For seasoned business travellers the notion of safety and security while travelling may seem like an unnecessary concern. Safety demonstrations by flight attendants are for the benefit of ‘others’ and, beyond that, all you need to worry about is keeping your belongings safe. Perhaps not.
That may be the perception – indeed 99% of travels do occur without mishap – however, the consequences of misadventure are serious enough to warrant a little preparation. Just as our seatbelts are redundant for the vast majority of our car travels, when we actually need them, we’re glad that we took the trouble to put them on.
With this in mind, here are some essential pre-travel requirements that most business, executive and VIP travellers should meet, or at least have someone delegated to take care of them. They aren’t onerous but they can be life saving or at least help you avoid or cope with misfortune should it arise.
If your business has a travel policy, now would be a good time to run through it to check that everything is covered in it. And if you don’t have a travel policy, now would be a good time to develop one. (If you need help with that, let me know).
We’ve put together a pdf checklist that you can download below and I’ve also covered this in more depth on this Wheels Up Podcast episode here. For now we’ll cover pre-departure essentials and I’ll cover the during and after travel essentials in a future post.
- Ensure you have the right type of Visa. Apart from checking if you actually need a visa for the country you are travelling to, don’t be caught out by getting the wrong type. You might be tempted to cut corners (and costs) and get a tourist visa for a conference but in some countries, a conference requires a business visa.
Bookings (Flights, accommodation, transport)
- Arrange these in advance wherever possible.
- Check your company travel policy to see what it says about personnel all traveling on the same flight (e.g. you wouldn’t want your full board of directors on the same plane).
- Ensure you have at least six months remaining on your passport. Some countries won’t allow you to travel into their country without that and obviously it can be a very long flight back home if you make that mistake.
- Check your company policy for hotel recommendations or criteria for hotels
- Check the location of your proposed hotel from a security or risk perspective. e.g. choosing a hotel close to your meeting locations may also put you in a red light district.
- Scope out the security levels of your proposed hotel (lower cost hotels typically have lower security. Look in the Trip Advisor comments sections for comments from visitors about security in general.
- See if you can book a room on the 3rd, 4th or 5th floors. Upper level rooms may be great for getting a view but in the event of a fire, they are out of reach of fire department equipment. 1st and 2nd floors are easy pickings for thieves.
- Ask for a room away from the fire escape. Thieves prefer to work rooms near fire escapes for a quick exit if needed.
- Take a door stop with you for added security (or a ‘door jammer’).
- Scope out the locations of police stations and hospitals before you leave (much easier than doing so in an emergency). Check if your corporate travel policy or your travel insurance policy has any details of these.
- Identify if a hospital is appropriate for your needs. e.g. If you have a heart condition does it have a cardiac unit? Not all hospitals have emergency units.
Embassies and Consulates
- Find out the details of the embassy or consulate nearest your destination and carry these details on you. Makes them easier to find when needed and helps others get in touch with those important to you if you are out of action.
- Check your country’s official travel website for travel warnings and local details (see the list in our pdf checklist or infographic below).
- If offered, register your travel with your government travel registry.
- Check immunisation requirements well in advance of travelling. Some immunizations require a certain timeframe to be administered before departure and others may not be readily available.
- Consider visiting a doctor who specialises in travel medicine.
- If you’re on medication to take enough to cover your trip plus a week.
Pack a “Grab Bag”
- Small, nondescript bag. Backpack preferably. Strong and preferably with double stitching. Large enough for a laptop.
- Torch/Flashlight. Doesn’t need to be large. I carry and recommend a Surefire torch. Apart from the obvious a bright torch can also be used to blind an attacker. Some torches can double as a phone charger.
- Smoke hood.Covers head and face and filters smoky air. Keep one in the grab bag and one on the bedside table.
- Permanent marker (Sharpie or similar). Handy to have. Can even use to write details on an injured person – name, vital signs, etc.
- Individual/Immediate First Aid Kit – IFAK. Also get basic training on how to use these items.
- Bottle of water
- Mobile phone charger
- Documentation – photocopies of passport, license, visa, etc
- Cash. Small amount in local currency
- Carry a spare wallet or purse with a small amount of cash ($10-12) and some expired or dummy credit cards (can use this to hand over to thieves if necessary).
- Depending on your destination, consider carrying a cheap phone with minimal to protect your data on your smartphone (protects you from hackers or thieves).
- Check your policy for inclusions before engaging in activities (e.g. are you covered for riding on a scooter/moped).
- Check with HR to ensure the company policy is adequate for your destination.
Enter your details below to access the Business Travel Safety and Security Check List as a printable pdf.
Part 2 of the Business Travelers’ Essential can be found here.