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Hotel safety tips from a former intelligence officer (securitymagazine.com)
140 points by graderjs on Sept 21, 2022 | hide | past | favorite | 225 comments

It is about the same routine I follow. Specifically the "walk the emergency routes" since muscle memory can help you a lot when under stress.

Missing one point: take a couple of business cards from the hotel with you. Whenever you need to get back, it most often makes it easier for people (cab drivers) to get you there without too much discussion and misunderstandings.

Other points: - To be sure you have some clean water in your room, bring a few small water bottles. - Avoid the in house WiFi - Do not order room service - Have a family photo / familiar item on your bed stand, so that if you wake up in a panic, you know you are awake and in "your own room" - Don't invite people into your room - Personally I like to unpack, even it is for a short stay, since it make me feel more comfortable and less "on the run" - Give the cleaning people a decent tip (if they are allowed to accept it) on the first possible occasion and make it clear who you are and what your room number is, and what you expect from them (clean / leave alone etc.) - Use the in hotel services like shoe polishing, tip them well. These people know everything going on - Order cabs via the lobby - If possible, let the lobby pay your taxi when inbound

I do not miss traveling professionally.

In my experience, the emergency routes are not always open for regular walking. Specifically, the doors involved are unlocked, but also trigger an alarm when opened, so they are not misused. How do you deal with that?

I feel like that adds to confidence, because nobody's tampered with the exits. However, that also means you can't check if the other side is blocked or not, or if it leads to a staff corridor with unknown circumstances.

Why do not order room service, what's the risk there in your opinion?

I like the stuff about personal photo next to the bed as well as using the in-house services and tipping. That's smart man!

Poisoning I guess. I recently heard an interview with Eliot Higgins from Bellingcat and he said he doesn't order room service for this reason.

This is why I order room service and throw it away in front of them. Really sends the message to back-off: I’m either crazy or multiple steps ahead of them. /s

I make them eat it infront of me then and there - that way they are either dead or know not to try to poison me.

This is why I no longer work in room service delivery.

Obviously you survived the poisioning.

I always have room service dry clean my dirty gorilla suit. Really sends the message to back-off: I'm crazy.

Imagine modelling your life after Eliot Higgins ...

Sorry, I don't get the personal photo? Is this some kind of Inception thing, if you wake up due to intoxication, or what?

It happens to me that I wake up and do not know where I am (or why). The personal item helps me instantly knowing that I am on familiar ground.

Happens to many people who travel a lot.

It happened to me once when I was moving to a new home. I was spending a few nights in the old one and a few nights in the new one. I woke up one night believing I was in the new one but the sources of the street noise outside didn't match the ones in the new house. It was very disconcerting. It took me a while to realize where I was.

I won't say it happens to me regularly. But when I've been on some customer event road show with one or two nights in each city, I have definitely woken up and taken a minute to remember what city I'm in.

> Why do not order room service, what's the risk there in your opinion?

In my opinion, room services is horribly overpriced. There have been incidents where the delivery person assaults the guest.

When I used to travel on business, I would put a notepad next to the phone (the one by the bed) and write on it what city I am in and what day ("Wednesday"). This helped cut down on confusion.

It did not help when I went to the wrong Springfield though. The area code for Springfield, MO (417) is a single digit different than the area codes for Springfield, IL (217 & 447). Waking up in the wrong state is not the kindest way to discover that your territory now includes Illinois. Oops.

I'm not famous or whatever myself, but, the fewer people that are aware I am present, the better.

But in that case, shouldn't you limit as much as possible the interactions with hotel staff? So, no shoe-shine guy, no housekeeper, etc.

No offense but this sounds neurotic to me. I’ve been traveling internationally for over a decade professionally and never do any of these things. I’ve woken up to a fire alarm in a random hotel in a random country (more than once) and even then, I immediately recognize I’m in a hotel room and traveling for work. Then I just followed signs / people until the alarms stopped.

Are these still in the context of safety though? Or just your general business trip advice. The latter would make more sense.

The only useful advice in there is to know the escape routes from your room, the rest sounds like it would have a net negative effect for the average person.

Choosing your hotel room based on maneuverability in the event of an attack is not only completely pointless if you don't know how to maneuver in the event of an attack, but more importantly, for the average person, running those sorts of scenarios in your head sounds like it will take away more from your mental health than whatever benefits you may get in terms of 10-to-the-minus-x percentage points gains in survival probability.

You do you, but I found most of the advice highly useful, and actually enhancing convenience.

Don't use hotel safe or under the mattress - yup, good advice, seen that before, and definitely need to think about valuables & passport storage at all times anyway.

Book in advance and hand them copies of addresses, docs, passport over the counter - yup, great advice, also means you have a 2nd copy on you, which can be a lifesaver if your phone or primary docs get lost/stolen.

Checking maps and orienting yourself to the surroundings is something I do anyway just to know where I am, and actually allows me to enjoy the sights better since I'm no longer primarily occupied with wondering where TF I'm going.

Having actually walked the exit routes would be incredibly useful in a wide variety of emergencies. Both being able to exit from memory if something happens, and also knowing that one exit is actually blocked. It'd really suck to die because you went out an exit and found it blocked, but could no longer access the other one... I also find that, although I haven't done it explicitly (I will in the future), it's often just handy to know other routes to get to/from the outside - they often wind up being more convenient, especially when carrying stuff.

Asking for 2nd/3rd floor room sounds like excellent advice, especially in unknown foreign areas, off the (vulnerable) ground floor but multiple escape routes in fire or attack. Self-rescue by jumping or down-climbing a bedsheet rope is still very possible in ways that it isn't on floors 4 and up...

Etc... I really don't understand not only rejecting such good advice from a clearly knowledgeable expert, but also taking the trouble to write a post advocating that other people also ignore it. Seems you're insecure in your willful ignorance, and want others to join you; please stop doing that.

The probabilities of bad things happening are vastly different for an undercover operator than for ordinary people, that's why it doesn't make sense to blindly apply the model of a 'knowledgeable expert' for everyone. I didn't say "don't read maps beforehand", I was saying "don't be afraid to check a map when you're on the street".

This 'minimize risk at all cost' mindset is very similar to the helicopter parenting lifestyle where it's considered almost a crime to let your kids roam just outside the direct line of sight of their parents.

PS: also interesting to note that both critical comments ended with ad hominem attacks.

>>The probabilities of bad things happening are vastly different for an undercover operator than for ordinary people

Perhaps, but the article is focused on potential disasters irrelevant to operatives and just that randomly occur to any traveler - fire/natural disaster, theft, ordinary random mugging, terrorist activity often focused on hotels used by foreigners, etc. I saw nothing that was not generally applicable.

>>This 'minimize risk at all cost' mindset is very similar to the helicopter parenting lifestyle

I'm as much against 'helicopter parenting' as anyone, yet this is just the opposite — it gives everyone a starting set of simple steps to take that increases their ability to operate independently, i.e., not being dependent on parents, etc. for your security, but taking care of oneself.

