Worry about security on business trips? Get lonely? Carolyn Pearson, founder of Maiden Voyage – a free social network for female business travellers – shares her tips for women travelling alone.
Ever had hotel staff shout your room number at the check-in desk and cringed? Considerate hotel staff can make such a difference when you’re alone. Maiden Voyage helps female business travellers identify the hotels getting it right – and you might even find a dining buddy too.
Carolyn Pearson is the founder and CEO of Maiden Voyage. The site has a growing list of female-friendly hotels personally vetted by the company’s ambassadors. Users can also add their trip dates to a calendar and send a shout out to potential dining partners if they don’t want to dine alone. And all voyagers are telephoned by the company to confirm who they are before they’re given permission to access the network.
Carolyn has done her homework and connected with both the police and the British Embassy to help her out with general travel safety advice as well as advice tailored to lone female travellers.
Here are her top tips for staying comfortable and secure on your business trip:
Always be prepared, the line works for the Scouts so naturally it’s good enough for business travellers. It’s a good idea to make sure you have all the paperwork for your journey, from tickets and timetables, to details of the driver picking you up the other side. Apps like TripIt can help store all this information if you’re not the plastic wallet type.
“When you come out at the airport gate and people are there waving placards, who’s to know the person waving your name hasn’t just copied it from your driver onto the back of a cereal box?” says Carolyn, “Make sure you have the corresponding paperwork to your driver’s, so you know it’s your car.”
Keep your luggage by you. “If you’re catching the train to the airport keep your luggage above or in front of you, or under the seat rather than in the luggage rack – and lock your suitcase too,” says Carolyn, “I always advise people to be sure to carry a bag big enough for a change of shoes. I wear flats when running between meetings then dash into the ladies when I get there if I want to change into heels.”
Stay in a female-friendly hotel. Maiden Voyage has a growing list of hotels they’ve vetted to make sure they are safe, secure, and comfortable – but you can easily vet them yourself following their lead.
“Check the room has double locking doors, be that an extra internal bolt or a chain. If a staff member announces your room number loudly or puts you on the ground floor or at the end of a darkened corridor, you are perfectly within your rights to ask them to move you to a more appropriate room. On a lighter note, Maiden Voyage also check rooms in hotels have salon quality hairdryers, and decent toiletries – none of that combined hair and body wash nonsense,” she laughs.
There are a few hotels worldwide that are either entirely women only, or have women only floors or rooms – these include the Artemisia in Berlin, Dukes hotel in London, The Fleming in Hong Kong and Lady’s First in Zurich.
Use your existing networks. You’re already connected to people on Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn and one of the joys of travel is amassing friends the globe over. If they live a bit out of town or in a city not too far away – it might be worth travelling to meet them. Apps like Opentable are great for booking a restaurant. If your contacts aren’t about while you’re there, perhaps they know someone great who might be around, or have heard about a lovely meetup or supperclub happening in the area.
There’s no reason a business trip can’t be comfortable with time for fun between meetings. Happy travels.
By Sophie Collard