Most of us use common sense while traveling and take extra precautions to keep ourselves and our belonging secure. But with all that goes into a trip, it’s sometimes easy to forget or not even be aware of the hidden security dangers while staying in hotels. By remembering these tips, you’re sure to reduce your risks and hopefully have a safe, enjoyable time.
Choosing a Location
- Once you’ve narrowed your search, note the part of town and cross streets. Trip Advisor and many other travel sites have guest reviews that can help you determine what a hotel is like. Or call the local police to ask about the hotel’s location. Using a travel agent who’s familiar with your destination is also very helpful. If you’re traveling internationally, contact the in-country U.S. Embassy’s Security Office.
Arriving and Checking in
- When you arrive, check things out. Is the surrounding neighborhood run down? Are there loiterers in the parking lot? Is there adequate lighting, is the parking lot gated or guarded?
- Are rooms on the ground floor or open toward the parking lot? If so, request a room on the 2nd level or higher facing the interior courtyard area, these are safer than rooms off the parking lot or on the ground floor. Be extra cautious of rooms shrouded by landscaping.
- Rooms closer to the elevator or ice machine, where people frequent, are safer but may also be louder. Avoid rooms too close to the stairs where someone could hide or use as a quick get-away.
- Ask the desk attendant not to say your room number out loud, but to write it down. If you believe anyone near by heard your room number, don’t be afraid to ask for a new one.
- Be aware of your belongings during this time. Keep your baggage with you unless the hotel offers a porter service. Busy lobbies can be ideal for thieves looking to move in on unattended luggage.
- Pick up a hotel business card at the front desk before leaving. Keep this with you wherever you go. It will come in handy if you get lost or need to use a cab and don’t remember the exact location of your hotel. Many travel destinations have more than one “Hilton” in town.
- Once you’ve found your room, it’s time to inspect it. Does it have patio doors or windows accessible from the outside? Does it have working locks? If so, be sure to use them. Is there a door leading to an adjoining room? If your travel companions aren’t using it, keep it locked. Does the main door have a deadbolt and a swing lock? If so, use them both while in your room.
- Check the bathroom, closet and behind drapes; make sure the phone dials outside numbers, should you need help.
- As you get settled, familiarize yourself with emergency procedures and escape routes from your room. You won’t have time to locate this information in an emergency.
- If your room has a safe, put your valuables in it; just don’t forget them when you leave to go home.
Coming and Going
- Pull the door closed so it latches every time. Hotel doors may seem to close on their own, but may not always latch shut. Not doing this could give anyone walking by access to you and your belongings.
- Never prop your door open, even for a quick run down the hall to the ice machine, always take your key.
- Never just open the door if someone identifies themselves as a hotel employee, call the front desk to verify they sent someone. Don’t just trust anyone in a uniform or with a badge.
- If you don’t absolutely need your room cleaned, notify the front desk not to have housekeeping enter.
- Leave your TV on and use the “do not disturb” sign on your door. This gives the impression you are in the room, and may deter someone from entering without consent.
- Don’t wear flashy jewelry or show cash in public.
- Be cautious when using elevators alone. Enter last and make your floor selection after everyone else. Be observant of who’s getting on and what floors they’re selecting. If you feel uneasy, get off immediately.
- Keep plans and activities private. Don’t discuss them in public.
- If you arrive at night, ask the front desk for a security escort, especially is you are alone.
Parking Lots and Garages
- Park as close to the exit or elevators as you can.
- Be aware of your surroundings. Look around before entering or exiting.
- Use the main hotel entrance when coming in late at night and use the valet service.
- Don’t accept or ask strangers for help in parking garages or lots, seek out a hotel attendant.
- If you are alone, ask for a hotel security escort to your car.
If you’re traveling internationally, there are additional precautions to take depending on where you’re going. Most travel service providers like travel and rental car agencies, hotels and in-country visitor’s bureaus will provide country-specific security tips. And again, there’s also the U.S. Embassy. Happy Traveling!