>>I was saying "don't be afraid to check a map when you're on the street". Umm, depends on the situation, and on how befuddled you are going to look. Midtown Manhattan, London, etc., on a weekday noontime? Ya, just don't do it in the middle of the sidewalk and obstruct traffic. Any other city or tourist destination? I'd certainly step off the street first. Might as well put a sticker on my back in the local language saying "rob me".

>> critical comments ended with ad hominem attacks. IDK about other comments, but I was not speaking ad hominem, simply trying to suss out why it is so important for someone to actively spend time to denigrate good security measures (which also help one enjoy the surroundings more, e.g., learning the terrain up front). Why is it important to you that other people don't do things like learn the terrain in advance? Why not just read the article and say "meh?" and move on?

I can't believe all the grief this story is getting on HN. I read the article and they seemed to be sensible, inexpensive, easy steps you can take to increase your safety while traveling. Why so much objection? Someone else mentioned cost/benefit. The only suggestion that had any cost was the doorstops. People are talking about probabilities. Even if the probability of something bad happening is close to zero, it still makes sense to take safety precautions that are zero cost/zero effort. I don't understand the mentality that insists on lashing out against trivial safety measures.

Where do you stop though ? Do you always do the "4 right turns" trick every time you come home to know if you're followed ? it's also free and you never know right ?

What's your threat scenario ? If you fear for your life when going in a random hotel as a random civilian I'd highly recommend updating your vacation destinations

>>What's your threat scenario ? If you fear for your life when ...

It is not just "fear for your life", it is simply being a bit prepared for the kinds of thefts and emergencies that are not uncommon. It is not like petty thieves preying on tourists only frequent the favelas of Rio; they're in just about any tourist town. The threat and response model is merely don't make it obvious that you're a target, and take a few steps so that if you do get targeted, it isn't a disaster - you lose some currency and a wallet, but not your passport, credit cards, etc., and especially not your only copy of that key info. And you know where to go find help if you need it, or to escape in a disaster.

This is no different than wearing a seat belt in an automobile, a helmet on a motorcycle. You aren't planning to crash, you are just taking minor precautions in case you do. I've been driving for decades, always worn a seatbelt, thankfully never yet needed it to keep me lashed down in a crash, but one did help save me from crashing keeping me located in the seat in one energetic emergency evasion maneuver. Yet I only wear my helmet on the racetrack. I do not feel the need to re-evaluate my threat model of either driving or toursiting, but I did add a few of those suggestions to my travel checklist.

I've never been anywhere I remotely had any chance of being a "target", it must be dreadful to live like that

Right, so you only go where you know everyone and the entire landscape and where everything is, and everyone knows you, so you never look like a tourist.

Or, you are simply oblivious to the fact that when you travel you stick out like a clueless sore thumb.

They say "ignorance is bliss", and you are providing some nice evidence of that.

And no, it is not the slightest bit dreadful to have a bit of self-awareness and situational awareness and take a few trivial measures that take a lot less time than it takes to discuss it.

Enjoy your wilful obliviousness, and good luck with that.

Whenever you visit certain areas in any city with lots of tourists, you are a target. Maybe you manage to blend in by chance and appear to be a local, or you exhibits behaviors that turn the thieves off. Or you haven't been targetet yet (knock wood)

What's the downside and carrying a doorstop with you and using it from the inside? I would love to hear.

You sound like the kind of person who doesn't prepare because "oh you know it's so unlikely". In other words, the kind of person who accidents happen to.

> What's the downside and carrying a doorstop with you and using it from the inside? I would love to hear.

You're not only making it harder for bad guys to enter your room, but also for good guys, and for yourself to exit, in case any emergencies happen within your room.

It's not even clear that the benefits of blocking are net positive in all situations (depending on your individual characteristics and the environment, eg if you have a chronic illness and are in a relatively safe location), but the more general point of the post was that you should do a cost-benefit analysis (ie is the risk reduction worth the effort?), not look only at the benefits in terms of risk reduction.

No effort for me, so yes, worth the effort.

Saying that carrying a sufficiently bulky and/or heavy item to act as a door stop when travelling (including internationally, multiple locations per trip), removing it every time you leave your room and replacing it every time you return is “no effort” seems disingenuous.

A stop door isn't a heavy or bulky item. It's a light, small, wedge shaped item.

No effort from me.

>What's the downside and carrying a doorstop with you

Like everything physical, it takes up space.

Ok. Haven’t traveled outside of the US in a while, but I agree some of this sounds paranoid.

That said, I believe whole heartedly in this:

“Walk out of the front door with the confidence that you know where you are going.”

If you’re overseas and don’t speak the language, the experience can be disorienting. I had my travel wallet picked out of my pocket in a tourist office.

Places like banks, ATMs and hotels are places where pickpockets and robbers congregate. Take 5-10 minutes and watch these areas in large foreign cities and you may notice suspicious patterns.

I live outside NYC and do the same when I’m in an unfamiliar neighborhood. I avoid being out in these places after 9 pm as well. Just look at the police blotter, and you see most robberies occur late night and early morning.

I don’t take precautions because I’m fearful of going out. I do it because I know better.

Kind of cool to read but these are not any tips that a normal (non-paranoid) person will need to follow unless they are traveling to some seriously dangerous locations.

Except maybe the tip not to use the hotel safe or leave money under the mattress, those are good.

But do normal people really need to write their name down on pieces of paper and pass them across the desk with a wink to avoid their name being said out loud?

I think not.

In 2010 I was working at a large hotel / convention center in Nashville, at about 8pm we were preparing for a massive event where a company had bought out one of the venues, the entire hotel was booked solid. In the days prior to this, we had torrential downpours and heavy rain but this was normal, until it wasnt. Out of nowhere we get reports that the underground tunnels in the hotel used for employees to get around were taking in water and it was quickly determined that the cumberland river had overflown after the army core of engineers put a damn down and could not get it back up. I cant begin to explain the chaos that ensued there with that many people and the hotel essentially being on a dead end. 3k guests, likely more than that in employees, all scattering to get to higher ground and out of a bottle neck. Hotel was safely evacuated but the entire place was underwater by the next day. That said, the "orientation" section in this article I think is absolutely necessary.

How often does this happen? Once in a life time? This is the kind of stuff that makes you go nutty. Of course you _can_ try to prepare for everything and anything, but does it actually make sense to worry about being in a flash flood like that? I doubt it.

"I don't have to worry about $PARTICULAR_DISASTER_SCENARIO because I've already precomputed a strategy for that scenario by ruminating about it."


"I don't have to worry about $PARTICULAR_DISASTER_SCENARIO because I'm generally organized and well-situated above a certain threshold: If you picked a random disaster scenario $x out of a hat, chances are pretty good that I'd already be equipped to handle it."

P.S. Not trying to "counter-argue", just sharing a different perspective.

Indeed, big companies often do disaster prepareness exercises from a business continuity point of view. I remember doing one 15 years ago at a Big 4 accounting firm. Failing everything (including my little bit) across to secondary site in another city, and it had to be done by someone other than me (since I was the main person responsible for my system).

