Quite often, when traveling on business, your mind shifts into “work mode” the moment you pass through airport security or adjust the mirrors on your rental car. You become focused on the project, or if homeward bound, on finally making it to your front door. Once accustomed to traveling, it can become “second nature” for an IT consultant, a set of steps that are seemingly followed subconsciously as we move from point to point. Travel safety is not often factored into these steps, where a level of comfort is reached with the traveling experience that can create a false sense of safety and security when on the road.
As an experienced IT consultant you should work safety into every aspect of your travel plans, creating a series of repeatable measures that soon become part of that “second nature” travel experience. Here are several important travel safety measures that every IT consultant should incorporate into their travel plans, but are often overlooked.
Travel casual. Many business executives or senior consultants will travel in expensive business suits, wear flashy jeweler, stay in upscale hotel accommodations, or order expensive bottles of wine at dinner. These are all indications that the individual may be a lucrative target for a would-be thief. When traveling, tone down your style of dress, keep the expensive watch or jewelry out of sight, and dine casually. There is no need to draw attention to yourself when on the road.
Keep your laptop in sight. When traveling by air, stow your laptop bag underneath the seat in front of you as opposed to the overhead compartment, where it could get tossed around or stolen. You will lose a little foot room, but you will have your laptop and related devices where you can see them. Also, rethink the idea of keeping your wallet or cell phone in your laptop bag. The loss of your laptop is bad enough, but having your identity and primary means of communications going with it only make a bad situation worse.
Watch the dashboard indicators. When traveling on business, rental cars are usually in the itinerary. Familiarize yourself with the operation of headlights, hazard lights, and locks before you leave the rental agency parking lot. While it doesn’t happen often, there are times when your rental car will suffer mechanical difficulties. As soon as you see a dashboard indicator light, pull over and call the rental car company. Never risk traveling in a rental car that may put you in a hazardous situation. Let the rental company know what has occurred, and the majority of the time they will send out a replacement vehicle at no inconvenience to you.
Safeguard your WiFi access when you travel. Protecting your access and your identity while on the road means being smart about your WiFi use. With the large number of free or public wireless hotspots to be found in your travels, its easy to forget that the openness of those hotspots can also mean that others are free to monitor your wireless session without your knowledge. When using public wireless, refrain from accessing any non-secured (non-SSL) web site or service that requires user credentials. Accessing such sites means that your credentials are passed unencrypted, and can easily be monitored and captured by anyone within wireless range.
Pick the right hotel. When booking hotel reservations, do not select hotels where your room will open to the parking lot or street, instead picking a hotel where a visitor must pass through the lobby to gain access to your room. In addition, influence access to your room as much as possible. Leave the “Do Not Disturb” sign on your door, even when out, so that housekeeping is not accessing your room when you are not there. When you return, contact the front desk to arrange a time for housekeeping to arrive while you are in the room.
Hide your identity. When leaving a client site for lunch, or at the end of the work day, remove your ID badge and place it in your pocket. Displaying your name, company name, or client name for public view is inviting unneeded attention and risk. Staying safe means not drawing attention to yourself or the fact that you are a business traveler.
Traveling safely is important for anyone on the road, whether traveling for business or pleasure. Using common sense, and taking precautions like those presented here, are key to arriving at your destination safe and sound.