Tips to stay safe in hotels (especally for women travellers)
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Do you know how to stay safe in a hotel?
In this post, I take a look at some tips for travelers, especially women traveling alone.The need for this post, and also a podcast I have done on this topic, was really sparked by a lot of traveling that I do with women colleagues. We were talking the other day about the sort of tips and advice that they had picked up, or I had heard about, on how to stay safe in a hotel.
While this is important for everyone, it is especially relevant for women travelers who are a big part of the travel population these days, especially women traveling on business.So I have 10 little tips to help stay safe.
Tip #1: Pre-check on the location
The first tip is to take a look and understand where the hotel is. One of the tips is to phone the hotel and speak to people, ideally not in reservations and maybe even not on the front desk. Just speak to a female member of staff and ask her how comfortable she is about the area and walking around by herself in the area.
The reservations people will normally do “the sell”. The front desk will often do “the sell” as well. But ask to speak to just another female member of staff and find out how comfortable they are.And linked to that is make sure that you, when you are at the hotel, use things like valet parking. Don’t go and park yourself. And always get the hotel to pick a taxi for you.
Tip #2: Check in as a fake
The 2nd tip is that when you are checking in, fake it!
What I mean by this is that increasingly these days you pay for a room not for the number of people staying in it. This is particularly true in the US, and now in many parts of the world. You don’t pay for a single or double occupancy. So consider checking in as Mr. and Mrs. X if you are paying for the room. You know, bluff it! And in some countries, what women sometimes do if they are single is wear something that looks like a wedding ring, particularly in some of the Middle Eastern countries for example or areas where they feel they will be more harassed by men.
Tip #3: Don’t let your room number be announced
The third tip is, when you are checking in and if there are people around and the desk clerk actually says your room number aloud, asked immediately for a new room and ask them that they don’t broadcast what room you are in. Don’t go to a room, which has been broadcast as everyone or anyone standing nearby knows what room you are in. Don’t be shy about doing this!Sort of linked to that is also make sure that you don’t have the room number on your key.
Tip #4: Elevator habits
The fourth tip is, when you are getting in an elevator (or lift if you prefer that word), whether it is with your luggage or anything else, if you’re getting in with strangers or perhaps another man or someone gets in, let them always push the floor they are going to first and then push your number. If you feel the slightest bit uncomfortable, either get out or push a higher floor number than they have done. Even though it is not your floor.
So let them always push their room number first, and if they ask you what floor you are on, choose a higher number if you feel the slightest bit uncomfortable.Don’t be afraid to step out. You can always just pretend you’ve left something. Don’t be afraid to do that.The other tip, which one of my colleagues gave me is stand with your back to all the buttons once the numbers have been pushed and if you feel uncomfortable or someone becomes on aggressive, just push all of the button numbers, so you will stop at the next stop and just get out. It also spooks the living daylights out of people!
Tip #5: Same floor practice
The fifth tip is again linked to the previous one. If you end up being on the same floor and the man or the stranger is on the same floor as you, always let them get off first. So don’t worry about whether you are a woman and a man being polite. Just, let them get out.
You can fumble with your bag. You can stall. You can do whatever you want to do.
And I know that because I have followed women, being polite, when we were both on the same floor. I’ve been polite and let them out, and suddenly realized I’m walking down this very long corridor behind them, and I can feel them getting more and more uncomfortable. So I normally fake it, I normally turn around, or drop my keys or something, just to give them a little space.
Tip #6: Never make up your room
The 6th tip is never ever put the “Make Up My Room” sign on the door. Ever. It’s a sign which says, “This room is free, this room is open, no one is here” and someone could easily just pop in and put on the “Do Not Disturb sign.”
So never put the “Make Up My Room” sign on the door. Phone down to housekeeping if you really want it done.
Tip #7: Always do not disturb
Linked to that, the 7th tip is, use the “Do Not Disturb” sign a lot on the door.
If you want, if the services come by with turn‑down service or restocking the mini‑bar, you can just phone them when you leave to say, “Can you come and do it. Can you make up my room?”.
The “Do Not Disturb” sign implies people are inside, so even if you are not there, feel comfortable about leaving it on. I often do that when I pop out. I don’t like people coming into my room, even if it is just the housekeeping people, so I often pop out to the gym or something, I put it on anyway.
Tip #8: Don’t do room service cards
Linked to that, tip number eight is, whatever you do, never, ever hang the “Room Service” card‑‑you know you get the card overnight, where you choose your breakfast?
If you do it can tell people how many people are in the room, who is in the room, and they will know it is one person and they will know you name and room number. Just phone room service in the morning and place your order. Mostly, in most of the hotels, the breakfast comes really quickly anyway. So never leave that outside, and that’s a particular one my female colleagues gave me.
Tip #9: Peep
The 9th tip is, use the keyhole peephole, and if you are the slightest bit unsure about who is at the door, phone reception and ask them to confirm it, or ask them to send security up.
In most hotels, security will be there incredibly quickly. I have always been very impressed when I have had trouble next door or whatever; security is very quick to get up there.
Use the peephole; if you feel the slightest bit unsure, call reception. They will always send somebody. So use that peephole. If you don’t recognize them or are uncomfortable, call reception.
Tip #10: Zero
The last thing to remember is, pretty much in every hotel, “0”or naught or whatever you want to call it, is the operator. Twenty‑four hours a day, the operators are normally sitting there twiddling their thumbs, and they are always the quickest to answer, in my experience. They are much quicker than room service, they are much quicker than the front desk, and they are much quicker than the concierge.
Zero is the number to remember. If you are ever spooked, zero is the number.So those are my tips that I’ve collected based on some discussion recently with some female colleagues. If you have any more advice or any more tips, please leave them in the comments below or drop me an email.
Useful websites and links
A whole site on the topic with sections on different types of travelers from business, solo, teens etc
50 great tips covering safety as well as general advice on all stages of your trip
Wide range of tips, focused more on avoiding getting attacked or mugged and dress codes, but sections on safety in taxis, hotel rooms, crowded areas etc
Mostly about avoiding theft
Helpful groups/ organizations
Summary of the tips:
- Call the hotel and speak to a female member of staff who is not in reservations or front desk and see how comfortable they are walking around the area of the hotel themselves. Always use valet parking and get the hotel to book cabs and use their service.
- Check in as Mr & Mrs X if you have a rate for the room versus a single/ double rate. In some countries consider wearing a ring on the wedding finger.
- When checking in if the desk says your room number aloud and people are about (even if not) – then ask for a new room as the room was broadcast and tell them that. Make sure you keep the room number and key apart.
- When getting in lift let strangers push their floor number first. If you feel uncomfortable fake leaving something behind and get out or push a higher floor number. Stand with your back to the buttons and face inwards not to the door. If you feel uncomfortable just push all the numbers and get off
- Let the stranger/ man leave the lift first if they are on the same floor and stall and then head to your room once he has gone. If unsure stay in lift and go back down.
- Do not use the “make up room” sign ever – it advertises room as empty. call houskeeping when you want it made up
- Use the “Do not disturb” sign and call houskeeping when you want mini bar stocked, room turn down etc. It suggests people are in the room to strangers.
- NEVER put the card for breakfast outside your door overnight as it advertises how many people are in the room. call in the morning instead!
- Use the peephole and only ever open the door if comortable. Do not eb shy to call reception to confirm who si at door or ask for security to do it. They ALWAYS get there fast.
- In almost all hotels “0” is operatior and is the fastest to answer as they are sitting there waiting for calls – this is the best number to use if any problems or panic in my experience