A recent report published by The Victoria Transport Policy Institute found that public transportation is overall a safe mode of travel—in fact, their research says that total per capita traffic casualties tend to decrease as public transit utilization increases. Couple this with the fact that motor vehicle crashes are the number one cause of deaths to healthy Americans abroad, and it’s no secret that public transportation can be a great alternative to renting a car. But not so fast—it’s still necessary to provide guidance to your employees around transit safety and security. Share this guide with your travelers before they depart to help ensure they stay alert and protected when riding buses and trains.
Make Sure It’s Safe: First things first, are you traveling to a destination where it’s even safe to use public transportation? For guidance on this matter, visit the State Department’s Country Information pages—simply enter your destination in the box, select “go” and then scroll down to the Travel & Transportation section. Information and advice about public transportation for your destination should be located here.
Plan Out Routes: Take a good hard look at your travel itinerary (meetings, dinner plans, etc.) and plan out your routes ahead of time to understand where you’re going, how long it should take and exactly how you’ll get there. In the State Department’s Country Information pages mentioned above, you can typically find suggestions on where to locate public transit schedules for your destination. And apps like Google Maps can help you get a handle on where restaurants, shops, local police stations and the U.S. Embassy are located in relation to your hotel and business commitments.
Stay Alert (and Awake): Most people are tempted to read, check emails, wear headphones or even take naps when riding public transportation, but this is not only a perfect recipe for getting your wallet stolen—but for missing your stop and getting stuck in an area that could potentially be dangerous. Long story short: if you look distracted (or unconscious!) that can make you a potential target.
Use Common Sense: If you’re waiting for a bus or train, be aware of the people and what is going on around you. Stand near others who are waiting, preferably in an occupied building or a lighted area until transportation arrives. Avoid dark, isolated areas. If you feel uneasy about something, trust your instincts and leave—if you feel you’re being followed, go to the nearest occupied building and ask for help. Don’t know the local language? Brush up on some key phrases before you leave such as: Help, Emergency, and Please Call the Police. If you need to have a more complex conversation, On Call members can rest assured as they have access to 24/7 language interpretation.
Outsmart Criminals. Do not keep lots of money in your wallet and keep your purse/wallet, smartphone and any other valuables tucked away securely on your person (a mobile phone is easy to grab…and sell!). When riding the bus or train, keep your personal belongings on your lap or between your feet—do not leave them on an empty seat! It’s also a good idea to blend in – for example, try NOT to wear clothing that identifies you as an American. How? Research your country’s dress code before you leave. In addition to the State Department’s Country Specific Information pages (typically dress codes can be found in the “Local Laws and Special Circumstances” section) there are lots of great websites that offer free international etiquette guides.
Know Who to Call: Keep your mobile phone fully charged and with you at all times, whether you’re in a meeting or out on the town, in case you need to reach out for help. Did you know the phone number for emergency response is not 9-1-1 outside of the United States? Luckily, the State Department has compiled a handy list of emergency contact numbers in foreign countries—save the number used at your destination in your contacts just in case you need it.
International travelers take note: Placing a call abroad can be a tad tricky! Aside from buying a conversion kit before you go (the last thing you need is to run out of juice during an emergency!), check out these tips for making an international phone call.
Have Emergency Resources in Place: Many companies partner with companies like On Call International to provide travel emergency services to their employees. If your company doesn’t, you can buy your own—our single trip memberships start as low as $55. An On Call membership not only provides emergency medical evacuation to the hospital of your choice, but it can also assist you with other potential travel headaches such as rescheduling your travel plans, locating quality medical care, delayed baggage, prescription replacement and more. We even have memberships for travelers who need heightened coverage including political and natural disaster evacuation and pet return.
Does your company need help with proactively educating your employees on proper travel safety best practices like these? Are you unsure if you have the right emergency resources in place to protect your travelers—and your company? Contact us today.