Well here I am..sitting on my couch, in my pajamas, wrapped in a blanket, with 2 (two) 12 ounce cranberry red bulls (yes I said two). I think in a minute I may need to grab the tape and tape my eyelids open or maybe even jump to the stapler. Why am I so tired you may ask, good question, I am just back from a week long trip to India for business. This was my personal first time traveling out of the country for business so of course since I am a crazy pre-planner I did plenty of research before hand on what to eat, what to pack, what to wear, culture beliefs, and everything in between. What did I learn? I learned that there are sooo many different view points on what are needed but nothing very recent and nothing (in my opinion) from someone who really went there for a business. So let me give you my two cents…Now before we get deep into my list let me tell you that I am an adventurous person and I am more than happy to cross a line and try something new.
India trip suggestions::
As you can tell by the date I went in the middle of March to the Delhi area (within an hour of it), March is when their weather starts to get warmer but hasn’t reached their hot season yet. It was mid 90s the whole time I was there, sometimes pretty windy. Yes that is considered cool or not hot yet.
The Indian culture finds respect in women not showing anything above the knee and not showing their shoulders. Business suits would be found to be most respectful for all residents of the country. You will see women wearing a variety of outfits, showing legs and showing shoulders, but it is still best to try and respect all possible views and believes. All colors are fine to wear, bright colors fit in wonderfully. Hotel rooms will most likely have an iron that you can press any laundry or you can send away for it to be serviced by the hotel.
If you do not like spice you must speak up! They are very accommodating at the restaurants if you tell them ahead of time. Be cautious eating from the street vendors because you don’t know how the food was prepared. It is suggested to not consume raw fruits and vegetables. Water should only be drank from water bottles that you personally opened or you watched a server open. Most 4-5 star hotels will provide you with water on a daily basis so that you have fresh bottles for the day. When going out to eat ask for sparkling water or bottled water. Soda is fine as well as long as from a can. You should not have ice since it would have been from the water that didn’t go through proper purification.
Early warning the driving in this country is much different than many others. They do have rules of the road but they are not strictly followed as in other countries. Cars/bikes/mopes/buses will “push” through to get moving ahead. Vehicles will get very close to the side of other vehicles and honking is a common form of getting someones attention. The honking of the horns is not a sign of anger but more just used as a recognition that someone is coming close. Hotels can pre-arrange a vehicle for travel but most host companies should be arranging for service for you. Security checks will happen at most facilities. Vehicles will be checked, bags, and a body scan or pat down. Do not resist as things will go much smoother if you understand what is being done and are cooperative.
Most offices will working through the evenings to match another countries day time hours. Doing this can be beneficial so that you can match and keep your normal sleep hours but can also become an issue because of the sun light vs darkness. No matter what time you work in the office you should try and get some rest. Falling asleep and staying asleep will most likely not be easy. You can take a sleep aide but make sure you allow for plenty of time to sleep. I suggest setting a routine, turning off all lights and electronics, and letting your mind relax. Once you are in a full state of relaxation you will find it easier to begin sleeping.
Every bathroom that I went into had a spray station. These are not required to be used but are provided as an option. Be respectful to not make comments to anyone locally regarding these. You may not understand or use them but that doesn’t mean you need to disrespect their usage of them. If you stop at a public convenience there is a major possibility that they will be out of toilet paper, having some tissues on hand at all time will enable that you can use any restroom. It is not uncommon to see men using the restroom on the side of the road, pay no attention.
Women: I wore heels, wedges really, and had no issues. If you do not like being stared at for being tall I suggest short wedges/heels or flats. I personally am a shorter individual and found that with 4″ wedges I received a lot of attention for my height. Most roads in most cities have paved roads but no real sidewalks.
I suggest flying or driving as if you had to walk into a meeting. Being dressed accordingly allows that if you run into anyone you look presentable, if any luggage is lost you have an outfit on your back that you would be able to go into a meeting, and if for any reason your transportation is behind schedule you can walk straight into a client meeting. Flying or driving you can stop before your destination to freshen up so make sure you have items on hand to make your look appear freshly done. Rest stops or airplane bathrooms will do. Lint roller, tooth brush, mints, small amount of perfume or cologne.
When traveling for business, no matter the destination, do some research. It is always good to be aware of any culture believes, weather, and road conditions. It is better to over pack than under pack. If you don’t have something you may not be able to get it but if you have too much of something that is better to be safe than sorry. Always be the best image for your company. You want people to remember you being there so don’t wear something that would make them negatively remember you.