As they say, you should always check you can restore your backups.

Those are both reasonable attitudes.

Once you've actually successfully navigated any particular disaster scenario, you will try to avoid situations that look like they could contribute to a repeat. My wife once had a laptop stolen out of the trunk of a car; she is now hyperaware of where and how she parks and what is visible through the windows.

The orientation section doesn't seem incredibly inconvenient nor costly. It's basically just establishing situational awareness in an unfamiliar place. What are you getting kept from by doing it? A dozen extra minutes of terrible hotel TV?

On the topic of flash floods esp. when traveling; I make a conscious effort to not park/stay anywhere liable to flash-flood, and that requires some situational awareness in the sense of at least knowing your surroundings and the area's geography/climate/seasonal weather patterns. We recently narrowly avoided getting caught in [0], and that was with us making a conscious effort to not spend too much time in any of the low-lying areas, not even for a day hike - we'd always park somewhere relatively high and simply avoided hiking any of the low regions. That storm happened just one day after we were there passing through that exact spot. The tourists staying at that popular hotel probably didn't think about how they're staying on the floor of an enormous desert valley in a monsoon-y time of year. By failing to prepare you're preparing to fail...

[0] https://www.latimes.com/california/story/2022-08-05/unpreced...

>What are you getting kept from by doing it? A dozen extra minutes of terrible hotel TV?

I don't go to a hotel to be in my room. If I am traveling there is a reason to do so.

All in all I think this paranoid fear of hotels and travel is something specific to US. I've never had issues with security in a hotel or even given it a a thought. In normal world you don't need to worry about this kind of stuff.

My biggest worry in hotel rooms these days is how to rig the A/C to stay on while I'm out.

> My biggest worry in hotel rooms these days is how to rig the A/C to stay on while I'm out.

Heated blanket on the thermostat? Or do they have timed-shutoffs or door-key based systems that cuts off the electricity when you leave? What do you do then?

Most of them just have a slot for your room key to turn on the electricity and/or A/C, but many times it is a physical which i.e. it doesn't care what gets stuffed into the hole and often there is some kind of brochure that can be folded/ripped into card shape to trip the switch.

Ask for a second key and leave it in the slot?

Those slots don't require a specific key. Put your library card in there and it'll work fine.

They get suspicious when I pay for X occupancy but request X+Y keys.

Hotels routinely give me two cards when I check in--and certainly will if I ask. I usually stick one in my wallet and one in my bag or whatever so I'm less likely to accidentally leave the card in the room.

Usually you can stick anything that has the correct form into that slot. Even thin cardboard :)


Charging devices, leaving the TV on to fake occupancy as the article suggests.

Also AC is much more efficient if it keeps the room at a stable temperature rather than letting it heat up and then cooling it down again. I never set it that low myself but some hotels don't have a temp setting, that's true

AC might be comparatively more efficient at cooling the room 1 degree rather than 5, that doesn't mean that keeping that temperature for 8 hours will consume less energy than cooling it once you come back in.

If it were really overall more efficient it would be cheaper for the hotel owner to just keep it on all the time, but clearly it's not.

It really varies. Some places have the bare minimum of air conditioning to say they have it, but underbuild the system such that there’s no chance of recovering if you get back during the day while it’s still sunny&hot outside.

Preparing specifically for a flood would be silly but you can do some common sense preparation that works for any number of potential disasters.

1. Know your egress routes

2. Be aware of your surroundings

3. Be ready to move

4. Have a communication plan

5. Know places to go in emergency (e.g. Consulate or group rally points)

6. If it doesn't feel right, leave.

The variety of situations in which being confident in my escape plan would be helpful is pretty high. The effort required to review a basic escape plan ("follow the route mapped out on the inside of my door") is pretty low.

I don't really need to know the odds of each specific reason I might need to get outside to determine it's worth a short walk to the end of the hall to confirm I know which door leads to the stairs and where I end up outside once I go down them.

Your comment makes me think of this guy: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Rick_Rescorla#Corporate_securi...

TL;DR: he got hired as a security officer for Morgan Stanley's WTC offices, and he made the employees regularly practice evacuations.

> Rescorla wanted the company out of the building because he continued to feel, as did Hill, that the World Trade Center was still a target for terrorists and that the next attack could involve a plane crashing into one of the towers.[17] He recommended to his superiors at Morgan Stanley that the company leave Manhattan office space, mentioning that labor costs were lower in New Jersey and that the firm's employees and equipment would be safer in a proposed four-story building. However, this recommendation was not followed because the company's lease at the World Trade Center would not terminate until 2006. At Rescorla's insistence, all employees (including senior executives) then practiced emergency evacuations every three months.[18]

> After Dean Witter merged with Morgan Stanley in 1997, the company eventually occupied 22 floors in the South Tower and several floors in a building nearby. Rescorla's office was on the South Tower’s 44th floor.[4] Feeling that the authorities lost legitimacy after they failed to respond to his 1990 warnings, he concluded that employees of Morgan Stanley, which was the largest tenant in the World Trade Center, could not rely on first responders in an emergency and needed to empower themselves through surprise fire drills, in which he trained employees to meet in the hallway between stairwells and go down the stairs two by two to the 44th floor.[15] Rescorla's strict approach to these drills put him into conflict with some high-powered executives, who resented the interruption to their daily activities, but he nonetheless insisted that these rehearsals were necessary to train the employees in the event of an emergency. He timed employees with a stopwatch when they moved too slowly and lectured them on fire emergency basics.[15][18]

More about Rescorla's "epic death" — and his "epic life," as a "Celtic warrior," including legendary performance in combat as a young U.S. Army officer in the Battle of the Ia Drang Valley, written up in We Were Soldiers Once ... and Young — from the Washington Post shortly after 9/11: https://www.washingtonpost.com/archive/lifestyle/2001/10/28/...

Simpsons nuclear plant fire drill video: https://youtu.be/XTElSJExL4U

The more important thing is to have a state of mind where you are willing to recognize the early indicators that a situation is only going to get worse and take action to exit that situation.

Also, if you park a vehicle at the hotel try to avoid spots that would likely be blocked by fire engines.

Corps of engineers. From French corps d'armée (16c.), from French corps (old French cors) "body," from Latin corpus "body".

He doesn’t mention where you should keep your valuables. It’s easy to say where not to, but then offer a suggestion for a safe place to store stuff like a passport or cash.

An appropriately sized pacsafe is what I use.


Even something as simple as having a bag that locks and putting your valuables in it and locking it would probably deal with 90% of issues.

If you're an average person travelling the risk you face is from the hotel house keeping staff and there's really two types of theft there. First is opportunistic where the staff can look inside your luggage and find small potentially valuable things they can steal but which won't be immediately obvious and you might think you've just misplaced in your luggage somewhere. These people don't want the police called in, they want to keep their jobs, so they'll generally steal in a manner that makes it difficult for you to know if it was really stolen or if it was just misplaced.

