Whether you’re new to the international recruitment game or a veteran traveler, you know that extended international travel can be draining – physically and emotionally. This strain is doubled when you are keeping a hectic schedule and meeting many new faces every day. But then again, this process is energizing, too! That’s why you got into the industry, right? To eat all that amazing food...oh, and meet and expand the futures of young people all over the world ;-)
So, we do encourage you to to take care of yourself as you travel the world and expand the global perspectives of tomorrow's leaders. And as you begin planning your next recruitment trips (as well as a trip to California in January to attend our annual International Student Recruitment Bootcamp!), we hope you will consider implementing some of these tips and tricks that we have compiled from our friends and colleagues over the years. This is an ever-growing list so we hope that you will add your comments and suggestions as well!
Read on to see if your travel acumen includes these five time-tested gems...
Despite the many rewards of international travel, we are good friends with veteran admission officers who reiterate to their new hires – young, bright-eyed colleagues, that international recruitment travel can be anything but glamorous. If you are a new recruitment traveler, just remember – it can be an exhausting adventure that is likely to push you beyond your comfort zone. If it can go wrong, it likely will. And your job is to roll with the punches and still achieve your goals.
You are not traveling as a leisure traveler. You will be seeing lots of buses, airplanes, trains and hotel rooms and they won't all smell great. There will be incredible opportunities to experience other cultures and meet new people, but let's keep in mind the enormity of the tasks you have chosen to undertake.
Maintaining Your Physical Health
Prior to setting foot on your aircraft, it is important to be in good physical shape. The chances of contracting illness abroad (through fatigue and germs that your body doesn’t yet recognize) are high. The better your health and physical shape, the easier the travel will be on your body.
Sleep is a critical factor in physical and mental preparedness. Do the best you can to sleep on your flight. If your doctor has prescribed medications for managing jet lag and encouraging sleep, be sure to take these in your carry-on luggage.
Many an international traveler has commented that U.S. airline carriers are inferior to the international carriers. If you are able to arrange your airfare on an international carrier, you may have a better experience – though this rule of thumb will vary depending upon the region to which you'll be traveling. Always best to ask advice of experienced travelers. And follow rule #1: Sleep whenever you can.
Another important aspect of staying healthy is eating well. And if you can't eat well, at least eat! Rule #2: Eat whenever you can. It may be a long stretch, and entirely unexpected, that the next meal just might not be there for quite a while. Put a few granola bars in your satchel every time you head out. Trust us, there will be at least one day when you'll be exceedingly grateful for it.
As you pack for your travels you need, “to know how to [pack] lean and mean,” according to International Admissions and Recruitment Specialist Ann Gogerty at SUNY Albany. It should be a given that your luggage must fit into the prescribed weight limit, but it’s also important to consider the weight you feel comfortable carting around. You’re going to be responsible for carrying your luggage, so ensure that you won’t throw out your back in the process. (Raise your hand if you've been there. Yeah, we thought so.)
Julie Shimabukuro, Director of Admissions at Washington University and seasoned international traveler, noted that in an effort to travel with as little as possible, it’s a good idea to ship materials ahead of time to one of the schools on your circuit, rather than to the hotel. Her experience has shown that materials shipped to a school are far less likely to be lost or misplaced than those sent to a hotel. Keep in mind that there’s always a chance that pre-shipped materials can be lost or held up in customs.
Rule #3: Be flexible and adapt to the situation. Have a back up plan. Know how to give your presentation really well even without collateral, laptop slides, internet access, etc. It's gonna happen. Prepare for it.
If you are a creature of habit, pack those things that make your life more comfortable. Bring the breakfast bars that you like most. Pack your workout clothes if you like to exercise. The gyms at international hotels can be fabulous (in some regions). From personal experience, I know that the gym was a great place to spend time at 5:00am as I tried to adjust to jet lag. Ann Gogerty loves coffee and found that she couldn’t find her daily fix in Asia. She came up with an easy solution by traveling with Starbucks Via packets. Problem solved.
Be an Educated Traveler
While you are travelling internationally, it is essential to familiarize yourself with the basic tools necessary to navigate day-to-day life in your destination country. Do you speak the language? No? Make sure you have a cheat sheet of essential phrases in case you find yourself without a translator. Do you have the address of your hotel printed? You might want to bring that, just in case.
What about emergency phone numbers? Do you have a list for your host country? Those could come in handy (hopefully not), but you always want to be prepared. To give you an idea of factors you should be considering, we are attaching a handy China Travel Reference Sheet to help you navigate your first, second or 20th trip to China and a few of the many complexities you may face. Let us know if it helps!
Female travelers need to consider safety in a different way than their male colleagues. There are safety concerns for solo female travelers so be aware of the intricacies of each country. Women also must be more aware of dressing modestly and respectfully in different regions.
Rule #4: Be an educated traveler. Increase your world awareness before you set foot in a new country. There is also something here about doing your homework before you leave so that you understand the motivations of the student groups you are trying to attract. If you know anything about us here at Intead, you know that we publish a tremendous amount of research on the countries you are traveling to -- good airplane reading to get you focused on the right messages for each leg of your journey. We recommend our 2016 Know Your Neighborhood report as a good starting point. Produced with FPP Edu Media, this report provides incredible insights into the most influential way to “tell your institution’s story” in different regions.
Managing Group Travel
Finally, if you are traveling with a group it’s absolutely essential to, “play nice in the sandbox,” as Ann Gogerty aptly describes. George Burke, also an International Admissions and Recruitment Specialist at SUNY Albany, mentioned the importance of being helpful to your travel colleagues and accepting your role in the group. The more you can assist your peers, the more likely you will have a pleasant, successful travel experience. Rule #5: Be a team player. Be pleasant to your travel companions. Offer to help each other. Don’t complain. Find small moments of fun with each other.
What challenges have you faced during recruitment travel? Do you have go-to tips and tricks that you would like to share with your colleagues? Tell us in the comments below!