Like many businesswomen, I travel a good deal for work, so I was particularly interested in the recent survey by the Global Business Travel Association (GBTA), in partnership with AIG. The survey is titled, What Are Companies Doing to Educate and Protect Female Employees Traveling Alone?
Of the 503 women travelers who responded, 80% said that in the past year, they were very concerned about safety, and in fact, they said these concerns impacted productivity on global business trips. Among their top three issues were: general safety, sexual harassment and assault, and traveling to certain countries or cities that may be dangerous.
On top of these safety concerns, women often must take extra measures to establish credibility in a global environment, since many countries in the world have strict ideas about the role of women in the workplace.
To help global businesswomen be most effective on international trips, we thought it would be very helpful to compile a list of travel safety tips inspired by GBTA and AIG’s suggestions. Although many of these tips specifically aim to keep women’s safety in mind, they all offer practical advice that anyone can follow. This is by no means an exhaustive list, but it’s a good place for global businesspeople to start.
- Before you travel, check your government’s website to be sure it’s safe to travel to the place you’re headed. The US Department of State, for example, provides up to date travel advisories to help when planning a trip abroad.
- Learn about the destination, specifically if there are dangers for women to travel without another person (male or female). For example, see if you’re going anyplace where it’s “culturally frowned upon” for you to be traveling alone.
- Research what to wear so you blend into your environment. If you stand out as a visitor, you become a more obvious target.
- When you get to your destination, talk to the hotel concierge or a trusted colleague to learn if there are any places that you should avoid due to security concerns.
- Do not walk alone after dark unless you’re quite sure it’s safe. If you need to conduct business after dark, consider doing it at a public space in your hotel instead of somewhere remote.
- If you’re going to a location that is questionable, always communicate with others to let them know where you’re going and when you’re expected to check back with them. Be sure they know where you will be and how they can contact you.
- Always have an emergency contact number.
- Consider using private transportation with licensed drivers.
- In extreme cases, consider security escorts. It can also be helpful to receive training on ways to protect yourself.
- Use bags and/or purses that close securely to guard against theft.
- Only keep what you need on your person. If possible, it is better to keep non-essentials in a safe in your accommodation. Consider leaving sentimental items or expensive jewelry at home.
- Keep a separate amount of money in a safe in your accommodation, or another access to money like a separate credit or ATM card. That way you have funds in case your purse or wallet is stolen.
- If you get lost, step into a café or shop before referring to a map. People who look lost can become easy targets.
- Don’t leave drinks unattended.
- Above all, consider safety first!
Whether you’re a seasoned global business traveler, a long-term expat, or about to embark on your first business trip, it’s important to always stay alert, be aware of your surroundings, and act with your safety in mind.