Business travel is a balance of being safe while sticking to your plans, but it’s often difficult to know whether you’re traveling as safely as possible. Therefore, it’s essential to keep safety a top priority when undertaking international business travel or domestic travel. That’s why this article is looking more closely at business travel, and specifically, business travel tips to help you travel more safely for work, including state department advice.
What is the Biggest Risk for Business Travelers?
With business, travel comes quite a few risks, so it’s important to stay aware and take extra care. For example, you might be traveling to far destinations with political unrest or other issues, taking sensitive or confidential information as well as expensive office equipment.
During business travel, it’s important to protect yourself and your belonging just as you would with personal travel. For females, it’s also crucial to seek out travel safety tips for women specifically to ensure you’re feeling safe and comfortable before leaving and while at your destination.
Top Travel Safety Tips for Business Travelers
To help make business travel as smooth as possible, we’ve put together some practical tips to help you travel safely. While this isn’t a complete list, these tips are a great starting point to help you plan a safe and productive business trip.
1. Purchase travel insurance
Business travel often means that you’re traveling with sensitive information and office equipment. Purchasing travel insurance protects your trip not only in case of cancellations and delays but also the contents of your belongings while traveling to keep you perfectly safe.
2. Keep your important documents safe
When traveling for work, you’re likely going to carry crucial documents – both personal and professional with you. That might include:
- Driver’s license
- Work clearance
- Work visa documents/entry authorization
- Competitive research and/or product information
Keep your documents in your hotel room as much as possible, and use the safe for storing important information for when you’ve left your room to prevent any issues. Save copies of the documents on Google Drive for an extra layer of protection.
3. Keep an eye on personal belongings
Like your documents, keeping your personal belongings safe should be a priority. Use the hotel safe when possible, but also invest in travel equipment that has a protective element when you’re out in the city. For example, a tamper-proof day bag or something like a messenger bag where it’s kept close to you can help keep your valuables safe when out of the hotel.
4. Don’t put all your money in one place
Always separate your credit cards and cash when traveling. Generally, the safest bet is to keep some cash and one card with you and leave an emergency credit card and some cash in different bags like your suitcase and carry-on. This ensures that you always have some kind of access to emergency money and other valuables, even if you’re in an unfamiliar destination.
5. Be extra cautious when traveling alone
There needs to be extra caution practiced on these kinds of trips for solo travelers. When traveling solo, take extra care to keep yourself and your belongings safe. Stay alert when out and about, and always trust your gut feelings – if something doesn’t feel right, even if it’s as simple as eye contact for a little too long, walk away. Paying attention to your surroundings, particularly on public transport, is also crucial. Also, try to learn some of the local language and local customs beforehand.
6. Ensure you have access to emergency money
Emergency money is incredibly vital and in different forms. As mentioned earlier, make sure you divvy up your money and ensure that you have a way to access your accounts and transfer money. Test out local ATMs with small amounts with your card, and always keep a few bucks on you in pockets or bags -it’s better than not having anything at all.
7. Drink responsibly when traveling
It’s tempting to go out in a foreign country, but if you are, drink responsibly – especially if it’s your first trip for work! It’s easy to get carried away, and that’s when someone will most likely try to take advantage of you. So keep your drinking limited to two or three, and stay aware of your surroundings when making your way back to the hotel.
8. Purchase a money belt
Try to keep a credit card with you that doesn’t have foreign transaction fees as a backup so you can save money. Travel equipment like money belts helps protect your cash and credit card from thieves and pickpockets. You can place a dummy wallet in your pocket as a distraction and use a money belt to keep your important stuff, such as cash and credit cards, safe when navigating around the city.
9. Invest in a travel lock
Another key piece of travel equipment for your business travel should be travel locks. You can use them for suitcases and bags during transit and have a locked bag while you’re staying at the hotel. Travel locks come in different types, including a travel lock where you can set your own combination for extra security. You can use this in case you’re traveling with pricy equipment such as expensive camera gear or even flashy jewelry.
10. Watch out for travel scams
Unfortunately, travel scams are pretty common in most parts of the world, and visitors tend to be easy targets. Double-check before you leave about what kinds of scams are specifically done so you can be aware. In addition, you can reach out to other travelers for safety tips and read up on blogs and travel experiences to understand what professional scammers are doing so you can avoid it.
11. Look for travel advisories
Some destinations are safer than others, so check any advice that might be out there before embarking on your next trip. Additionally, the State Department and other government bodies often post-travel advice depending on political, economic, or weather conditions that are work checking out before you solidify your travel plans.
12. Note down your local embassy contact details
Whenever you’re in a new country, always do some research on the nearest embassy. When unexpected circumstances come up, such as political issues, a stolen passport, or other emergencies, your country’s embassy can help you with the situation and provide safety information.
13. Write down numbers for emergency services
Following the last point, one of the most important travel tips is also researching emergency services. It would be best if you have emergency info on hand for the country you’re visiting. That includes locating the nearing police station, your credit card company phone number, and noting any posted signs as you explore the city.
14. Purchase a local SIM where possible
If you don’t want to pay expensive roaming charges, you can still have a working phone by purchasing a local SIM. It ensures that there’s an easy way for family members to reach you and that you have access to data. That enables you to use Google Maps more easily and navigate public transportation without identifying yourself as a non-native too easily.
15. Use a virtual private network for business
Whether you’re doing work at a local office or a coffee shop, you should always use a VPN when working from abroad. This protects your work data while also keeping your computer device from being easily compromised, especially when using open networks and public wifi.
16. Share your accommodation details
This is particularly important if you’re traveling by yourself for business, but also during general travel. Share where you’re staying with a family member, your general plans, and any other information that might be helpful in case of an emergency.
17. Do your research
Most travel safety tips will always come back to this one – research! While you won’t be able to cover absolutely everything when digging around, you can learn a lot just through a quick search on the country you’re planning to visit. Look up basic information, including the latest news, any laws travelers should be aware of, and any context that can help you navigate easier as a local. Travel communities on websites such as Reddit may also be able to help you provide on-the-ground advice before arriving and while you’re at your destination.
International Travel Safety
Before traveling internationally, it’s always wise to look at State Department’s advice on other countries and whether it’s safe to travel. You can find a complete list of no-travel zones on the official State Department website travel advisories. It includes an updated list of countries that are safe to visit, medium and high-risk countries, including detailed advice for citizens planning their trips.
As of April 2022, here are some of the destinations that are listed under the no-travel zones. Please note that this list is subject to change often, so it’s crucial to double-check on official government websites when planning travel.
- Hong Kong
- South Sudan
- Papua New Guinea
- North Korea (Democratic People’s Republic of Korea)
- The central African Republic
- Burma (Myanmar)
- Burkina Faso
- Afghanistan Travel Advisory
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