5 Key Ways to Make International Travel Less Painful

Recently I came across a blog post from an administrative assistant who was commented on how administrative assistants often provide travel services for their executives, but never travel themselves. When they do they are often flustered and overwhelmed by the experience.

As an operations manager, I’ve learned quite a few tricks and tips to help people to travel internationally with ease. Over my years of traveling, I’ve not always had the best experiences. But, I learned from them and now have a solid foundation of knowledge that I love to share with my colleagues and anyone traveling overseas.

An admin’s lack of travel experience can really hurt an executive who travels frequently. There are tips and tricks that are necessary to make international travel less painful. These are my 5 key ways to help you soar through the skies successfully.

5 Key Ways to Make International Travel Less Painful

If you want to enjoy travel a bit more, these 5 hacks can help you.


One of the most common questions people ask me is about visas. When do you need them? One of my first international clients needed a visa to enter India. I assumed she saw my email highlighting this fact. I failed to follow up though. When she showed up at JFK, ready to board her flight to India and was told she needed a visa. Ouch! Very hard lesson learned for both of us.

The following chart gives you an overview of what countries need visas.

2018 countries requiring visa

It might seem like no big deal. You find a fun treat you want to share with people back home, or you want to board the plane with a few snacks to keep you satisfied. However, food is not always something you can travel with. When my son went to Australia, he found out you cannot take certain foods with you. He had some raw bars with him that were a no, no. I found it difficult to find this information online, so you may want to check with locals or someone who flies the route often.

Another example occurred when I returned from Ireland. I learned then that there were certain restrictions on foods while going through customs. Even though we purchased the food in the airport, we could not take it through customs. We ended up eating our sandwiches in chairs outside the customs line.  The security officials were very nice about it all!

Of course, be aware of customs and border regulations for your destination by checking country websites before travel. A safe place to purchase snacks for your journey is in the airport terminal once you are through security and customs. I brought home a lovely tin of English tea from London that has seen me through many client meetings and supported my tea habit.


The hotel you are expecting may not be what you find when you travel overseas. I have learned many times that terminology can be a bit loose here.

In Berlin, I stayed at a boutique hotel. When I arrived at the hotel after a harrowing, nauseating taxi ride, I found out they didn’t offer bellhops. Imagine me dragging three heavy, large pieces of luggage from the taxi through the front doors and then to my room. It was not graceful, especially in the rain and with jet lag.

Pro Tip –often you arrive in the middle of the day when you travel overseas, but this is often late night in your home time zone. To avoid problems, anticipate being tired, give yourself plenty of time (if possible) and plan for some down time.


Let’s be clear, communication is important, but traveling overseas means you may find it hard to do so. Every country I have traveled to has been great. When I was in Berlin and wanted to take the Bahn Berlin to see the city, I was confused by the transit map which was completely in German. I finally asked for help and quickly found someone who spoke English and was able to point me in the right direction.

Give yourself permission to explore. There are apps that can assist with language barriers. Plan as well. I knew when I arrived in Berlin at the airport that there was no way I could pronounce the name of the hotel, let alone the address. I took the time prior to traveling to print out business cards with addresses of places that I needed to go. The drivers were grateful to have the information clearly typed and handed to them.


Another key concern is getting around the city. In Berlin, I traveled by taxi and train. In Dublin, the shuttle worked well from the airport to my apartment. I used public transportation and walked otherwise. In Seoul, great public transportation is available. Here, I invested in a transit card for easy travel.

Make sure you get cash out at the airport so that you can be ready to pay the drivers in cash. Cards are often not accepted.

The more insight you have into these areas – in advance of your trip – the more successful it can be long term.

Do you travel a lot? Do you need someone to cut down on the chaos of your travel? Reach out to us today to see how we can assist!

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