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You’ve Got Mail
Before you leave, scan all important documents (passport etc.) and send them to your own e-mail address. This way you can have access to them in case you lose your bags or they get stolen. If you prefer the offline method, you can also copy all documents and store them in a separate place or bag. However be aware that you need to be able to access your email in such case which means you need to know your password and be able to access it from a public computer (assuming your own means of technology were no longer available). If you are similar to me – meaning very secure with hard to guess passwords and a different one for each site, using technology to support the brain (Keepass or similar), this might be a problem. For me, I decided to keep a few important passwords (better passphrases) in my head.
On a side note: I recently came to also appreciate Apple’s find my phone feature, when I was at a conference. It’s amazing how handcuffed you feel nowadays when you lost your phone. You have to remember how things work without this smart device in your pocket. The front desk was a waste of time. So I purchased five minutes access to one of the hotel’s internet stations, logged into my iCloud (thank god, I memorized my password), located it, printed the location on the map, asked for direction to get there. A receptionist of a totally different event had it!
Obviously the lock feature is helpful to protect your data, but a question remains how the person who found it can get in contact with you? If they call you at home, the office or your wife – none would understand the circumstances. Going home across town to wait for the call – if it ever comes – has a bad feeling to it, I can now assure you. So, I liked it that I was able to take matters in my own hands – with a simple login to my account.
Do Not Trust Everybody
There is no need to lock yourself into your hotel room and be scared, but with a few tricks you can stay out of trouble easily. Many criminals create distractions to steal the belongings of travelers, some even work in teams. So watch out and be careful who you trust. If you don’t have a rental car, make sure to only use legal taxis. Never take a ride with any of these drivers you greet you at the airport exit – it is not just unsafe, if you end up in a car accident you may be not even insured. As a woman, you can even take advantage of women-only taxis in some cities (for example London). Also with Uber several incidents have been reported and its service is banned in India and Germany at this time. Until they figured out how to provide sufficient security, let’s stay with the traditional ground transportation. If you do travel by car, do not forget to lock your doors while driving and fill up your tank in time. This way you can avoid running out of gas in unsafe areas.
“I am out for dinner”
If you leave your hotel room for dinner or sightseeing, you should leave a short note on the bed or table. Explain where you are going and when you left. If something happens to you and you can’t return to your hotel, this information can be very valuable to help finding you.
Keep It Secret
Even if the lady on the bus seems to be very friendly, do not tell strangers the name of your hotel or details about yourself and your travel plans. You never know if someone has bad intentions, so don’t risk your safety!
The Ideal Hotel Room
There are some things you can do to feel more comfortable in your hotel room. Ground-floor rooms provide easy access for burglars, especially if there is a balcony. You can always ask to see the room before taking it, preferably close to the elevator. Investing a little bit more money into a good accommodation with security staff is also a big advantage. If you have to go out at night, don’t hesitate to ask them if they can walk you to your car.
Tip: Never leave your windows open and always hang the “Do Not Disturb” sign on your door, no matter if you are out or not, unless you want it cleaned and secured your valuables.
If you are a business traveler, it can be beneficial to arrive one day earlier at your destination, so you can familiarize yourself with the surroundings. Try to travel early (so you don’t arrive at night) and organize the transfer from the airport to the hotel in advance. It can also be useful to write down the name of your hotel and important addresses in English and the local language. This can save you a lot of time and prevent from miscommunication.
Learn Important Words
You are probably going to be on the plane for a few hours, so you might as well try to learn a few important words and phrases in the local language. Especially foreign business partners will appreciate the effort and be very happy if you know some basic words like “Hello” and “Thank You”. Think of words you might need in case of an emergency, for example “Help” and “Police” and memorize them. If you have allergies or take any medicine, write the names down in the local language and carry the piece of paper with you.
Keep the names and details of your emergency contacts with you, ideally in your phone and wallet. This can be very helpful, especially when you are traveling alone. Also write down the number of the police and other emergency numbers you might need.
Corporate Travel Risk Management
Any company that requires employees to travel –no matter if it’s a long or short trip- should have a special travel framework which allows managing travel risks. Every traveler can face those risks and the company should make sure to care about the health and safety of their employees. There is risk management companies who provide integrated medical, clinical and security services to employees on the road. Our clients International SOS, FrontierMedex, OnCall International but also iJet serve many Fortune 500 companies. The nice thing about them is that they know what is going on in the world and they share this knowledge with you to be and stay safe (besides the fact that they are there if things go wrong). In case of a mismatch of where you actually are vs. where you should be, you might be in trouble. I’m not trying to pitch anybody’s service here, I’m just saying if anybody can look out for my safety, forget about all the privacy concerns.
Important aspects of the corporate travel policy could be:
1) Pre-trip trainings which include: Local laws, hotel security and safety, vehicle safety, avoiding crime, protecting personal property etc.
2) 24h worldwide assistance and translation help
3) Very good insurance with global coverage
4) General safety and security standards (especially for high-risk destinations)
5) Medical evaluation
For numerous clients our XX/1 retrieves and provides the actual trip data of travelers (the passenger name record "PNR") from the GDS/CRS and other sources such as Concur’s Triplink. Knowing who travels where and when allows mentioned companies to apply their security data and information personalized and individually right to the target – the traveler. Updating vaccinations for certain trips and information about unrests or potential unsafe areas, helps keeping the traveler – the ultimate asset of any organization – safe and healthy.