When you’re on a business trip, it’s natural to be preoccupied with making sure work goes well. But staying safe on the road, no matter if you’re traveling in the U.S. or abroad, is also key.
Business travel may take you to places you’ve never been before, so it’s important to stay alert and be aware of your surroundings. If you’re traveling solo, safety comes first. The same common-sense steps you take in everyday life will serve you well when you’re taking a business trip on your own. That means being aware of your surroundings at all times, especially if you’re in an unfamiliar place.
Be careful how much you tell strangers about yourself and where you’re going.
Research your destination before you leave home to learn about the area around your hotel. Study up on the cost of things like taxi rides. Try to avoid places that are less busy, especially after dark. If you ask for directions, mention that you’re meeting someone there (even if you aren’t). Whether you’re going out for a run in the morning or to a restaurant in the evening, consider carrying a personal alarm keychain, regardless of how safe you feel. Travel is a way to immerse yourself in a different culture and meet new people. So don’t cut off a chance for a casual conversation, but be careful how much you tell strangers about yourself and where you’re going. Your hotel concierge is also a good source of information on where to go and what areas to avoid.
On the topic of hotels, when you make your reservation, ask if the front desk is staffed 24 hours a day and whether you need a key card to use the elevator. Request a room on a higher floor, where there’s less risk of a break-in. Make sure your hotel room has evacuation procedures and door has deadbolt locks and a peephole. And check to ensure that all locks work. For extra protection, consider bringing a portable doorstop with an alarm that will sound if someone tries to enter your room. When you first enter the room, prop your luggage up against the door and do a quick scan to make sure no one is inside.
Pack a suitcase that you can carry yourself to avoid having to ask strangers for assistance, especially up and down stairs if you’re taking public transportation. And be sure to shield any contact information on your luggage so that it’s out of view. While you’ll likely be dressing conservatively for your business meetings, think about your casual wardrobe, too. Dress like a local and try to blend in with the crowd so that your tourist status isn’t too obvious. Avoid standing around looking at your map or guidebook. Leave the expensive jewelry, revealing clothes and T-shirts that mark you as a tourist at home.
All travelers whether an ultra-frequent flyer or those making an occasional business trip run the risk of picking up an illness. The role of airline travel in the spread of communicable disease has been well documented. "Commercial airplanes are one of the few places in the world where food is served, but no hygiene regulations exist. If you're traveling during flu season or for the holidays, it is important to employ flu prevention strategies," said Elliot Kreitenberg, Co-Founder and President of GermFalcon. A bout with a cold or something more serious can quickly derail the purpose of your trip.
Take security precautions with your smartphone and laptop to protect business information.
While your physical safety is, of course, paramount, it’s also important to protect your personal and business information. Take some security precautions with your smartphone and laptop. Using public Wi-Fi can make it easy for thieves to hack into your devices. Think about getting a portable router to set up your own Wi-Fi hotspot. Password-protect your smartphone and keep it fully charged.
It’s important for solo travelers to leave a copy of their itinerary with a friend or family member at home, and stay in touch by phone or email. All U.S. citizens going abroad should consider signing up for the State Department’s free Smart Traveler Enrollment Program. You’ll get information about safety conditions at your destination and it’ll be easier for the nearest U.S. Embassy to reach you in the event of an emergency. Also, keep a record of personal documents. Write down the information from your credit and debit cards, driver’s license and medical insurance to make it easier to replace anything that gets lost or stolen. If you’re traveling abroad, make a copy of your passport. Carry the copy and leave the original in the hotel safe.
Finally, know your comfort level. Talk to your company’s travel manager about what you need to feel safe on the road. If you don’t feel like venturing out in an unfamiliar location after a long day of meetings, order in room service. If it’s late at night, ask a security officer to walk you to your car. Remember to go with your gut instincts.
Take a look at some real-life examples of how disaster struck these road warriors.
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