Cisco Blogs

Seven Tips for Traveling Safely in a Mobile World

- June 30, 2010 - 4 Comments

We’re more connected than ever before: smart phones, TelePresence, WebEx, email, Twitter, Facebook, FourSquare–you get the idea. Despite these many methods for staying connected, there are times when you need to meet face to face, which means hopping in the car, heading to the airport for a business trip, or simply heading out to the office.

Whether you’re driving a few blocks or flying around the world, there are many unforeseen—yet easily avoidable—pitfalls. What safety tips do you need to keep in mind when planning a trip overseas? What are the safest floors at a hotel? What safety rules should you follow when walking around in a new city?

As part of the Women’s Leadership Forum, Luanne Tierney (VP of WW Partner Marketing) invited Chris Plummer, the head of Cisco’s Global Protective Services, to present on this very topic at a one-hour IPTV broadcast “Staying Safe in Today’s Mobile World.”

Watch a replay of the broadcast (log in required) and check out the behind-the-scenes footage we captured before the cameras in Studio B started rolling.

According to Chris, safety comes down to effective planning, observation, communication, documentation, and follow-up. The motto he likes to stand by is: “Luck comes to those who plan well.”

Here are Chris’ seven tips for staying safe while traveling.

1) Trip Safety

Before a trip, develop a detailed itinerary, and carry a two-page document of basics on where you’re going, and when you plan to arrive. Make sure your health insurance is up to date, start working on immunizations in advance, and bring that information with you on a trip.

Make sure your passport is not close to expiring, that you have a valid visa to enter the country you’re traveling to, and an international driver’s license. You’ll want your passport to be valid for at least six months and don’t forget to take color copies of your passport in case it gets lost. Be sure that what’s in your purse is actually what you need–travel light and keep a thin wallet.

What does this mean? Don’t carry a lot of cash. Make sure you have limited amount, enough to get around when you arrive, because you can always get more if you need it.

2) At the Airport

Grab your bags, and make sure that when you put something on the ground, it’s between your ankles. Look for entrances and exits at the airport in case there’s a disaster. Keep a safe distance from unattended luggage, and stay away from trash receptacles.

3) Flying Safety

Check as much luggage as possible, so you don’t have to deal with it. If you do have luggage with you on the plane, get your laptop and reading material out before putting all the rest of it up in the overhead compartment. Before sleeping, make sure your belongings are secured—for example, put your purse behind luggage.

Stay observant on your flight and limit drinking. Ideally, don’t take a sleeping pill. You could become disoriented, and your guard will be down, especially if alcohol is involved. In conversations, don’t offer more than is absolutely necessary: it’s nobody’s business.

Use a protective screen cover on your laptop to protect your data, and don’t look at confidential information if you don’t have to. Be sure to dress casually: don’t wear high heels, in case you need to be ready to move quickly.

When selecting seating on the plane, sit at an exit row or within two rows of the exit. Listen to all instructions, and always understand what kind of aircraft you’re on.

4) Ground Transportation

Ask a family member for a ride. If that’s not available, use office-arranged transportation. Otherwise, use the hotel car. Your last option is a taxi, but make sure it is licensed and registered.

5) Hotel Safety

Stay on second floor to the seventh floor. In the event of a fire, fire engines can easily reach the first seven levels; it’s easier for them to reach you if you’re trapped in a hallway. It can get noisy, but bring earplugs to wear at night. Never stay on the ground floor.

Know where elevators and stairwells are. In an elevator, stand near the controls (not in the back) so you can get off quickly, if necessary. Always locate hotel exits and develop an evacuation plan.

Report lost keys immediately and consider changing rooms. Leave your TV and radio on in your hotel room when you leave and use the do not disturb sign—this adds the perception that you’re in there.

When ordering room service, a female server can be requested (if you are also female). If a male server comes, stand near the door. At night, a woman should always ask for woman to deliver food.

Make sure your valuables are locked in the safe. At the hotel deposit box, make the hotel gives you a signed receipt for each item placed in there. Always lock your door when you leave the room.

6) Out and About Safety

When walking, move confidently, avoid multitasking, and trust your instincts. (No texting or tweeting while you walk!) Avoid individuals who make you uneasy and familiarize yourself with landmarks. Stay in well-lighted areas, avoid alleys, side streets, and parking lots. Don’t use a backpack and keep your purse close to your body.

Avoid clothing that restricts your movement and have your car keys or hotel key ready. Have a flashlight on you just in case.

Ask for help: Don’t hesitate to contact hotel staff and ask for assistance to escort you if you’re alone.

7) Local Safety

At an ATM, look around, always see if someone is watching. If possible, keep someone next to you, so they can watch everything, and see what’s going on around you. Put your money back in your wallet, and put it out of sight. Go directly to your vehicle.

When driving, don’t be on the phone, it’s not safe to drive and chat on the phone. (Though this rule is one to follow whether at home or overseas.) Know chokepoints on the road: Where all traffic comes to a stop. When driving internationally, put your stuff in the trunk of your car. In the event of a problem, identify a safe area to stop.

Make sure your car has at least a half a tank of gas. Don’t park in underground parking and don’t help anyone on the roadside.


That certainly is plenty of information to keep in mind when traveling. What are your travel tips?




In an effort to keep conversations fresh, Cisco Blogs closes comments after 60 days. Please visit the Cisco Blogs hub page for the latest content.


  1. We often get many customers asking us for tips on luggage safety, so I thought I would share a few. If travelling with beautiful leather luggage, make sure you have it near at all times. You will need to be more vigilant, as you may be a more attractive target – same rules apply if you wear a desirable watch! Never leave luggage unattended or in the possession of a stranger, as it can be stolen or used to carry spurious packages. Always make sure each and every item of luggage is well labelled and secure – padlocks or built in combination barrel locks are best! Hope some of these tips help – Ciao Maxwell Scott Team

  2. nice tips.. some point u have taken are very common but most important.. Thanks to remind them.

  3. Thanks for the hints !Another relevant tip about ATM machines is to verify any signs of alteration in the hardware, as this can indicate credit car information theft attempt.

  4. Some valid points, you must plan ahead for trips and not leave things to the last minute!