When traveling abroad for business, your main priority is to get to the destination safely, accomplish your tasks and goals and head home. Whether you're traveling to meet with a client, attend a conference or inspect a factory, the job at hand is probably your main concern. You may also want to see some of the sights, but if you're on a tight schedule, your options may be limited to a few meals out.
No matter how important your task is, however, you need to focus on personal safety. That means staying out of physical danger and away from potential illnesses. If you follow the news, then you might be worried about the Zika virus or the threat of terrorism. But are these really the threats you should be focusing your attention on?
What's there to worry about?
When you think about the dangers associated with traveling abroad, you might focus on things like shark attacks or contagious diseases. The New York Times reported that many international travelers are worried about being exposed to the Zika virus or to acts of terrorism. But a look at the numbers can show you that these threats are minimal. In fact, the source reported that the effects of Zika in Brazil have been over-reported and there are currently no terrorist-related travel warnings for any European country.
According to The New York Times, automobile accidents are actually the leading cause of fatalities among Americans traveling abroad. Many of these incidents occur in countries like New Zealand, where motorists drive on the left side of the road. And Brazil is home to much more communicable and dangerous diseases than Zika, yet they don't make headlines. That said, traveling abroad typically isn't any more dangerous than your average day in America. And as long as you follow some simple precautions, you should have nothing to worry about.
A few helpful tips to stay safe
Staying safe while traveling abroad usually only takes a bit of common sense and an alert head on your shoulders. Here are a few more helpful tips you can use on your next trip abroad.
1. Keep a low profile
The key to staying safe is to keep a low profile. Drawing attention to yourself will inevitably attract the wrong kind, and that could put you in a tight spot. The Huffington Post recommended leaving your expensive jewelry at home. If you feel like you need it to make an impression at your meeting, then lock it up in the hotel safe when you go out for a drink. And when you do go out, always act responsibly and take a taxi after sundown.
2. Check with the CDC
Sometimes business trips can come up unexpectedly. If you've been booked on a last-minute flight to a foreign country, then do a quick check of the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. This government agency provides a detailed sheet on every country the world, providing information about local diseases and the necessary precautions you should take before visiting. If upon reading this information you no longer feel comfortable about traveling, consider asking for a reassignment.
3. Talk to the right strangers
When you were a child, your mother probably told you not to talk to strangers. The same rule still applies when traveling abroad, but there a few people you should be sure to converse with. Before you hop aboard your flight, browse through a travel guide and try out a few of the local phrases. Try the phrases out on your hotel concierge, the server at a local restaurant or with a friendly shopkeeper. This shows that you respect their culture and that you're trying to fit in.
4. Plan your routes in advance
The stereotypical image of a tourist is a person looking down at a map, trying to figure out where they are and how to get where they want to go. You do not want to be this person. If you can, get an international phone plan before your trip so that you can use your device's GPS. TechRepublic suggested mapping out your route in your hotel room before hitting the streets. Above all, always look confident about where you're going, even if you're not. It's a great way to trick the locals into thinking you're just another one of them.