As an ambassador for Maiden Voyage and also with my business as a personal Travel Counsellor, I sometimes send customers into potentially volatile areas in pursuit of business and that elusive perfect deal.
I keep my business travel and leisure customers up to date with FCO (Foreign and Commonwealth Office) advice on volatile or flashpoint areas around the world, as well as giving them hints and tips of how to stay safe on any trip.
Here are some very useful tips, gleaned from colleagues and customers:
It is very important to understand the local customs, culture and etiquette, as much as possible, before you go. This will make all the difference in keeping you safe. Also, keeping you one step of the competition when trying to secure that lucrative contract!
When you leave home, you are subject to the laws of the country you are visiting. Therefore, before you go, learn as much as you can about the local laws and customs of the places you plan to visit. Good resources are the library, your travel agent, embassies, consulates or tourist bureaus of the countries you will visit and online research.
Keep track of what is being reported in the media and the FCO about recent developments in the countries you are visiting and ones you may be passing through.
Understand local cultures, rules, laws, crime rates, weather conditions, attitudes, etiquette, price of things and similar information. Don’t get bogged down with this too much, just the basics!
Make sure you understand local gestures and body language. You may be inadvertently offending someone or breaking the law. Learn some basic language skills. If you are hoping to clinch that deal, it would be wise to have some small conversational knowledge of the country you are visiting. This will go down well with your hosts. Your local UKTI can help you with language courses and these and can be free! We had a customer who completed a basic Mandarin course and it helped him enormously on his business trip to China.
Find out which local areas of your destination are considered safe and which are considered unsafe. This will allow you to plan your transfers/taxis more confidently.
Read up on common scams and crimes in your destination area.
Keep your family up to date at all times of where you are. Even if it’s just using the ‘Check in’ facility on Facebook.
Take copies of your itinerary and leave them with family and friends at home. Whenever you move to a different locality or register in a new hotel, message the contact numbers and contact people’s names to your family.
I highly suggest that if you are a female traveller, register with www.maiden-voyage.com for free. This will give you access to the website for hints, tips and female friendly hotels as well as having the opportunity to meet up with for meals and network with other ‘Maiden Voyagers’.