When you’re on a trip, there are a few essentials you’ll always travel with. Cash, extra credit cards, and your passport/ID are a few of these necessities. But how can you make sure your belongings stay safe when you leave the room?
It’s a dilemma even frequent travelers deal with. Do you take your stuff with you and risk losing it or getting it stolen? Or leave everything in the hotel and trust the security there to keep it safe?
The answer is neither. Instead, learn these tricks to travel smart so you can protect your valuables when you’re staying in a hotel.
1. Don’t Use the Hotel Safe
Many upscale hotels have a safe in the room, but you should not use it for storing your valuables. Yes, it’s a barrier between a thief in a hurry and your belongings, but those safes can be cracked in seconds.
An employee or guest with a little criminal know-how can guess a passcode with ease. Or, they’ll use a few well-known techniques to break into the lock. Some safes aren’t bolted down, so the thief can grab it, run, and open it later at their leisure.
Rather than trust the safe in your room, store your belongings in your luggage and padlock the zipper shut. For the most security, invest in a hard shell suitcase rather than fabric that can be easily cut into with a knife.
Use a portable travel lock to attach the suitcase to an immovable or heavy object so it can’t be carried off and broken into later.
2. Keep Your Luggage Out of Sight
You locked your door, and the housekeeping maid isn’t a thief. Great!
But what if he or she leaves your door propped open, and your luggage is right in the sight of a would-be thief? All they have to do is wait until the housekeeper is cleaning the bathroom or distracted, reach in, and grab your stuff.
Chances are, the opportunity is what caused the theft. The thief didn’t go looking for your room specifically, but it was there, available, and easy.
If you hide your luggage under the bed, in the closet, or otherwise out of sight, it won’t be worth the effort and possibility of being caught.
3. Avoid Scams
Scammers love to prey on hotel guests. They gain the trust of the potential victim by pretending to call from the front desk or housekeeping.
When they have you believing they’re legitimate, they can get you to give them your credit card info or convince you to leave the room with the door open.
Never trust the phone number you get from someone who claims to be working for the hotel. Instead, if you feel uncertain about the call or request you received, look online for the main 800 number.
Call that line and ask to speak to the manager of the branch where you’re staying. Let them know what happened and verify that it was a real employee and a true problem before you leave the room or give out any information.
4. Stick With “Do Not Disturb”
When you stay at a hotel, there’s almost always a little door hanger on the inside of your room. One side says “Do Not Disturb,” and the other side may say something like “Please Clean,” or nothing at all.
Hanging the “Do Not Disturb” sign on the outside of your door discourages would-be thieves from entering your room. You could be inside sleeping quietly, which makes them think twice about breaking in.
However, the sign also deters housekeeping from cleaning your space or room service from delivering a tray. If you do want the services when you’re gone, make sure you lock your luggage securely.
5. Don’t Give Out Your Room Number
You’d be amazed at how easy it is for someone to learn what room you’re staying in. Any time you say the number verbally, such as when you’re checking in or making restaurant reservations in the lobby, a criminal could hear you.
Now that they know where you’re staying, they can watch your behavior. When you leave the property, they know it’s prime time to head to your room and indulge in your belongings.
Try to use your name instead of the room as identification. When you absolutely must tell someone the number, either whisper it or write it down. In large hotels with multiple floors and identical numbering systems, give the number without the floor identifier if possible.
Whether to store your things in the room or carry them with you every time you leave can be a stressful decision. But when you know the tricks of traveling savvy, you can confidently keep your valuables behind and trust they’re safe.