With holiday travel plans in the works, it’s important to remember that not everyone in your hotel will be there to relax. Hotel crimes are on the rise, with scammers taking advantage of absentminded travelers and criminals using the relaxed atmosphere as a smokescreen for their illicit ventures. Some of the biggest crimes in history have occurred in hotels, so it’s important to do your absolute best to ensure your safety. Here are a few quick tips that can help prevent your fiesta from becoming a fiasco.

  1. Reserve the room with your first initial and your last name, especially if you’re a female traveling alone. This prevents anyone having undue access to your personal information, and can discourage your chance of becoming a target of an untrustworthy employee.
  2. Be careful who you trust. Helpful employees are always a boon to a weary traveler, but remember that these individuals are still strangers and could easily pose a danger to your family.
  3. Avoid the first floor. Safety experts recommend staying on floors between the third and sixth floors of hotels. The rooms are high enough to be difficult to break into, say from a balcony, but still accessible by most fire engine ladders.
  4. Leave the TV or radio on. Choose a talk channel or sit-com to give the allusion that people are in the room, which can deter any unwanted guests.
  5. If the desk clerk announces your room number at check-in and there are strangers present, request a different room. If your room key turns up missing you should also request to have your room moved (or the key changed). You cannot guarantee that the key wasn’t stolen, and other guests should not be able to locate your room.
  6. Lock your door. Lock all dead bolts, chains and security locks. Regardless of how long you will be in or out of the room, your door should never be propped open or left unlocked. When traveling you should also bring a small doorstop, which can be used to wedge your door shut while you sleep or shower.
  7. Hang your do not disturb sign. Regardless of if you’re in the room or not, this gives the impression that the room is occupied and can deter any unwanted attention.
  8. Do not fill out room service cards and leave them outside your door, contact room service directly. You don’t want strangers being able to identify exactly who is staying in your room, especially if you’re traveling alone. With the access to Social Media, a criminal can use the information on your card to identify your potential as a target. Women traveling alone should request that their room service be brought up by a woman.
  9. Use your hotel safe. Your laptop, any travel documents, and expensive items should all be kept in the safe unless they’re being taken with you. If the safe in your room does not look secure, request to have items stored in the hotel safe. Be sure to get a receipt and inquire how missing items will be handled.
  10. Don’t set your credit card on the check in counter. Scammers loiter around check in counters and bars, looking for people who leave this information laying around. They’re using your desire to relax against you, knowing that you’re less likely to check your financials while away & the positive memories you’re making with loved ones make you less likely to suspect that was the location an identify theft occurred when fraudulent charges show up later.
  11. Always bring a sturdy  flashlight and keep it at your bedside. In the event of a power outage you need to be able to navigate the hotel. In the event of a true emergency, lighting could fail; in the event of a break-in, you may be able to defend yourself with the flashlight or scare off the intruder altogether.
  12. Avoid isolated areas. If you’re traveling alone request a room in a remote corner of the hotel be moved to a more heavily trafficked area. If your hotel has underground parking, use the valet service or ask an employee to park your car.
  13. Make sure all windows and doors of your room can be locked from the inside, and that any outside facing doors or windows cannot be accessed by a key. If applicable, request the names of the housekeepers who will be in and out of your room during your stay and when they make their rounds. This way you know when to check on your valuables, and who to contact if anything goes missing.
  14. Always keep a business card of the location you’re staying in your wallet or purse and by the phone in the room; if there is a language barrier request that it be printed in the local language. You can use this to keep a cab driver from taking you to an incorrect location, or if you need to call emergency services to your room.
  15. Instruct the front desk that they should not allow anyone to dial your room via your room number. If the person calling doesn’t know your name, they should not be able to confirm your presence in the room.