The second is, a member of staff is finishing or planning on leaving and they'll go to greater lengths to more obviously steal any available stuff before leaving for good. This is a bit more common in countries that use a lot of seasonal migrant labour and the staff are going home on holiday and want a final payday by hitting multiple rooms before they go.

But the second scenario is much rarer than the first. Honestly most theft from hotel rooms is just opportunistic and a simple locked bag that's tethered to something immovable will solve it. I use a pacsafe for peace of mind, there's really nothing beyond it you can reasonably do that increases the security of valuables in a room.

The lockpicking lawyer reviewed a number of these, a lot of the ones from Amazon are actually pretty bad and don't resist a simple knife. Mind you, if that's the case, at least you have some evidence that you were robbed.

When it comes to passports, it's probably best to keep them on you. I have a pouch that goes around my neck (and I put it under my shirt), probably the safest place to keep it hidden and on your person.

I have done that in the past. I just reached a point where honestly I felt like the hassle of using a hidden pocket all the time just wasn't worth it.

I generally have a nice hard case wheeled suitcase for my luggage, I bike cable that to something immovable and inside I tether the pacsafe to one of the rails where the suitcase handle runs.

It's enough peace of mind for me. 99% of casual theft isn't going to try and open the bag, if they do then they have to deal with the pacsafe.

If someone is absolutely determined then they'll get through all that of course, but as you say, you will know it's happened and the police are going to get involved. The number of thieves realistically willing to do that ain't going to be that high because the payoff of what might be in there is unknown.

I travelled continuously for a year at one point and this strat served me well enough.

I hadn’t heard of PacSafe before, so — if your suitcase is cabled to the furniture and your PacSafe is in the suitcase, wouldn’t a thief who has already opened your suitcase (probably in-place) just take the PacSafe with them to open later?

The pacsafe itself has a wire that you loop through something immovable before fitting the padlock, thief either has to cut the wire, cut through the bag part (which is wire reinforced) or break the padlock.

Most wheeled luggage has a set of hollow metal bars inside where the retractable towing handle on the top retracts into. They're pretty sturdy, so you loop the pacsafe wire around one or both before locking it and then lock the bag.

Only way to get it out is probably to destroy the luggage or break into the pacsafe itself.

The idea behind it is that the pacsafe itself might be worth preparing for if it's just out in the open tied to something secure. If a thief has no clue it's there and thinks they just have to break the padlock on the luggage itself then it's another layer of defence they're not expecting.

But importantly, it's not really a lot of work from my pov. Again it won't deter a premeditated determined thief with the right tools, but very little will.

>It’s easy to say where not to, but then offer a suggestion for a safe place to store stuff like a passport or cash.

Simple: you keep those things on your person whenever you're away from your hotel room. Use a "traveler's wallet" which hides under your clothes. You should never be without your passport in a foreign country; it's generally illegal and it's the only way to properly identify you.

In general, carrying things around with you are more likely to get lost or stolen in some manner than if they're just left in your room. There are probably exceptions but if I'm somewhere like Western Europe, I'm not carrying my passport around with me.

I’m usually in developed countries with pickpocketing as a problem, so I’m confident in showing my drivers license if I get controlled by police, but if I lose my passport, I’m in trouble.

But what if you have 2 passports? Carrying both is a SPoF. Where do you hide the additional?

> Where do you hide the additional?

Definitely not in the room safe, that's the first thing they'll look through.

Maybe the hotel has their own safe? But that involves trusting the staff.

I think all bets are off if someone with intent breaks into your room and does a full upheaval, but hiding it in your suitcase or e.g. sticking it with some tape under a cabinet or drawer might be adequate.

The other thing with putting things in a hotel safe is forgetting them when you leave. I basically hardly ever put clothes in a closet or a drawer in a hotel because over the course of hundreds of stays, I will forget at some point.

Reminds me of my college days, we’d play “trophy bowl” where teams of 2 against 2 would have to find a hidden object and then place it in a room cup in the centre of the room (or a bowl of a trophy if one was available).

Our preferred strategy was to have my teammate pin down the other two so I could search the room uninhibited.

Made for great entertainment for anyone watching.

They won't take a passport from the safe though. It doesn't have any value and if they're caught it's clear it's been stolen.

Such thieves want only money and perhaps devices. Anything else they don't care about.

For me that's a perfect recipe to forget about it... sooner or later, most likely under some travel related stress or in rush... unless I would stick on the bathroom mirror post-it with "remember the passport!" written on it?

There's a greater chance in most places to have your passport lost or stolen from you than losing it from somebody breaking into your hotel room I think (zero data to back this). It's also a hassle; you want to go to the beach and swim or snorkel or any sport, now what do you do, having to keep an eye on a pouch or something.

>There's a greater chance in most places to have your passport lost or stolen from you than losing it

If you keep it under your clothes in a travel wallet, this won't happen.

>you want to go to the beach and swim or snorkel or any sport

You can get waterproof pouches for this.

Uhm, good luck renting motorbike in Southeast Asia without your passport as deposit and local police is well aware of this.

Standard hotel rooms don’t have many hiding places that won’t be eventually apparent to an intruder with time or a knowledgeable hotel employee. Considering this, I think ideal locations would be within objects that can’t simply be flipped over or moved to discover your secrets.

For example, you might hide your cash or documents in between a framed print and its backboard. You might open the room safe and reset it to the default state with your passport in a black envelope taped snug against the back ceiling of the enclosure.

A committed intruder might find hiding places like these eventually, but it could take an unacceptable amount of time for them to consider it.

I thought you shouldn't leave your passport in the hotel room. Shouldn't we be carrying our passports at all times while traveling abroad, as it is the only valid identification on us? I never worried about where to leave the passport because it's always with me in a money belt inside my pants.

I've been told to carry a photocopy of your passport. If you're stopped by police and they insist on seeing the real thing for some reason (like to check your visa), you can tell them what hotel you're staying at and they can take you back there to get it.

While police might be annoyed by this, you may be unlikely to encounter a situation in which it's necessary at all, and it probably won't endanger you unless you're in a place where police habitually try to extort foreigners, in which case it could provide a new pretext for extortion.

The best advice probably varies by country, depending on local crime patterns and also on the attitudes of local authorities to visitors (or to visitors like you).

Every I've been at a reasonable hotel with a safe I've left my passport in the safe and I've also had a copy of it somewhere on my person or luggage. I also emailed a scan of it to myself. I've travelled a bit around all the continents going back to mid 90s.

The biggest issue I had when I got my passport stolen in Costa Rica was not getting my British temporary passport reissued, that was relatively straightforward. It was waiting in line to get an ESTA to transit the US on the return flight. Felt sorry for all the local guys in line to get their document processed. It was annoying because I didn't want to leave the airport in Florida or wherever I was transiting.

