Supplier Site Visits in Developing Countries — Plan for the Worst

I'm not sure about you, but I find travel in developing parts of the world thrilling. The first time I stepped foot outside of the West (into India) many years back was eye-opening to say the least. Since then, I've adjusted and have come to look forward to trips to developing countries far more so than those in the US or Europe. Still, there are many lessons we can learn when it comes to preparing for these trips, especially site visits to suppliers in areas off the beaten track. This blog post in the Wall Street Journal shows what can happen when those random incidents and accidents, which are much more common in the developing world than in the West, unfortunately occur. The story begins when the author, who is touring India, has a rickshaw crash as his vehicle "loses control and skids off the road, crashing into a ditch." The bloggers traveling companion bore the brunt of the accident, as a "gash nearly detached his ear and other injuries left deep cuts along his arm."

What follows next is a surprising tale not only of the human spirit -- how rural Indians came to the rescue at the accident scene -- but also how horrendous healthcare can be in developing countries outside of the major cities. To this end, if you do go to India, China, Vietnam or any other developing country as part of a visit to see suppliers that may be off the beaten track, you really have no idea where you might go or what you might do as part of the visit. While you might plan to avoid riding in an auto-rickshaw, after a few drinks at a banquet when you can't find your driver, who knows what you might do. I've been there. And I'm sure many Spend Matters readers have as well.

To prepare for the worst in these situations, I'd recommend the following: 1) check on your medical insurance and find out what it covers outside of your home country. It might be worth supplementing your standard policy with Medevac coverage that covers the cost of helicopter and/or jet transport from wherever you might be. 2) Pack a medical kit. Mine consists of an antibiotic like Cipro (for the worst cases of food poisoning or any other really virulent stuff you might run into outside a city), Pepto (which goes without saying), and basic first aid material. 3) bug spray (depending on whether or not you'll be in a malarial region). 4) small gifts for those you meet and might help you -- these can go such a long way depending on the situation; and 5) Cash. Lord Byron once proclaimed that "cash is virtue" and when it comes to rural travel in developing countries, you don't want to be without it. Just in case something happens and the local ATM machine is broken.

- Jason Busch

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