As I watch the leaves drift to the ground and welcome the fall season, I can’t help but sit back and reflect on this past summer—particularly one of its highlights.

This year, my husband and I decided to take a trip to Europe. We had a hard time deciding where to go—we wanted something new, but still familiar. We wanted guaranteed fun, but also an unpredictable adventure. We wanted it to be easy, but we also wanted to be challenged and learn something new about traveling.

This trip was much different than last year’s—an Alaskan cruise that required little more than packing our bags and getting on an airplane. We hadn’t been to Europe since 2009, and I—the vacation planner of the family—had to make all the arrangements. Admittedly, I was a little rusty. Were our passports valid? Would I be able to find decent airfare? Where could we stay within budget? Then, there were the on-site details: How could we get from Berlin to Prague to Vienna in the cheapest, safest, fastest way? What neighborhoods should we stay in? Where was the closest public transportation to our hostel? Where and on what day should we do laundry? With as much planning as I did before the trip, I had the wherewithal to remind myself that regardless of all this preparation, there would be bumps once we got there. I know, because I’ve done it all before … several times before.

So why am I talking about this in my column? My vacation-planning analogy can be compared to a company taking its own adventure, such as doing business in China. In this month’s cover story (“The China Report“), InsideCounsel updates our November 2006 story about the challenges and unexpected obstacles some companies face when trying to take their business into China.

Without a doubt, preparation is essential on the road to a smooth transition across the Pacific. Doing the legwork on the front end to understand the ins and outs of the business climate, as well as the culture, can be the difference between success and failure. But so is expecting those bumps along the way.

Being as prepared as possible with the mindset not to falter when things don’t go as planned adds up to a positive business venture—and a great vacation!