Working On The Road

I found myself working on the road lately. Projects bring me to cities in different parts of the country. Packing light of course is the way to go.

Last year I began to travel with my iPad instead of the laptop, and it has changed how and where I work. Yes, you can work with a laptop everywhere, but having a smaller but equally capable device has opened a lot of possibilities, including the ability to move faster if needed, and be able to truly sit anywhere and work.

I made it a habit to always learn something new about the places I go, forcing me to read about the place I’m going before I travel. I was already doing this, as a way to recon the place before my arrival, but actually reading the history and the stats of a location gives you a lot of awareness before you go. I’d recommend you do this.

Working on the road also brings hotels.

Hotels can be an awesome thing or they can be a pain in the ass. As much as I try to get a good hotel, sometimes you don’t have many options and you end up in a sketchy one. You always need to keep an eye for safety and security while staying in any hotel, you need to dial up your paranoia a little bit, especially if you are staying in a sketchy one.

Security starts are check-in time. Keep your voice low while you check in, don’t be loud, announcing yourself and who you are. Write down your name, and handle that along with the credit card and an ID to the hotel concierge. If possible use a photocopy of your ID, just in case, but not all places will accept that. Generally speaking you’d want to be careful not to reveal any personal information out-loud. Stay out of the phone while in the lobby and get your head on a swivel. Observe who’s who and what’s what. In the hotels when they offer to bring your bags to the room, don’t let them. Place your bags down in front of you, not beside or behind you.

If possible try to get a specific room on a “safer” floor. Try to get one on the second or third floors, near the stairs. This will allow you to stay away from the elevator, the one place where you are an easy target, and in case of an emergency will provide you with a good way out.

Once in the room, do a small recon, check for any obvious things that are out of place, and if it doesn’t feel right, ask for a different room.

Next, turn the TV on, and go for a walk on your floor. See where the exits are, learn the layout of the floor, the room numbering, and generally familiarize yourself with what looks “normal”. At check in time it’s where a lot of movement happens, it’s good to see who is on the same floor with you.

Do not unpack. Keep your bag ready at all times. If you take your toiletries out, make sure you pack them back in. Same with your clothing: get them ready by the bed and ready to go.

When you are in the room make sure you add the do not disturb sign and lock your door. A good tool to have is a door stopper.

Use one for the main door. Hotel doors are not the best, and anyone wanting to bypass the lock will bypass the lock. If your room has a shared door with another room, make sure you place one there as well. I usually carry two for this reason.

If I travel by car and I am able to bring my firearm or a knife, I place them along with a flashlight next to my bed. And while I’m in the room, I make sure the peep hole is always blocked (sticky notes are good for this), making sure to remember to clear it when I leave.

Get to know the different entrances and exits from the hotel and randomize their use during your stay. Don’t give anyone trying to target you an opportunity to build a pattern of life.

Remain aware. Get your face off of your phone, and look around.

Working on the road is something you either love or hate. The reality is that it can be a good experience, but if we lower our awareness, it can turn into a disaster. Case and point, a friend of mine was traveling for business to NYC, and he was assaulted by a group of people. He went past them, but in the process the thieves stole his phone. They were able to bypass the lock and they drained his bank account via the app in his phone.

Again, remain aware. Look around and sense the environment. My friend was distracted by a phone call. Avoid that, if possible.

Stay safe.