According to new research from the Global Business Travel Association (GBTA) and AIG Travel, 83% of women (more than 8 in 10) have experienced at least one safety-related incident while travelling for business over the past 12 months.
As a leading provider of risk management solutions, consultancy and training for over 30 years, Securewest International has put together some useful tips increase situational awareness and improve personal safety while travelling:
1. Be prepared
It is fundamental to research the countries and areas to which you are travelling. Gaining an accurate, real-time understanding of the potential risks will help you to plan ahead and have confidence to face unfamiliar locations.
The song may have been a ground-breaking female empowerment anthem of the late 1960s but it is essential that female travellers be aware of and remember to respect the local customs in the country they are travelling to. Think about how you are being perceived! This includes dressing modestly, blending in and adhering to the local culture.
3. Do not attract unwanted attention
There are a few simple steps you can take so you do not draw unwanted attention and possible crime when in a different country. We recommend that you do not wear expensive looking jewellery or other obvious signs of affluence, avoid conversations with men that you do not know (especially in high risk countries), walk and act confidently and try not to show vulnerability. Consider wearing a wedding band (real or not) particularly if you are travelling to the Middle East, this may help to deter unwelcome advances.
4. Remain vigilant
It’s crucial to be mindful of your surroundings and the people around you. If possible, do not travel alone (or appear to be), avoid movement during hours of darkness, never use an un-licenced taxi, try to sit in the back of a taxi, mini-cab or private hire vehicle and stay in public areas where there are always other people around. Never leave your belongings or food and drinks unattended. By travelling responsibly and remaining vigilant you can limit the risks you are exposed to.
5. Take precautions at your hotel
It is advisable to take extra precautions at your hotel. When checking in, request your room number to be written down and ask for an alternative if hotel staff announce the number loudly or allocate you an unsuitable room such as one located on the ground floor. Using the door spy hole, checking doors are double locked and taking an internal door wedge are simple protective measures that prevent potential intruders.
6. Don’t overshare on social media
Posting updates about your trip on social media could leave you vulnerable – and may invalidate your insurance policy. There is also a real threat of virtual kidnappings and although these schemes have been around for many years, their numbers are on the rise and fraudsters' tactics are getting more sophisticated. Think before you share; do not post real-time travel information, wait to upload photos and update your privacy settings regularly. Securing your devices with strong passwords and only using secure wi-fi will also reduce cyber risks.
7. Stay in-touch
Ensure your organisation and trusted colleagues know your itinerary, including any last-minute changes and carry all contact details that you will need. By staying in-touch and keeping up to date with regional news when you are travelling, you are more likely to be aware of any changes in circumstance in the areas you are staying. Don’t forget to take a charger!
8. Know what to do if something goes wrong
When things do wrong you need to be able to alert someone quickly. Measures need to be put in place so your company knows exactly where you are, so they can communicate with you and provide fast assistance. If you are out and about and feel under threat at any time, seek the nearest safe place and raise the alarm. One solution is carrying a Travel Tracker with an “Emergency Alert” function.
*Photo credits: Pixabay