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Hotel Room Safety: A Few Things To Keep In Mind
Keep Your Belongings Safe While You're Out on the Town

Do you ever leave things in your room? You do, right? We all do.

So hotel room safety is an issue for you - and if not, it should be, whether you rough it or tote along a steamer trunk.

And then there is all the paraphernalia - the laptops, cellphones and many other goods worth stealing.

Keeping your stuff safe

Despite all your precautions, you may feel a nagging worry about your things. You'll find plenty of tips below but first, in case this is what you're looking for, here are some of the devices I think are worth looking at (I've provided the links to for more information or to buy):

A wire or cable lock is basically a length of wire with a lock at the end. You can use it to lock your laptop to a table or other solid piece of furniture; there are plenty of more expensive ones but this simple laptop lock does the trick for me.

This longer lock is useful to lock a bag or pack to a radiator or water pipe or other fixture. It will definitely slow a thief down and help make a commotion. 

One of my favorites is the door stop alarm - wedge it under the door just inside your room. If someone opens the door from the outside, it lets off a shrill siren. Failing that, a plain rubber doorstop will make it difficult for anyone to get in and rob you while you're asleep.

The door knob alarm works on a similar principle. It's armed with motion sensors - if someone tries to get into your room, the alarm will ring, usually loudly.

Still worried about being robbed while you sleep? Another good piece of safety equipment is the portable door lock. Just slip it into the door frame and presto, your door is locked from the inside.

Staying safe in our room is particularly important to women who travel solo: being on your own means you have to be extra careful - no one else will do it for you.

The first rule of the road is if you can't afford to lose it, don't take it with you.

But if you must take it with you, try to keep it safe.

When you check into a hotel, you may get the feeling that all is safe behind your locked door. And mostly, it is safe but there are exceptions, and you don't want to be one of them.

Here are some things you should know about keeping your possessions safe.

  • Avoid ground floor rooms: they're so much easier to break into.
  • If there's a hotel safe in the room with an electronic lock, put your valuables inside. Change the combination every day but remember, management does have a way to get into that safe although, if you're in a good hotel...
  • In smaller hotels without safes, there may be a hotel safe at reception. Unless the hotel is solidly reputable, I hesitate to leave things here - your valuables may end up stashed in the manager's unsecured room or drawer. 
  • Lock your luggage. It's no guarantee but anything that slows down a thief helps. Thieves want to get in and out quickly, not fumble around with locks and cables. This Pacsafe cable will help keep nimble fingers out of your luggage.
  • Don't leave anything in full view - temptation is temptation. Anyone can walk off with your laptop while your room door is open during cleaning. And your everyday belongings may be worth someone else's life savings.
  • Make sure your windows are locked before you leave. It's easy to slip in and steal.
  • Leave a light or radio on when you leave the room. Anyone who listens at the door will think you're either in the room or coming back soon.
  • If you do have expensive gadgets, don't flash them around where other guests or hotel staff can see them.
  • Don't bring valuables with you when you travel. Period. If you have a laptop, cellphone and the like, bite the bullet, get a daypack and carry them around with you.

What if you're in a backpacking hostel?

If you're staying in a hostel, people come and go. That means more opportunities to lose things, but also a shared sense of vulnerability.

Most people you meet are fellow travelers and are equally worried about their belongings. Chances are they'll help you watch over yours.

HostelHostels usually have lockers to store luggage but the sheer number of people who walk in and out of your dorm room means a lot of people will know exactly what you're carrying with you. Be cautious.

Don't get me wrong - your gear isn't in any huge danger just because it's in a hostel. In fact many hostels go overboard to keep your stuff safe. But the critical mass of people means it won't be as easy to keep an eye on everything.

These tips will help if you're staying in a hostel:

  • Keep your eye on your backpack when you check in, especially if the reception or entrance is crowded.
  • Always lock your backpack and fasten it to something solid. What doesn't fit in a room safe - like a laptop - can be locked inside your backpack and fastened to a pipe or railing. (I would actually not leave anything valuable in my pack - I'd carry it around in a daypack. But that's me.)
  • In a communal hostel, wear your travel money belt to bed and take it to the shower with you. Just throw a towel over it to keep it dry!
  • Don't leave expensive clothes out to dry or air. A fellow traveler left her high-tech Nike Air-Max trainers on the doorstep in South Africa - irresistible in a poor country. She spent the next week trekking in her flip flops.
  • Keep your expensive gear under wraps and don't flash it around. Same with cash.
  • Talk to other travelers. Word gets around and other travelers will tell you if they think a hostel is known for 'losing your stuff'.

Bottom line, as noted: don't bring anything you can't afford to lose.

hotel room safety

Please note that some of the links on this page are affiliate links. If you use them to buy something, you're helping support this website - but you still pay the same.