By Kawania H. Wooten CMP
At some point in your career, you may need to travel alone for an event or business. While business travel feels safer and more secure than it used to, solo travelers still need to take precautions to remain safe.
Before Your Departure —
- Consider Purchasing Travel Insurance. By the time you pay for your conference registration, your airfare and your hotel room reservation, you will more than likely spend $1,000+. If this is the case, you may want to consider travel insurance. Travel insurance typically covers lost or delayed baggage, medical coverage, and the pre-paid, non-refundable portion of your trip expenses as a result of the cancellation, interruption and/or delay of your trip.
- Leave Your Travel Itinerary with your Emergency Contact. Before I leave for a trip, I forward my flight or train itinerary, along with a copy of my hotel room confirmation to my husband and my assistant to ensure that someone knows my whereabouts in case of an emergency.
- Make Your Important Details Easy to Locate. Before you depart, make a photocopy of your passport and your health insurance card and create a document that lists your credit card numbers, along the numbers to call in case you lose those credit cards. Then file it in a location that is easy for a family member or staff member to find. These documents will come in very handy if your purse and/or wallet is lost or stolen.
- Research Your On-Site Surroundings. Research the neighborhood where your hotel is located. Identify the pharmacy, hospital and US embassy (if you are traveling internationally) located near your hotel.
- Let Your Bank Know that You are Traveling. To avoid delays in using your bank card or credit card, notify your bank that you are traveling so they will approve charges in an unfamiliar city or country.
- Pack for Worse Case Scenarios. If you tend to wear heels on business travel, pack a pair of flat shoes in your suitcase. If you wear prescription eyeglasses, pack a spare pair. If you take prescription medication, consider keeping them in the original bottles for the trip. And, remember to keep a small flashlight, a doorstop alarm, and a portable cell phone charger in your suitcase. You never know when you might need them.
Upon Arrival —
- Request to Receive Your Hotel Room Number Discreetly. Ask the front desk employee checking you into the hotel to write down your hotel room number instead of calling it out loud. If they do say it aloud, feel free to request a new room.
- Request an Escort to Your Hotel Room. If you are a woman traveling alone, ask for a bellman to escort you to your hotel room upon check-in. When you reach your room, ask the bellman to check your closet and shower stall for you before his departure. You also want to ensure that the door and window locks work properly. This may seem like overkill or a little paranoid, but it’s best to take the precautions before you are alone in your hotel room.
- Know the Location of the Hotel’s Emergency Exit. When you arrive at your hotel room, count the number of doors from your hotel room to the emergency exit. Knowing this information will be key if you ever need to find your way through a smoke-filled hall — Because an elevator won’t be an option.
- Sanitize. Bring some antibacterial wipes for your hotel room doorknobs, the hotel room telephone(s), the television remote control, and the on/off switch for the lamp on your bedside table. — A lot of human germs and debris touches these items and it doesn’t hurt to wipe them away before you begin you go to sleep! Also, pull back the comforter — You don’t want to use it. Hotels don’t launder them after each hotel guest stay.
During the Conference or Business Trip —
- Be Mindful of What You Post on Instagram. Check out my post here regarding this topic.
- Give the Illusion that you are in your Hotel Room. When you go out in the evening, give the illusion that you are in your hotel room by leaving the radio or TV on. Also, consider placing the “Do Not Disturb” sign on your doorknob while you are out in the evening. This may be enough to discourage a criminal from entering your hotel room because s/he will believe your room is occupied.
- Forego the Room Service Card for Breakfast. Planning your breakfast the night before sounds like a great convenience if you have a busy day ahead of you, but it is not the safest choice if you are staying in your hotel room alone. The card on the doorknob will tell intruders your name and the number of guests staying in your room. Instead, leave a note on your bedside table to order your breakfast as soon as you wake up.
- Remember to Take Off Your Badge When You Leave the Conference Venue. Wear your badge while you are at the conference venue, but remember to take it off when you leave the hotel or convention center. Wearing a badge in public tells the bad guys that you aren’t local. And, when victims of theft or assault aren’t local, they are less likely to badger the authorities about the status of their case.
- Keep an Eye on Your Drink (At All Times!). Date rape drugs are used in many instances, so keep an eye on your drink no matter what time of the day it is and no matter where you are located at the time.
- Always Keep Your Phone Charged. Charge your phone every night before bed and carry a portable charger with you.
Upon Your Return —
- Let Your Bank Know that You are Back Home. Notify your bank that you have returned home.
- Consider Hitching a Ride Home with a Friend. Instead of parking at the airport, consider asking a friend or family member to pick you up and drive you home. Doing this will help you avoid the lonely (and sometimes creepy) walk to your car in the airport parking lot. When you arrive at home, ask your friend to come into your home with you to ensure that you are indeed home alone.
Kawania Wooten is the principal consultant at Howerton+Wooten Events, LLC. Known to her friends and family as Kay, she uses artistic skills, her keen attention to the smallest details and her strong commitment to customer service as the hallmark of her business. As the founder of the company, Kawania strives for professionalism, creativity and impeccable organization within every function planned by Howerton+Wooten Events.