Five tips for traveling abroad with work (and worrying less)

Find out why women feel more guilt and worry when traveling abroad for work, and read five tips to help make it easier.

Travelling abroad for work can be an exciting experience, and provides real opportunity to learn about other cultures and traditions around the world. However, for many women the prospect of international business trips can cause more feelings of anxiety and guilt than excitement.

Foreign Exchange experts Travelex recently conducted a survey about business trips abroad, asking 1,000 people who travel overseas with work about their experiences. The survey found that there was a significant difference in what concerns men and women about business trips, as well as the emotions both genders experience.

The survey discovered that women tend to suffer more anxiety than men before travelling abroad with work. While 36% of the women surveyed said that they feel anxious during their excursions, only to half that number of men admitted they felt the same.

Women feel more guilty being away from home

This stark difference between the genders could be linked to feelings of guilt over being away from home – 16% of women said that this is something they experience when working abroad.

The survey also found that women feel far less comfortable adapting to international customs than men. More than half of the women surveyed conduct thorough research about their destination, ensuring they are prepared for their trip before they leave.

Women find foreign dress codes a challenge

While many people research their destination beforehand, the survey found that things such as local customs and appropriate dress in other cultures are often overlooked. One of the top five embarrassments that respondents said they have experienced on international business trips is regarding fashion in other cultures.

The survey highlighted that many women found dress codes a challenge, having unknowingly attended meetings wearing outfits that may be deemed inappropriate. Additionally, local customs (such as correct greetings or removing shoes for meetings) were also overlooked.

Overall, more women (29%) than men (16%) tend to see business travel as an inconvenience. With confusion over local customs being cited as one of the most embarrassing aspects of travelling abroad, this could be the reason that women are more anxious than men about travelling abroad with work.

Five tips for traveling abroad with work

As a working mum this anxiety can be made even more difficult as you have to say goodbye to your family. There is however, plenty you can do in order to make the change easier for both you and your children. Here are five tips to help you.

1) Share your schedule

You may not be able to take your family with you on your trip, but involving them in it as much as possible can help them feel less disconnected from you. So share your schedule with them – explain where you will be when and, importantly, when are the good times to get in touch, and when you will be flying or in meetings. Get them to write your return date and time down on a calendar too, so they can count the sleeps and get excited about your return.

2) Agree boundaries

Business travel is not only a strain on the person traveling, but on the parent left at home too. Agreeing boundaries and rules for when you will be in touch will help your partner at home stick to a normal family routine.

3) Say goodbye

It’s quite normal for your children to get upset when you go away, and it can be tempting to slip off while they’re asleep or in childcare or at school to avoid any painful goodbyes or tantrums. But try to say a proper goodbye, however tearful it may be, as it can help them to feel more loved and secure.

4) Pick up souvenirs

Travelex’s survey learned that three quarters of people buy souvenirs when traveling for businesses. While it may be a good way to give your family something to look forward to when you go away, it can end up being expensive if you travel often. Small gestures like a postcard or some foreign coins are inexpensive and show you care.

5) Research your destination

It’s a good idea to research the country and culture you’ll be visiting before going on an international business trip. This will help to ease any worries you have about local customs (such as the correct way to greet people) and dressing appropriately.