Regardless of how you lean politically, it's no secret that the political climate is heated in many places around the globe. Because of the ever-changing policies and growing number of global issues, you may get caught up in a place that is affected by these problems. As a business traveler, especially an international business traveler, you may even more anxious about being in the wrong place at the wrong time.
While it's true that no one knows what the future holds, we also know that we can be prepared for encountering problems while we travel for our business. For instance, it's a good idea to keep some hand luggage with you in case of any loss (though, this advice is sound regardless of where you are traveling). Also, be prepared for flight cancelations or delays.
Here are some things to be aware of as well as tips on what to do to prepare yourself in the event of a major change.
1. Check the State Department's website.
Before traveling internationally, check out the U.S. Department of State's travel advisory website. You can search by country and it will give you visa information, advisories to be aware of, embassy locations, and other information that may be pertinent to your travels. It also have threat levels that are good to know.
I recommend enrolling in the free Smart Traveler Enrollment Program (STEP) so that you can be alerted and contacted by the U.S. embassy or consulate if there is an emergency. The website also have a detailed checklist that is a helpful resource for travelers.
You can also check out some of the general risks that Control Risks has put together.
2. Don't expect your employer to know the risks.
Unfortunately, most employers won't know the full concern of the place you are traveling to and likely won't enroll you in STEP. You'll probably have to read up on the risks yourself, which is always good to know anyways. Fortunately, these websites also make it easy to read.
If you are traveling with a group, I recommend forwarding the information along. They can leave their preferred emergency contact number and read up on any pertinent information, especially if they have different passports or need more information on medical accessibility in the country you will be traveling to.
3. Have emergency numbers saved.
If you have a contact at the office you will be visiting, be sure to save that information along with any airline, hotel, car rental, etc. information on your phone or in your notes somewhere. I recommend saving the information in both written and digital formats. I also recommend saving the info on an app (such as the notes app) that can be accessed without an internet connection.
I recommend saving phone numbers, social media handles, and addresses of places. If there is a delay, you can get ahead of the queue of people contacting customer service by already having phone numbers saved instead of having to find a connection to look them up.
Additionally, I recommend always booking your trips with a travel credit card that offers travel protections. For instance, some of the many Chase Sapphire Preferred benefits include trip cancelation and trip interruption service. Purchasing travel insurance is another option to consider.
4. Make a plan.
If you follow the above steps, a plan will be easier to formulate. For one, a log of saved contact information from your office and the office you will be visiting will be useful. Depending on your destination, it's good to have alternative travel plans should something go awry.
If you are traveling as a group, having a designated meeting place is a good idea. I've been on a few trips with groups and having a designated place to check-in daily made things a lot easier. One time we were even able to make it onto our flight as a group thanks to everyone meeting at our designated area and us catching a shuttle before a major storm was set to hit.
If political matters take a serious turn and you are targeted as business people or even as Americans, having a meeting place where you can call for help might help you versus everyone in your group being in a different place. If you are traveling alone, keep your contacts updated on where you'll be.