Women business travelers now constitute nearly fifty percent of all business travel in the United States, holding an annual travel spend of $175B.
A guest on the Oprah Show, CNN Travel, and National Geographic Weekend, and with 12 travel books geared towards women travelers, Bond is well-placed to advocate for women business travelers and offers this advice:
“Considering how much I’ve travelled – from Kathmandu to Killarney and Ecuador to Tanzania – and considering how often I’ve travelled alone and stayed in modest accommodations, I’ve have very few threatening experiences. I ask for help when needed and follow my instincts. I’ve made friends with men, women and families around the world.” Bond tells me, “Don’t let fear keep you at home.
We live in an unsafe country, yet we have learned to cope and take care of ourselves. If you live in an urban environment, you have well-honed survival skills. Follow your instinct when traveling and don’t leave your common sense at home”
When I asked her how frequently women were subject to unwarranted attention while traveling alone or in a group she replied that the matter “is very difficult to quantify.” However, in Bond’s experience, most women who have traveled frequently have encountered unwanted attention from men that ranged from stalking activity to unwanted and forcible touching.
Concerning a hotel’s safety at a given destination, Marybeth insists that the best judges of a neighborhood’s safety are the hotel’s concierge and staff. She insists that travelers “ask for help when you need it, and ask for advice. Ask the person at the front desk, “can I walk back from this restaurant alone or do you think I should get a cab?” She says that she has always been willing to spend a little bit of money to ensure her own safety, and tells me, “I took a cab four blocks once in Antigua, Guatemala, to avoid vacant blocks and liquor stores with people that were loitering.”
When choosing a hotel room:
- Some boutique hotels are conscientious: proprietors will be aware of your dinner reservations and have concern if you have not returned by a set time.
- Says Bond, “Never take a room on the ground floor with sliding glass doors that open onto a deck or poolside. You could be stalked or someone could see that you are alone in the room. It’s also easier to break into these rooms.”
In the hotel room:
- Check all door and window locks, particularly sliding doors to ensure working conditions.
- Bring a hotel staff member to check closets if you so choose.
- Call the hotel front desk before opening the door to anyone.
At the concierge:
- Don’t allow the clerk to call your room number aloud. If he does, request a new room.
- For peace of mind, book the hotel room under a couple’s name.
In the evening:
- Ask front desk staff for an escort to your room if you feel uncomfortable.
- If in the parking garage, ask for an escort to the hotel and car agency.
- Keep a high-powered flashlight in your laptop case, and keep it by your bedside table at night.
Prepare for emergencies:
- Always know your route, plan it out in advance.
- Know where emergency exits are located and be aware of your surroundings.
- Act confidently, all of the time.
Excerpt from an interview with Hannah Burgé for Corporate Traveler, Canada. Corporate Traveler, in the USA, Canada and Australia have account manager who book travel for large corporate clients.