There are so many factors to consider when traveling that sometimes we forget about the basic premise of keeping ourselves safe.
Some travelers only think about their safety when traveling abroad or traveling alone, however, complications can happen anywhere and being prepared can help you immensely.
Manage Your Documents & Information
Before leaving home, make sure you have necessary documentation to aid you in your travels.
- Carry a paper copy of your itinerary and confirmation information. We all rely on our cell phones heavily to house confirmation emails, boarding passes, and more. But what happens if your phone is stolen, breaks, etc.? Having key information about your trip can help prevent unnecessary challenges.
- Leave a copy of your itinerary and confirmation information with your admin or boss or a spouse/relative. It’s good to have someone know where you are supposed be during an unforeseen event.
- Add key phone numbers into your cell phone for easy access. These would include airline, car and/or hotel reservations lines, after-hours emergency contact information from your travel management company, etc.
- Carry photocopies of any prescription medications you might be taking in addition to ensuring you have your health insurance card with you at all times.
- If you are traveling internationally, enroll in STEP. The Smart Traveler Enrollment Program (STEP) is a free service to allow U.S. citizens and nationals traveling and living abroad to enroll their trip with the nearest U.S. Embassy or Consulate.
- If you are active and visible on social media, it might not be wise to alert everyone that you are going to be out of town and your house is empty. Sure, you may be heading to an amazing destination while on business but it’s probably best to wait until you’re home to post pictures and updates.
Study Your Destination and Surroundings
The world can be a scary place, regardless if you are traveling domestically or abroad, you need to be aware of where you going and where you are.
- The Internet has made it much easier to do research on your destination. It will help to find out potentially risky areas in your destination to avoid, identify best routes to/from the airport, etc. A little preparation goes a long way. Websites like www.lonelyplanet.com and www.tripadvisor.com can be great resources.
- Once you’ve arrived, take note of your surroundings. Do you know the fastest way out of your hotel? If there is a fire and smoke is impeding your view, counting the number of doors from your room to the exit can be a game changer.
- While you check in, make sure not to expose your room number or give out identifying information. There have been stories of guests receiving calls supposedly from the front desk they just left asking for the credit card number to be verified due to an error. Never give it out over the phone. Call down to the desk to find out if they need you to return to clear any issues up.
- Carrying a miniature flashlight with you can be helpful in a number of situations.
- Is there a security group at the hotel and what is the number to that department?
- When out and about, don’t draw too much attention to yourself. If you are abroad, know local customs and understand the dos and don’ts of the area.
- Talk to hotel staff and the concierge, who knows better the good and bad places to go in the area than those that live and work there?
- Take a business card from the hotel that features the address and phone number in case you need it.
Driving Your Destination
With the ever growing world of rideshare and the sharing environment, more business travelers are forgoing renting cars but here are some things to think about if you are planning to rent.
- Before leaving the lot, understand how to operate the vehicle. The last thing you want is to be distracted while driving trying to figure out how to use a feature in the car.
- Know ahead of time where the closest gas station is to the rental car return so you don’t end up too far off course and in a bad location.
- If you are out after dark, park the vehicle close to a street or lot light, this will help you in locating the car but also to ensure adequate lighting to clearly see in and around the car.
- Don’t attempt to take unfamiliar shortcuts – staying on the main roadways can prevent a lot of issues.
- Know where you are going before departing. Whether you use a rental company-provided GPS or your own phone, have your route mapped out before you leave.
- Be sure to understand who to call in the event the car breaks down.
By all means, enjoy your trip and destination, but don’t forget the old adage, “an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure”.