Monday, August 4, 2014

Stay Safe (on vacation)

There was a MAJOR convention in town this week.  Working in hospitality, I heard more than my share of  "do you have parking lot security" and explanations that the guest left valuables in their vehicle (or in the back of their truck).  I personally SAW GPS devices, motorized scooters, and tools left out in cars or trucks.  My answer to the first question was no.  The response to their explanation was please don't leave valuables in your car.
Image:Hide Valuables in Your Car Step 1.jpg
So this post on vacation safety may seem like common sense.  The only problem is that  "Common sense is quite rare." (Voltaire)

"Common sense is quite rare." 

Let's start with the parking lot.  You've done your homework, booked a great hotel at the best rate .  After a long day of travelling, you have arrived!  First, try to park near the front entrance.  While it may be day when you arrive, keep in mind that it will be night soon.  Try to park under or near a light.  Thieves like the cover of dark.  Don't forget to roll up all your windows!  It only takes a crack to make your car an easy target for a thief.

Secondly, take your stuff with you!  Don't leave anything of value in the vehicle.  At the very least, lock your stuff in the trunk.  Breaking a car window and stealing your stuff takes only a few minutes.  Even if you have an alarm, it is of little use other than to alert you that your stuff has been stolen.  Don't tempt a would be thief!

Now that your vehicle is safe and secure, you are ready to check in!  When checking in, make sure your room number isn't proclaimed to the lobby.  Sometimes a desk clerk will make that mistake.  Sometimes a guest loudly tells the world the room number.  Either way, there's no reason for your room number to be said aloud.  Only you need to know that information.  

Check to make sure the outside entrances lock and require a key to enter.  Many hotels have several entrances.  These should be locked and require an active guest key to open.  If they don't, I can assure you that the transient and criminal population know that they don't lock.

In case of fire...

When you get to the room, read the emergency instructions on the back of the door.  Know where the emergency stairs are located.  Where are the fire alarms? It takes just a few seconds to be prepared for an emergency.  

Check to make sure your deadbolt lock works and that your door shuts securely.  Believe it or not, I once had a guest complain in the morning that their door wouldn't lock!  This is a non negotiable.  You wouldn't stay in an unsecure room in a house with hundreds of strangers would you?   You should also have a security bar or chain.  This is also non-negotiable.  A security bar prevents someone who has a key from completely opening the door.  Maintenance staff, housekeeping, management, and front desk personnel all have access to your room with magnetic keys.  If you are in your room your door should be deadbolted and security latched.  Check to see that your windows are secure as well.  And verify  all guests by using the peephole.

If you have valuables with you- use the hotel safe (either in the room- if one is provided or at the front desk) or keep them in your possession.  I keep my cash and passport with me at all times when I travel.  99% of 
housekeepers are honest.  Don't be a victim on the 1%.

What other safety tips do you have?  I know there's lots of good advice out there. I hope I haven't scared anyone but these were the worst violators I have seen in the last two months or so.  People propping their hotel doors open (at night!), leaving valuables in their car, not securing their doors.  Thankfully, nothing has happened- but why take the chance?

What other safety tips do you have? 
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