As fun and exciting as travel can be, it’s important to prepare yourself for safety ahead of time. Travel safety is of utmost importance when you’re away and don’t know your surroundings. Here are some of the best hotel safety tips to reduce the chances of bad happening either to you or your belongings.
Tips for selecting a hotel
It is a good idea to know a little about your destination and its crime rate. Is your hotel in a good area of town? Does the hotel provide well-lit interior hallways, parking structures, and grounds? Are hotel personnel trained in guest security, and are they available for escorts to rooms and other areas when requested?
Hotel rooms should be equipped with a solid core wood or metal door, a dead bolt lock, peephole, telephone (that allows outside dialing), fire sprinklers, and smoke detectors. Additionally, ask about secure locks on the windows and adjoining doors.
Look for the hotel that has installed electronic guest room locks. Most of the modern electronic locks have in-built features that automatically change the lock combination with every new guest, so the chances of someone having a duplicate key is quiet less.
Choose a hotel where security is good and transportation is readily available. Remember, the cost of the hotel room is not always the best predictor of how safe it is.
Tips for arriving at a hotel
Cruise the parking lot before picking a space. Even if a hotel seems safe, it may border an unsafe or questionable neighborhood. Check to make sure no one is hiding between or inside the parked cars. Park in a well-lit area near the entrance to the hotel and away from trucks, vans, dumpsters, or woods.
If you arrive by auto, park as close to a hotel access point as possible, and park in a lighted area. Remove all property from the car interior and place it in the trunk. Avoid leaving valuables or personal documents in the glove compartment. Prior to leaving the security of the vehicle, note any suspicious persons or behavior.
Stay particularly alert upon arrival and departure. Do not let your guard down once you arrive at the hotel. Criminals target arriving and departing guests who generally have cash and valuables with them.
When checking into a hotel, a desk clerk should never say your room number out loud, nor should you. Other guests in the lobby do not need to know your room number. Instead, have the clerk write the room number on the key packet and show you on a map where the room is located. Keep the map for future reference – it will identify where emergency exits are located.
If using valet service, leave only the ignition key, and take trunk, house, or office keys with you. Often, valets are not employees of the hotel and work for contract firms.
Stay with your luggage until it is brought into the lobby, or placed into the taxi or limo.
Parking garages are difficult to secure. Avoid dimly lit garages that are not patrolled and do not have security telephones or intercoms.
Tips for checking into a hotel
When registering at a hotel, use your initial rather than first name, use a business address rather than your personal residence and don’t display corporate logos or business cards on luggage.
Female travelers should accept the services of the bellman when available; this gives them an escort to the room. They should wait at the door while the bellman deposits the luggage and walks around the room turning on lights.
If you are carrying your luggage, make sure you keep it within your view. The best you can do is position your luggage against your leg during registration. If you have a purse or small briefcase keep it on the desk in front of you.
Tips for selecting a room
Avoid selecting rooms on the ground floor or on the first floor. These rooms are more vulnerable especially if they have a sliding glass doors. Depending upon location, and security coverage, exercise a higher level of security if you are assigned such rooms.
Also, if possible select rooms that are away from stairwells and lift. This is to avoid being caught by surprise by person hiding in the stairwell or elevator.
Request a room on the “inside” of the hotel, between floors three and six (if possible). Avoid rooms above the 6th floor , as that is usually the maximum height that fire department ladders can reach. The ground floor and second floor make it easy for perpetrators to penetrate from the ground. Being on the “inside” is preferable to rooms facing the parking lot or other more public areas. Don’t be afraid to ask for another room if you feel you may have been put in one that is unsafe (i.e. at the end of a hall or on a ground level).
Once you’re in your room
Upon initial entry, inspect your room. Be sure to check the operation of locks on the entry door, the windows, the in-room safe, the doors connecting to adjacent guest rooms, and sliding glass doors to make sure they work. If they don’t, report it to the front desk immediately and ask to be moved to another room.
When you enter your hotel room, make sure the door closes securely on its own. Try this a few times to be sure that the door-catch latches without any effort.
Read all the information related to fire safety and become familiar with the nearest fire exit. Does the door open easily? Are the exit signs illuminated? Note the number of doors away from the emergency exit, and the location of the fire extinguisher and fire pull box. Look out the window and note your surroundings for reference, and the height of your window from the ground.
Do not open the door for anyone you are not expecting. If available, use the peephole. Ask any room service person to slide the receipt under your door before you open it.
If someone knocks on your door claiming to be hotel staff, deliverymen, or workmen, call the desk and verify the identity of the person, and determine if the person is there for a legitimate reason.
Always use the deadbolt lock in addition to the regular door locks while in the room. Be aware that employees — housekeeping, maintenance, etc. — have keys that access all rooms, but not necessarily the deadbolts.
If your door has a security chain, twist it a couple times to take up the slack before latching it.
Always keep your room’s doors and windows locked, and keep the curtains closed.
Never prop your hotel room door open. Rather, when you are inside your room, use a rubber door wedge behind the closed and locked door. Most hotels do not provide these, so you might want to pack one before your trip.
Consider taking along a flashlight on your trip. Place the flashlight next to your bed in case the electricity goes out.
Do not use your name when answering the phone, and report any strange calls to your room. Screen your calls, as a call placed to your room might be a probe to see if the room is occupied.
Do not put anything in the trash that can identify you. Throw it away elsewhere. If the hotel has a business center, it may have a shredder.
Place your room key in the same location every time you return to your room so you do not misplace it. A good location is next to your bed. This will also assure you will know where it is in case of an emergency.
During your stay
Don’t reveal your room number (or floor, for that matter) or speak of your travel plans in a crowded area where you could be overheard.
Don’t display your guest room key in public. Some hotels still put room numbers on keys and if someone grabs your key, they’ll know where your room is located.
If you sense that you are being followed or if a stranger is wandering the halls when you plan to enter your room, make your way to busy public areas instead (preferably the lobby) and notify hotel staff of the incident.
Avoid stairwells, as they are an easy place for individuals to hide, and from which to escape quickly after an attack.
While in an elevator that is accompanied by others, it is wise to board last and be the last person to select your floor button. If someone around or in an elevator makes you uncomfortable, get off (if you are in a public area of the hotel), or push a button that will take you to a public area of the hotel, such as the lobby or rooftop restaurant.
Do not flash cash – especially when you visit the hotel’s cashier, bar, or front desk. This is a favorite observation post for pickpockets.
If you lose your key, ask for a new room or have the lock or electronic key card changed.