Avoiding catastrophes, both major and minor, should be of the utmost concern when traveling on business. Below are eight commonsense safety precautions to consider the next time you’re away on business:
- Lock it up. Although post-9/11 security measures prevent you from locking checked luggage, you can purchase plastic versions that snap into place and must be cut off. At a minimum, using them will prevent your bag from accidentally falling open. They also provide a bit of extra security should a thief be scouting an easy target. If officials check your bag, they’re required to post notification inside after doing so. If your plastic lock has been removed but there’s no note inside, you have grounds for a complaint, especially if items should come up missing. (In addition, travel stores now sell padlocks approved by the Transportation Security Administration (TSA), which can be opened with secure keys used only by TSA officials.)
- Buy online. If possible, purchase your airline tickets online, either through a travel site like Orbitz or through the airline of your choice. Doing so allows you to print your itinerary and boarding passes before arriving at the airport, which speeds the check-in process. More importantly, if you happen to lose your itinerary during your business trip, all you’ll have to do log on and print another copy.
- If possible, leave it behind. Take only the credit cards that you will need on your trip, and leave the others behind. Also, when going out at night, leave unnecessary cards back in your hotel room. This will save you the hassle of having to report and replace lost or stolen cards.
- Wear a money belt and carry a dummy wallet. Keep your money and credit cards in a money belt and wear it in front of you tucked inside your pants, then carry an empty wallet or purse. If you fall victim to a pickpocket in a crowd, you’ll maintain your valuables. Female travelers should tuck purses under their arm instead of wearing it slung over their shoulder.
- Know your surroundings. If you decide to venture out, and especially if you do so alone and at night, speak with the hotel concierge to learn which neighborhoods to avoid. Inquire about which areas pickpockets frequent, streets you should steer clear of, and where the best places are to hail a cab.
- Maintain a low profile. Don’t sport your flashiest clothes or jewelry in unfamiliar areas. And if you do decide to wear your favorite Armani suit and Rolex watch, opt for a cab over walking. Try to blend in with the locals. Don’t walk through town with a camera slung around your neck and a street map peeking from your shirt’s breast pocket.
- Don’t tempt the help. If you’ll be traveling with your laptop or other high-priced electronics or jewelry, speak with the hotel’s management about putting these items in a safe or valuables holding spot. Leaving such items in hotel room drawers or out in the open only creates needless temptation.
- Secure the door when you’re in the room. Always use all the locks on your hotel room door. If there’s a chain lock, fasten it before going to bed. And be sure to jiggle your room’s door when exiting to make sure that it’s properly locked.
Be sure to also read Business Travel Safety Tips for more sound advice on this topic.