Safety Sunday: Hotel Motel Safety

So there I was sitting in another hotel, in another city, for another class, and another Safety Sunday idea was born. While many people lock the doors at their houses, in their vehicles, and pay attention when leaving their office, they seemingly forget some of these lessons when they go on vacation. So with that stated, let’s take a look at five common things you should think about. While the first four are pretty typical, the 5th one was a little eye opening.

Room Safety:

  • The main door to your room – there is a deadbolt and a safety chain for a reason. The deadbolt will generally disable any room service keys from working so you are not disturbed.
  • If there is a connecting door, operable window, or balcony – make sure all the locks are properly engaged.
  • Most hotels don’t state your room number out load anymore & simply hand it to you written on a piece of paper for a reason. Safeguard that number, and don’t leave it and/or your key laying around. If you misplace one, notify the front desk so they can rekey it remotely.

Your valuables:

  • Most hotels have safety deposit boxes for you to lock up any valuables when you leave for the day. While many of them are still located downstairs by the front desk, others are now being installed in the each room. Now if one is located in your room, make sure you read the directions first and test it, before you just throw everything in there, lock it & then realize you don’t know what the combination is or it doesn’t work.
  • Do not leave valuables in your car & if you do make sure they are out of site. One of thieves biggest targets are the GPS units many just leave on their dashboards.
  • Speaking of vehicles, make sure that the doors are locked & if you have an alarm, it is activated. As a reminder, while a lock may not stop someone determined, it really isn’t meant to it. It’s main purpose is to help keep honest people honest.
  • Christmas Presents – folks leave them locked up under a blanket in your trunk. Nothing says rob me more, than seeing someone unload a bunch of gifts from their car & bringing them up to their room.

Personal Safety:

  • Do we really need to state this? If a stranger comes to your home, you generally don’t open the door or just let them in without checking to see who it might be, do you? Well the same principle applies here.
  • When you get to your room, close the door & flip the lock – i.e. never just kick back in your room with your door open.
  • Don’t recall ordering room service, person just doesn’t seem right? Give the front desk a call & they will either verify the individual, send someone up, or call security.
  • Going out for a bite to eat, just grabbing something from the car? Always look around before just heading out. If you notice someone or something suspicious, do not enter that area & contact the front desk.
  • Coming back in from a night on the town? You might want to enter via the main entrance as it is generally better lit with less shrubs around.


  • It was funny, we sat down in the class this last week & you could just tell the instructor had served in a sub or someplace where safety was a big issue, because the first thing he mentioned was teaming up, two exits, and where to meet up. Many of us also have similar procedures for our house & family which brings us back to the hotel – just because we are on vacation, does not mean we should not do the same now.
  • Make sure you locate two exit paths from your room – while the one set of stairs might just be around the corner, it doesn’t mean that you maybe able to go that way. One additional item is to count the number of doors from yours to it, as you maybe crawling & can’t see due to the smoke.
  • If the fire alarms do go off – check the door first and if cool leave your room immediately. Move quickly but calmly to the stairs and do not use the elevators. If it is smoky, make sure you crawl as fresher air will be towards the ground (most people that die in fires, die from the smoke not the flames). If you cannot access any exit, go back to your room, close the door, call and signal for help.

Internet Access:

  • If you are using a shared PC, you should make sure you don’t save any passwords & flush the computer browser before turning it over to the next individual. (Most hotels will have a sheet of paper by the PC with the appropriate steps)
  • For those of you with laptops & using the provided Wi-Fi, you should be advised that if the data is not encrypted,  it is being sent in clear text, so it might not be a wise idea to check emails, or your bank accounts. You might also want to make sure you shut down your laptop or turn off the Wi-Fi when you are not using it.
  • Make sure your computer is up to date with the latest patches, anti-virus software, etc…
  • If given the option, when connecting to the network – make sure you select “Public Network” when you connect. *This should disable the Network Discovery & Folder Sharing protocols.

* While this information has been out there for years, as I was sitting in the hotel room, I briefly turned Network Discovery on. For a floor with only 60 rooms (approx a third empty) I could see 25 computers just pop right up. To top that off I simply choose 2 at random; 1 belonged to a guy & while his laptop was listed, he was not sharing any folders. The second one belonged to a girl, and not only did she have the default share up, I could browse her documents folder, pictures, and music. As one that not only used to be in charge of computer security, but had to routinely run penetration scans, I can just imagine all the info I could have had.

Additional Info & Websites:

  • Nick @ Cupboards

    Awesome tips, Sean. As someone who will be travelling soon, these have been great reminders for me!

  • Mike Hines


    Great reminder to all who travel. Easy techniques to practice, easy to overlook too.