Here is a practical list of personal security tips for those who stay in hotels while traveling for business or pleasure…
1. Consider selecting a hotel room on the second floor which will generally keep you out of reach of criminal activity from the street but still within reach of fire truck ladders.
2. Familiarize yourself with escape routes in case of fire or evacuation. Simply know where the stairs are so you could visualize getting out in the dark if you had to. Most people will instinctively go to the elevators (don’t do that!).
An MSB visitor here once said:
As a firefighter one of the best things to do is to count the number of doors in each direction to the fire exit. NOT ELEVATOR! if there is a fire you will be crawling and not able to see the signs which are placed at eye level.
A good idea is to see where the fire trucks would be coming to and staging in case you cannot leave the floor and need to get their attention.
Any time you are anywhere you should be checking where the exits are and if traveling with family a good call is to arrange a meeting place if you evac the building. i.e. parking lot far west corner…etc. that way if it becomes necessary to get out you can find everyone and would have no reason to attempt to go back in to get wife, son, daughter, beer….etc.
And yet another MSB visitor emphasized a related consideration:
On check-in I always study the hotel layout, find exits, count doors to stairways, etc. I also ‘test drive’ the stairs as I’ve found many are unique in terms of layout.
Example 1: they go to the first floor, but continue on to a basement level from which it takes longer to get outside.
Example 2: they have no first floor exterior door in the stairwell and you have to go into the first floor hallway and then exit the building. There are other unique set-ups, but I’ve experienced both of these just this year.
[Ken adds]: I too have experienced this. Don’t assume that the stairs will lead you straight outside. Check them.
3. Always pack or carry a flashlight in case you lose power in an unfamiliar place (Important!). Keep it on your nightstand while sleeping.
Best Pocket Carry Flashlight For Under 30 Dollars
4. Avoid discussing your business or travel plans and movements during your stay, especially in public areas where they may be overheard.
5. Do not discuss your room number while standing in the lobby (or anywhere).
6. Do not leave your room key on restaurant or bar tables. Keep the key in your pocket.
7. Never leave valuables in your hotel room exposed or unattended, even in a locked suitcase. Instead, place valuables such as money, jewelry, passport, etc., in a hotel safe deposit box or room safe. Most all hotels now have room safes.
8. Use the door chain and bolt lock whenever you are in your room.
9. Cover the peep hole because there is such a thing as “reverse peep hole viewers” (use a small piece of black electrical tape – partially fold one end for easy peeling on-off). However do use the door viewer (peephole) before opening the door to visitors.
10. Consider bringing along a door wedge, especially for while you are sleeping.
11. Keep your room neat so you will notice disturbed or missing items quickly upon return.
12. Always bring a pocket knife which not only is helpful in many practical ways, but will serve as means of self defense. Where legal, a firearm is the ultimate self defense.
13. Most states allow for a gun to be possessed in a hotel room because it is considered an extension of your residence. An excellent resource in this area is as follows:
Traveler’s Guide to the Firearm Laws of the Fifty States
14. Consider bringing a night light to plug in the bathroom (in case they don’t have one).
15. I have heard that you should not turn in your plastic room card-key. Apparently all of your credit card information might be on that mag stripe. I’m not sure if this is typical. Maybe someone out there “in the know” will comment…
Bonus Tip: If you weren’t satisified with the maid service, here’s a thought… Before you leave, wrap the pillows up in the blankets to make it look like someone “expired” in the bed. (Couldn’t resist that one…)
Comment below with your own tips for personal security while traveling or a hotel stay…