As women become more and more independent socially and also continue to climb the ladder in the workplace, solo female travel is becoming increasingly common. While this can be incredibly rewarding, it is not without a few drawbacks. Travel safety is not generally thought to be much of concern for women in countries like the UK, North America, Canada, and Australia, but in other parts of the world, it clearly still poses a lot of challenges.
But even in those ‘safer’ countries, there can be risks. If you are a female solo traveller, whether for pleasure or business, it is important to understand what precautions to take for maximum safety.
According to a Global Business Travel Association (GBTA) and AIG Travel survey, 83% of women reported having had concerns about their safety while on a business trip in the previous year.
Never take an unlicensed taxi
Rule number one is to never take an unlicensed taxi, particularly if you are in an unfamiliar area. Also be careful when booking airport transfers services as these, too, can be unlicensed. If you want to go somewhere in style, you might even consider licensed chauffeur services which guarantee all their drivers are insured and DBS checked, thereby offering you both luxury and safety.
If you are in an area where there are likely to be lots of people waiting for taxis such as at an airport, if you have pre-booked an airport transfer always arrange a password that the driver can quote back to you to ensure it is the taxi you have actually booked. (If you just say is this the taxi for Jill Smith, they are likely to say yes whether this is the case or not!)
Ditch the attention grabbers
If you are sole female travelling carrying designer luggage, wearing designer clothes and blatantly expensive watches and jewellery, you are immediately making yourself a target of theft and / or extortion. Ensure you travel in style and comfort but ditch the attention grabbers that make you stand out to unscrupulous lookers on.
Backup important documents
Getting stuck without important documents can happen all too frequently. Ensure you have of documents like passports, valid ID, etc. available at all times. This will also make the replacement process much smoother.
Be careful with medications
Always preserve the original packaging of any medications you are planning to take with you. Most countries have strict policies against drugs. If you have the right prescription markers, your interaction with the customs officials will be much easier.
Even in hotel rooms, be careful. There are horror stories of people being arrested in countries like Turkey because they have a bottle of unmarked supplements on the bathroom shelf: the cleaner reports it to the general manager as possible drugs, it’s then reported to the police and all of a sudden you are in prison and it takes a week or so for the pills to be tested and you to be released! Can you imagine what a scary and unpleasant scenario that is? And yes, it really can happen.
Use reviews to gauge the safety
If you are using Airbnb or Uber during your business travel, always make sure to examine the reviews that are left by other travellers closely. This is the best way to get an idea of how safe your ride or accommodation is.
Use Concierge Services
If visiting local sights is on your itinerary during travel abroad, it is best to use the services provided by your travel agency or the concierge services available at your hotel or resort. Whether you are planning a fancy dinner or shopping, these services ensure your safety by acting as a personal assistant.
Make proper accommodation arrangements
Ask for a room at the hotel with double-locking capabilities and before checking-in check that locks work properly. One of the best safety tipsis to be aware of the local transportation scene, in case you need an exit if things go awry.
Ensure you have access to your phone at all times and check you have the right contract with your phone provider for services abroad. Don’t forget your charger and keep your phone topped up at all times.
Solo female travellers in particular must be aware of the local customs regarding dressing, make up, and interactions with men. While most countries are open to new cultures, it is definitely in your best interests to understand what social restrictions are in place.
Plan in advance
Plan your travel in advance as much as you can, particularly if you are travelling independently and not a packaged holiday. Things like how you will be travelling on the road, local transport, where you will be staying, the location of the nearest hospital, the proximity of your country’s embassy, etc. are an important aspect of foreign travel that you must know.
Having all this information will help you easily deal with any surprises you might have to face during travel to other countries.
Mitigating risks by understanding precautions to be taken during business travel will give you peace of mind. We hope we provided you with safety tips that will make your business travel a healthier, happier and safer experience. Other than the tips shared here, the Foreign & Commonwealth (FCO) website on health and safety abroad has some valuable information that is definitely worth reading.
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