No matter where you travel, unsuspecting tourists can fall prey to burglars and swindlers. The danger of being the victim of a crime is everywhere, irrespective of the country or city. When even the most reputable hotels unwittingly host unsavory characters from time to time, travelers often wonder how to stay safe in a hotel?
In August 2019, the New York Post reported the case of a serial burglar who robbed several uptown hotel chains in NYC. The man pretended to be a hotel guest and made off above $10,000 worth of items, including laptops, cash, and other gadgets.
In March 2017, another tourist was attacked and robbed in his Manhattan hotel room by three unknown assailants. These were not the first instances of thefts and intruder attacks in hotels, nor are they likely to be the last. Being victimized may be the last thing you expect while traveling, but taking certain precautions and staying vigilant is never a bad idea. Here are some safety tips for hotel stays that you can use to your advantage next time you hit the road.
15 Precautionary Ideas on How To Stay Safe In A Hotel Abroad
1. Know the Neighborhood
When booking a hotel, it pays to do a little research about its location. Make sure your hotel is not situated in a shady part of the town. Even if you have booked accommodation with a reputable hotel chain, don’t take hotel security for granted. You need to be cautious even in the safest of cities.
2. Keep Your Luggage with You
If you arrive at your hotel only to find that your room is not yet ready, don’t take the front desk clerk up on their offer to watch your luggage. This is not only one of the most common mistakes rookie travelers make but also the most important hotel room safety hack to remember. A busy lobby is one of the likeliest places for luggage thefts. Make sure to keep an eye on your luggage at all times, until it is safely transferred to your room. It may be a bit of an inconvenience having to carry your luggage to an engagement, but it’s far better than having it stolen.
3. Travel Light
The fewer items you carry, the lesser the chance of theft. It may not always be possible to leave your expensive laptop behind, but there is no need to carry expensive jewelry or unnecessary gadgets. It’s a great way of keeping away stalkers and staying safe at hotels abroad.
4. Don’t Stay on the Ground Floor
Even if it’s a little cheaper, don’t book a room on the hotel’s ground floor; especially if it has windows or a door facing the street outside. Ground-level rooms are much easier for thieves to break into than those higher up.
5. Identify the Exits
In case of a fire or other emergency, you’ll need to evacuate the hotel immediately. Make a mental note of the closest exit sign so you know where to go. Keep your wallet and important documents in a small bag that’s close at hand at all times. This way, you can grab it and go in the event of an emergency.
6. Tell the Front Desk: No Visitors
If you aren’t expecting any visitors during your stay, tell the front desk clerk when checking in. Instruct them not to give out your room information to any visitors claiming to know you. Make sure they give you a call before allowing anyone to knock on your door. If anyone claims to be hotel staff or a service agent sent by the hotel, check with the front desk before allowing them inside the room. This is an easy way to protect yourself in a hotel room.
7. Safely Store Expensive Items
Most hotels will have a secure safe or vault inside the room. Use it to store jewelry, cards, or other expensive items while away from your room. Make sure you have secured the lock before leaving. Take a picture of the items left in the safe. In case of an unlikely theft, you can show evidence to report the missing items.
8. Use Caution in Elevators
If you are traveling solo, be extra mindful while riding the elevator. Cases have been reported in the past of solo travelers being assaulted in hotel elevators. Trust your instincts at all times. If you feel threatened by a stranger in the elevator, don’t press the button of the floor your room is on. Wait for the other person to press their floor button and exit as soon as possible. If attacked, press as many buttons as possible so the door opens frequently. In most countries, elevators are required to have emergency telephone call buttons you can press as well.
9. Check Your Locks
When checking into your room, make sure to check all the locks and deadbolts on the door and windows to ensure they’re functioning properly. Though most hotel doors lock automatically lock behind you, it may be necessary to take the extra step of locking the deadbolt manually. Be sure to do this as well for an extra measure of security.
10. Consider a Cable Lock
If your laptop has a security slot, bring a cable lock with you. Most laptop locks will attach themselves with a key or a combination to the Universal Security Slot in your PC. Make a note of the key/combination in your cellphone.
11. Hang the “Do Not Disturb” Sign
Hanging the “Do not disturb” sign outside your door when leaving will give the impression that the room is occupied even when it is not. This can discourage intruders and hotel staff from breaking in during your absence.
12. Store Valuables Out of Sight
Avoid leaving laptops, wallets, or expensive gadgets in plain sight within the room. Most hotels have master keys to the rooms for cleaning staff to access in absence of the guests. Inform the front desk not to let the cleaning staff in when you are away.
13. Do Not Invite Strangers In
It’s normal to make new friends while traveling, but think twice before letting someone you’ve just met into your hotel room. Meet new friends in the hotel lobby or bar, and do not provide them with your room number.
14. Keep Emergency Contacts
Make a list of local authorities, trusted friends, and family, and save their numbers on your phone. In case of an emergency, you want to quickly be able to contact the right individuals.
15. Make a List of Packed Items
We often make packing lists before traveling, but throw them away later as useless scraps. Little do we realize that it pays to be organized. Make a note of all the expensive items you’ve packed, and store their receipts digitally. In case of stolen luggage, you will be able to provide exact information to the authorities to track them down.
How Does Travel Insurance Help?
No matter how many precautions you take, there’s no guarantee you won’t fall victim to thefts or scams. Purchasing travel insurance gives you extra peace of mind. If an unexpected event does occur during your trip, you may be able to make a claim for compensation, and take advantage of a host of other benefits. Think of your travel insurance as a financial stop-loss tool that covers emergencies, unexpected cancellations, and other mishaps that can occur during your trip.
How To Stay Safe In A Hotel In Case Of An Emergency?
Call the Police
Regardless of what the hotel staff tells you, any incident should be reported to local law enforcement as soon as possible. Do not wait for the hotel staff to do this for you, or agree not to call the police to help protect the hotel’s reputation. If you’re the victim of theft, you will need to make a list of stolen items, along with their receipts. Make a point to take pictures of these items and save them on your phone to use as evidence if necessary.
Consult the Local Embassy
If your passport has been stolen, report it to the local embassy as soon as possible. It might take some time for your new passport to arrive. Make sure you have contacts back home who can transfer funds to you during such emergencies.
File An Insurance Claim
Most travel insurance providers require you to wait for 24 hours before reporting stolen luggage. This is to ensure that the theft is permanent, and not just a temporary mishap. Contact your service provider and file the claim as soon as possible. Your reimbursement amount will be as per the policy coverage, so make sure you fully understand the policy’s inclusions. You will need to submit the following documents to file the claim:
- Your policy number
- A government-issued ID
- Your hotel booking receipt
- Pictures and receipts of the items stolen
- Date and time when you noticed the items missing
- A copy of the police report for the missing items
So, next time you’re headed somewhere, don’t let the tiring travel lose your guard, and keep in mind all the tips on how to stay safe in hotels.
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