Not so long ago, business travel was reserved exclusively for men, while women mostly waited for them at home. Fortunately, times have changed, and women are taking over important roles in different industries, which often requires traveling for work. Unfortunately, we shouldn’t be fooled to believe that the terms and the conditions of the trip are the same for both genders.
A survey done by the Global Business Travel Association (GBTA) found that more than 80 percent of women who traveled for work more than four times in a year had a safety-related issue that impacted their productivity.
If you’re planning a business trip anytime soon, you need to be aware of these differences and do everything within your power to avoid unpleasant situations.
While There Are More Women Business Travelers, Safety Remains An Issue
Nearly 50 percent of women who travel do so for work, which makes them the fastest-growing demographic in business travel. We’ve already mentioned the number of safety-related incidents women encounter. Some of them are random, such as break-ins, but some are very personal such as stalking, harassment, and sexual assault.
On top of that, there are also the various forms of micro-aggression we, as women, still have to deal with when traveling alone.
Women Rarely Get Adequate Support & Training
Also, there’s a clear gap regarding the support and training provided to female travelers. There is an obvious lack of gender-specific components that will help women feel safe and prepared for their trip.
Employers need to research safety issues for each destination, but they should also address these risks in formalized training.
Of course, not all parts of the training should be gender-specific. Some need to be location-specific because of cultural norms that are different in various parts of the world and can have a lot of impact on women’s safety.
Accommodation Booking Is Different For Women
Surveys show that women are highly concerned when booking accommodations for their business trips. In fact, 70% of women would rather book a traditional hotel over a hostel or a motel, precisely because of safety.
It’s also recommended for women to stay on the third floor or higher to minimize the chance of break-ins. Most importantly, it’s best to choose a hotel with 24/7 security.
Getting Around The City
More than half of women traveling for work include some leisure time in between their tasks, which is a normal thing to do. However, depending on your location, the part of the city you’re in, and the time of the day, you need to take precautionary measures.
Because you can get robbed in any country, taking theft-prevention measures should be a given for any trip. Many women find that wearing anti-theft accessories such as a money belt makes them feel more secure during their travels.
Keep your laptop and other valuables in a safe in your hotel room. If your destination country is particularly risky for women travelers, try to move in the company of your business associates and stick to the well-lit, populated streets.
In many ways, the way you get from point A to point B will depend on the country you’re visiting. For example, if you’re traveling to Saudi Arabia, using public transport can be complicated. You need to sit in the front two rows in buses, and you can travel unaccompanied only if you have a passport or a residence permit. However, in a taxi, you are forbidden from traveling without company.
Even in countries that are more “female-friendly,” transportation is an important safety concern. Although ride-sharing services such as Uber are relatively safe, we still need to remind ourselves to always check for the license plate or the driver’s name before entering the car.
The best option would be renting a vehicle when you arrive or hiring a professional driver.
The Support Back Home Is Important
Most companies offer their employees mobile messaging options and mobile check-in capabilities when traveling for work. However, it’s imperative that the organization also offers an assistance hotline. Hiring female operators on the hotline could make the process of reporting safety issues, especially the personal ones, much easier for female travelers.
This is something you should discuss with your employer before even taking the trip. It’s crucial to establish safety procedures beforehand and, if possible, have one person who will be in charge of communicating with you while you’re away.
Technology Can Help
Many safety tips for women travelers advise using the available technology. For this, you will need to have your phone with you at all times, and your battery charged. Here are some useful apps and gadgets to have:
- Tourlina matches you with another woman traveler at the destination.
- The RedZone Map App helps you avoid high-crime areas.
- TravelSafe PRO lists the local emergency services and your country embassy contact.
- Nimb Smart Ring follows your location and gives you quick access to emergency contacts.
Being a woman on a business trip has many challenges, but it is also a great career opportunity – and it can certainly be a lot of fun. Unfortunately, we live in a world that’s not always kind to women, so you and your employer need to take precautionary measures to keep your safety uncompromised.