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Hotel Safety for Travelers
Plan To Be Safe!
As a former Flight Attendant I have stayed in more hotels than most of you reading this! I have traveled alone to places in the United States as well as out of the U.S., Ecuador, Guatemala City, Honduras and Uruguay to name a few. You may be thinking, she is crazy and/or brave. I assure you, I am neither!
There are many safe traveling tips on the internet but not as many articles on safe lodging. In this Hub, I will share tips to help you stay safe! I want you to travel! There's a big world out there begging to be explored! Read on and get ready to pack!
Before Leaving Home
Before you leave home, start with some simple preparations. Before booking your lodging, check on Trip Advisor for reviews. I find this site to be an invaluable source of information! I personally love staying at Bed & Breakfasts so don't discount them! If you are thinking about renting a home in a foreign country, ask about security! If they tell you it's not necessary, I'd take that with a grain of salt and go back to Trip Advisor and do some more research before booking. In the Caribbean as well as some other destinations, I would choose a place that has a guard, "watchie" or gardener on the premises. ( please, take my advice on this!)
After making your lodging selection, send off your itinerary, plane reservations, lodging, tours, etc, to a friend or family member. Also, make a copy of your passport and credit/debit cards. Be sure credit and/debit cards are accepted where you are traveling! Go on line and inform your credit card company of your travel plans. Let your local bank know where you will be using your debit card. Have a back up plan!
Start packing! Pack light, you don't need as much as you think! Consider leaving behind all jewelry! If you are traveling to a third world country or even some second world countries, this is a must. Also, don't put your address on your luggage tags, or the address of where you are staying! A phone number will suffice, you can put your address inside the suitcase.
Prepare the following, a throw away wallet and throw away phone. Put a few dollars in it, enough to look real, put a credit card in it, maybe an expired one? Or one that won't get thieves far. Have a cheap, $10.00 flip phone ready as well. If you do get robbed, your real wallet should be safe and sound hidden on your person, and ditto for your "real" phone. Hand over your "fake" wallet and cheap phone!
Pack a flashlight!
Contact where you are staying, hotel, etc. Ask them if they provide transportation to the hotel. If they don't, ask them to send a cab for you and tell them what flight you will be on. Hotels, etc. want you to be safe! If you are renting a car, consider renting from a local company. In Honduras, you can rent a car that looks like any other local vehicle. Honduran license plates, no rental car stickers, etc. It's much easier to blend in this way and it reduces the risk of you being a target! It's also good for the local economy!
Checking in at the hotel (for the purposes of this Hub, we will assume you are staying at a hotel)
Keep an eye on your luggage and personal belongings at all times! Ask for a room on the 3rd or 4th floor. Thieves can't climb up as easily and fire ladders should be able to reach.
If you are close to the elevator, this is great for security, but can be noisy!
Ask the Customer Service Representative to write down or point to your room number. You don't want other people knowing what room you will be in.
Be aware of your surroundings, notice if anyone is paying particularly close attention to your check in.
The best "keys" to the hotel room are modern electronic locks. They are re-programmed between guests and if you do lose your "key" ask to have it re-programmed as soon as possible. Now with this being said, in Uruguay I stayed at a Hotel which used old skeleton, metal keys! The hotel had a good reputation so I did feel safe! I would stay there again!
If you are a woman traveling alone, consider asking for an escort to your room. It's better to be safe than sorry! In the airlines, many Captains will escort flight crew members to their rooms and check them to ensure safety. I have found in foreign countries, it is common for a hotel employee to escort you to your room and wait to see if the room meets your approval.
inquire about nighttime security, is there someone at the reception desk at all times?
Do people at the hotel have to walk by the reception desk to access their rooms? The less access people have to guest rooms, the better. I personally don't like staying at hotels with outside rooms.
If there's a parking garage, does the elevator stop at the lobby rather then going directly to the room floors?
Ask the lobby to call you if anyone makes an inquiry about you. Instruct them not to give out your room number to anyone for any reason.
Don't leave your credit card lying on the counter for people to read during check in. Be sure you get your own credit card back!
Sign in with first initial only and your last name. Leave off titles. If you are a woman traveling alone, this makes it harder for anyone who looks at the guest registry to determine if you are male or female.
Grab a couple of the hotel business cards. Place one in your purse or wallet.
If you are a woman traveling alone, I would urge you to have an escort take you to your room.
The best place to stand on an elevator, is with your back towards a side wall and next to the buttons. I choose not to get on an elevator if I am going to be the only woman and I am traveling alone.
Try to be the last one on the elevator, and push your floor button last!
If you are attacked, push as many buttons as quickly as possible and keep your back to the wall!
Once In Your Room
While arriving at your room, be sure no one is lurking nearby.
Upon entering your room, prepare to check it. I personally leave the door open, keeping my suitcase in front of the door to hold it that way. My thoughts, there are cameras in the hallways and if anyone is hiding in the room I can get out quickly. Others disagree, they shut and lock the door immediately.
Check the bathroom.
Check under the bed. If the bed has a wooden platform, kick along the sides to be sure no one is hiding, hidden by the bedspread.
Check behind the curtains, especially if they are floor length.
Check that all windows are securely latched.
Check any adjoining room doors if there are any. Be sure they are locked properly.
All clear? Go back and lock the main door securely. Always use the dead bolt.
If you are staying in a country which uses, skeleton keys, or similar. Don't leave it in the doorway. It can be pushed out and after it's on the floor it could possibly be fished out into the hallway.
Check the telephone, is it connected and working? You should be able to reach the front lobby easily. Take the business card you picked up while checking in and put it by the phone. It's handy to know the address of where you are staying. The other business card should be in your wallet, great for showing cab drivers if there's a language barrier!
If anyone comes to the door posing as hotel security, call down to the desk to verify the person's identity before opening the door.
Check the fire escape plan. Orientate yourself to the lay out of the hotel. Remember, if there's a fire don't use the elevators!
Place your flashlight and keys next to your bed.
Bed Bug Safety!
Bed bugs are nasty!!! Here's what you need to know to avoid these horrible, disgusting critters which will leave you itching for weeks!
First, never put your suitcase down on a soft surface. Bed bugs like beds and upholstery. Use a hard luggage rack or another hard surface for your bags.
Keep your suitcase zippered at all times.
Before getting into bed, check the corners of the mattress for any reddish, brown or black spots. Be sure to check under the mattress ridge in case they are hiding.
Some people say they can smell them. I have heard the smell resembles hamburg gone bad!
If you suspect any, change rooms immediately!
List of Hotel Security Products On The Market
Here is a list of various hotel security products that you can find easily on line:
Portable door stop alarm
Portable door lock
Portable travel safe lock
Laptop security cable
Portable door alarm
Portable hotel room travel motion detector
Not sure how to use these products? There are some great tutorials on You-Tube! And for more good news, they are not as expensive as you may think!
I have shared a lot of information with you, please don't feel overwhelmed or paranoid! The tips become second nature the more you travel. I have stayed safe and look forward to traveling more! Iceland is the next country I would like to explore. An African Self-Fly Safari is on my horizon too, it's way up there on my personal bucket list!
I hope you have enjoyed this Hub and will use these tips on your next trip!