I remember in Nepal kayaking and basically taking all of our valuables on my body while on the river as we weren't sure we'd ever see our bus/driver again. This suspicion was actually proved valid when our bus was subjected to a minor terrorist attack!

yes you are required to have it on you at all times, it's not just for border crossings. It's the only valid id outside of your own country.

But not every country requires people to carry IDs at all times, and even countries that do may not punish tourists for having some other form of ID plus a willingness to retrieve their passports if necessary.

This was definitely true when I stayed at the Castle Wolfenstein Airbnb.

That's not at all true.

Yeah that was my next Google search. I've got you covered.


Put 'em in a ziplock. Pull out the top drawer of the dresser. Tape baggie to back interior. Replace drawer.

> But do normal people really need to write their name down on pieces of paper and pass them across the desk with a wink to avoid their name being said out loud?

Every time I check into a hotel, I have my ID and credit card ready to hand to the clerk. They are going to ask for it anyway. I don’t bother with them asking for my name and spelling it wrong when looking up the reservation.

Plus, printing off your reservation details can be helpful for 2 reasons-

It makes check in much faster. Especially if you are jet lagged, it's much faster and easier to tell the clerk "here is my reservation confirmation", plus it's faster for them to type it in.

Second, if you don't have internet access it's nice having a hard copy. For example, your phone may be dead after traveling, or your current sim may not work in the country you traveled to. You might want to check into the hotel before going to buy a local sim so you don't have to carry your bags with you. Plus, having a hard copy also means you have the address of the hotel for a taxi driver.

This doesn't at all need to be a 'wink wink' type situation, this is how I normally check in and I've never done it for opsec reasons, it's just easier. Plus, I had a situation where I had forgotten my phone charge cable and had trouble remembering my reservation details due to a long flight.

>But do normal people really need to write their name down on pieces of paper and pass them across the desk with a wink to avoid their name being said out loud?

>I think not.

Yes. that makes no sense, if someone is targeting you specifically, they will already know your looks, and a hotel room thief won't care about your name.

There is still the George Kaplan case, but I believe it is a rare one:


I honestly can't think of many times where I actually told my name to the front desk anyway. Usually I have a printout of the reservation or hand them my passport since they need it anyway. It is easier for the front desk to type what they see than try to type what you say or spell out loud, especially in foreign countries that don't necessarily have experience with your name.

I normally just verbally ask staff, "can you just write my room number down and not say the floor out loud." I don't want random people who happen to be around the front desk counter at the same time knowing what room I'm in... come on.

It's been a long time since I've been at a hotel that spoke my room number aloud. I haven't had to ask.

Oh yeah? It's been a long time since I've stayed in a hotel. Pandemic. They say it. They pretty consistently say the floor too. I guess we travel different places. Better to be safe tho. Once they say it you can't put it back in.

Maybe you don't travel that much?

Well, no, I don't travel that much, but in the last three years I've probably stayed at 15 different places. I don't recall any of them saying the room number out loud. (Not a statistically valid sample, and all that...)

3 years 15 different different places. That's quite a lot, especially during pandemic. About the same as me.

You may not have been paying attention. I think people don't think about these things because they don't think it's important. It's hard to remember something that you don't care about.

No, I notice, because I find it a bit jarring. When I was a kid, they'd tell you your room number. Now they write it down and slide the paper at me, and I notice that.

This isn't hotel-specific but my tip is the following: Assume your smartphone gets lost/broken/stolen or your wallet gets lost/stolen (or a credit card gets flagged for fraud). Do you know where you're actually staying? Do you have a copy of your itinerary more generally? Do you have backup credit cards and IDs?

I'm not super-fanatical about having printed maps etc. in a familiar city but I try to have backup of everything especially traveling internationally.

For example, a few years back, I somehow managed to lose my drivers license between the limo and the terminal door. It was a short trip and I hadn't bothered to bring my backup travel portfolio. Shockingly, TSA (at least at the time) let me get on the flight after some enhanced screening. But I had a heck of a time getting the hotel--which wasn't one of my usual chains--to let me get a room.

Hannibal Burgess, the comedian that helped bring attention to the Cosby rapes, has a bit in one of his shows about losing his license while touring domestically. He would have to get to the airport early and would show TSA videos of him performing on YouTube. It was a huge hassle but he was always allowed to get on the plane.

I have a photo of my license in my phone for just in case.

Certainly a good idea. But if someone really wants to see government issued photo ID, that may well not cut it. (But for something like a hotel--maybe?)

>Hannibal Burgess

FYI, I believe it's Hannibal Buress

I don't know nowadays, but in 2003 you did not need an ID to fly within the Schengen area.

I went with a group to an event in Greece and somebody had forgotten hid ID at home and only noticed at the airport. No problem the german airline agent checked him in, and he went through security screening without an id. (Boarding pass was enough)

But when he wanted to fly back, the airline agent on the greek side insisted that he needed an ID to check in. So he had to prolong his stay, to get documents from the embassy and book another flight a few days later.

Yeah, at present, you’re not required to show ID to fly. Not sure how the Real ID project will affect this:



I think this may change once RealID phases in but I read that somewhere quite a while back so not sure.

> I find the fire escape plan, and I follow it.

Yeah, actually try this sometime. I do this regularly and it's amazing how often floors are locked from the stairwell, and more than once I have found floors skipped--you take the 4rth floor stairwell down and end up in a basement kitchen or something.

Also he neglects to mention in the "Book online" section that it's always safer to book directly from the hotel website. Fewer middlement. These days their prices are competitive or better than the aggregation sites, and with better terms. Some aggregation sites have little compunction about booking the wrong room, then don't refund things the hotel would if you dealt with them directly.

> These days their prices are competitive or better than the aggregation sites, and with better terms

I travel extensively for work, and this is simply not true. Literally last week, I saved $40 by booking through hoteltonight in Chicago. Once you get close to the date of the stay, prices become squirrely and weird. This is definitely true if you're booking more than two weeks in advance, though.

Definitely true for Europe. I pretty much live in hotels and so far 100% of my bookings where either cheaper (usually) or the same price (rarely) on the hotel's own webste vs aggregators.

Regardless of my "genious discount level 9000" or "save up 10 nights and get 1 free" and all the other "discounts" that you actually paid for indirectly on aggregators.

The only place where this didn't hold true for me so far was a hotel in Indonesia, where the price quoted at the hotel desk in person was higher than a certain aggregator. The people at the front desk suggested I'd book online and I did :)

Europe is a big place. It's not true in Ireland, anyway.

I just wouldn't bother with "cheaphotels dot com" or some random aggregator for a small discount

Besides not wanting another random website having my data, the chance of misbookings is high. Hotwire/Priceline models might actually give cheaper bookings or when you can have a less flexible booking/prepaying for example.

The discount models hotels use are fixed, there's no magic in a random website giving you a discount.

You said it way better than I did!

I've tried probably a dozen times within the past 6 months to book both domestic and international hotels. Not once when looking at many dozens of places was if cheaper to book directly on the hotels website, even months in advance.

I phone the hotel, quote the best price I have seen and get it 99% of the time.

