As many of you are squeezing in last minute summer trips, we thought it worthwhile to offer these safe traveling tips.
Travelers often think of hotels as an extension of their homes—comfortable, private and safe. However, the reality is that hotels can be targets for crime. When you are out of your element, focused on a business trip or in vacation mode, it’s easy to be distracted. Keeping a handful of hotel security tips in mind could make the difference between having a major problem or none at all.
The two greatest safety risks in a hotel are fire and theft. You have limited options when it comes to fire, but there are numerous precautions you can take to guard against theft and ensure your safety.
Before You Go
Make room requests prior to your trip. Whenever possible, do not book or accept a room on the ground floor, particularly if the door and/or window opens to the outside of the hotel. If you must be on the ground floor, make sure the room faces the interior of the hotel.
Ideally, your room would be located on floors 3-10. These rooms are high enough from the ground to minimize exterior access, but not so high that you would have difficulty in case of fire or other emergency.
Request a room as far away as possible from elevators and vending machines to avoid unnecessary loitering outside your room.
If traveling by car, park in a well-lit area as close to the hotel entrance as possible. Never linger in your car in a parking lot or garage, move swiftly between your vehicle and the hotel, and always remain alert; avoid making phone calls or tackling any other distracting tasks until you’re safely inside the hotel.
If valet parking is offered, take advantage of it, as this will offer an added level of security for you and your vehicle and you will be unencumbered as the staff handles your luggage.
Familiarize yourself with the layout of the building. Make sure you know at least three different ways out of the hotel and at least two different ways off of your floor—usually the elevator and at least one set of stairs.
All hotels will require some form of identification upon arrival. Consider traveling with your passport—even when not leaving the country—as it does not divulge your home address. On some occasions, theft rings operating inside hotels, have shared information about people traveling so that thieves could break into the travelers’ homes while they were away. As always, the less personal information you give out, the better.
During check-in, (particularly when traveling internationally) ask front desk personnel how to dial out and how to contact emergency services.
When riding the elevator, if someone suspicious boards an elevator, exit as soon as possible. Whenever you are able, position yourself near the elevator control panel, keeping your back to the sidewall. If you happen to be attacked (aside from fighting back) push as many floor buttons as you are able.
Most hotels will have an electronic lock plus an additional deadbolt and/or chain. However, additional security locks are typically not present on doors that may connect adjoining rooms. To add an extra layer of security inside your room, purchase a small rubber door-stopper (which can be found at most hardware stores or ordered online). Keep this stored in your suitcase so it is always with you when you are traveling. (If you are traveling to areas where kidnapping and/or ransom are a threat, experts recommend portable door stops with alarms.)
As soon as you step inside your room, check and make sure all locks are functioning properly; windows, doors, safe, etc. Test your in-room telephone. Keep all locks, including deadbolts and chains, securely locked at all times.
Place all valuables inside your in-room safe, and keep them there when not in use.
During Your Stay
Never say your room number aloud. As a rule of thumb, never give out more information than people absolutely need to know.
Never immediately open the door for anyone you don’t know. Always ask for identification and reason for requesting entry to your room. If a visitor arrives unexpectedly claiming to be a hotel employee, always call down to the front desk to verify identification before allowing access or giving out any personal information.
If you’re attending a conference or event at a hotel, don’t wear your name badge through common areas. Badges often include your name, company and city, which may be enough information for a thief to impersonate you and claim they have lost their key.
When returning to your room at any time, do not unlock the door if a stranger is nearby. Walk past your room and come back to enter only when the hallway is clear.
Keep all of your keycards with you at all times. If you lose or misplace your keycard, ask the front desk to re-key your room immediately. This is something you may assume the hotel would do automatically, but that is often not the case, so make sure to request and confirm that your lock has been re-set.