With the global rise in security incidents and terrorist attacks around the world, you might expect business travel to be shrinking, but in fact the opposite is true. Nearly 1 in 3 trips abroad take people to countries with a higher security or medical risk than they are used to, frequently on their own. So, be honest, how much do you prepare before you set off?

Surprisingly, only 37% of travellers look into security arrangements at their hotel or research the area’s crime statistics in advance. Travellers are, in fact, much more likely to look at the cultures of their destination than they are to find out which neighbourhoods to avoid, so may not be aware if their hotel is in the safest area.

Around 80% of travellers believe their employers have a legal obligation to protect them and are managing the risk. Companies must of course give them relevant safety advice, eliminate undue risk and have emergency plans in place. Volatile situations can escalate very quickly and those who ignore their duty of care will face significant legal, financial and reputation damage.

Equally, employees have a responsibility to look after themselves. For instance, if you venture out alone in the evening to eat in an unfamiliar area, you need to be sensible. It’s also your job to make sure you’re up to date with vaccinations and carry backup medication in case your return is delayed or your bag is lost. Only 15% of senior executive travellers check out local healthcare, even though 71% of them say they have had a medical problem abroad.

Our security experts hope the tips below will help keep you safe:

  • Keep your passport with you at all times, ideally in an anti-theft bag – away from your phone, keys and money
  • Choose a hidden money belt
  • Trust your gut instinct
  • If you use room service, take care when opening the door
  • Don’t wear expensive clothes or flash your jewellry
  • Make sure your phone is charged, but don’t use it on the street
  • Walk purposefully and don’t look at a map
  • Improve your awareness by avoiding headphones
  • Carry a small torch and whistle or a personal alarm for emergencies
  • Tell someone what your travel and meeting plans are, but don’t publicise it on social media. Keep a paper copy in your bag
  • Never leave any electronic devices unattended
  • Count the number of doors from your hotel room to the closest exit
  • Buy a portable lock and a door jammer for your hotel room door
  • Invest in a travel safe for your valuables
  • Ask for lifts from colleagues, use a licensed taxi/contracted car service, or in riskier areas, use security trained drivers
  • When using public transport, sit with others or near the driver
  • If you’re driving, at traffic lights, always leave space between your car and the one in front, so you can pull out quickly if you need to
  • Stay in control by watching what you drink
  • Never accept a drink from a stranger or leave your drink unattended
  • Anti theft bags or suitcases are great because they can be attached to a fixture in a hotel lobby or café if necessary

A word on data security

Many people carry valuable, sensitive information on their smartphones and laptops. Here’s a quick summary of how to protect them:

  1. Use a spare ‘travel’ laptop and lock it down/switch off Bluetooth etc.
  2. Be wary of public wireless Internet connections
  3. Increase your smartphone security or use a disposable/local phone
  4. Try to only use encrypted USB keys/flash drives
  5. Use temporary passwords