Travelling on business, especially to foreign destinations, can be stressful; tight deadlines, back-to-back meetings, unfamiliar surroundings, different cultures, and more. To mitigate the added pressure of unfortunate incidents, it’s best to be informed, aware and prepared. Here’s how:

Do your homework. Long before booking your hotel, find out about your destination’s security situation. Are travellers often targeted by local criminals? Is there a terrorism threat? Which areas are most secure? How security-conscious is the hotel you’re considering? A good travel management company (TMC) can help provide this information.

Get emergency numbers. Before embarking on your trip, add emergency numbers to your cell phone. For example, the direct line to your hotel’s front desk, your TMC’s hotline number, your home country’s nearest embassy, the local hospital, the local equivalent of 10111, etc.

Make copies of documents. Counter the loss of important documents and items by making copies of your passport and bank cards. Leave one at home with someone trustworthy, the other take with you on your trip. Remember to keep the copy separate from the originals.

Check this when checking in. Unless there’s no alternative, don’t accept a room on the ground floor. Safety experts recommend the third to sixth floors – these rooms are high enough to be difficult to break into, but not beyond the reach of most fire engine ladders.

Keep your door locked. If someone unexpected knocks on your door claiming to be a hotel staff member, call the front desk and find out whether the visit was actually authorised. And use the peephole. Never open your door until you’re sure of the visitor’s identity.

Use your hotel safe. Although hotel room safes are accessible to hotel staff (should you forget your code or leave belongings behind), your room’s safe is still a great place to leave your important possessions. You can also leave valuables at the front desk while you’re out. If you do, remember to get a written receipt.

Keep the lights on. Before leaving your room, leave the lights and TV on, and hang your ‘do not disturb’ sign on the door. If you do experience a crime during your trip, don’t just tell the hotel, file a police report. Your travel insurance and perhaps your homeowner’s insurance policy will cover certain losses. To do so, they will need the police report and any other relevant documentation.

To summarise, prepare well, stay aware, keep your possessions close, buy travel insurance, use your room’s safe, and keep your lights on!

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