Today women make up about 40 percent of all business travelers and naturally, travel safety is an important factor. Recently, travel insurance provider AIG Travel surveyed more than 1,800 women who routinely travel for business. Amazingly, 84 percent reported that their employers either did not provide women’s travel safety tips or resources or they were not aware of any such tools.
To that end, Travel Maestro compiled a list of womenâ€™s travel safety tips to help you improve your personal security when you travel so you feel confident and aware.
Safety Starts before You Go
Itâ€™s important to evaluate the risk level of your destination before you go, as well as while youâ€™re there. Being prepared and traveling with confidence will make you a less appealing target to bad guys.
- Assess the security situation of your destination, whether that is an unfamiliar area of a U.S. city or a volatile international location. If traveling overseas, register for the U.S. State Departmentâ€™s Smart Traveler Enrollment Program (STEP). Use Google Maps to become familiar with the area around your hotel and know what transportation to use.
- Research and understand social customs. Know any religious customs for womenâ€™s attire, such as wearing a headscarf. Understand cultural behaviors around greetings, personal space, and gift giving. Learn any dining manners that may differ from your own.
- Notify key people of your plans. Share your itinerary with a family member or friend. Advise your bank and credit card where and when you will be traveling. Donâ€™t forget to make yourself a list of emergency contacts and save it as a hard copy and digitally.
Tips to Avoid Crime
The AIG survey found that the top four travel safety risks that concern women involve theft and scams: pickpocketing/purse snatching (93%), credit card fraud (86%), identity theft (63%), and taxi scams (62%).
- Listen to your intuition. If an elevator or a deserted street doesnâ€™t feel good, listen to your instincts and change course. If you hear a commotion, go the other direction. Stay in well-lit areas after dark.
- Mind your money matters. Carry your purse on the side away from the street. Cross-body bags tucked under your arm are the most secure from theft. Try not to use ATMs in isolated areas or at night. Donâ€™t keep all your money, credit cards, and ID in one place.
Womenâ€™s Travel Safety Tips for Hotels
Choosing a hotel with a good reputation and central location is your first step to staying in safe accommodations. Your travel arranger can provide options near your meeting or event.
- Request your room location. Ask for a room on the third to fifth floors because they are high enough to avoid easy break-ins, but low enough for most fire ladders. If the front desk announces your room number out loud, ask for another room and ask the clerk to write your room number down next time.
- Check the locks. Make sure the hall door and any connecting doors have a working deadbolt and windows lock from the inside. Keep them locked when you are in the room but check the closet, behind the curtains, and bathroom before you lock yourself in. Consider packing a door wedge for added security.
- See your way clear. Always check the peephole before opening the door. If you didnâ€™t call for hotel service, phone the front desk to verify the visitor is legitimate. Know the emergency routes to vacate the building and keep a flashlight by the bed in case the electricity goes out.
Safety Advice for Using Ground Transportation
Taxi, car and driver, ridesharing, car rental, public transportation â€“ there are many ways to get from A to B. Researching options in advance is always a good womenâ€™s travel safety tactic.
- Reserve transportation in advance. With the exception of public transportation, most forms of transport can be pre-booked and many can provide a driverâ€™s name or at least company credentials in advance. If you get a taxi at the airport, always use the supervised taxi line, rather than a random solicitor.
- Stay alert to your surroundings. Take a photo of the license plate and driver ID before you get in. You can use a mobile app to track where you are going on a map and make sure you stay on course. Ensure your destination is correct before exiting and ask to be dropped in a well-lit spot.
- Inspect your rental car. Make sure all the locks work and use them. Make sure you know how to use the headlights, hazards, mirrors, and navigation before you depart. Inspect the car for any existing damage that could be blamed on you.
Fake It Till You Make It
Womenâ€™s travel safety can also be improved by a little acting. Try some of these ploys to influence the way others see you.
- Create a confident impression. Walk with purpose with your head up. If youâ€™re lost, step into a business to consult your phone or map. Carry a paper in the local language to help you look like you belong there.
- Thereâ€™s safety in numbers. If traveling with a companion, make sure you exchange contact information in case you get separated. If youâ€™re traveling alone, feel free to use the word â€śweâ€ť in public to make it sound like you have a partner.
- Ward off unwanted male attention. Avoid lengthy eye contact as this can be taken as a sexual invitation. Wear a fake wedding ring if youâ€™re single or make reservations as â€śMrs.â€ť
- Curb your (social) enthusiasm. Donâ€™t Instagram a selfie with that iconic statue or Facebook check-in at your hotel in real time. Wait until you get home to share with your tribe. Clean any sensitive data, banking information, and personal photos off your digital device before travel and avoid using free public Wi-Fi unless you have a VPN.
With some smart preparation and by taking these travel safety measures during a trip, women can feel confident and empowered to travel with or without companions.