The Ultimate List of Safety Tips for the Female Business Traveler
Business travel is an essential for many in today’s working world. And while safety is paramount for anyone on the road, female business travelers are more likely to face risks than their male counterparts. In fact, the Global Business Travel Association (GBTA) reports, “A disturbing 83 percent of women polled said they’ve experienced a safety issue or concern in the last year while traveling for work, yet only 53 percent of women always or sometimes report these experiences to their travel managers.”
Here are a few additional statistics regarding women business travelers:
- It is estimated that women business travelers now constitute nearly fifty percent of all business travel in the United States, holding an annual travel spend of $175B.
- A survey highlights that 48% of female road warriors are traveling solo.
- According to research, 69% of U.S. travel buyers (who are charged with arranging corporate travel) believe that women generally face greater dangers than men when traveling solo for work.
For the purposes of this post, we’ll focus on safety tips for female business travelers, though most of these tips are applicable to all business travelers, as well as corporate responsibility when it comes to travel policies.
Share Your Itinerary with Your Supervisor
In addition to sharing your itinerary with a friend or family member, we recommend supplying your supervisor with your itinerary as well. TravelBank makes this process painless by providing flight details, the name of the hotel, and itinerary information to approving managers. While on the road, be sure to check-in with someone daily, whether it’s a relative, friend, or coworker.
Preparing for Your Trip: Wardrobe and Luggage Considerations
Dress for success… and safety. Leave the flashy outfits, expensive jewelry, designer bags, and shoes at home. We’re not saying don’t look great, but advise a toned down version with accessories that won’t make you a target for theft.
If you are traveling internationally, take time to consider the culture of the city you are visiting and how local business women dress. In addition to keeping you safe, it can also help build rapport with future or current clients.
For air travel, direct flights to your destination are the way to go. TravelBank will provide a variety of options for you within the designated trip budget. Also, strongly consider arrivals and departures during daylight hours to avoid traveling to your lodging after dark. Remember, if your trip comes in over budget, it doesn’t necessarily mean it won’t be approved. You can include a note within the app for your manager’s review stating you prefer a direct flight and daylight travel for safety reasons.
When it comes to luggage, stick with a carry-on if possible to avoid baggage claim at the airport. Also, put your carry-on bag in the overhead bin across from your seat, not above your seat, so you can see it at all times. Consider using a covered luggage tag or a laminated copy of your business card so as not to publicize your home address.
At the Hotel
As you review hotel options, check to see if the front desk is staffed around the clock. If at all possible, request a room off the main floor. Ground-level rooms are more susceptible to break-ins. It is also worth finding out of the elevators require you to swipe your key card to gain access to the guest quarters. This is a great way to add an additional level of security.
At check-in, if the concierge announces your room number loud enough for others to hear, don’t hesitate to request a new one, and consider asking them to write the number down instead of telling you. However, you should avoid carrying the room key in the front desk sleeve that includes your room number on it.
Get two room keys. This will make it appear that you are not traveling solo. We suggest keeping one key in your pocket and the other in your purse or briefcase. This way, if you are stuck in an unfortunate scenario where your bag is snatched, you will still be able to get into your room. Be mindful that the magnet in many wallets and purse closures can deactivate your key card.
Once you arrive at your room, be sure to lock the deadbolt and utilize the swing arm safety latch or door security chain. For an additional layer of security, consider traveling with a door wedge. They are relatively inexpensive, take up minimal space in your luggage, and there are even models available with an alarm. If someone is trying to get into your room, the wedge will serve as an extra layer of protection and the noise will likely wake you up.
If you are renting a car, utilize hotel and conference center valet services. It is far safer to get into your vehicle at a well-lit, high-traffic entrance than it is to walk through an empty garage searching for your vehicle.
Avoid unidentified drivers in the airport pick-up line. Ideally, select a reputable ground transportation service and book your transport in advance.
If utilizing a ride share app like Uber or Lyft, there are a few safety precautions we recommend:
- Match the license plate on the car to that of the app.
- Make sure the driver confirms your name. “Are you Denise?” vs. You asking “Are you here for Denise?”
- Share your trip with someone (colleague, friend, spouse, etc.).
- Although this may sound a bit extreme, check to make sure child locks aren’t on. That way if things get uncomfortable, you know you have a way out.
- In advance, learn how to use the safety options in the app, such as the panic button.
Venturing Out: Be Vigilant
Explore the city in daylight. Spend time reviewing the sites you would like to see, inquire at the hotel desk about areas to avoid, and be sure to touch base with someone close to you and make them aware of your plans for the day or night.
When dining out, avoid hanging your purse on your chair. Rather, set it in your lap or on the floor by your feet with the strap around your ankle.
A seasoned female business traveler shared, “When eating alone, I sit at the bar and order dinner there. It’s great for good conversation and for some reason, it makes me feel safer and less alone.” However, there is safety in numbers. Consider staying with a group whenever possible.
Also, avoid sharing too much information with strangers and don’t feel bad about cutting off a conversation if you get a bad feeling.
Technology Can Be Your Best Friend on the Road
Be sure to keep your mobile device charged at all times. A good quality back-up battery is a great investment so you are able to charge on-the-go. Bringing extra charging cords and plugs is also advised.
We live in a constantly-connected world and to remain online, WiFi is a must. However, the free internet you encounter on the road aren’t always the best choice and you never know who is lurking on the network with ill intentions. Wired.com shares, “A public Wi-Fi network is inherently less secure than your personal, private one, because you don’t know who set it up, or who else is connecting to it. Ideally, you wouldn’t ever have to use it; better to use your smartphone as a hotspot instead.”
Get the phone numbers of the coworkers you’re traveling with so you can keep in touch if something goes wrong, since email and Slack notifications aren’t always on after hours.
Dozens of apps are created with safety in mind. Noonlight allows you to connect with 911 more effectively so you can get help from emergency responders faster and Citizen gives you access to information about crimes near you.
Additionally, utilize the “find my friends” functionality on your phone. That way, someone always knows your whereabouts. This could be a friend, relative, spouse, and even coworkers you are traveling with.
Avoid using your phone on the street. It’s best to duck into a store or restaurant if you need to make a phone call, respond to an email, or check your GPS.
When it comes to tracking your expenses, TravelBank is ready to help you avoid fumbling through your wallet in public to save or find receipts. With the app, you can quickly snap a photo of a receipt as soon as you get it and fill in the details later, once you are back in your room.
A GBTA report found that only 18 percent of corporate travel policies specifically address female safety needs. When designing your corporate travel policy, it is imperative to consider your female road warriors. A few ways an organization can layer in additional safety measures include:
- Consider a budget-allowance for booking on-site hotels, with female-only floors, and direct flights.
- Encourage the use of valet parking or car services.
- Provide a safety guide specifically designated for female travelers. You could even have whistles available at the office to grab prior to hitting the road.
- Share travel insurance information and a corporate emergency contact number with all employee travelers.
More often than not, business trips are completely uneventful. However, for the female business traveler, whether solo or with a group, it’s essential to keep safety as a top priority. Keep your wits about you, trust your instincts, and never compromise safety to save a few dollars. And remember, TravelBank is here for you 24/7/365 via chat, email, and phone. We hope you found this post helpful. Safe travels!