Staying safe while sleeping on the road
Throughout the years I’ve traveled to nearly every state in the US and a few countries internationally. I’ve stayed at hotels of every size from the flea-bag no-name motel in Indiana that we discovered had a bed bug problem to the 4-star hotel in Dublin where service and safety were their top priority. No matter where you stay, there are a few key hotel safety tips to help give you that peace of mind to get the most out of your trip.
At Check in
Keep track of your luggage.
I’ve seen it too many times. Someone walks into the lobby of the hotel, lets go of their bags and steps up to the desk to register. The problem there is that their bags are behind them. Anyone can simply walk up, grab them a go. Instead, make sure your bag is in front of you or your hand is physically on them at all times.
Stay between the 2nd and 6th floors.
Especially in hotels with outdoor room access, staying on the first floor is more apt to break-ins. And, some experts say that staying on the 6th floor or below is easier access for the fire department ladders in case of a fire.
Inspect the room thoroughly
Before you close the room door for the first time, take a look around. Open doors, look behind the curtains, inspect the bathroom and shower. You just never know. I mentioned that flea-bag bed-bug motel, yes?
Review the safety guide
This one may seem like common sense but how many times do you review the airline safety guide every time you sit down on an airplane? When you stay in many hotels you start to think of them as all the same, like airplanes. You’ve traveled in one, you’ve traveled in them all. So, just like on planes, I try to remind myself upon arrival to always double check the safety guide to at least know where the emergency exits are located.
Grab a couple of hotel business cards
Nearly every hotel front desk will have business cards. Take at least 2 and keep one in your wallet and one on the nightstand. This way you’ll have quick access to the hotels name, address and phone number.
During Your Stay
Use a VPN (Virtual Privacy Network).
I can’t stress this one enough. Most hotels these days have a public wifi that your phone, tablet and laptop can access during your stay. However, this is a PUBLIC wifi. That means that just about anyone can access all the information on your device. Activating a VPN provides more security for your devices and the information stored there. Most computer security companies like Norton have VPN options.
Bring a rubber door-stop and keep the door bolted
Awhile back a friend and I were reminiscing about funny travel stories when she mentioned how once someone had just walked in on them in their hotel room. It was an honest mistake by the person at the front desk. They had checked 2 different guests into the same room and provided both with keys. As scary as this sounds, statistically it’s rare. However, it does happen. So, I suggest, whenever you’re in the room, close the deadbolt on the door and push one of these rubber door-stops under the door, just in case.
Don’t answer hotel door.
Just as with home shares, unless you ordered room service or are expecting visitors, there really is no reason for someone to be knocking on your door. If someone does and they claim to work for the hotel, you can call down to the front desk to verify that they sent someone up to your room.
Make an impression with the hotel staff.
This one is a great tip if you’re traveling over seas and especially if you’re traveling alone. When you check in to the hotel, strike up a conversation with the desk clerk. If you see cleaning crews around the hotel, stop and talk with them a bit. Definitely tip your hotel staff when you can. These little things will make an impression with them so in the unlikely event anything occurs, they remember you and are more willing to help out if needed.
Sleep with a flashlight
Many travel safety kits come with flashlights. You can also get a flashlight app for your phone. No matter which one you use, in case of an emergency or a power outage, it’s good to have a flashlight within reach.
When You Go Out
Use hotel safe to store your valuables
I always travel with my laptop. However, I don’t always like to carry my laptop around with me during the day. So, I put it in the hotel safe while I’m out. This prevents any unsavory characters that may gain access to the room from getting into it or taking it. You can also use the safe for your jewelry or any other valuables. Just make sure that the room safe has a changeable combination lock.
Leave the room as if you were still there
Before you head out for the day, leave the ‘do not disturb’ sign on the door knob and the television on low volume. This way it gives the impression that someone is still inside without disturbing the rooms next door.
Don’t publicize your room number
Have you ever been walking across a hotel lobby on your way to grab the rest of your bags when you yell back to your spouse or friend, “Hey, we’re in room 612 right?” To which they yell back, “Yes!” Yeah… don’t do that. You never know who’s listening.
Keep the curtains closed
Did you ever noticed when you first walk in to your hotel room that the curtains are open? That’s a tall tale sign that the room is empty. So, try to keep them closed when you leave. Added benefits to this practice is that no one can peer inside and see what you’ve left for them. But also, here in the south, it helps keep the room cool.
Trust your gut!
If you’re ever in doubt, trust your gut. When you get those tingly sensations in the pit of your stomach and that little voice inside your mind whispering ‘maybe this isn’t a good idea’. Listen to that voice. It should never steer you wrong.
Above all, try to enjoy your stay. Following these basic hotel safety tips, doing a little pre-trip prep and listening to your gut should give you the peace of mind to truly let loose and enjoy your trip!
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