7 Safety Tips for Your Next Hotel Stay

a woman in a black dress opening a suitcase

I was having dinner with a friend tonight and the article about the runner who fought off her attacker came up. We both frequently travel solo and the conversation soon turned to self defense, particularly in regards to hotel rooms and opportunistic assailants. Most hotel rooms only offer one realistic exit and no ready made weapons at hand. As we started tallying up all the easy-to-do and easy to forget safety measures we’ve heard about I thought this might be useful to some readers. We also welcome your insight as well!


1. Ask for at least two keys. This is a minor thing, but someone checking in behind you in line is profiling folks, asking for at least two keys suggests perhaps you don’t intend to be alone in your room all night.
Safety impact: Weak
Awkwardness factor: Nil

2.Ask for another room if they say your room number out loud at check in. This is not something I had thought of until it was brought up by a fellow traveler, but is a great tip! There is no reason to broadcast your room number to everyone else in the lobby and most desk agents won’t. But if they do, just quietly ask for another room in the off chance someone is sizing up potential victims. The few times I’ve had to do it the agent was more than happy to oblige and apologized for not thinking of it.
Safety impact: High
Awkwardness factor: Medium

3. Don’t be the first to push your elevator floor. If you’re getting into an elevator with other people, don’t be the first, and preferably be the last to push the button for your floor. Then if someone who hadn’t selected that as their floor gets off with you, you know to be even more alert.
Safety impact: Medium
Awkwardness factor: Nil

4. Don’t go to your room if anyone else is around. Perhaps this is a little too paranoid, but I think it avoids potential problems. If someone is in the hallway anywhere near my room when I’m coming back, I’ll stop or head back to the elevator or feign a phone call until they’ve disappeared. The chances they were scoping me out are slim, but you never know. Perhaps they are waiting to hear if I fully lock my door, or if anyone is waiting for me in my room, or even plan to come up behind me when I’m distracted and fishing for my key outside my door. I always feel silly and rude when I do it, but better safe than sorry.
Safety impact: High
Awkwardness factor: Medium/High


Already assuming everyone uses their deadbolts and locks consistently…

5. Block your peep hole. This honestly never occurred to me until tonight when my friend mentioned it. Apparently people can not only look in, they can install cameras. Feeling a little naive right now. Fortunately many newer hotels already have a flap installed, if they don’t you can always stuff paper in it.
Safety impact: High
Awkwardness factor: Low

6. If ordering room service, order for two. Not necessarily more food, but glasses and place settings for at least two people. This also probably falls under a little paranoid, but I figure why make it any easier for someone to figure out I’m spending the night alone in my room.
Safety impact: Low
Awkwardness factor: Low

7. Develop a room-specific self defense plan. Most hotel rooms offer only one decent exit option and are (unsurprisingly) devoid of objects that make good weapons. So if someone were to break in and attack you while you were asleep, what would/could you use to fend them off? Another thing I just found out about tonight: tactical pens. I’m getting one.
Safety impact: High
Awkwardness factor: Low

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  1. A tip I picked up courtesy of April Peregrino at FTU Seattle: Bring a doorstop and wedge it under the door frame if possible. Makes it extremely difficult for someone to open from the outside and it’s small and cheap. I thought it was a brilliantly simple idea.

  2. I have a carry license and always carry a gun on me if I’m traveling in the US to a state that recognizes my license. Checking it at the airport is a pretty easy process.

  3. Great tips…when you spend half of your life in hotels you can start to become complacent. As a former Flight Attendant, I second the door stop! Also, don’t be afraid to have someone from the hotel walk you to your room if you feel uncomfortable. Always check inside your room; behind the curtains, under the bed, behind the shower curtain and don’t prop your door open with the deadbolt if you go to get ice.

  4. Ditto for the door stop.

    I had bought an electronic door alarm (made in China) from Amazon but it had a terrible chemical smell—-that would not go away !
    I thought—I cannot have my clothes smell this way. So I went to Walmart and spent I think $1.47 for a door stop and it is lightweight, small and works.

    Noticed in Slovakia that all the maids have their own rubber door stop also.

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