I find that a lot of fire escapes are alarmed. How would you test these?

Well you got to push it to find out if it's just a sign or if it's actually an alarm. Haha :)

Also true!

> it's amazing how often floors are locked from the stairwell, and more than once I have found floors skipped--you take the 4rth floor stairwell down and end up in a basement kitchen or something.

This is a common balance to ensure you can still evacuate to another stairwell if your chosen one becomes blocked for whatever reason, and providing additional security.

Sometimes called « crossover floors ». I guess you could ask at a hotel to NOT be placed on one, but I kinda doubt front desk will be familiar with which to avoid.

Didn’t know that. Glad there’s a good reason. Thank you.

Hailing from a country which was squarely third world just 25 years ago, this struck me as odd:

> I open my laptop bag as if I am searching for something

Don't make anyone think you have anything of value on you!

Also don't carry a light, easy to steal bag. The laptop goes into your suitcase.

As part of my routine when arriving at a hotel I study the fire exit map, maybe use the local vending machine, paying with coins from my pocket - gives me time to have the elevator all to myself.

I used to carry an emergency high-value banknote in my back pocket so that in case the worst happened I would at least have some money on me. The thieves that robbed me in the past never wasted time on full checkups.

My uncle had his wedding in Kenya about twenty years ago and a huge portion of my family went there for it.

Every single electronic that wasn't in carry on luggage was stolen.

My dad personally lost thousands of dollars in camera equipment. I never put anything I'm not willing to lose in my checked baggage.

From third world as well:

> high-value banknote in my back pocket [... to] have some money on me

Nah, pickpockets usually attack the back pockets first, they are mostly unprotected. Best place to hide some cab money is inside your shoes/socks. Have a reasonable amount of money in a wallet and carry it in your front pocket.

Pickpockets would have a harder time and if robbed the mugger would be happy with the amount inside the wallet and won't check you further.

Checked luggage gets lost/delayed. Tracking is better than it used to be but it still happens, especially if there is a change of aircraft on the route. Unless I have some sort of extended hiking/camping trip that requires more gear, I basically never check luggage--even for a multi-week trip. (And would certainly not put valuable electronics etc. in the luggage.)

> I used to carry an emergency high-value banknote in my back pocket so that in case the worst happened I would at least have some money on me.

A friend does that; she refers to it as her "Don't Kill Me" money.

My "don't kill me" money shoots 9mm.

I'm guessing you don't fly often!

Wow, bad to the ass

In the 1980s one heard a $20 bill recommended. There may have been a slang term for it.

For a Security site, the are quite hostile for declining their cookies. I will not get redirected to the article but to mainpage and the search doesnt work :/

Just don’t visit security sites directly if you value your security!


That's why I just accepted cookies and deleted them

I do care about my privacy (and safety), thanks

Rather than a doorstop, I usually prefer a super grip lock [0] -- an extremely corny as-seen-on-TV product that you can lash around a door knob that uses simple physics to make the door impossible to open with the key on the other side. Naomi Wu mentioned this and Deviant Ollam has too. The basic premise is that it's less destructive than most "security door stops" and hotels tend to get angry if you destroy their carpet. And of course, traditional door stops don't keep the door closed very well unless you wedge them well.

[0]: https://smile.amazon.com/Super-Grip-Lock-Deadbolt-Accessory/...

Edit: I could be misremembering if Naomi Wu used it or something similar, but I think I'm right. If you know correctly, let me know.

Seems like it requires an extremely particular design of door handles that I’ve never actually seen in a hotel.

Yeah, most hotels I've been in used electronic locks with no moving parts you can hook that to. Just a card reader on the hallway and a door knob inside. Door knob works as the additional lock (upward position in a European style knob) most often.

I would still use a door stop - a rubber one doesn't weight much. But I would just carry one - with my luck the other door would be a slide door or open outside.

It looks to me like this device is preventing the deadbolt knob from turning, not the doorknob. It's only using the door knob shaft for support.

Yeah, globe shaped doorknobs are on their way out in general because they’re less accessible for people with disabilities/weak grip.

Globes are better for keeping intelligent cars/dogs/children where you want them though.

Seeing the picture of that lock reminded me how uniform were the door locks and light switches in the US. In Europe there are countless different types of door locks and light switches but basically everywhere I went to in the US it was the same door locks and light switches. I take it if you travel internationally a doorstop would work everywhere.

There are building codes that were implemented before most buildings in the US were built for stuff like that. There are variances in like, knob vs lever handle, but yea they mostly work the same and are in the same spot.

IMHO a smart thing if there's an emergency and you're staying someplace unfamiliar...

Most hotel doors will have (re-)closer mechanisms on their doors, and you can fashion a belt around them in an emergency:


That one won't work in most of the hotels I've been in; the internal handle doesn't even move when opening, either a latch inside the door or in the doorframe is unlocked. A physical wedge is probably the best universal solution.

I don't remember when I've been to a hotel without an RFID card door.

Cards you slide or insert were very routine until just a few years ago. Though, aside from AirBnBs or small developing world places, keys have been pretty uncommon for a while.

Who are these tips for? I value my privacy and safety, but for tourists or normal business travelers these seem paranoid.

As a normal business traveler I have been in more than one "smoke filling up hallway" situation and found fire exits locked or barricaded to prevent ingress. I think a LOT of this is reasonable.

The "know your area before you step out and don't look like a confused person standing in the middle of the street when you exit the hotel" part is also really good for not being immediately marked as a tourist.

And it's relevant for pretty much every major city, "third world" or otherwise; don't look like a confused tourist too much.

Not your average Travelodge guest, for sure.

Here are a few tips for regular people: Check-in early (by phone or via web, if you need to) because the best rooms are allocated on first come basis. Always insist on a top floor room otherwise you'll be constantly disturbed by a heard of elephants walking across the under-engineered floor above you. Avoid the ground floor, for the reason above, and, also it tends to be where they put the most likely trouble makers, groups and smokers (who'll noisily leave and enter their room throughout the night for regular nicotine fixes). Make an official complaint for the slightest of disturbance, budget hotels are built on the cheap with a contingency for refunds factored in - you'll be surprised how easy it is to get a full refund and/or a complimentary breakfast. If you hear a fire alarm do not hesitate to vacate the building and stop for nothing, construction standards meet the minimum fire safety regulations and no more. This means the building can lawfully burn to the ground in less than an hour, and a few have done exactly this.

Top tip, have a short nap as soon as you arrive. It helps alleviate that 'first night in a strange bed and can't sleep' problem.

It's just advice for those who are looking to increase their security. If you got a sense that something is "off" or if you're responsible for the safety of a vulnerable companion, many of those tips would at least create peace of mind.

Taking a stroll around the neighborhood, hotel and your floor is always a good idea. It's also really helpful to pick up some fundamentals of the local language.

Writer keeps mentioning 3rd world countries. I am assuming this person is traveling to Syria or some other country with active war going. I can't imagine doing these while saying at a 4 Seasons hotel.

