With global security concerns becoming more and more alarming, it’s crucial that you take steps to ensure your safety while traveling to and in a foreign country. For business travelers who travel to a wide range of destinations around the world, and must deal with the additional stress of tight work schedules and multiple meetings all over the world, safety considerations are more critical than ever.
We’ve culled a number of handy tips for the corporate traveler from the experts. The US State Department offers a convenient Traveler’s Checklist that provides security information about multiple destinations, crisis planning, health precautions and advice about handling money safely when traveling abroad. The UK’s Foreign and Commonwealth Office (FCO) has posted Travel Advice that includes tips to minimize the risk of being a victim of terrorism. In addition, a recent issue of Security Management, a publication by professional security organization ASIS, offers additional safety tips for the solo corporate traveler. Here are some highlights:
GENERAL SAFETY TIPS:
- Be aware of your surroundings, take notice people in your immediate area, and don’t ignore anything suspicious. If you feel uncomfortable or unsafe at any time, leave the area immediately.
- Stay on floors four to six in the hotel. These floors are high enough to prevent break-ins, but low enough for a ladder truck to reach in case of fire or other emergency. You can also request a room close to a stairwell for added protection.
- Keep your phone fully charged at all times, but stored out of plain sight — thieves can easily grab cell phones from people using them and quickly disappear into the crowd.
- Always carry your valuables in your front pocket, rather than in a purse, backpack, or back pocket. Not only does it give you a more visible line of sight in the case of pickpocketing, but it also ensures that you don’t lose your valuables if you accidentally leave your purse or backpack behind.
- Make sure your travel insurance is updated; it will alleviate costs and provide additional assistance for issues like language barriers or medical discrepancies. Full coverage will especially come in handy if you require an evacuation back to your home country.
- Take an extra business card from the front desk of your hotel. The information may come in handy if you’re ever lost or need to contact someone, especially if you are in a location where you do not speak the local language.
- Carefully monitor your credit card activity, store all receipts and invoices in a safe place and request that all records of any sale or purchase be emailed to you right away. Some of these purchases may earn you a VAT refund for your business.
- Business-related T&E receipts may be eligible for VAT recovery. Watch this 2-minute video about submitting your receipts to be reimbursed for VAT taxes that you paid on your purchases.
- Stop auto connecting: Disable remote connectivity. Some devices will automatically seek and connect to available wireless networks. Disable these features so that you only connect to the network you choose.
- Wi-Fi, Bluetooth, and public USB ports have become common ways for hackers to access your personal information. To combat this, avoid Wi-Fi altogether, or use a VPN when connecting to a public Wi-Fi in order to keep the IP address and data hidden.
- Do not conduct sensitive activities such as confidential company information or banking using a public wireless network. Work offline and transfer your data later from a secure connection.
- Always have a copy / scan of your passport with you. Just in case.
DON’T FORGET TO HAVE FUN:
- Soak up the local atmosphere and visit some of the tourist attractions at off-peak hours. Those times are less crowded and present an opportunity to de-stress a bit and enjoy the local sights, sounds and culture.
- Take time to enjoy the local culinary flavors and sample some well-known restaurants, but always research first whether the water is safe to drink. If not, avoid ordering drinks with ice cubes, salads that are washed, or letting water enter your mouth when you take a shower.
Business travel can, and should be both safe and enjoyable. If you have thoroughly taken care of the details regarding your flight, ground transportation, accommodations, and appointments prior to starting off on the trip, you are well positioned to have a successful experience. Make sure not to neglect the smaller safety precautions, like personal safety, hotel security, identification hazards, money matters and health precautions. Follow your instincts, as you are the best judge of a potential risky situation. Preparation breeds positivity and success, and that is everyone’s ultimate goal.