For many of us, traveling is an integral part of our careers. But how much thought are you giving to ensuring your own personal safety and security?
As employers, how much time do you spend training your people on how to stay safe on the road? According to Business Woman Media, “One in four female travelers has encountered something they view as a negative incident while traveling for business.” Issues reported include room break-ins, theft, harassment, unwanted sexual advances, stalking and assault.
How do we avoid becoming a target? The following tips can help make your next trip safer, less stressful and more productive.
Familiarize yourself with your destination: Do your homework before you leave. Make transportation arrangements, study maps, and provide a copy of your itinerary, travel documents and credit cards to a colleague, close relative or friend.
Travel light: Dress simply, avoid expensive designer luggage and make sure handbags, briefcases and backpacks are zipped closed to avoid theft.
The essentials: In a day bag or carry-on, make sure you have all your essentials, including ID or passport, medications, jewelry and charging devices for your gadgets.
Spares: Put cash, a copy of your ID and a spare credit card in a secured compartment in your carry on, in case your purse is stolen.
Hotel musts: Reserve your room at a hotel with 24-hour security and indoor room entrances. Ask for a room on the third floor or above if possible and closer to the elevator bank. Avoid the far end of the hall so you are not isolated.
Two keys, please: When checking into a hotel, use “we” vs. “I” and ask for two keys. Keep your hotel room number private. Be careful when charging something to your room so that others do not overhear. Lock and deadbolt your door whenever you are in your room. Consider bringing a door alarm with you. Never open the door unless you have requested something from the hotel staff. If in doubt, call the front desk.
Walk or run: If heading out for a walk or run, check with the concierge to find safe areas and places to avoid. Even in safe areas, things can happen, so always bring your phone and carry a personal emergency alarm. A 140-DB keychain alarm is less than $10.
No headphones: Do not wear headphones and avoid texting and walking. The number-one thing you can do for yourself is stay alert and be aware of everything around you. Headphones impede your ability to hear, and texting distracts you from seeing potential danger.
Valet parking: Use valet parking rather than park in a dark garage or remote lot.
Stranger danger: Do not befriend strangers, and avoid drinking excessively.
International travel: If you are traveling internationally, log on to the United States State Department website for travel alerts and warnings. Know what documents you need to enter and leave the countries you are visiting. Make sure your cell phone will work and check for updates often. Weather and safety emergencies happen at a moment’s notice.
Also, register with the local United States embassy or consulate. If something happens, they will know where to find you. They are open 24 hours, seven days a week. If you have a problem, they are there to help you. A complete listing is available under the Bureau of Consular Affairs at www.travel.state.gov.
The 3 A’s
At the 2019 ASA Women in Industry ELEVATE conference, Sgt. Dave Yu with the San Diego Police Department encouraged all travelers to have a “warrior mindset,” committing the three As to memory: Alert, Assess and Act.
Alert: As mentioned earlier, you must remain keenly aware of your surroundings — cell phones are the number-one distraction. Only check your phone when pausing in a safe place to do so.
Assess: If you sense a possible threat, assess your situation, keep emotions in check and remain in control.
Act: If you determine you need to act, you must be decisive, aggressive and dominate the situation.
Yell with force, run if you can, and if not, the eyes, throat and “vulnerable parts” are the key attack points.
2019 ASA Women in Industry ELEVATE speaker Beth Ziesenis, “Your Nerdy BFF”, notes 80% of women consider safety when preparing for travel. Ziesenis recommends the app “Noonlight,” which can send 911 emergency help to your exact location with the touch of a button from your cell phone. It also can connect to Nest, Alexa, Google Home, iWatch and a variety of other products.
We’ve given you many important recommendations, but how will you remember them all? Keep this list in your suitcase, so when planning your next adventure you will be sure to arrive safely, stress-free and be ready to take on the world!