08 June 2017
The number of female business travellers has grown significantly in recent years. As more women reach senior positions, it’s increasingly likely that international business travel will be on their agenda. Often companies may not be alert to the specific risks faced by lone female travellers and may do little or nothing to prepare their employees for business travel alone.
While it is generally perfectly acceptable and safe to go solo on a business trip in many countries in Europe, Australia, and North America, being a lone woman traveller in some locations can pose challenges. It’s essential that you plan ahead and understand the legal and cultural attitudes to lone female business travellers in your chosen destination before you get there.
As with any trip away from home, mitigate risks and increase peace of mind, by ensuring that you have business travel insurance in place. Also visit the Foreign & Commonwealth (FCO) website on health and safety abroad, www.gov.uk/travelaware.
1. Plan as much as possible in advance for your trip and destination. Your accommodation, how you will get there, how you will get around once you arrive, offices and other locations you need to get to, etc. Download an app to store your itineraries and addresses for each venue and have a hard copy as a back-up.
2. Use a reliable, known hotel, in a safe area, with lots of good customer reviews. Once you arrive, make sure your hotel room has a working double-lock before you settle down and always be aware of your surroundings and vigilant of who is around you when walking around hotel corridors.
3. Staying connected is critical. Activate your mobile phone’s roaming service or get a local prepaid SIM card with a data service to ensure access through VOIP (Skype, Facebook Messenger, Viber, or WhatsApp).
4. Carry a charger and adaptor with you at all times in case you need to recharge and a portable charger as a back-up to you plug-in electric one.
5. Never use an un-licenced taxi. Only use legitimate pre-arranged transportation that your company, hotel or travel agency has recommended and don’t take suggestions off the street. You should always have a general idea how to get to your location so that you spot if you are going completely the wrong way. Navigation apps such as Google Maps are very useful here.
6. Keep a digital copy of all your travel documents and personal identification. This will make replacement easier should you lose them while abroad. Copies of your passport, visa, travel tickets, hotel reservations, and other pertinent documents are advisable. Keep this in a separate digital file and email it to the office in case your device goes missing too.
7. Be respectful and sensitive to local customs regarding makeup, clothing and interactions with men and adapt accordingly where necessary.
8. When selecting your luggage, avoid designer brands, or indicators of affluence. This will reduce the risk of theft.
9. Ensure that colleagues know your itinerary, including any last-minute changes and carry all contact details that you will need.
10. If you are being collected by a driver at the airport, request a password to verify your identity. This ensures the driver knows it’s you (avoiding someone stealing your lift), and that it’s definitely your driver (to avoid an imposter picking you up instead).
Wherever you are travelling, be prepared, stay vigilant, exercise sensible precautions and enjoy a rewarding and trouble-free business trip!