Travel Information and Tips
General guidelines for travel and hotel stays
- Assume that all external door keys are compromised and lock your luggage.
- Ask for a room above the 2nd floor but not above the 6th floor. Above the2nd floor is above the assessed height for throwing an object such as an Improvised Explosive Device (IED) below the 6th reduces the distance to be covered if forced to evacuate the premises in emergencies, particularly in a fire. Try securing a room that faces inward – away from the front entrance or passing road. Note Hotels with lobbies built with the lobby on a higher number floor such as (6th) ask for a room away from the lobby.
- Never admit strangers or visitors who are not familiar with you. Meet strangers in the lobby areas.
- Always use the locks on the inside of the room – especially when you are sleeping.
- Put valuables and cash in the hotel security safe system and ensure a receipt.
- Do not discuss your business and travel planes in public areas where they might be overheard.
- Discuss your travel plans and movements during your stay with as few people as possible.
- Familiarize yourself with escape routes in case of a fire or other emergency.
- Use the door viewer (peephole) before opening the door to visitors.
- Keep your room neat so that you will notice a disturbance and or missing items immediately.
GENERAL SECURITY HINTS
- Do not display signs of belonging to a western company such as company logos.
- Stay alert when traveling and do not become distracted (e.g. talking on your cell phone).
- In areas where crime is an issue do not have expensive items such as jewelry, phones, laptops, watches and cash on display.
- Make copies of your travel documents and keep your passport or at least a copy on your person at all times.
- Inform your embassy of your arrival in the country for longer stays.
- In the event that you travel in-country make sure an employee knows at all times where you are going an your ETA. Keep communications active till you are safe.
- Make sure you travel with your company approved modes of travel only.
- If you are in a situation that you feel unsafe – move to a safer place (such as a police post, embassy, main hotel or busy area) and remain there. Contact the in country support for assistance – do not be persuaded by the driver/meet and greet or any other representative to proceed – voice and report your concerns.
- Do not leave the airport or other designated pickup points even if your pick up has not arrived. Contact a person of authority to make the arrangements.
- Keep your laptop with you at all times and try to disguise it by using a general sack rather than a laptop case.
- Remain in the vehicle when traveling in-between towns. Request a map of the route to ensure you know where you are at all times. Listen to the instructions of the driver and the journey management supervisor.
- Do your homework – Before you visit the country make sure you know enough about the country to start understanding their cultures and habits as well as history.
- BE ALERT – BE AWARE – BE PREPARED – BE SMART
TRAVEL TIPS FOR WOMEN
How to stay Safe
- Crowdsource your research. Sites like TripAdvisor, Hostelz and Oyster often have reviews on the hotel and neighborhood it’s in, so you can see what type of area you will be staying in.
- Have a very detailed itinerary/agenda with times, dates, names of people providing pickups, phone numbers etc.
- Take Pictures of all your travel documents and put them on a locked site like DropBox that you can access from any computer.
- International phone plans are worth it for emergencies.
- In some places it helps to wear fake wedding rings and avoid or limited jewelry. US State department recommends single women traveling in the Middle East wear a wedding ring. In other places do some research about what women wear.
- Carry a safety mechanism that you feel comfortable with. Mace which you can’t bring on a plane but in checked luggage or a whistle all work for self defense.
- Try to arrive before it is dark, especially if you are traveling to a new city.
- If you are arriving late to your destination, think twice about what transportation you will use to get from the airport to your accommodations. Lyft or Uber feel like easy, cost-effective choices, but how much is your safety worth? I always let my mom or husband know when I land at my destination and also inform them when I’m in an Uber, Lyft or taxi headed to my hotel. I make sure to tell them what method of transportation I’m in and sometimes even call my husband (typically late-night travel) and either stay on the phone with him or simply just to establish with the driver that I am communicating with people, so he/she knows I am “not alone” per say. If you are sharing cabs with other colleagues, make sure there is at least another female with you and you are not left with a male as the last ones to be dropped off at your hotel. Snap a picture of your cabs license plate before you get in and his work Id in the cab. Track your cab with Google Maps so you can tell if you’re going off route.
- Don’t keep all your money in one place. Keep some cash and a card on your person and some in your hotel safe. Tip store some of your extra cash in the bottom of a tampon or pad box. No one is going to look there.
- Don’t be so engrossed in reading emails, texting or scrolling through Instagram that you are not aware of what or who is around you. Keep your wits about you.
- If possible, request to have a room that is not at the end of a long hallway but near the elevators. You want to be away from emergency exits (where someone might pry the door open to avoid using the elevators).
- Your guest room door should have double locks – one of which is a dead bolt and a peephole.
- Try to choose hotels that have taken care to meet female travelers’ needs.
- Ask the hotel if they have a women-only floor. This is a newer trend that several hotels offer to female travelers and a closed-circuit camera inside the room to see who’s knocking at the door.
- Remove your conference badge after you exit the venue and are en route to your hotel or another event. Oftentimes predators will read your badge and try to strike up a conversation with you on the street, pretending they know who you are, and will potentially lure you into an unsafe situation.
- Always trust your gut! I was recently in a situation where I didn’t feel comfortable about my taxi driver. As I was walking up to his car, he didn’t get out to greet me or help with my bag, never smiled but was eyeing me the entire time. I immediately turned around and told the taxi attendant that I wasn’t comfortable and requested a new driver. Don’t be afraid to make that call if your gut tells you to. Don’t use an unmarked taxi.
- When you’re at a networking reception, don’t advertise how badly you need a drink or are looking forward to drinking, especially in a group setting where you’re not familiar with everyone. This automatically creates a predator/prey scenario. Definitely enjoy yourself but always be in control and know your limits. Drink in moderation. Keep your wits about you while you are having fun.
- If you’re in a situation where someone is making you feel uncomfortable at an event, tell them you need to go take a call or use the restroom. Sometimes we overthink what excuse we can use to remove ourselves from a situation, but it can be as simple as we make it.
- Keep two hotel keys with you – one in your bag and one on your person. That way if your bag gets nabbed you are not locked out.
- When heading to your room, pay attention to who’s in the elevator with you. I can’t tell you how many times I have exited elevators (especially in Las Vegas) when I don’t feel comfortable with my surroundings. If you notice someone get off at the same floor as you, try to maneuver to where that individual is walking ahead of you and never behind you. Have your key out when you leave the elevator.
- Leave the DO NOT DISTURB sign on your door and the TV on when you leave the room.
- If you order rom service or something from the hotel never identify that you are alone.
- Befriend Female hotel/hostel employees. Ask them for tips about getting around the area and where not to go. Bring a buddy when you can.
- In certain international destinations, consider having a local person accompany you at all times, as well as a personal concierge and a number to call for help 24/7.
- Do not share your room number with everybody at the forum. Make sure to double lock your room door from the inside.
- Do not feel pressured by a senior male colleague to go for after-event drinks if you are uncomfortable.
- Download a personal safety app to your phone such as Companion or bSafe and turn it on so your loved ones always know where you are during your trip. Always carry a local emergency contact with you. It can just be the hotels’ phone number but at least you have someone that can help you during an uncomfortable situation that is close by.
- Do not arrange out-of-hours meetings in your hotel room (after the event is over, for example). Always try to get together at a coffee shop, restaurant, etc.
- Don’t feel guilty about saying no to anything. It’s ok to turn down help with your bags, an invotation to dinner, a shot of vodka from a guy named Kent. Don’t be afraid to be rude if it means feeling safe. Trust your instincts about when to accept help.