Business travel safety tips: How to keep employees safe when they’re on the road

Business travel is an essential way to connect with customers, open doors to new opportunities, and thrive in a global industry. But time on the road isn’t without risks, so it’s critical that your employees are prepared with the business trip safety knowledge they need to stay out of danger.

Why is travel risk management so important?

Even with the most carefully thought out travel plan, there’s always the potential for accidents, emergencies, illnesses, natural disasters, crime, civil unrest, political instability, and other unexpected events when employees are travelling for work.

Taking steps to help employees stay safe is an essential aspect of employee wellbeing. It’s also a vital part of your company’s duty of care – and implementing clear corporate travel safety policies can go a long way towards building a culture where employees feel they are valued and that their security and welfare are the top priority.

How to implement corporate travel safety policies that highlight employee safety

There are steps you can take to minimise risk for your company’s business travellers and make sure they get to and from their destination safely. A corporate travel policy that clearly spells out safety guidelines for employees, such as how to manage business travel risks, book travel, and get pre-trip approval, can protect your employees.

You can also educate them about travel security best practices. In this guide, we’ve put together tips for safe business travel – from ideas for pre-trip planning to hotel safety tips – that can help your employees minimise risks and keep themselves safe when they’re on the road.

20 business travel security tips for employees

Before you leave

  1. Do some research about your destination to make sure you understand the local culture, customs, laws, and any potential travel advisories, especially if you’re travelling internationally. Having this knowledge can help you show respect for local customs and avoid making risky decisions. In some cases, you should consider registering with your embassy or the consulate in the country you’re visiting so you can be reached if an emergency arises.
  2. If you’re not already familiar with your company’s corporate travel safety policy, review it to make sure you understand the corporate standards and have a good understanding of safe business practices and the security measures your company recommends.
  3. Make a copy of your itinerary, important travel documents, and your contact information, including phone number and email address, and give it to the appropriate person at your company, as well as a friend or family member you trust.
  4. Spend some of your pre-travel prep time focusing on cybersecurity while you’re travelling, for instance:
  • Only pack devices that you need and will use, and make sure any devices you bring are secured with a unique password and have multi-factor authentication enabled.
  • Make sure you’ve installed all updates for operating systems, browsers, applications, and software on your devices.
  • Check for app and software update notifications on all devices.
  • If you’re trip involves international travel, get a local SIM card for your phone. This will allow you to access the local data network. You should also confirm your phone is unlocked so you can use the card.
  1. Take any unnecessary credit cards out of your wallet, and, if you haven’t already done so, opt in to receive fraud alerts from your credit card companies so you can easily monitor your accounts. You can also use contactless payment options, such as Apple Pay or Google Wallet, that eliminate the need to carry a credit card entirely. Limit the amount of cash you carry, and if you do need to withdraw more cash while you’re travelling, use ATMs in secure areas or – better yet – in reputable banks.
  2. Make a photocopy and snap a photo of essential documents like your passport, visa, driver’s license, healthcare insurance card, vaccination records, and credit cards. Keep the photocopies in a personal or carry-on bag that will always be with you and store digital copies in a password-protected folder on your devices.

At the airport

  1. Avoid USB charging stations, which can make you a victim of juice jacking scams. This is when criminals use public USB charging stations to access electronic devices while they’re being charged. Instead, pack a personal charger in your carry on that can be plugged directly into a wall outlet at the airport or bring a fully charged portable battery.
  2. Don’t use the airport’s public Wi-Fi network. These public networks are often unsecure, which makes it easy for your data to be intercepted by hackers. Instead, enable the personal hotspot on your phone if you need to access the internet or use a virtual private network (VPN) to encrypt your data. If you do connect to public Wi-Fi, be very cautious about the sites that you visit and never enter personal information, like account credentials or your credit card number.

At your destination

  1. If you need ground transportation, choose options that are recognisable and reliable, such as licensed taxis, well-known ride-sharing apps, or reputable car rental agencies. When using public transportation, familiarise yourself with the route so you don’t miss your stop and end up in a risky area. Always be extra vigilant about your belongings.
  2. Avoid travelling alone at night, especially if you’re in an unfamiliar location.
  3. Keep tabs on your belongings at all times, and be aware of pickpockets in crowded areas.
  4. Take steps to keep your devices secure and avoid being the victim of a cybercrime:
  • Remember that public Wi-Fi at hotels, cafes, and other locales is not secure. Use the personal hotspot on your phone or a VPN that encrypts your data anytime you access the internet.
  • Disable the auto-connect option on your devices so they don’t automatically connect to wireless or Bluetooth networks as you pass by them.
  • Never use USB keys to store or transfer company information – they’re too easy to lose and because they’re not encrypted, anyone who finds the drive can access all your information. Instead, follow the corporate file-sharing policy to store or transfer information.
  • If your laptop is lost or stolen, immediately contact the company’s help desk to minimise risk and protect company information.
  1. If you’re staying at a hotel, never use business center computers to access your accounts – your log in credentials can easily be stolen on these and other public access computers.
  2. Secure valuable items like your laptop, passport, and other important documents in a hotel room safe or lockbox to protect yourself from theft or loss.
  3. Avoid using debit cards, which offer less protection than credit cards, and use the chip reader instead of swiping your credit card whenever possible.
  4. Be aware of your surroundings when conducting business to make sure people around you can’t overhear private conversations or view the information on your phone or laptop screen. You might want to use a privacy screen to make it harder for anyone to read the screen over your shoulder.
  5. If you’re a social media user, avoid sharing real-time travel updates that broadcast to the entire world that you’re travelling: this let’s burglars know that you’re away from home and gives scammers a heads up that you may not be as vigilant about checking your financial accounts while you’re away. If you want travel bragging rights on social media, wait until you’re safely back home to post photos and updates.
  6. Familiarise yourself with emergency exits and close the curtains in your room to keep your comings-and-goings private. Trust your instincts to stay safe when you’re travelling. If you ever feel uncomfortable or unsafe in any location, remove yourself from the situation as quickly as possible.

When you get home

  1. Update your passwords when you return from your trip to protect your accounts, just in case they were compromised while you were away.
  2. Take some time after your business trip to carefully review your bank and credit card statements for any fraudulent charges.

Keep your employees safe when travelling with American Express Global Business Travel’s travel risk management solutions.