Expert Tips on How to Stay Safe and Secure While Travelling This Winter from Security Director Kate Fitzpatrick
Business travel is an essential part of the global economy, but it comes with its own set of risks. Winter travel can pose additional challenges, as extreme weather conditions, decreased daylight hours, and holiday crowds can all contribute to disruptions and safety hazards.
According to a recent survey by the Global Business Travel Association, 70% of business travellers have experienced at least one travel disruption in the past year. The most common disruptions include flight cancellations and delays, lost luggage, and health emergencies.
While it is impossible to eliminate all travel risks, there are steps that business travellers can take to mitigate them.
Here are the top ten travel risk trends this winter and how to address them:
Natural Disasters/Adverse Weather
Adverse weather conditions, exacerbated by climate change, has increased the amount and the intensity of natural disasters. These extreme weather events, including hurricanes, floods, droughts, and more, can disrupt travel schedules, jeopardise the safety of employees on the road, and cause significant financial losses for organisations. It is imperative for businesses to proactively address these challenges by implementing comprehensive risk management strategies to safeguard their employees and assets while travelling. (Note: ‘Floods are the most common type of disaster in Europe during winter season, which spans from December to February).
Health emergencies when travelling in recent years have shed light on the importance of being prepared for a wide range of health-related challenges, including outbreaks like COVID-19. The pandemic has demonstrated the need for travellers to stay informed about the health situation at their destination, understand the local healthcare infrastructure, and have contingency plans in place for medical emergencies. The importance of having travel medical insurance cannot be underestimated. For the traveller, it serves as a safety net, providing peace of mind and financial protection in case of unexpected health emergencies or accidents.
Unfortunately, terrorism remains a global concern for travellers. For example, currently in regions like Israel, the threat of terrorism is a persistent reality. The potential for security incidents, including bombings and attacks, highlights the importance of robust security measures, up-to-date intelligence, and contingency plans for business travellers operating in such areas. Staying informed and working closely with local authorities is crucial to mitigate these risks and ensure the safety of employees abroad.
With the rise of digitalisation, hackers and fraudsters are becoming more sophisticated in their methodology, making data breaches and identity theft a major concern. It’s crucial for individuals and organisations to stay vigilant and invest in robust security measures to protect their sensitive information and digital assets.
Free Wi-Fi- Unsecure Networks
Many travellers use free public Wi-Fi, maybe in the airport, or a at coffee shop, whilst this is convenient to most of us, it comes with various risks that can jeopardise your digital security. Cybercriminals often target these networks to intercept your personal and sensitive information. Where possible, use a VPN, (Virtual Private Network), disable the ‘auto-connect’ setting on your phone, and if it is not too expensive, use mobile data 4G/5G.
Rapid changes in the political landscape in various regions can lead to unexpected disruptions, such as airport closures, road blockades, demonstrations, and violent protests. It is essential for business travellers to stay informed about the political climate of their destination to be able to mitigate impending risks and, if necessary, adjust their itineraries and security measures to ensure their safety and the success of their business endeavours.
Scammers and Fraudsters are rapidly evolving, refining their tactics to rip-off travellers, particularly during the winter travel surge. They employ a variety of schemes, from fake, non-existent accommodation to bogus travel agencies, with the aim of exploiting the increased demand for winter getaways. Travellers should remain vigilant and take precautions to protect themselves against these scams. If in doubt, carry out due diligence, research open source for reviews but where possible try to utilise ‘well known’ and reputable agents when booking your travel.
Theft, Pickpocketing, Robbery, Mugging – Physical theft remains a significant threat, especially in crowded tourist destinations during the winter season. Travellers often let their guard down amidst the holiday hustle and bustle, making it an opportune time for thieves to strike. Travellers need to stay vigilant, secure valuables such as passports, wallets/purses, phones etc ideally in a concealed money belt/pouch however try not to store all your important items in one place. Divide your cash and credit cards, across multiple pockets or bags.
Being aware of cultural sensitivities is a fundamental aspect of responsible travel. Travellers should be considerate of the local customs and traditions of the places that you are visiting. Research the country, the local practices, the religion(s) and how to dress and act appropriately. A current example, the ongoing Israel-Palestine conflict can have global impacts on travellers in various ways. It is a very sensitive and politically charged situation. The conflict creates cultural and religious implications for certain communities all around the world. Travellers should exercise cultural sensitivity and respect diverse perspectives. It’s important to be aware of this when planning your travel.
Public transportation disruptions due to adverse weather conditions are a common occurrence across Europe in the winter season. Winter weather, heavy snowfall, and icy conditions can lead to delays and cancellations in various modes of public transport, such as trains, buses, and flights. These disruptions can hugely inconvenience many travellers; therefore, it is key to check your journey plan prior to departure to keep abreast of any changes and be prepared for long.
Find out how we can help you travel safely
Safe travel is more than planning ahead for the weather. World Travel Protection is a 24/7 travel and medical assistance provider that helps support its customers when medical, travel and security emergencies arise. Our Travel Risk Management Solutions help provide travellers with all the support they need pre- and during travel via our portal, app, and in-house experts. Fill out the form below to find out more.