Although technological changes and a rise in travel opportunities are good things, the possibilities of information being lost, stolen, or attacked come with the territory. You've probably come across articles addressing these issues with travel tips to help your business travels run smoothly. Most people (myself included) might do a quick scan, take note of something relevant, and disregard the rest.
However, there's a reason these tips get posted often. While it's true that some tips are obvious, there are some that you should stop ignoring. This is especially important given the US government shut down and the potential for delays and problems being higher than they normally would be.
No matter how much we plan, things aren't always guaranteed to go accordingly. Therefore, it's important to prepare for the worst case scenario. Here are five travel tips that you probably ignore but shouldn't.
1. Make a copy of important documents.
No matter how much we plan, unexpected events will happen at some point or another. These events can be especially challenging when they involve documents such as your passport, driver's license, or visa if your business trip requires it. If you lose any of these documents or they get stolen and you don't have a backup in place, you'll have an extra layer of stress and problems added to your trip that you really could've gone without.
While you've likely heard this tip before, taking the time to copy your documents and storing them somewhere safe online is worth it. Store them in your email, on a cloud-based service, and with family so that they are easily accessible. As someone who had their credit card hacked while abroad, having a copy of all the information from the credit card stored help me handle the situation much more efficiently.
This is one of those tips that once done, you won't have to worry about again until your information changes or documents get renewed.
2. Learn your destination's local emergency number.
We all know that 911 is the go-to emergency number in the United States. However, besides a few other countries like Canada and Argentina, dialing 911 in other countries will not put you across to their emergency department. Even then, some countries don't use the same number to reach the local police, ambulance, or fire department.
Being aware of the different numbers while traveling is never a bad idea. No matter how alert and aware you are, things can always go wrong. Keep a note saved in your wallet and on your phone with useful numbers, just in case.
3. Leave a copy of your itinerary with someone you trust.
I can't stress this enough - always leave a copy of your itinerary with a loved one. This goes without saying, but if something was to happen to you, it'll give them a place to start looking. Plus, it will help you keep organized and keep track of your business activities.
4. Get travel insurance.
Travel insurance is something that I consider a necessity, especially when traveling abroad. Yes, it does add extra money you need to spend on a trip. But compared to the amount it'll save you if you do end up in a situation where it's needed, buying travel insurance is worth it.
Since most travel insurances cover things like cancellation, delay, lost baggage, and medical coverage, you'll be glad you don't have to worry about that. Additionally, if you use your credit card to book your travels, you may also have coverage from that. It's a good idea to read up on your policy before you travel.
5. Sign up for alerts from the State Department.
Though many people prefer to avoid thinking about it (especially if they're already a nervous traveler), there are possibilities of coming in contact with a terrorist attack, political violence, or even a natural disaster while traveling. If you are traveling abroad, I recommend checking the State Department's website to see if there are any specific risks you should be aware of.
I also recommend signing up for the State Department's Safe Traveler Enrollment Program (STEP) so if a crisis does occur while you're abroad, the U.S Embassy will contact you and help you through it. If you have social media, consider following or at least being aware of relevant accounts that will post any information you might need when traveling. For instance, you can often reach representatives and get updates through Twitter.
Though these five tips might require some time and research, they are worth doing. Being prepared and having friends and family in the loop can make a significant difference should something happen. It is always better to be prepared.