Home :: Safe Travel for Women :: Hotel Room Safety

Hotel Room Safety
Keep Your Belongings Safe While You're Out on the Town

Hotel room safety is essential for all women on the road, whether you rough it and carry the bare minimum or tote along a steamer trunk and a change of clothes for every day away. And then there is all the paraphernalia - the laptops, cellphones and many other goods worth stealing.

Car trunk packed for holidaysWhether you're packing for a weekend or a month, your belongings will probably end up in a hotel room sometime. You’ll want to make sure they are protected from theft or damage.

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 locking up before you go out when you're staying in a hotel.

  • If there's a hotel safe in the room with an electronic lock, put your valuables inside. I prefer not to leave things at the front desk or in the hotel safe - unless it's a large reputable hotel. Small lodges or hostels may not have a main safe - your valuables may end up stashed in the manager's unsecured room or drawer.
  • 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.

Keeping your stuff safe 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 - they understand that people come and go a lot more easily than in a hotel. 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 Devices - or Gadgets!

Despite all your precautions, you may feel a nagging worry about your things. If you do, then one of these safety gadgets might be useful. These are some of the devices I think are worth looking at (I've provided the links to amazon.com 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.

Of course accidents and incidents do happen, but by taking a few smart precautions you'll have less to worry about. And it's not just about your belongings - don't neglect your personal safety in hotels either. 

STAY ALIVE and hold on to your stuff!
Are you a walking target for thieves and pickpockets?

Become travel savvy the quick and easy way before you set off on your adventure. Nothing is more likely to spoil your trip than getting robbed or attacked or unexpectedly ending up in a war zone.

If you want to travel safely, without fear, Travel Safety is the one book you need to read before you go. It's filled with common sense precautions but also tells you what the government warnings don't. If you want peace of mind on the road, be proactive about your safety!

Find out more

Solo travel tips in your inbox?

(and pack like a pro with my free printable packing list!)