Not necessarily a war zone, but definitely countries with higher crime where foreign visitors are often targets. I wouldn't discount the Four Seasons. It advertises that you are well off and are a potentially lucrative person to rob or kidnap (for the ransom insurance money that many employers of international business travelers have).

Once I was for work in a middle America country (I do not want to mention). The company that sent me had me strictly forbidden to step out the hotel, if not in a Taxi from the hotel. The company building was 300m away, I could see it from my window. I could have walk in literally 10 minutes there. The thing is, just too many former employees were kidnapped before.

In Moscow, for example, all of the expensive hotels are under FSB surveillance, so you're better off staying at a mid-tier hotel.

From a glance, I'd wager they are for big-time drug dealers, intelligence officers, war correspondents, and people LARPing any of the above.

The most interesting advice here is to leave the TV on with a do-not-disturb sign. I think people will be less likely to rob you that way. All the other advice is kind of whatever, like not being on the top floor in case someone is sweeping for you floor-by-floor.

The problem is that in a lot of hotels the power of the whole room shuts down the moment you remove the key card from its slot. I guess you would need to ask for a second key card.

I've only ever found those to be simple physical switches. I use a spare credit-card sized object from my wallet, e.g. a loyalty card or an enomatic charge card (I have a half dozen of these), but even a stiff business card will do if it's the right size.

With far less attention to security, I do this to e.g. charge up devices while I go get a bite to eat before heading out again in the evening.

often any card or piece of whatever stucked inside work, they don't really check for chip or anything

Yeah, it make it seem like someone's present, so thieves of opportunity will pass you by. It works at home too.

The floor thing is twofold; one, a lot of hotel ground floors are quite busy with passers-by, higher floors should only have guests and occasional staff. But the author also mentions that fire ladders can still reach the 2nd or 3rd floor; if you're higher up, you have to be able to go down first. You're cornered if you're on the top floor.

I think not being top floor is just like if there's a fire you know what I mean or if there's some sort of attack top floor you are stuck.

Personal I like the top floor cuz you can't hear people banging around on the floor above you and it's normally a bit quieter... But now I'm going to rethink it. :) :P xx ;p

This guy neglects to mention wearing a bullet-proof vest when checking into a hotel, which makes me think he hasn't really thought this through. What if someone were to open fire on you while you're checking in to the hotel?

This is my worry at long security lines at airports: just a large volume of people without the tools to protect themselves in any way.

Much insecurity.

I never fly. I don't trust TSA to keep me safe. If there's somewhere I can't go with my firearm, I won't go. I refuse to step foot in states without constitutional carry, unless I have absolutely no other choice.

I'm with you! In fact, I take it even further. I refuse to step out of my house. You can never be too careful.

The bombings at Brussel Airport in 2016 happend at the check-in lines. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/2016_Brussels_bombings#Brussel...

Probably because that was the airport’s rate limiting step and not the security lines

This is a great point -- I've wondered about this for years. I can remember flying back in the 1980s (I was a teen), before security got stupid and when friends and relatives could meet you or drop you off directly at the gate. The whole experience of flying back then was so much better. You used to be able to drop a 5-year-old off at the gate when the plan was boarding, and then have their grandparents meet them at the other gate, sort of like a long elevator ride with friend and family at each door.

   [1,000 lumen flashlight] ...they are incredibly effective at temporarily blinding a would-be attacker, giving you a chance to escape.
Is this dude for real?

Absolutely made me remember: "I don't know who you are. I don't know what you want. If you are looking for ransom I can tell you I don't have money, but what I do have are a very particular set of skills. Skills I have acquired over a very long career. Skills that make me a nightmare for people like you. If you let my daughter go now that'll be the end of it. I will not look for you, I will not pursue you, but if you don't, I will look for you, I will find you and I will kill you."

I mean it's better than nothing IF you are in a situation like that. Most countries don't allow any kind of self-defense gear like weapons or mace, especially not when going on an airplane. This is something robbers will know, plus you will stand out as a visitor - stand out as an international traveler (so not poor), unfamiliar with the surroundings, and likely without any kind of self defense.

Mind you, if you do get robbed, it's probably best to give up the goods anyway instead of try and fight. Make sure your passport is safe (keep it somewhere else than your wallet / phone / valuables) and you should be all right.

Tactical flashlight. They're strong enough to give you second degree burns if you hold it against your flesh.

They typically have low, high, and strobe modes for disorienting targets.

They also usually have the most asinine single button interface and the most likely person to get strobed is yourself lol.

14 clicks in an 1-2-1-2 pattern for attack defence mode.

Second degree burns, lol. I have a couple of those "tactical" flashlights. They don't put out nearly that much heat.

I've stayed in traveler lodging well over 100 nights (U.S. and Canada) in the last two decades, mostly in motels that I drove to. Motels alleviate a lot of these hotel safety/security problems because they are not usually right in a city center, there is minimal staff, all the rooms usually have direct access from the parking lot (no lobbies, elevators, or hallways required, depending on size of the motel) with high visibility, and you can use your vehicle for backup storage (credit card, cash, external disk drive, extra car key). Many times I have made sure that if either my room/person is robbed, or my car is stolen (but not both) I could still recover and continue my trip.

Of course, many business travelers don't have the luxury of driving where they need to go, but for tourists, it's worth considering. You usually don't even need to make a reservation, you just find a spot around the time you are ready to stop driving for the day.

Highly suspect motels are significantly more dangerous than hotels. No security / no guard and they are often a hotbed of criminal activity.

> No security / no guard

Almost every motel I've stayed at had a live-in manager, their quarters were located behind the front office/checkin desk.

Maybe a couple of times, I've had the misfortune to spend the night in a room adjacent/above to one where, as mentioned elsewhere, there are noisy people in the middle of the night (arguing couples, smokers going in and out), but never experienced for example police presence.

Always plenty of pimps around making sure the girls are safe, they tend to pay off the police to stay away.

Burner for obvious reasons.

I used to work for a three letter agency. We had employees that would travel to various developing countries. Due to concerns with competing nation states they'd be issued new laptops that were completely blank save a word processor and web browser (no useful information/ trade secrets on them).

The laptops would be weighed prior to departure and upon return. There were cases were laptops came back heavy. They were heavy because someone got access to the hotel room and soldered equipment directly onto the board.

When traveling, keep your devices with you. You'd be surprised what might interest a foreign government. You don't even have to be directly involved, you could simply be an affiliate of the actual person of interest.

One of the most important: stuff a towel into the door handle to prevent under door attacks. This is the most common attack vector. Plenty of YouTube videos on this (see: deviantollam)

I was robbed at gunpoint at a hotel once and in the aftermath have my own tactical "lessons learned" on the topic of hotel safety tips... which I am happy to share with you fellow HN travelers:

* Don't check into (cheap) hotels at 2am, criminals prowl at night looking for easy targets.

