International travel has gotten more affordable over time, meaning increasing numbers of individuals are taking to the skies for adventure, leisure and business. Whereas 50 years ago, a businessman might relocate his family to Europe or Asia, nowadays a single female might make the move all on her own. This is definitely a great step forward for the business community, though it doesn’t come without some personal safety risks. The unfortunate truth is that women relocating are more likely to be targeted by criminals when traveling or relocating abroad. But that is certainly no reason to stop – in fact many women are able to travel solo around the globe without running into any trouble at all. It’s all about knowing how to stay safe in every situation.
Here’s what employers and employees need to know about relocating female staff:
1. Get familiar with the local culture
Moving to another country is always a bit of shock, so it’s important to research the culture and social norms before making a move. This can mean anything from dress codes to behaviors. Because this travel is based around business, clothes should be at least semi formal in nature. What’s acceptable for off-the-clock wear may also be subject to societal norms or even government laws. Women traveling to countries in the Middle East need to be especially aware of what is and isn’t appropriate clothing.
2. Create boundaries
In his travel blog, Rick Steves suggested that women traveling in Europe learn to create boundaries around themselves when dealing with unfamiliar men. When you’re in a business setting, this is much easier – as long as everyone sticks to the subject at hand, there shouldn’t be any problems. But it may prove more difficult while away the business setting. While it’s true that any traveler outside their country is a representative of that nation, and therefore should act with politeness, there is such a thing as going too far. If an unfamiliar man can’t take a polite hint to go away, it’s okay to be firm or stern with him.
3. Stay in the center of town
Women traveling for business should always speak with the person at their company who books the flights and hotels and request a lodging in a central part of the city. Staying on the outskirts of town could mean having to walk through unlit, dangerous areas. It’s always best to be somewhere with more people. Jodi Ettenberg, writing for Legal Nomads, even recommended carrying a safety whistle in case you need to call for help.
4. Use business cards as luggage tags
An unsavory character could use your luggage tags to track you down. The Gutsy Traveler blog recommended using business cards instead of your home address. This way, no one will know your home address, yet your bags will still get back to you if they get lost. Similarly, try to avoid saying your hotel address or room number out loud. If you have to, lie about where you’re staying or be extremely vague.
5. Avoid excessive alcohol consumption
There will be times when the stress of business gets to be too much and tall glass of beer begins to look very inviting. It’s fine to have a drink here and there, but excessive alcohol consumption should be avoided. The temporary fun of a night out on the town isn’t worth the danger of impairment. If you do drink a little too much, try to drink a lot of water and wait an hour before leaving the bar or restaurant – then take a taxi back to the hotel.