Most business and pleasure travelers don’t have a security plan.
Even those that disagree admit to not having their plan well thought out and clearly articulated in any formal manner. Most travelers admit that they have not met with business supervisors or even family members to discuss what-if situations. When or if a criminal assault does occur, the business manager or family member will not be prepared and will have to rely on instinct in response to the incident.
What if their response instincts are wrong or their reactions inappropriate, under the circumstances?
We hear about these cases all the time in the news. For example, what if a business traveler is kidnapped in a foreign country? What if a person traveling abroad for pleasure has their bag stolen containing their passport, wallet, credit cards, airline tickets, and other travel documents?
Higher Floors are Safer
Upper floors are safer from crime but worse for fire rescue. Emergency rescue is best below the fifth floor. I compromise by picking a modern fire-safe hotel and always request a room on an upper floor to reduce crime exposure. Ground floor rooms are more vulnerable to crime problems because of access and ease of escape. In a high-rise building, rooms above the fifth floor are usually safer from crime than those below because of lesser accessibility and ease of escape. Also, rooms not adjacent to fire stairs are safer from room invaders because they use them for escape. Criminals do not want to be trapped on an upper floor inside a high-rise hotel. By design, high-rise buildings usually have fewer ground-level access points and are easier for the hotel staff to monitor who passes through the lobby after hours.
Door Security Hardware
Hotel or motel rooms should be equipped with a solid-core wood or metal door for the best protection.
Doors should be self-closing and self-locking. Room doors should have a deadbolt lock with at least a one-inch throw bolt. If the lock appears worn or there are pry marks around the lock area, get another room or move to another hotel. The knob-lock should be hotel-style where you can push a button on the inside knob and block out all keys.
This feature is designed to prevent a former guest or housekeeper from entering the room once you are safely inside. Hotels with electronic card access have the advantage of being able to disable former keycards issued to previous guests and unauthorized employees. Electronic locks also will block out most room service keys when you set the deadbolt.
The room door should have a wide-angle peephole so you can view who is at the door before opening it.
Do not open your door to someone who knocks unannounced. Some criminals will pretend to be bellmen, room service, maintenance, or even hotel security to gain admittance to your room.
Always call the front desk to confirm their status with the hotel and only open the door if you requested the service. Do not rely on door chains or swing bars to secure the doors while you partially open the door to speak to someone. These are unreliable security devices. Teach your children not to open the door of any hotel room without knowing the person on the other side and without your permission
When you find a suitable hotel that meets your safety standards and security needs try to stick with it or with the same hotel chain. Don’t be afraid to complain to management to get the safe room you deserve.
- Always request a room on an upper floor, if possible
- A solid door with a good deadbolt lock is best
- Electronic card access locks help limit access
- Make sure your door has a peephole and night latch and use it
- Turn on the TV or radio just loud enough to hear through the door
- Turn on a single light in the room if you plan to return after dark
- Inspect the room hiding places upon entering and check all locks
- Ask the bellman for an escort and use valet parking if alone
Family Security While Traveling
Family Travel Security Plan
Whenever your family walks out the front door of your home they leave that zone of protection that you have created. The secret to keeping your family reasonably safe once they leave home is to have a family security plan. To develop a family security plan you must give careful thought to the public routines of each family member and think of ways to make them safer from the violent people in the world. The best way to accomplish this is to hold a family meeting to discuss this plan and play what-if games using different scenarios. For example, what if we need to stay overnight in a hotel and you get separated? What steps should we take to make the process safer? What if we want to go to the swimming pool or gym? What precautions can we take to be safer in the parking lot? What if someone approaches to rob us while walking to our car on the street at night? What would we do and how would we react? Where would we go and who would we notify in case of emergency?
Planning is Everything
Most people have no such family plan and have not met as a family to discuss what-if situations. When or if a criminal assault does occur, the family will not be prepared and will have to rely on instinct in response to the incident.
What if their response instincts are wrong or their reactions inappropriate, under the circumstances? We read about these cases all the time in the newspaper or hear about them on television.
For example, where a child was walking in an unfamiliar place and was tricked into a car by a total stranger and kidnapped.
Children should not be allowed to wander the hotel grounds unsupervised. Everyone at a hotel is a stranger and it is difficult to discern who is a registered guest, who is safe, or who has criminal intentions. Do not leave a child at the pool or gym unsupervised. These are prime targets for predators.
Advice for Women Travelers
If you are a woman traveling alone or with small children, take advantage of car valet service, if available to avoid the parking lot. After checking in at the desk, ask the bellman or desk clerk to escort you to your room. After unlocking the room, quickly inspect the closets, under the bed, and bathroom including behind the shower curtain before the bellman leaves. When you find a suitable hotel that meets your standards and will cater to your needs, try to stick with it or with the same hotel chain.