Stay Safe and Prevent Losses When Traveling Abroad
In 2013, almost 5 million American workers packed their bags and hopped on an international flight for business purposes. However, because of the high cost of international travel, the U.S. Department of Commerce estimated that 83 percent of these businesspeople were traveling alone.
Visiting a foreign country can be an exciting experience for road warriors, but there are also a number of risks associated with being alone in an unfamiliar territory. If you have an upcoming international business trip, use these five important tips to ensure that you stay safe, no matter where you are in the world.
1. Sign Up for the Smart Traveler Enrollment Program
Before you board a plane to another country, it’s a good idea to ensure you’ll be able to contact a U.S. embassy or consulate in case of an emergency. The U.S. Bureau of Consular Affairs offers a free service called the Smart Traveler Enrollment Program, also called STEP, that’s a good option for all travelers. When you sign up for STEP, it allows the U.S. Embassy to quickly get in touch with you in the event of natural disasters, civil unrest or family emergencies. It’s an easy step that will help you to stay informed and safe while you’re abroad.
2. Look into Local Laws and Customs
If this is your first trip to a certain country, you’ll benefit from researching local laws and customs. Depending on the nation that you’re visiting, the laws may be vastly different from American regulations, but you’re still required to adhere to them. You should also look into social conventions so you can avoid unintentionally offending someone.
3. Know How to Get Around
Once you land at your destination, be sure to buy yourself a map. Take a few minutes to pinpoint the locations of the hotel, office, airport and U.S. embassy. You should always be sure you know where you’re going and how to get there if you want to stay safe. It’s also a good idea to plan your ground transportation ahead of time.
“The Department of Commerce estimates that 44 percent of business travelers need to use taxi or limousine services to get around overseas,” explained Dean Sivley, GroundLink’s CEO. “However, it can be tricky to find a reliable provider in a foreign country, especially when there’s a language barrier. The good news is that GroundLink is available in 110 countries around the world, so you can rest assured that a safe and secure ride is just a few taps away on your mobile phone.”
“Always be prepared for the worst-case scenario when it comes to your health.”
4. Be Prepared for Health Problems
Most business travelers stay at their international locations for a few weeks, and that’s more than enough time for you to become ill, whether from bad food, existing health problems or just a typical cold. You should always be prepared for the worst-case situation when it comes to your health, so be sure to get any necessary vaccinations and follow well-being guidelines. If you absolutely need a certain type of over-the-counter medication, make sure to bring some with you just in case. Speak with your insurance company before you depart to see if medical care will be covered in the foreign country you’re visiting. You’ll want to pack an insurance policy identity card and claim form with you on your trip, as well as a physician’s note documenting any necessary prescriptions you’re carrying.
5. Leave Valuables Behind
You probably know that you shouldn’t bring your most expensive watch and unnecessary electronics on an international business trip, but there are other valuables you should consider leaving behind as well. If possible, leave your work laptop that contains sensitive or proprietary information at home and carry a “clean” computer instead. The same goes for invaluable paperwork – if you don’t absolutely need it, then don’t bring it. In the case that you have to bring one of these items, be sure to keep it on your person at all times. Don’t pack your computer or paperwork in your suitcase or leave it unattended in a hotel.