Travel safety tip: Check your balcony doors

do not disturbOn a recent trip to California, I was excited to enter my room and see balcony doors. I could imagine myself sitting outside, enjoying the night air and relaxing after work with a glass of wine. After dropping my suitcase, I hurried to move the drapes aside and step out. But as my hand reached for the doorknob, the noises from the other side of the glass seemed too loud. It turned out that not only was the door unlocked, but it was slightly open!

Now, I’m not one to freak out about being a woman traveling alone in the US. I try to use my common sense about safety without letting fear get the better of me. But I’ll be honest, finding that open door gave me the heebie-jeebies. I was on the second floor, a pretty easy target for a determined thief.

I immediately locked the door and closed the drapes. The crazy thing, however, is that the next night when I got back to the room after work the door was ajar again! I locked it again and called the front desk to let them know. It was still locked when I checked before bed and in the morning, so at least the door/lock itself wasn’t faulty.  

Prior to this trip I was pretty inconsistent about checking a balcony door. Sometimes I would get into my room so late I wouldn’t even realize there were doors instead of a window until the next morning. But you better believe from now on I will check every time!

A few other safety precautions I follow:

  • If someone knocks on the door that I haven’t requested, I call the front desk to make sure it’s legit.
  • I don’t put out the breakfast pre-order door hangers, as it’s advertising I’m traveling alone. In addition, if I need my room cleaned I call housekeeping rather than let the world know my room is empty with the door hanger.
  • I always, always use the safety latch.

Readers, do you check the balcony door in your hotel room? What other  safety tips do you follow?


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  1. Just last week I encountered an unlocked balcony door in a hotel in Bogotá. It was covered by a curtan, and I didn’t notice until the second day I was there. I’ll be more diligent going forward.

  2. Get a door stop! I recently went to Europe on a business trip. I am always aware staying in hotels and especially by myself. I purchased a plastic door stop (the triangle wedge) and put it under the door at night/ when I was in my room. I even forgot to remove it one morning as I was heading to breakfast and it definitely prevents the door from opening. One of my hotel rooms didn’t even have a latch, so I was happy I had it with.

  3. I do not say my room # when charging something at the gift shop or bar loud enough for passers-by to overhear.

  4. I don’t get my room cleaned. I know they can still come in, but this way they don’t have to come in and clean my room with the door open wide.

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