Surveys have shown that women now account for about 50 percent of business travellers in the U.S. And about half of these women business travellers travel alone. This was not quite the case four or five decades ago when only about 5 percent of the business travelers were women.
The increase in the number of women travelers is definitely a sign of growing gender equality in the workplace. Even so, women still face a lot of unique challenges. However, by using sound judgment, female travellers can significantly reduce their chances of experiencing security threats during their trips. If you are a woman who frequently travels for business, here are some tips to stay safe.
Beware of the Risks
Different places have different etiquette protocols. For example, western women traveling to Middle Eastern countries often find themselves at the receiving end of physical or verbal harassment in crowded places like markets or trains. In many cases, clothes that show too much skin are the main culprit. Remember that Asian cultures do not encourage women to wear skimpy clothes, so while traveling to countries outside of the USA or Europe, makesure to wear conservative clothes that ward off unwanted attention.
Find out more about the place you are visiting. Talk to your travel service provider to find out more about the security situation of the place you are visiting. Find out whether it is safe to travel on foot or to hire a cab. If you know what to expect, you can stay prepared to handle potential security mishaps.
Know Local Geography
How far is your hotel from the airport? If you don’t know, find it out before boarding the flight. Schedule your flights in such a way that you reach your destination during the daytime. Use services like Google Maps to find out where shops, restaurants, and police stationsare located relative to your place of accommodation and business meetings. No matter what happens, never give the impression that you are lost. Walk with confidence even if you don’t know where you are going. Don’t stop in the middle of a sidewalk to look at maps. It is a sign of vulnerability. Carry a whistle with you all the time and don’t hesitate to blow it if you suspect that you are in danger. If you have friends in the city you are visiting, save their telephone numbers on your phone.
Learn More About The Culture
When you travel abroad, it is important to pay close attention to the culture of the people. Learn a few important words and phrases in that country’s language. You should at least be able to say ‘help me’ and ‘thank you’ in the local language.
You also need to find out more about local dress code, their attitude towards women, and appropriate hand gestures etc. For example, in China, being late for a business meeting is considered disrespectful. If you are visiting Brazil and you find people staring at you, don’t be alarmed. It is quite natural for Brazilians to maintain steady gazes at people they meet and talk to. They associate it with sincerity. Germans are not really keen on clapping their hands to show approval. They prefer to rap their knuckles gently on the table top.
While booking a hotel room, don’t forget to pay attention to their security measures. Do they have a reception desk that is staffed 24/7? Do they have surveillance cameras and security guards on the premises? The hotel’s location is another thing to consider. If you are visiting a country where terrorist attacks are common, choose a hotel that inspects vehicles at the entrance and that is near a police station. Choose women-only accommodations wherever available.
Be Familiar with Emergency Contact Numbers
In the U.S., the emergency contact number is 911, but other countries have other numbers. Find out the emergency contact number for the country you are visiting and save it on your phone. Make sure that your cell phone is fully functional with roaming facilities.
In the U.S., the emergency contact number is 911, but other countries have other numbers. Find out the emergency contact number for the country you are visiting and save it on your phone. Make sure that your cell phone is fully functional with roaming facilities. If you are visiting countries where internet surveillance is an issue, use a VPN to stay safe.
Enroll in STEP
Share your itinerary with a friend or family member. Also, enroll in the Smart Traveller Enrollment Program (STEP) of the State Department. It does not take more than a couple of minutes to complete the online forum. Once you enrol in the program, you will receive travel warnings and alerts on time. In addition, the information that you provide makes it easy for the consulate or embassy to locate you in an emergency.
About Author: Amelia Dermott is a passionate writer and self-proclaimed internet addict. Having experience in business administration, she likes to write about technology, travel and self-development topics. You can find her on Twitter.