Business Travel Risks

Mid-level employees are often sent to far-flung locales in search of new business. Although some might not mind the thrill of traveling to exotic places abroad, it's important to remember that these destinations are not as safe as the cities one is accustomed to in the United States. Travel experts give the following tips for traveling to unfamiliar places:

Know the lay of the land in advance. Know where the nearest U.S. embassy or consulate is. Know whether the police are to be trusted. Keep copies of all important documents in a safe place in case the originals are stolen.

Blend in. Try to dress casually, as close to local garb as possible, unless it would offend the people you are meeting. Do not wear your Rolex to impress the client or host.

Do not fall into routine patterns of behavior easily discernible by outsiders. Even if your appointments are at the same time of day at the same place, take different routes at different times in different vehicles.

Be vigilant about your surroundings. If you notice you are being followed, go into a restaurant, hotel, or other public place.

Have a daily check-in time established with folks back home. If something happens to you, it won't be more than 24 hours that they know something has gone wrong. Also, make sure there is someone back home you can always reach, day or night, in case of emergency on the road. If things go bad, time might be of the essence in getting you out of there.

Try to stay in a Western hotel. Although Western hotels are sometimes targeted by bad guys, the hotels usually have security standards that are tighter, such as using passkeys instead of metal keys.

Avoid ground-floor rooms because of their street access, but also avoid rooms located above the third floor in case of fire. Room doors should have a deadbolt lock with a one-inch throw bolt. If the lock appears worn or there are pry marks around the lock area, get another room or move to another hotel.

If you rent a car, get the one with fewest miles, even if it's a model you don't personally like. Make sure it has air conditioning, so you can drive with the windows up. Keep the doors locked at all times.

If the country in which you are traveling is truly dangerous, you should perform a risk assessment and determine whether additional security is needed. There are several firms that specialize in this type of assessment.