Dear female business travelers: Your safety really matters to us. In fact, it is one of our top priorities here at American Express Global Business Travel. And with all that is going on in the world and the inherent risks of traveling, we felt like we really wanted to do our part in equipping you with relevant information that could help keep you out of harm’s way while you are off doing business away from your safety zone.
Because one Atlas article simply isn’t enough to cover it all, here’s the second installment of our two-part series on how businesswomen can keep themselves out of danger during their travels. (If you missed Part I, be sure to check it out!)
Get to know the lay of the land
Before leaving on your trip, use a tool like Google Maps to get a handle on how far the hotel is from the airport as well as to see where restaurants, shops, and the local police station are located in relation to your hotel and business meeting site.
Don’t look like a lost tourist
Even if that’s indeed the case, don’t look like a lost tourist by burying your nose in your smartphone while checking the GPS. Instead, head to the nearest café, sit down, and map out your journey there. Better yet, avoid getting lost in the first place either by taking an Uber, having the hotel doorman hail you a cab, or studying your route before leaving and asking the concierge about the safest streets to take.
Getting a room
If possible, get one with an interior entrance above the ground floor. You want to be situated near the elevator and not so close to the stairwell.
If the desk clerk says your room number within the earshot of others, discreetly request a new room and have the clerk write down the number on a piece of paper.
This is also a good tip to remember when ordering food or drink at the hotel bar and charging it to the room. If the bartender asks for your room number, don’t just blurt it out. Write it down on the receipt instead.
Under double locks and keys
When checking in, ask for two room keys to disguise the fact you’re traveling solo. Keep one on your body and one in your purse. Also, request a room that has double-locking capabilities and check that those locks work properly before settling in. Then hang the “Do Not Disturb” sign outside your door and leave it there during your entire stay so the room never looks unoccupied. Keep the curtains in your room drawn at all times.
Also consider using a door stop alarm that can be wedged in between the door and floor to thwart an intruder from entering while you are inside. If one does try to pry their way in, the alarm gets activated and emits a high-pitched sound.
Getting back safe and sound
Whenever possible, make arrangements to arrive back at the hotel before dark. If you are returning at night after a dinner with clients, use a ride-hailing service like Uber or Lyft.
If cabbing it back is the only viable option, make sure a licensed taxi driver is picking you up. Have a hotel business card or brochure ready to show the driver the address so there is absolutely no confusion about where you need to be dropped off, especially if English is not the native language.
Before leaving for an international trip, give your trip itinerary to at least one person not traveling with you and plan to check in with them occasionally.
Also, arrange to have phone service abroad either through your mobile phone service provider or the company’s travel department. Make sure your phone is fully serviceable and has roaming capabilities, and carry your charger and adapter at all times so your battery never runs out of juice. For quick reference, preprogram into your phone the numbers for the local police, embassy, your hotel, and travel assistance provider as well as the local emergency hotline—it’s not 911 everywhere!
Protect sensitive information
If you are bringing a laptop, set up a passcode or fingerprint lock for it. If you have sensitive and proprietary information on the device, contact your IT department to see about getting the data on your device encrypted.
Use a laptop lock to secure your device when leaving it behind in the hotel room or carrying it around in busy locales where it easily can be snatched from right under your nose.
Fit in with the locals
Because you don’t want to stick out as an outsider, do some research into the type of clothing women in that country wear before leaving so you can try to blend in. Even if you discover the dress code is similar to what’s appropriate back home, lean toward more conservative attire.
If traveling to a country where a foreign language is spoken, learn a few key phrases in the native tongue, including “emergency”, “police” and “help me.” Have a mobile app like Google Translate™ already downloaded to your phone and know how to navigate it so you can use it on the fly.
Count on us to have your back
EXPERT CARE from American Express Global Business Travel (GBT) offers customers peace of mind with a full spectrum of risk management services—from pinpointing travelers’ whereabouts when there’s a crisis on the ground to help guide them back home when there is a travel disruption.