Strategies for staying safer during overseas travel

The Business Journals | August 4, 2015

Overseas business travel has become the norm for many professionals, but few are taking personal safety into consideration when preparing for a trip.

While being aware of your surroundings is a good start, there are a few easy things you can do prior to and during your trip that will significantly help you mitigate safety risks.

Travel safety begins with research.

Having a better understanding of your destination will help you avoid potentially dangerous areas and potential risks.

Here are some great places to start:

  • The U.S. Department of State website should be your first stop for information on a foreign country. The site has a wealth of up-to-date information on every country, including travel alerts and warnings, vaccination information, local laws and customs to keep in mind. Additionally, you can register your trip with the government through the Smart Traveler Enrollment Program (STEP), which will alert the embassy or consulate nearest to your destination. This is a great service that will make it easier for the State Department to assist you in case of an emergency.
  • Make sure to research important locations (hotel, major transportation hubs, where you will be working, the embassy) prior to your trip. Knowing where your hotel is compared to key landmarks will help you in case you get lost.
  • Keep the phone numbers for the local emergency services and nearest embassy on your phone. Remember that the number for emergency services is different in every country.

During the trip

Once you land, make sure to pay attention to your surroundings. Most criminals are looking for easy targets, so it’s important to appear alert and confident regardless of how jetlagged you are. Also, follow the old adage of “trust your gut.” If a situation doesn’t feel right, it probably isn’t, and you should quickly move on. Additionally, keep the following in mind:

  • Avoid unmarked taxis. Taking an unregulated form of transportation can be incredibly dangerous overseas, and the potential cost benefits are not worth the risk. Additionally, pay attention to where your driver is taking you — this is not the time to focus on returning emails and making phone calls.
  • In hotels, request a room between the 3rd and 7th floor. This will allow you to quickly evacuate in case of emergency and protect you from break-ins, which are more likely to occur on the lower levels.
  • Be careful when drinking alcohol in an unfamiliar environment, especially within the first 24 hours of landing. Jetlag and alcohol do not go well together. Many travelers have gone to the first bar they’ve seen and gotten lost looking for their hotels afterwards.

By Robert Falise, TATE Global

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