Travel Managers have a duty of care responsibility to keep their business travelers safe while on the road and can try to mitigate risk by ensuring they have good programs, policies, and procedures in place should the need arise. However, travelers also need to be mindful and aware of their surroundings. They need to be able to mitigate risk, and take ownership of their health, safety, and wellbeing while away for work by using their company's travel guidelines.
Let’s discuss seven practical tips for safer business travel from the lens of a business traveler.
1. Review your company's travel policy semi-annually
A stagnate travel policy serves no one. Part of your travel manager's role is to ensure your company's travel policy is kept up to date with changes—usually quarterly or semi-annually. As a traveler, you must stay aware of the policy and its occasional changes. When in doubt, your travel manager is there to discuss the travel policy with you, should you need clarification.
2. Check your travel portal and connect with your travel manager about any location-specific restrictions or alerts before your departure
Many medium-to-large size businesses will enlist services such as ISOS and Crisis24 as resources to serve business travelers. These portals indicate location-specific information that educates business travelers on any known risks or critical alerts relevant to the location in which they’re traveling for business, including risks to particular ethnic, social or cultural groups. Checking these websites in advance of your upcoming travel allows you to better prepare for the journey ahead or modify plans as warranted.
3. Download your company's risk management app and or save crisis management phone numbers
Safe business travel starts with being well-informed. As a traveler, you should know your company’s risk management and duty of care best practices. Many risk management companies have mobile applications in-place for ease of use. Additionally, emergency crisis phone numbers are available to assist you when faced with a crisis or medical emergency. Many risk management companies also have translation services in case you need medical attention but cannot effectively communicate with local medical professionals in their native language. Becoming familiar with the services available to you through your company’s risk management provider will serve you when the need arises.
4. Locate the closest hospitals and or clinics near your destination
Having firsthand knowledge of where you can obtain medical help in your destination is critical to your health and safety, especially if you are traveling to a location where you do not speak their native language.
Having the locations of nearby hospitals and medical clinics saved on your phone can provide you with peace of mind. Providing this location information to your emergency contact at home and/or sharing your location with them via your smartphone gives your loved ones a foundation to work from if needed.
It’s also important to note the local emergency phone line, as 911 is not universal. Knowing this information beforehand can drastically reduce the time it takes you to find help.
5. Share your itinerary with your spouse, a family member, or a close friend
It is important that someone outside of your workplace knows your whereabouts and has your best interests at heart. The simple act of sharing your flight information, hotel address, phone number and general overall itinerary (be it business or pleasure), can go a long way.
Regular check-ins with your main contact can help ease the minds of those who care about you and gives you an opportunity to stay connected while on the road. If your designated person does not hear from you within a specified time, that could be cause for alarm, and they may be inclined to reach out to your company to advise them of the situation. Have a plan in place, prior to your departure.
For example, if you miss a daily check-in and your contact does not hear from you within 24 hours, who should they contact in this situation? Do they know the email address or phone number to get in touch with your company’s travel manager?
6. Travel with all necessary medications
Prescription medications are permitted to travel with you, in your carry-on bag. For those of you with life-saving medication, the act of checking this in your suitcase could be a matter of life or death if your suitcase was to be misplaced by the airline. It is critical to ensure your medications are always with you, this includes in the aircraft, and with you when leaving your hotel room, in case you need to rely on your medication unexpectedly and are unable to promptly return to your hotel. For those travelers with severe medicinal allergies or medical conditions, having a medical card or bracelet on you at all times can prove to be a life-saving measure.
7. Stick to your daily routines to stay physically and mentally healthy
It'so easy for our daily routines to be lost in the shuffle of business travel. Routines such as exercise, hydration, healthy eating, and sanitization. Business travel can be both exciting and stressful, and it's easy to let your routines slip. Be mindful of your physical and mental wellbeing while away for business travel. If you are accustomed to working out every morning, try to reserve accommodations with an onsite gym facility. If you have strict eating regimens, try to adhere to them and not get swept up by the fast food or over-indulgence that commonly occurs while away from home.
While covid-19 restrictions start to lessen in various places, be mindful of any masking restrictions at airports, hotels, restaurants, event spaces, or places of business. You want to be both respectful and safe while on the road to ensure an easy and safe trip home.