There are two types of business travellers: those who constantly travel for work, and those who take part in a one-off, large group conference trip. What people often underestimate or forget is how tiring it can be travelling – especially overseas – and the potential dangers.
Frequent travellers can sometimes become desensitised to the dangers and issues that arise when travelling overseas, and the less well-travelled may not even be aware where is and isn’t safe to go once they’ve arrived in a foreign city.
To keep safe while travelling, business people need to keep their wits about them and take necessary precautionary measures. Here are the top five:
- Know your geography
Getting lost is one of the most frustrating things in any city, but especially overseas. And even more than this, it can be dangerous, especially somewhere foreign where not everybody is particularly friendly. So before you go, have a look at a map. This might sound incredibly simple but trust me, when you have meetings and deadlines in foreign places, you don’t want to be getting lost. Not only is this not good for your mental health, but not everyone is always willing to help, and this becomes especially difficult if English isn’t a first language.
Another handy thing to have on you at all times is a map app. There are a number of free apps that offer the convenience of tracking your location in relation to your intended destination, and thus helping you get to a meeting on time.
- Research where you’re going
Even if you visit a place regularly, it’s important to understand the context when you go there. What is the political situation like? Are any big cultural decisions or movements taking place? Is there a high crime rate? Things like this will help you to know how aware you need to be about where you’re going. For a head start, check out the government’s Smart Traveller website.
- Know who to call
In the event that the worst case scenario does happen (unlikely, but people prey on tourists all the time!), it’s important to know the emergency number of wherever you are. Especially when travelling in large group, everyone should be educated about who to call if something happens.
But knowing the best person to call doesn’t always mean the emergency number. It could be a contact or friend-of-a-friend who lives in the city, the number of the relevant embassy over there, or even just the local police station. The more people there are, the more of a liability they can become, so it’s important to educate the team – or even just yourself – on the best point of contact.
- Have a safety net
Even if travelling domestically, travel insurance can help you to keep safe. Unfortunately, generally the more you travel, the more there is a chance of something going wrong. Whether this falls under the brackets of loss of luggage, flight cancellations, accommodation issues, or any other unforeseeable issues (like theft), travel insurance should generally have you covered. Especially in a big group, it’s pretty useful to have a safety net, just on that off chance that something happens.
- Sort out your phone
This doesn’t just mean charging it a bit before you head out to a meeting. This means making sure you’re contactable – so whatever that takes. Whether you have to buy a new SIM card or whether all you need to do is just bring your phone, it’s important to have it on you at least when you’re by yourself. If you’re travelling with colleagues, although less vital, it’s still necessary so that you don’t get separated from the group.
Business trips aren’t always as glamorous they sound. But there couldn’t be a better opportunity to see a new part of the world. And this is something that should be embraced willingly! It’s just important to remember that not everywhere will be as safe as where you live. So have your wits about you, be prepared, and have fun.
About the author
Michelle Hutchison is a money expert and the resident travel fanatic at comparison website, finder.com.au.