the country’s requirements before you board the plane.

Expect Precautions to Still Be in Place

As you travel, keep in mind that certain areas are going to be in worse shape than others because not everyone has access to healthcare. Not all countries have widely available, effectively distributed vaccination programs. Accordingly, travel authorizations and the availability of transportation services can be expected to vary widely from one community to another.

Guidelines and rules will also vary from company to company. For example, travelers may be asked to continue wearing a facial covering while in a company’s building, even if you are fully vaccinated.

Be Mindful of Changing Etiquette and Social Norms

Keep in mind that etiquette and social norms are still in a state of flux. Over the course of the past 18 months, we’ve all come to accept the idea that shaking hands is more or less forbidden now. At the very least, this reflexive, friendly gesture has quickly become unwelcome by many. We now all accept the idea that it’s unwise to get closer than six feet to others. These new customs are unlikely to disappear overnight. Many people may decide to never go back to hand-shaking or hugging. 

As you travel, it’s critical — more than ever — that you are mindful and respectful of individual habits and the preferences of others.

Whether we ever get back to “normal” again is not within your ability to control. However, doing what you can to not offend or make life unnecessarily difficult for cab drivers, TSA agents, hotel staff, or other industry personnel will be vital as you travel while representing your employer.

Conclusion

Even if every person in the world were fully vaccinated, it’s still likely to be a long time before business travel gets back to normal. Perhaps the pundits are right. Business travel may never fully rebound and we need to prepare ourselves for a business world that relies more heavily on the internet than it does jet fuel.

Whatever the new era looks like, it will include at least some travel and we need to be prepared. With more careful planning on the front end and increased awareness of our new health-related realities, business travelers can be well-equipped to travel safely and efficiently…when they really need to, of course.

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