7 Ways to Boost Your Safety at Hotels
Sure, hotels are still likely to be a lot more safe than wandering the streets or using public transportation, but looks can be deceiving. Valuables are stolen even from inside locked hotel rooms a lot more often than you might think. Here’s 7 ways to increase your personal security and decrease the likelihood of any crime being committed against you at a hotel in any country, but especially while abroad.
1. Constant use of the Do-Not-Disturb sign
The first thing I do when entering a new hotel room is throw on the Do-Not-Disturb sign. Not because I’m taking a nap or bathing or trying to focus on work, but because I want passersby to believe that someone is inside doing one of those things. If thieves are stalking hotel rooms to determine which will be the best one to try to enter, they’re likely to immediately rule out the ones with Do-Not-Disturb signs hanging on the handle. There’s plenty of others to choose from where the odds of someone being inside are lower.
2. Never leave for the day in sight of others
This can be tricky to coordinate and even feel a little awkward, but it’s never a good idea to be seen by others walking out of your room with a fresh coat of zing sunscreen on the nose and a bag of supplies for a day trip to the beach. The signal you’re sending to everyone whether potential thieves or innocent fellow tourists is “I’m heading out and won’t be in my room for at least the next few hours.” If you step out of your room to head out for the day and see others standing around observing you, even in a casual manner, go back inside your room and wait for the coast to clear. If it makes it easier, pretend you forgot something.
3. Keep the TV and lights on at all times
Granted this isn’t very “energy efficient” and the hotel probably dislikes it because it runs up their operating costs, but it’s arguably the best security measure you have apart from your door’s actual lock when it comes to keeping your room safe while you’re away. Most hotel rooms these days require a room key be inserted into an activation device for the room’s electricity, so you’ll need to leave a key behind. Fortunately, hotels are usually willing to give you at least two keys for your room. Leave one in the room keeping the electricity on and turn the TV volume up so that it’s at least capable of being heard lightly from outside your door if someone were to check.
4. Don’t answer unexpected knocks, even from staff
No respectable hotel randomly send staff members to your room without you requesting it. Apart from the morning room cleaning service, there’s no reason why a good hotel would needlessly bother you without forewarning. Even if there appears to be a legitimate staff member on the other side of the door when looking through the peephole, it’s a good idea to let the knock go unanswered. Call the front desk and ask if they sent a staff member to your room for some reason. If not, you know there might be something amiss and can ask for security.
5. Request a higher floor when possible
Some people don’t like to be on the upper floors of a hotel, but there’s a few reasons why the upper half should be your preference. For starters, the view is usually better and it tends to be quieter. But for purposes of security, they’re also just a little safer from thieves. Every hotel has a staircase and some are less secure than keycard-activated elevators. So, thieves will sometimes use the staircase either to avoid being noticed or simply to get around the keycard issue and are more likely to stick to casing the lower floors. Even thieves don’t like climbing stairs…
6. Don’t let hotel staff in on your plans
Your hotel concierge can be a great resource when it comes to planning what to do in a new city. But they’re also in a position of great power with the knowledge of where guests will be and when. It’s not unheard of for disgruntled or less ethical staff members to accept money from thieves in exchange for information about certain guests’ daily plans. If you need to use the hotel concierge, don’t get too specific about when and where you’ll be going and try to keep your interaction limited to simple information gathering. Wait until you’re back in your private room to make decisions about where to go and when.
7. Know how to alert security quickly
Every hotel phone is a little bit different, and I’m almost always a little bit uncertain as to which buttons to press to connect to various departments. There’s usually one-touch options for concierge, room service, housekeeping, front desk, and more. Learn your room’s phone system before you need to use it in case of an emergency. Chances are, you’ll never have to use it. But if you need to, you’ll be glad you knew how to do it quickly and on the first try.