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Traveling alone can be a highly rewarding experience. You don't have to compromise your desires and preferences in the interest of a partner or group. You eat what you want, where you want and when you want. You see only the attractions that interest you. You move at your own pace, obey your own whims and set your own rules.
The flipside of solo travel, of course, is safety. Women especially should keep in mind a set of simple guidelines when adventuring alone.
A good place to start is hotel safety. Wherever your destination, you'll need a place to sleep. Be cautious and vigilant, particularly when exploring new territory or utilizing an unfamiliar establishment. Upscale hotels in developed countries are usually fairly secure, but it never hurts to take extra precautions.
Here are 20 vital tips for staying safe in hotels, motels and hostels across the world.
1. Do your research
What kind of crime is common in the area? Is there a terrorist threat? Are tourists and women frequent targets? Knowledge is power. Know the full extent of your situation before diving in, and be sure to look up safety tips specific to your destination.
2. Choose a suitable hotel
The singular most effective preventative technique is to select a secure hotel. Examine the neighbors around your destination. Every city has its seedy sections. Remember: location, location, location. Yelp is a great way to get informed. Reviewers often comment on the safety of the hotel and its surrounding environs.
3. Call ahead
Before you book, call the hotel and inquire about the establishment's safety measures. Ask about security guards and surveillance cameras and whether the front desk is manned 24/7.
4. Don't be gender-specific when reserving a room
Provide only your first initial and last name.
5. Don't stay on the ground floor
The ground floor is the easiest to access for non-guests and intruders. Ask for a room a few floors up--though not too high in case of a fire or natural disaster.
6. Have the front desk employee write down your room number rather than announce it aloud
You don't want anyone to overhear where you're staying. If they do say it, request a new room and have them write it out this time.
7. Stay with your luggage throughout the check-in process
Don't get distracted and turn your back on it. When speaking to the front desk employee, place it between yourself and the desk.
8. Ask for a couple business cards when you check in
Keep one by your hotel phone in case of an emergency, and keep one in your purse or wallet while you're out and about. You don't want to forget where you're staying!
9. Inspect the room
Before you unpack, inspect the room to make sure all windows and doors have functioning locks.
10. Keep the door locked
This is a no-brainer, but it can be easy to forget. Make a habit of locking your door as soon as you enter the room. Always use the deadbolt and security chain regardless of how excessive it may seem.
11. Don't open the door to strangers
It may be less obvious, however, if the stranger claims to be a hotel employee. If you're not expecting anyone, call the front desk to verify. When you do open the door, keep the security chain engaged until you're absolutely certain.
12. Check the locks on all windows and doors every time you enter and exit the room
Simple, but effective.
13. For extra fortification, pack a rubber door stopper with you
14. Use the hotel's main entrance
This is especially vital when entering or exiting the hotel after dark.
15. As much as possible, avoid solitary situations
If necessary, call for an employee to accompany you to and from your car. You want to minimize time in unsecure environments. For example, if you're waiting for taxi, stay in your lobby until it arrives.
16. Use valet parking when appropriate
While the service can cost money, you can avoid the walk from the parking lot to the hotel.
17. Call for room service rather than leaving a card on your door
You don't want to alert anyone that you're occupying the room alone.
18. Don't leave cash, credit cards, jewelry or other valuable sitting out
Use your in-room safe to stash small valuables.
19. Leave extremely valuable items with the front desk
Many hotels do not accept liability for items left in guestroom safes. Get a written receipt for anything you leave at the desk.
20. To deter theft, provide the illusion that someone is in the room when you go out
This can be accomplished by keep the "Do Not Disturb" card on your door and turning on the television when you go out.
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Photo Credit: Featured image from tajai