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International Trade Show Travel Checklist

Travel can be stressful and especially so when you have a big presentation or you are responsible for representing your company internationally and are expected to deliver results in terms of sales or leads acquired.  When our exhibitors travel internationally, they most often go to Canada, Germany the UK, China or Mexico.  Whether this is your first International show or you have traveled around the world and back, it is always helpful to have a handy checklist to double check you’re well prepared.

Don’t forget these things before you go

  1. Check that you have a passport, or visa if needed and if they are up to date (if not apply for one as soon as possible).
  2. Make sure to confirm your air and hotel arrangements well in advance.
  3. If you purchase your own airline tickets, you may want to consider using the Kayak.com fare alert feature to keep an eye on fares and purchase the tickets at the best time.
  4. Ensure you have someone with experience advise you on any shipping or customs paperwork you need to fill out. Your exhibit company should be able to provide some resources or may even be able to help decide what to ship, what to rent and what to skip.
  5. Check luggage restrictions like carry-on bag sizes and checkable bag weight limits.
  6. Refill all your prescription medicines and pack more than enough to cover the length of your stay.
  7. Check your cell phone plan and determine coverage and cost of international calls (they can be quite expensive but international texts can be affordable or even free depending on your plan). You may want to consider downloading Skype, WhatsApp, Viber or another phone alternative you can use with Wi-Fi.
  8. If you plan to take public transportation, consider visiting the website to get familiar with routes and fares.
  9. Find out how readily accepted credit cards are and any fees associated with using them. You would be surprised how often smaller retailers or restaurants do not take credit cards.  If that is the case, make sure to exchange cash at the airport.   Another option is to just withdraw cash at a local ATM. Just be sure you know the exchange rate and fees associated. Alert your company bank when and where you will be traveling to avoid a hold on your account.
  10. Reserve a seat ahead of time if possible, especially if you have special needs or if it will be a very long flight.
  11. If you have special dietary requirements, let the airline know and research if the venue you are traveling to can accommodate them.
  12. Pack some shelf stable snacks both in your carry on and in your checked luggage. Delays or late meals are inevitable, however, they will be much more bearable if you have something to eat. (nuts, granola bars, oatmeal & tea bags travel well)
  13. Mail last-minute items like brochures to your hotel and ensure that the hotel staff is prepared to hold them for you until you arrive.
  14. Email show information, staff schedules, hotel, & contact information to your staffers.
  15. Ensure you have at least one staffer who speaks the local language, if not consider hiring an interpreter or at the very least have a google translate app downloaded onto your phone.
  16. If you have a local office in the country where you will be exhibiting, contact them ahead of time. Let them know you will be in town and ask for their advice. If they speak the language and you do not, it may be worthwhile to see if you can have one of them help you at the show.
  17. Sign up for TSA pre-check if you don’t have it. Several airlines allow you to skip the long security lines and use their expedited TSA PreCheck line if an international flight is departing from the US.  Unfortunately, if the flight is operated by a foreign alliance carrier you will be unable to use Pre-check.
  18. Start a business travel packing list on excel, your phone or Evernote and update it regularly.
  19. Check the country’s electrical voltage and bring an adapter if necessary. According to Exhibitor Magazine’s International Exhibiting Guide, Germany uses 22V and uses round two-prongs which mean you will need not only and adapter but also a transformer for all your electrical equipment.
  20. Finally, make sure you are familiar with the culture and market you are traveling to. A great resource is the book Kiss, Bow or Shake Hands. It has detailed advice by country, and the author also offers a regional Asia and Sales and Marketing specific versions.

For more information regarding tips and tricks about international exhibiting, check out our website or contact your local exhibit consultant.  For tips on how to exhibit in the US click here.  Let us know if you have any good tips we should add to our list in the comments box.

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Trade Show Planning Timeline (PDF)

Download this all-in-one trade show planning timeline to keep track of your trade show deadlines. Our timeline includes exhibit design & build tasks, technology considerations, pre-show promotions, booth staff tasks, lead management and miscellaneous items. Also included is; budget planning information, a booth staff schedule, typical show services deadline list and a budget calculator perfect for trade show veterans and those newer to the industry.

About the Author

Sofia heads up Skyline’s marketing efforts in digital marketing and product innovation. Sofia is an experienced marketing professional with branding, innovation and product commercialization expertise. She has more than a decade of experience with both B2B and consumer packaged goods companies and an MBA from the University of Arizona Eller College of Management.

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