Security isn’t always on the top of your mind when we travel, but it should be.
Be alert when you step off the plane
Traveling long distances can cause tiredness, and tiredness and lead to making mistakes that could impact your journey.
When you arrive into the country by air, there are a number of safety considerations while waiting for baggage and transportation. To start with, you should wear suitable clothing for your journey. You want to be able to blend in and look like the locals as much as possible.
When exiting customs you should walk with confidence, while at the same time try to identify where the exits are. Having the confidence not to look lost or out of place displays an element of awareness which may prevent you from being approached by the airport vultures.
If you do have a driver, hopefully he or she does not have your real name or company written on the name sign. This is something that should be prearranged prior to your arrival. Where possible, you should also make sure you know what the name of the vehicle service is that is picking you up and also if possible the name of the driver. Ask for the drivers I.D. or at least a form of company identification to satisfy you if it is the first time using the service. This is also a good time to communicate with someone to let them know you’ve arrived.
If you have to drive, ensure plan your route in advance
You should avoid using rental cars where possible. However, if you do have to rent a vehicle, you should ensure you prearrange the pickup with a reputable company. Always ensure the vehicle is mechanically sound and obtain good maps and a GPS where possible to assist you with navigation especially if you’re not familiar with the country. Drive with windows up and doors locked at all times, and have your cell phone in your pocket while driving so you can access it easily in the event of an emergency, i.e. an accident or carjacking.
Related – PX Podcast: Security – The Traveling Workforce
Hotel / accommodation and room selection
Here are some points for consideration when selecting and staying in your accommodations.
- Hotels will often let you change room if you are not satisfied.
- Ground level rooms are vulnerable as access is easy.
- Stay next to, or close to an emergency stairwell.
- Bathrooms are often the best place hide as they should have locks.
- Carry a rubber door stop – this can be used to slow down any unwanted people trying to access your room.
- Check the internal locks on the room door – if they are not sufficient, ask to move to another room or get the hotel to repair them.
- Other accommodations should be checked in the same way as the hotel.
- In all instances, you should try and have an evacuation plan.
Are you being followed?
The Follow Summary – If you think you’re being followed:
- Go to the nearest public place if you’re not already in one.
- Try not to lead the person to any important locations.
- At all times you need to be aware of what the potential adversary is wearing.
- Only if you feel you’re in real danger should you go to the nearest safe place which might be your hotel or office.
- If you think you have been followed from your hotel then you may want to consider changing hotels and report the incident to your comrades that maybe staying in the same hotel.
- Report it to your company’s security manager at the earliest opportunity.
- If you believe you’re still being followed, you should cross the road, does the individual follow you?
- Is that the same person that you noticed earlier?
- Do they appear to be looking in your direction?
- Is there more than one and is there a vehicle involved? If there is a vehicle involved, this should raise your awareness even more.
- Try to take three right or left turns around a block, if the person is still behind you then take it as if you are being followed and move to a safe location.
- What will be your reaction be if the person starts to get closer?
- Remember, think on your feet and try not to panic.
- Listen to your intuition as it is usually right.
Related: Everyday Business Travelers Are Easy Targets for Espionage
Have an escape plan that includes a grab bag
You should have a grab bag at your side at all times when in your accommodation. This bag may be a back pack or some other kind of easy to carry bag that can be picked up in a hurry late at night. Within the bag, and depending on the location, you should consider having the following items from the list below:
- Identification (passport)
- Water (at least 2 liters)
- Food rations or snacks (24 hrs worth)
- A change of clothing including warm clothing
- Small sleeping bag
- Emergency medical pack and any personal medication
- Map with directions to your embassy
- Torch, whistle, knife and bungee or string
Depending on your circumstances, other items may include, satellite phone, laptop, and other important documents. All this equipment should be protected from water and placed inside a plastic bag within your grab bag.
If all this seems excessive, then just think back to events like Hurricane Sandy and the Asian tsunami where people and animals were left homeless, starving, and lost without a clue where to go or what to do.
Related: 5 Cyber Security Tips for Business Travelers
There are many other factors to consider while traveling. How do you plan your travel?
About Rob Burton
Rob is a Principal at PreparedEx where he manages a team of crisis preparedness professionals and has over 20 years of experience preparing for and responding to crises. Part of his leadership role includes assisting PreparedEx clients in designing, implementing and evaluating crisis, emergency, security and business continuity management programs. During his career Rob has worked for the US State Department’s Anti-Terrorism Assistance Program, as a crisis management consultant in Pakistan and Afghanistan where he negotiated with the UN and Pashtun tribal warlords and he served with the United Kingdom Special Forces where he operated internationally under hazardous covert and confidential conditions. Rob was also part of a disciplined and prestigious unit The Grenadier Guards where he served Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II at the Royal Palaces in London. Rob was a highly trained and experienced infantryman serving in Desert Storm and commanded covert operational teams and was a sniper. Rob has keynoted disaster recovery conferences and participated in live debates on FOX News regarding complex security requirements and terrorism. Rob has a Queen’s Commendation for Bravery.