Words by Carlie Tucker
Women account for roughly half the business travel market, hitting the road in greater numbers each year. And while the prospect of increased travel for work lends a greater sense of freedom for many women, it also comes with a few safety considerations.
Whether travelling domestically or overseas, solo women travellers should take the obvious steps to ensure personal safety. Think along the lines of pack a personal alarm, be aware of your surroundings and avoid strangers, but there are a few things you may not have considered. Here are a few surprising and practical pointers for your next solo trip:
Do your cultural research
Before heading overseas, it's important to do a bit of cultural research. Not only should you cover the basics such the local language and learning key phrases, but you should also look into common business practices, attitudes toward women and dress codes. This ensures you won't inadvertently offend your business hosts or find yourself in more serious trouble.
Copies of your itinerary and passport
Another step to take before you leave the house, make sure you make copies of your travel itinerary, visas and passport to leave with someone at home. If something does happen while you're away, you can rest assured someone will be able to quickly transfer these documents to you if you need them. It also ensures someone will always know where you are. It's also worth arranging a check-in call or text with someone at home at the end of the day. Just for added peace of mind.
Armed with your new found cultural knowledge, be mindful when choosing what to wear while you travel. Err on the side of conservative with neutral colours and minimal jewellery. Not only will it help you fit in with other cultures more effectively, it can also assist in deterring any unwanted attention.
Request a room above the ground floor
This useful tip is appropriate when travelling to any destination. When booking a hotel, make sure you request a room above the ground floor. Your chances of a nicer outlook are all the better, and it makes you and your belongings less vulnerable to strangers hoping to get into your room from ground floor doors or windows. The higher up you go, the better. If you want to take it a step further, opt for a hotel with internal facing entries only. Most larger hotel chains are set up this way for added security.
Looking for more solo travel tips? The Singles Game: Tips For The Solo Business Traveller
Or tips for handling an emergency on the road? Tips For Handling A Travel Emergency
Ask for two room keys
When you check-in to your room, make sure you request two keys to give the illusion that you're travelling with someone else. It also means that you can keep one key in your handbag and one on your person to ensure you will still be able to get into your room if you fall victim to a bag snatcher or pickpocket.
Use the Do Not Disturb sign
If you're worried about people entering your room while you're at the office, use the Do Not Disturb sign to keep staff away. Many hotels will also allow you to call the front desk and opt out of daily housekeeping visits. New towels can always be requested when you need them. Having the sign on your door can also make other guests or visitors think there is someone in the room, which can help deter any potential intruders.
Use the Concierge
If you're travelling to any unfamiliar destinations, the hotel Concierge is a great source of local information. Trained to help guests with a range of requests, these useful staff members can assist with everything from arranging transport to tips on where to eat. If you happen to have any free time while you're travelling for work, they can help with arranging sightseeing activities or tours. They can also provide safety insight should there be any local areas or establishments that solo women travellers should avoid.
Keep your phone at hand
When you're travelling for work, your phone can be one of your biggest assets. Not only does it allow you to conduct your business on the road, but it can go a long way in ensuring your personal safety, with the Internet, maps, phone numbers and emails all available in a single device. Make sure you keep it on you at all times with a full charge.
Look the part
While you're out and about, walk with confidence and purpose. Even if you're not really sure where you're going. Try to stick with crowds of people and be aware of your surroundings at all times. If you do find yourself in an unfamiliar spot, duck into a cafe or store to look up directions on your phone. You'll give the impression you know where you're going and you won't look vulnerable to anyone looking to take advantage of tourists or visitors.
Know the local emergency numbers
If you do find yourself in a bad situation, be sure you know the number for local authorities and emergency services. Before you go, hit Google for a list of emergency contact numbers in the destination you will be travelling to and store them in your phone.