Travel Safety: Hotel Edition

Safety is so important when traveling alone. As more and more women are traveling for business, some hotels are creating special programs to keep women safe. However, there are a great number of safety precautions we can take, regardless of where we’re staying. I have compiled a list of tips for being safe in a hotel, and will follow it up in the next few weeks with tips for other situations. This is by no means a comprehensive list, so if I missed one of your favorites, please put it in the comments! Travel safely, friends.

Before you go:

  • If possible, choose national hotel chains with indoor room entrances.
  • Don’t put your home address on your luggage tags. Put your business address.
  • Make sure you have directions to your hotel. Also have their phone number and address handy. (This sounds obvious, but the last time I went to Salt Lake City I went to the wrong location of Hampton Inn, and then couldn’t find the correct location and drove around lost for thirty minutes. I finally found the phone number on my iPhone and the very nice man stayed on the phone with me until I got there. I should know better than this!!)

When you arrive:

  • Use valet parking if it’s available. It may cost more but it’s much safer then wandering around a parking garage
  • If the desk person says your room number aloud, ask for a different room.
  • Ask for two keys—otherwise people will know you’re traveling alone.
  • Avoid staying on the first floor whenever possible, especially if there is outside access to your room.

In your room:

  • Make sure you have a deadbolt, and keep your deadbolt locked whenever you’re in the room.
  • Make sure there is no door connecting to another room.
  • Never put the “Please Clean My Room” sign on the door. It’s an open invitation to thieves! Call housekeeping instead.
  • Don’t use the door sign provided for ordering breakfast. This alerts anyone who looks at it that you are ordering for one. When they knock, make sure the person with your food is a hotel employee.
  • If someone knocks on your door without you requesting anything, check to see who it is. If it’s a hotel employee, call the front desk to find out if it’s legit. If it’s not, speak through the door without opening it.
  • When you leave your hotel for the evening put the “Do Not Disturb” sign on your door. This makes it look like someone is there.

Readers, what are your best hotel safety tips?



  1. Wow – paranoid much? I understand that women are more vulnerable than men in certain circumstances, but many of these tips seem to be a bit extreme. What evidence are you basing these metrics on? What documented cases of crimes against women not using these methods have ever occurred?

    Let’s be honest – is someone from out of town going to decide they like you enough to look at your luggage tag, write down your address and then fly to your city just to stalk you? I can’t imagine that this has ever happened anywhere in the world before (based on someone looking at a luggage tag). That said, I can see that argument maybe making sense if someone locally saw your information, but again, if they know where you work then whats the difference between looking for you there or at your house?

    And saying your room # out loud? Really? Couldn’t they just follow you in the elevator or something? Or are you not supposed to board an elevator with anyone else or unlock your door or walk to your room when any strangers are in the hallways at a hotel either? Better yet – why not just go straight from the airport in your own rental car that you rent with a fake id (taking a taxi could let a cab driver know where you are staying after all and renting a car with your information lets the person at the desk know your home address AND that you are traveling alone!) to your job site and sleep there at night in a locked office and only eat food you packed from home during your trip so that you don’t have to go outside.

  2. Personally I am annoyed when the desk person states my room number out loud. The better trained staff are good about showing the room number and not stating it.

    Another tip is to check the window latches when staying in a ground floor room.

    I generally stay in at least one room every year where the window is not secure when I arrive and someone could enter from the outside.

    Better yet is to avoid ground floor rooms, but that is not always possible.

  3. These are awesome tips. It”s definitely better to be safe than sorry. Thanks for sharing! I”ll be following these tips when I”m on business travel alone.

  4. I’ve got to agree that this seems a bit like overkill. Using your deadbolt at night? Sure, you definitely should. Demanding a new room key if the front desk person says your room number out loud, however, seems like a little much. If there’s someone who’s making you feel creeped out who’s within earshot or something of the sort, then fine, always go with your gut on things like that, but as a rule of thumb it just doesn’t make sense to me.

  5. I had a high school friend get murdered in her hotel room. The guy broke in and strangled her with the lamp cord. I don’t think the post is paranoid at all – just common sense!

    You don’t know who is listening if the desk clerk announces your room number out loud. Sound travels quite far, and around corners where you can’t see. So yes, you really should get a new room.

    As far as your luggage tag – that is an old one. It keeps the local baggage handler (or his buddies at your home airport) from burglerizing your home while you are away. Of course if you do carry on only there is far less chance of that.

    Also only use taxis from an official taxi queue. There is a much higher proabability that they will be “for real” taxis.

    Personally, I travel with a small rubber door stop. Because there have been times when some jerk partier has tried to enter my room.

  6. Also, do a quick walk-around of the room. I learned this the hard way when I stayed at a large chain hotel in Philadelphia. I went to take a shower and a trap door to the ceiling was open into the bathroom. No one was in there at the time but no one could answer what it was even doing there.

    THAT is scary!

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