- Staying in a chain hotel:
Most business travellers stay in a chain hotel when on a trip. Look for a hotel not belonging to international hotel chains, but more of a bed and breakfast (B&B) kind or local hotel for a taste of local culture and an unrestricted view of the countryside. Check if this lies within the travel policy before making the booking decision.
- Buy a tour book:
It is not unusual for someone on business travel to jam pack the case with work-related papers. There is no point in reading up on a country which has nothing to offer outside the board room or conference room. Instead get a tour book and care to read on local culture, customs or history so that there is an instant connect – and perhaps enough reasons for you to get down the street.
- Get a hang of the local culture:
So you are jetlagged, what next? Hang around to experience local culture at 3.a.m? This can lend a first-hand view of the locals, how the town was named and other specialities of the town as well, even if you run short of time to explore the place fully.
- Look for conversation triggers:
Trigger a quick conversation. Language barriers can stop you from talking to the locals, and develop an immediate rapport with them. Try to learn a few phrases quickly from the guidebook, and give it a shameless try–you’ll be appreciated for sure!
- Do some Foodspotting:
Just try sampling local food; dine at a mom and pop restaurant. Ask for the local dishes, munches and the local wine. They will be glad you did. You’ll have plenty of stories to tell on ‘Peking duck’ or ‘Spanish paella’ back home at office or home.
You need to do a bit of homework if you want to develop a global mindset and turn into an ace international traveller. First, is to come out of your comfort zone and think local as much as possible. The process of expanding your experience and embracing foreign cultures can literally redesign the way you think about a particular culture or civilization. Flexibility holds the key here, which will help you manage complexity better. By the way, those are invaluable life skills to own.