I get excited when I show up at a hotel - I want to see the gym and, if I’ve been on a plane for more than 12 hours what I REALLY want to do is take a shower. At that point, I have to try my best to stay up until at least 8 pm to shake off the jet lag, and then get acclimated as quickly as possible. I also have a hotel checklist when I arrive so I don’t forget the basic hotel safety rules in my groggy state.
The room announce: When the front desk gives you the key, they should not announce your room number - especially in front of others. If they do and you suspect that someone in the area is paying attention, you are well within your rights to ask for a different room and that the attendant not announce the room number to the entire lobby.
Location is key: Especially in third-world countries, your room should be between the 2nd and 7th floor. Why? In some places, the fire ladder doesn’t extend past the 7th floor and staying on the first floor means that your room is accessible from the street level.
Know the exits: One of the first things to establish when you arrive in the hotel room (besides whether or not someone is hiding under the bed) is the location of the nearest exits. Now take this one step further and follow them to street level - this is important because in an emergency you want to know not only how to get out of the building, but where to go once you are out. Save yourself time by figuring this out when you arrive.
A hotel safe is not safe: If you were a thief looking for valuables, where is the first place you would look? In the safe, right? When it comes to hotel staff, out of sight usually means out of mind. I do not travel with items I can’t live without. My most valuable items are cameras and laptops, which I can lock up in my travel backpack or portable safe when they are not with me. Additionally, in many higher-end hotels, you can store your valuables in a safe at the front desk, which requires a sign-in and two-key access.
It’s MY passport: When you check in, the hotel will typically request a copy of your passport. This is normal, but they should give it back to you. Do not let them hold your passport for the duration of your stay.
Breakfast for one? Placing the breakfast card on the door with an order for one indicates that you are staying alone. Don’t do it - instead, make the phone call to the front desk to place your morning order.
DO NOT ANSWER the knock at the door at an odd hour, for two reasons:
The big key fob debate: I love staying in riads, dars and casbahs. The only downside is that they typically give you these giant key fobs that are 100% not conducive to taking them with you around town. This makes leaving the key with the front desk an appealing option; however, the key hanging up is a clear signal that the occupant is out for the day. Instead, I will remove the key from the ring and leave the fob in the room. I usually transfer the key to a personal keychain to avoid losing it. Hotel safety is more than just booking five-star locations - though more stars usually equals more security measures in place. It’s also about taking your personal security into your own hands. Though the tips above may seem small on their own, following several of them collectively will drastically improve your own safety situation during any stay overseas. If something does happen to your personal items or causes an interruption to your travel plans, always have travel insurance to help you recover from the incident and get your vacation or business trip back on track.
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Volcanic eruptions are natural disasters that may be covered events under Arch RoamRight travel protection plans. From minor disruptions to catastrophic events, volcanos can affect travelers around the world.
Former travel disaster, now a serial traveler, travel safety advisor, and author of The Travel Safety Handbook. Poster boy for learning from others mistakes. Now I provide travelers with the tools to focus on their travel goals; I advise business travelers,prepare study-abroad students and equip families with the knowledge to return home successful with memories that will last a lifetime, not horror stories. Follow JC on his blog at Travel-Safer.com, on Facebook, or on Twitter.
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