Having travelled to over 30 countries, I have picked up some interesting tips and tricks about hotel safety over the years. Since the holiday season is approaching and many of you may be travelling, I thought I would write a couple of short, bullet point style articles to help you stay safe.
Before leaving, I strongly recommend that you make at least 3 photocopies (front and back) of the following documents:
- Credit cards
- All tickets (airplane, train, show, etc)
- Important documents you may be travelling with
I would leave one copy with a trusted resource back home ( as a worst case scenario backup) and carry 2 copies with me in different places. Many international hotels request that you leave a copy of your passport with them overnight while they complete your check-in (bad idea). Never surrender your original passport, give them a photocopy instead. In the age of digital, I often scan all the documents and store a digital copy somewhere in the cloud and on my iPhone ( just in case).
Another important consideration is the documentation of valuables you will be travelling with. I recommend photographing everything from different angles and serial numbers when available.
Before booking the hotel
In an emergency situation, you are ultimately responsible for your own safety. An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure. Do your research before booking a hotel and the room. I generally want a non-biased third party to provide the below answers. If that is not possible then I try to stick to major Western chains that usually will be fairly honest with their answers.
- Choose a hotel where the room locks are electronics. This makes it harder for previous guests or “bad guys” to have access to your room. Ask for 2 copies of the room key and keep both on you. If you misplace or lose one, immediately notify the hotel and have replacements made.
- Make sure the room is equipped with a dead bolt lock and a peephole
- Most of us do not pay attention to the hotel’s fire suppression system but trust me this one is important. Make sure your room is equipped with a smoke detector and that each room (and the hallways) have visible sprinkler systems. In many countries the fire response teams are not as fast, well equipped or trained as in North America.
- Make sure that the hotel environment is secure with proper fencing and that the guest areas are well lit (parking, hallways, ice rooms, etc).
- Generally I prefer hotels where the elevator leaving the parking area only goes to the lobby (and not directly to the rooms).
- I try to make sure that any hotel I choose has adequate security personnel. I like to see uniformed security personnel that seem to be well trained and adequately equipped (in this case adequate depends on the area.) They should be willing to escort you to your room or vehicle if requested.
- I recommend you contact the foreign affairs ministry of your country (DFAIT in Canada, US Embassy for USA, etc). Ask them about the area the hotel is located in and determine how safe it is.
… to be continued