According to a recent article, the recession has caused an uptick in hotel thefts. But you can take precautions to protect yourself from crime and other emergencies. Whether you’re traveling for business or pleasure, alone or with others, there are basic hotel safety protocols to keep in mind.
SafetravelRX, an app designed to keep you safe while traveling, has seven tips to ensure your hotel stay is enjoyable and drama free. Here’s what you should keep in mind:
1. Before check-in
Do enough research before you book to know that your chosen hotel isn’t in a sketchy neighborhood.
Invest in a door stopper, whether you’re staying at a budget hotel or a luxury resort. A small rubber one from the dollar store is fine; a fancier steel one runs about $25. Alternatively, a door alarm, which hangs from the knob, costs about $15 and shrieks at a painful 120 decibels if the door is opened before the alarm is turned off.
2. At check-in
Request a room between the 2nd and 6th floors, ideally between floors 2 and 4. Stay away from ground-floor rooms, especially if they open to a public space like a courtyard. Anything above six stories makes it hard for the fire department to reach you on a ladder.
Always keep an eye on your luggage. Don’t allow the bellman to put your bags on a trolley that’s unattended.
Don’t forget to get your ID and credit card back from the clerk.
3. Before you enter your room
Before entering your room, make sure you know where the stairs are. Count the number of doors (or steps) between your room and the fire door. That way, if the hall is filled with smoke, you’ll know where to go and how far away it is.
Once inside, look around to ensure no one is hiding in your room. This may sound crazy, but this is especially important with hotels that are still using traditional room keys, not electronic key cards, as duplicates may have fallen into the wrong hands.
4. When you’re inside your room
Always keep the door bolted when you’re inside. If there’s a door to an adjoining room, ensure it’s locked. Also, make sure your door closes completely (meaning it doesn’t catch on the carpeting).
Never prop your door open, even if it’s just to go to the ice machine.
If someone knocks, claiming to be room service, maintenance, or even security staff, either call the front desk to confirm or ask the person to show their photo ID.
Use the peephole before opening the door to anyone.
Have a flashlight at hand, either one you carry or the one on your phone. You’ll need it if the power goes out.
Use a VPN when you connect to the hotel Wi-Fi. This also holds true when you use your device (laptop, tablet, phone) in the hotel’s public space (lobby, bar, restaurant, meeting rooms, fitness center, etc.).
Lock your luggage and keep valuables out of sight. An opportunistic thief will be deterred if it’s not immediately clear there’s something worth stealing.
Keep your curtains drawn, especially if your room can be seen from the street.
Put your room key, wallet or purse, and phone next to the bed when you go to sleep. If there’s an emergency and you must quickly evacuate, you’ll have what you need for whatever comes next.
If you stay at a property with a terrace, don’t sleep with the door open.
5. When you temporarily leave
Take the hotel’s business card wherever you go. That way, a taxi or ride-share driver can plug the address into their GPS. That’s especially helpful when you’re staying in a country where you don’t speak the language or in a city with several properties of the same brand.
Whenever you leave your room, make it seem like someone is still in it. Keep a light on and the TV sound on low. Hang the do not disturb sign on the doorknob.
6. Guard your room number
Don’t keep your key in its paper sleeve—if your purse or wallet is stolen, a thief will know where you’re staying and in which room. Similarly, don’t say anything in a public space that indicates where you’re going (meaning you shouldn’t ever say something like “we’re meeting in room 1157, right?).
If you request any deliveries (such as takeout food or packages), instruct the delivery service to leave them at the front desk and retrieve them yourself.
When you charge anything to your room, use your last name rather than your room number.
7. Miscellaneous tips
If you feel like you’re being followed, or if someone is paying too much attention to you for your comfort, don’t go directly to your hotel room. Go to the front desk and explain your concern and ask for a security guard to escort you. Don’t get in the elevator with any suspicious person; let them go in first and let the doors close behind them. If you feel like you’re being followed by someone getting off the elevator with you on your floor, pretend you’ve forgotten something and take the elevator back to the lobby.
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