Travel Tips for Working Abroad
Traveling abroad for work can be very exciting. It offers you an unbelievably unique opportunity to experience the world while making your resume stand out, making it highly recommended by those who have done it themselves. However, no adventure comes without risks. Read our tips on how to stay safe and smart when working abroad.
Traveling via various forms of transportation is relatively safe. Even the risk of infectious disease when traveling is extremely low. The real exposure to danger, however, comes from other people, usually regarding theft. Your personal information is put at a higher risk when making transactions in multiple places and countries, as well as exposing your devices to a number of networks. Work travelers are especially susceptible to these risks. Here are some tips that will mitigate your risk of danger and help you succeed in your international endeavors.
Conduct research on the region and country you are going to. If you are traveling for business, it’s especially important to know the language and customs of the nation. In many countries, there are business traditions that are important to know for achieving trust. Knowing the local language is the best way to gain this trust. Therefore, it may be worth it to take the time to learn the basics.
Knowing the potential risks a country may present is important as well. The US State Department provides a list of possible health risks in countries around the world, with recommended vaccinations and security warnings. This may come in handy when deciding where you choose to visit and work abroad and aid in preparation.
Blend In/Keep Private
While it’s important to make friends and connect with people abroad, it’s also important to keep certain things private before you really get to know them. This includes sharing the exact location of where you live, versus a general area, and any possession of valuables that you have brought with you. Until you become comfortable with your area and the people around you, avoid wearing expensive watches or jewelry. This not only helps to keep you from becoming a target of theft, but it also helps you avoid offending locals if you are staying in an area where such jewelry is uncommon. Blending into the culture is another reason why it’s important to research the area you will be traveling to.
If you find that your destination has a history of fraud and theft (surprisingly, usually developed countries), you may want to consider investing in a few common sense items that will help prevent theft. If RFID(radio-frequency identification) related crimes worry you, an RFID protected wallet can help keep skimmers away. Getting a no slash backpack and a personal lock can also help avoid theft if you will be carrying valuables.
Projecting confidence is a great way to have success in business abroad. Showing confidence bodes well in interviews as well as the conference room. People like to be around confident individuals and making deals and partnerships with them. It not only helps colleagues build trust in you and increases your chances of promotion but projecting confidence is a great way to ward off attackers.
Attackers would much rather prey upon people who appear to be fearful or shy that will put up less of a fight. Staying aware and alert is the best way to show confidence and make yourself an unlikely target.
Be Wary of Public WiFi
For many business travelers, the need for internet access is endless, hopping from airport to hotel WiFis while checking emails and conducting business. This is proven to be risky as many public WiFis are unsecured, even if they require a password. This allows hackers access to your online activity which can compromise your personal information.
Many business travelers use a VPN (Virtual Private Network) to help keep their activity encrypted and safe. A VPN also disguises your location by using servers all over the world, allowing you to have complete online anonymity. A mobile VPN may also come in handy as you use your maps app to navigate throughout a foreign city bouncing between public WiFis, while eavesdroppers attempt to intercept your connection.
Don’t Be Cheap
It’s common to try to save money when traveling, but sometimes it’s worth it to spend a little more for safer accommodations and travel. Reading reviews is an easy way to make sure that a hotel’s website isn’t misrepresenting itself.
Booking the cheapest room you can find is a good way to end up staying in a room next to a loud nightclub or sketchy characters who are up to no good. Using trustworthy review sites such as Yelp will help you find the places that truly have a good reputation. Another great way to inquire helpful reviews is to ask locals. No one knows their community as well as them. They can always point you to a great restaurant, or keep you from going to a bad one!
Cheap flights often times bring you into a city at a dangerous time of night when a naive traveler might be most at risk. Often times cheap flights use low rates to entice you to book but then surprise you with hidden fees that can add up quickly.
You’ve heard the old saying that, “you are more likely to be killed on the way to the airport than on the plane”. It’s true that airplanes are pretty safe, but the airport can be another story. One of the best things you can do is to get through security as fast as possible. That way you are on the safe screened side of the airport. If traveling from the US, using TSA precheck allows you to be prescreened and skip the long security lines.
Try to avoid having too many pre-flight drinks. Although for some this can be a great way to ease any nerves you may have about flying, generally being intoxicated is never safe when traveling. It can also make you an easy target for pickpockets or muggers.
Never ask someone to take a picture of you with your phone unless it’s someone trusted, such as an airport security guard. Giving a stranger access to your phone is a risk, even if its brief.
It may be tempting to listen to your favorite artist or podcast while waiting for your flight, but you may miss important announcements regarding delays or gate changes. Be sure to not completely tune out your surroundings.
Know Emergency Numbers
This may be the easiest of all the tips, but it is also the most common to overlook. A simple search for local emergency locations and phone numbers, such as hospitals and police stations, will allow you to take note and keep them stored in a safe place like your phone or wallet. Giving these numbers to a friend or family member back home, as well as your itinerary, will help them to stay in touch in case of an emergency.
Although it’s never possible to completely avoid every risk, as is true in any scenario, following the above tips will help to mitigate those dangers. Working abroad is an excellent way to improve personal development and achieve professional advancement. Experiencing different cultures while having to communicate and work with individuals of vastly different backgrounds sharpens your communication skills, understanding, and versatility to work in any environment.
Don’t let potential risks keep you from achieving your professional goals. If working abroad is something you wish to do, be sure to take precaution and follow these steps. Even if you never have to use them you can enjoy your adventure at ease knowing you are prepared.