These days, travel is no Sunday picnic and when you finally stumble into the lobby of your hotel, you may be tired, dirty, and in a hurry to get cleaned up, get some sleep, or get to the first item on your agenda.
Unfortunately, this is no time to let your guard down. If you’re traveling on business, you’re probably traveling alone and these tips are even more important to follow.
The following are the top hotel safety tips culled from the experts.
1. Stay with your luggage – if you walk into the lobby ahead of your luggage, it could be snatched. Keep your luggage nearby too, because if the lobby is busy, enterprising thieves can take advantage of the distraction.
2. Ask for a room that’s not on the ground floor (it’s too easy to break in). Many safety experts recommend staying between the third and sixth floors – where rooms are high enough to avoid easy break-ins, but low enough to be reached by fire engine ladders.
3. Most reputable hotels with honest staff know not to give out names or room numbers, but it’s still known to happen. If your room number is compromised (i.e., announced out loud), ask to be given another room. You never know who is listening and your room number is a matter of personal security.
4. Don’t set your credit card on the check-in counter – it’s too easy for a thief to capture the numbers with a good camera. And when it’s handed back to you, be sure it’s your credit card and not someone else’s or a bogus card.
5. Ask for two business cards with the hotel name and address. Place one by the phone in your room. If there is an emergency, and you call for help, you’ll have the name and address of your location. Place the other in your pocket or purse. If you have to take a cab or get lost, you can show the driver your location and avoid being taken to the wrong hotel.
In your room
6. If a valet has accompanied you to your room, block the door open while you check the room. Look in the closet, in the shower, and behind the curtains before you shut the door or release the valet.
7. Check the lock to be sure it’s functioning properly. Make sure that the door has a deadbolt and keep it locked whenever you are in the room.
8. Use a door wedge to further secure the door – especially when you are sleeping or in the shower. Crooks are not always caught and may not have a record, so they can get hired by hotels where they have excellent access to spare room keys. Some criminals have been known to wait until they hear you in the shower before robbing your room or attacking you.
9. Place your flashlight or headlamp by the bead. If there’s an alarm or the electricity goes out, you’ll have the light you need to navigate an unfamiliar building. See our tips for packing an emergency travel kit.
When you leave
10. Lock the items you won’t be carrying with you, such as your laptop or other electronics, in the room safe. Modern hotels with a safe that lets you select your own combination are safer than those with keys. Don’t leave your passport behind.
11. If the safe in your room doesn’t appear safe, lock valuables in the hotel safe, but be sure to get a written receipt for your items and ask about the coverage for loss. Most hotels do not accept liability for items left in the guestroom safes but they will for those locked in the hotel safe.
12. If you lose your key or room entry card, report it to the hotel immediately and ask to be moved to another room. You can’t assume you ‘lost’ it – it may have been stolen from you by someone with malicious intent.
Oh, and one more thing: be wary of using the remote – that’s likely to be the germiest thing in the room. Slide it into one of those small clean trash bags or wrap it in a wash cloth before pressing the buttons.