Even though these safety tips are mainly used when staying in hotels, they can also be used when staying in different types of accommodation such as hostels and rental homes. Most of these points seem obvious but some people forget to do even the simplest of things whilst on holiday, something in which could even put your life at risk.
Showing ID When Checking In
One of the most standard procedures when checking into a hotel is showing photographic identification (Photo ID) to prove that you're the person as to whom the booking is under. When handing over your ID make sure you pass it to the receptionist rather than leaving it on top of the desk where everyone around can take a look at it. When the receptionist hands whatever forms of ID you've given back to you make sure every form of ID was handed back to you.
Some people may forget that some hotels may need to see the bank card that the room was booked with, which may be left at the desk after being checked. Then make sure that you put these forms of ID away in your bag, I've seen countless numbers of people leave their passport at reception and had gone to walk away before a receptionist had reminded them of what they had left.
Using a Safe
Before going away make sure you research whether your hotel or accommodation includes a safe, it's more likely that these will be found in hotels and full lockers will be found in hostels to hold your belongings. This can easily be done by searching the name of the place you're staying at and then going directly to their website or on websites such as Booking.com or Trip Advisor. Through these websites you can see what facilities your specific accommodation offers and from this you can then plan where to leave your valuables while there. If your hotel doesn't include a safe then get a lock for your suitcase if in worry, even if you do have a safe I still keep a lock on my suitcase, since everyone that works for the hotel isn't always as honest as they seem. Most hotels don't accept liability if a guests valuables are stolen through no fault of the establishment, hotels may only take responsibility if valuables are damaged due to an act of nature (natural disasters such as earthquakes or floods).
Don't Open The Door To Anyone!
If staying at a hotel, especially if you're alone, don't open the door before first checking through the peephole. If someone claims that they're the hotel staff then open the door with the security chain still on, so even if you found out they were lying they still wouldn't be able to gain access to your room. If someone knocks on your door and claims to be staff from the hotel and you're ever in doubt, call down to reception and ask if there's any reason for their staff to be knocking at your door. Anyone could claim that they're staff working at the hotel or even try to claim that they're housekeeping, once they get into your room you have no idea what could happen and what their intentions are.
Knowing The Fire Escape Route and Plan
Upon arriving at your hotel room you will clearly notice that there's a detailed plan of the floor you're staying on, with your room being highlighted and the map telling you your nearest fire exit. Even though many people may look at this and have a clear indication as to where the fire exit is because there are big green signs saying "FIRE EXIT" pointing to what direction you should be going towards to escape. What about if there was smoke in the corridor? How would you be able to see where you are if you have to end up crawling towards the fire exit? Make sure you locate where the stairs of the hotel are since lifts are to be avoided when in a fire as well as knowing how long it would roughly take to get there from your room. If you're staying in a hotel that has a lot of floors, try and get a floor that's situated near the bottom of the hotel. Even though you might miss out on the spectacular view it does mean you're a lot more likely to be safer in the event of a fire. If you were on the 4th floor of a hotel and couldn't use the corridor of the floor you're staying on to escape, what other route could you take? If the fire and rescue services came then they'd be able to rescue you through using a fire ladder. If you were situated on the 31st floor then this would make it near impossible to help you get evacuated from the building.
Never Say Your Full Name or Room Number
When checking in to a hotel many people may say their full name to allow the reception staff to find their booking. I would never do this since you never know who is listening, I would usually say "Hi, I have a room booked for Miss McLaughlin" and then the reception staff would then look for my reservation accordingly. I have never been in the situation where someone has had the exact same surname as me and they're checking in on the exact same day as me. If they did ask me for further clarification I'd announce the number of nights I'd be staying for rather than my first name. Another thing that hotels commonly do is openly announce your room number, if someone has your room number as well as your name they could easily impersonate you and say that "I'm Miss McLaughlin in Room 98 and I've lost my key for the room". If the hotel did announce openly what your room number is ask for another room. Hotels have never announced my room number openly, they usually write it on a small bit of paper used to hold my key card.
What To Do Whilst Inside Your Room
Aside from the obvious which is to enjoy your stay as well as making sure you have a comfortable place to sleep and shower for your stay, it's important to make sure your room is secure and safe. While in your room make sure the door is able to lock properly as well as making sure that when you're ready to call it a day the extra security feature such as a deadbolt or a security chain is in use. They aren't just there to look pretty, they are an added form of security to make sure the room you're in is secure. Electronic cards are most commonly used in hotels these days as they're deemed to be the safest option compared to keys. This is because each time a guest leaves their room and returns this specific key card back then this key card is completely wiped and replaced with a different code which allows the next guests to use it. If you're staying on one of the floors towards the bottom of the hotel then make sure your windows can be locked and they're locked at night, if they're near the street then thieves may see the perfect opportunity to get inside of your hotel room. The only time I would leave my windows open is when I'm in the room and usually I'd leave them open up to the moment before I go to bed to allow fresh air to get into the room.
Be Prepared For Anything
When staying in a hotel room the most important thing to do is make sure you have all your valuables in one place so if you needed to leave the room then you would have everything. I usually keep my handbag next to my bed with everything inside that I'd need for the next day, which can also be used if I needed to make a quick escape. In my handbag I keep my wallet, keys, passport and any other small items of importance. Keeping a pair of shoes next to your bed is advisable, like you would do with slippers while at home, so if you did need to leave then you wouldn't be running out of your accommodation bare foot. As much as some people would say the chance of something happening to them while abroad is one in a million, it's common to find people waking up in the middle of an earthquake or being awoken by the fire alarm blaring through the hotel.
Leaving A Note On The Nightstand
As mentioned in a previous blog post, Making an Itinerary, I explained that I keep important information regarding my whereabouts for the next few days: what activities I'll be doing as well as the times in which these activities take place within my hotel room. If an itinerary is not your cup of tea then most hotels provide a notepad and pen in which you can write down your whereabouts for the day so if you didn't return for some apparent reason then the hotel would have a rough idea of your location. This gives the police a helping hand and a map as to where I was during different times of the day, making it a lot more likely that I would be found. Even if you don't want to use the notepad and pen for this reason, it's a good idea to note down emergency numbers you may need such as for the police and ambulance since the area codes and numbers are different for each country.
Research The Hotel & Area Beforehand
Before booking a hotel or any sort of accommodation you first have to narrow down what part of the city you want to stay in. There are a number of different factors that deter people from certain places such as noise, crime as well as the prices in which certain areas charge due to their popularity (such as a city centre). If you google a specific area within a city it'd be easy to find whether that area is safe and whether the crime levels are high. It's important to find out if there's good transport links such as a metro station or a bus stop nearby, especially if you're travelling back to your hotel after dark. For example, in Barcelona our hotel was located within a minutes walk of a metro station as well as being in a well lit location as there was a lot of street lamps down these roads. It's important to look at the situation within that country: whether there is a terrorism threat and whether the area is a good place to visit for tourists. On websites such as gov.uk they advise tourists as to whether or not to travel to specific areas within a country. For example, the Foreign and Commonwealth Office advise people from travelling within the West of Egypt unless travel is essential (a holiday is not recommended here).
Tips and tricks for all aspects of travelling, most of which include saving money.