Becoming the victim of crime is something that, while not totally avoidable, is something travelers can take steps to reduce the risk of. While we often consider the safety of a particular district when choosing accommodation, we can forget to show as much sense once we get inside our room. Ultimately we have to have faith in the honesty of hotel staff and the behavior of our fellow guests but there are certain precautions that should be taken wherever you are staying. From the moment you arrive until the time you leave you should take care not to make yourself vulnerable to anyone who may wish to take advantage or do you harm.
Women traveling alone may feel uncomfortable in areas such as bars and restaurants and suffer from unwanted male attention. If this happens to you, it’s a good idea to give the impression that a husband or boyfriend is on his way to join you. Send an SMS message to a friend asking them to call you and make sure anyone around you believes it’s your husband on the line.
If you think you are being followed to your room, pretend to have gone to the wrong floor or go back to reception to ask something. Once in your room keep the door locked; many locks work automatically once the door has been closed so that you can open it from the inside but it can’t be opened from the outside without a key or swipe-card. Once in the room, put the key or swipe-card somewhere safe and secure and do the same when you leave the room.
We should be able to trust room service staff but it is best not to leave valuable goods in open view. Tidy away expensive and personal items, especially when you are leaving the room. If the room has a safe, use it and if it doesn’t, ask if there is one at reception and be sure to get a receipt for the items you leave in it. If you need to assign a combination pass number to your in-room safe, choose a number you’ll easily remember and don’t write it down anywhere.
Keep important documents such as your passport in a safe place as this is one item you really don’t want to have stolen. In case of the worst happening, though, take a photocopy of your passport and leave it with friends or family at home. Similarly keep a record of flight details along with the number of your airline or ticket agent and make sure someone at home has these details too.
If you are staying in a hostel you should always pack up all your belongings and stow them in your assigned locker each day, even if you think your room-mates can be trusted. New guests could arrive during the day while you are out and about and you don’t know who they might be. Even if you have nothing of value with you, keep your locker locked to prevent others from storing things they aren’t meant to have brought with them and risking your tenure. Be wary of giving strangers details of your travel itinerary, especially if you are traveling alone; people may seem genuine but do wait until you know them well before you reveal too much about yourself and your plans.
Don’t be tempted to cut corners and assume that everything will be fine; exercising a little caution will protect you against unwanted harrassment and possible crime.