* If you do, be on extra alert for idling or lurking cars with headlights on at hotels in early morning hours, it is indeed a greater threat indicator than in daylight hours

* Minimize your movement outside your room when it's dark. It's not necessarily a boost in your security profile to go back out to your car to bring in your forgotten laptop from the trunk back into your room

* If someone does have you at gunpoint and wants your money, do what your mother said and just give it to them, you can always make more money later. No regrets.

* When a criminal takes your wallet, appeal to a shared fear of cops by asking for your driver's license back, you may still lose your cash but get your ID and credit cards back if they don't have a clear plan/motive to fence them... huge hassle savings (hat tip to the divine inspiration that brought this to my lips in that moment, it worked)

* If you do lose all your credit/debit cards (+cell phone), one benefit of reporting your situation to the cops immediately is that when they come and take your statement and open a case (however unlikely it will be solved), they may give you a card documenting and showing your case #. That card can come in as handy evidence backing up your "sob story" in conversations the next day with strangers you meet if you now find yourself in a strange city with no resources and no friends looking to get a free meal or other assistance (while promising to pay the stranger back of course). Conversely, a stranger telling you a sob story of them being robbed can be asked to produce such evidence.

Not a safety tip, but also (to me) one more interesting lesson from the experience (which happened in my early 20s):

* Trauma is a real thing. Your body can react to deadly threats afterwards in ways you cannot control. The next day after being held up, I literally could not enter a new room without my head moving/turning to scan entrances/exits for threats. I tried to stop my head moving repeatedly and could not! I literally could not control my body.

After a little while of experiencing this, I found myself asking myself "Well, do I need to embrace this new behavior as a needed lifestyle adjustment? Or do I work to go back to my old ways?".

I chose to work to go back to my old ways as this was a bit of a one-off situation (and in hindsight it was), but it took about a week of continual effort to regain control of my mind+body behaviors. I can easily see someone in different circumstances facing different tradeoffs remaining traumatized.

I mean, you literally got robbed, but in my experience you can get a trauma response / anxiety from even smaller things. My friend had a kind-of-bully (we were 18+ at the time iirc) and met him in the street at new year's, the bully was a bit drunk and headbutted my friend. Nothing happened to me personally, it was just a bump on the head and the guy scampered when my friend's dad and friends came over, but I couldn't stop thinking about it to date (nearly twenty years later), imagining all kinds of alternative scenarios and all that. People underestimate serious confrontations.

> they may give you a card documenting and showing your case #

It’s always a good idea to ask for the incident number whenever you go to police for something or for any BS interaction with them. Make sure there’s a paper trail when you’ll need it.

> Acquire or make a copy of the fire escape plan on the back of your door. Most of these just slide out

I use this novel device called a "smartphone" to snap a picture

Need to get me one of those :)

just make sure you keep it charged; plus, are you sure you'll have it on hand when you wake up with everything going sideways?

Good idea to take the pic, for sure, but perhaps not as the only copy - best to walk it hand have some memory

>By visiting this website, certain cookies have already been set, which you may delete and block. If you do not agree to the use of cookies, you should not navigate this website.

That's absolutely noncompliant with EU regulation, and seeing such an attitude from a security publication is a real shame.


I would have liked to see the good options when not using the hotel safe.

Keep your most valuables on you; else, hide them. Still no guarantee for a determined burglar, but they will be on edge and if it's not an easy snatch (e.g. by going straight for the hotel safe, which they probably will have done before) they won't want to hang out.

It's why the "do not disturb" and putting on the TV thing also works, it makes on-edge burglars doubt whether someone's there. And doubt is enough to discourage opportunists.

Your own bag, locked with a good lock. The threat model is convert entry; someone who's willing to carry your bag away can probably open the safe anyway so you're not losing in real security.

Thanks! I'll stick to my selfmade little box. Its easy to open if you know how, but if you don't you get a severe electric burn, that will at minimum make you scream loudly.

Imagine living this miserable a life.

Imagining you’re Jason Bourne? I don’t know, it would bring a little spice to my next night at the Drury Inn. Just imagine the look on everyone’s faces when I show up sporting my brand new tactical gear, slide my printout across to the clerk while bringing my finger to my lips and raising one eyebrow. Only after successful checkin has been accomplished will I motion my wife and kids to enter the lobby: “Foxtrot Alpha, we are GO for DEPLOY, I repeat we are GO!”

Tell me you've never been to Haiti without telling me you've never been to Haiti.

Plenty of people travel to dangerous places regularly, and I don't think they're necessarily miserable. Some I've met, like physicians who do charity work overseas, find a lot of personal satisfaction from helping people in places most wouldn't think of going even on a bet.

I put my stuff in the safe not to protect it from outside thieves but to protect it from hotel employees. I don't have any source but I'm sure this represents the vast majority of hotel theft.

The hotel employees can open the safes, though.

I doubt the cleaning staff can which probably limits a lot of thefts.

They may not be authorized to, but if they care to learn how, they can certainly gain access with minimal effort. A quick YouTube search would be sufficient, or they may pick it up the necessary knowledge as they work.


for users outside US, since this site illegaly denies access after rejecting cookies

I'm 99% sure that a US website is perfectly within their right to deny EU citizens for whatever reason. If it was EU based however they would be violating the GDPR. There's a lot of US sites that just give a HTTP 451 (unavailable for legal reasons) for people from the EU.

It's illegal, consent must be freely given.

Either the site must be completely inaccessible to EU citizens (no matter whether user will consent to cookies or not) or it must be accessible even after rejecting consent, there is nothing in between.

Accessible site only after giving consent is just plain blackmailing.


I think that’s why the 451 gets around that by not even offering the service at all!

Though I had to assist a relative in EU that couldn’t click the “unsubscribe” button on a marketing email because that too led to a 451!

The funniest and most obnoxious situation is seeing in perfectly safe country self-obsessed Americans, behaving as if they are some secret agents, extraordinary targets, vulnerable treasure, and as they look at everyone with suspicious disgust. Additional tip - wear black suit and Oakley sunglasses, in every circumstances.

You say that but from an outsider's perspective, crime, drug abuse and gun violence is very prevalent over there.

As are Oakley sunglasses and people with a badass complex for that matter, lmao.

What's a "perfectly safe country"?

Hi from Australia!

Australia has a huge gang problem?

No, it doesn’t.

any EU country, for example?

Ah yes.

Some dude tried to mug me in Dijon in 2018, but I must have been imagining things... or obviously a very uncommon situation! I should have travelled to someplace safe like Saint-Denis, or maybe stay safe in America and go to Chicago.

Forgot about France, sorry. I don't fell well there either.

Are you excluding violent crime and terror attacks? How else could you come to that conclusion?

In the sense that the government has taken out all competition on stealing?

Not everyone vacations in a war zone all the time.

"I put the TV on low, usually on CNN, and leave it on."

Might as well just die.

I leave it on Fox News so they consider that I’m carrying and mildly insane.

That's the first good use of Faux News I've ever seen - kudos!

I don't think people abroad would be able to spot the difference.

Probably won’t get Fox News outside of US or Canada (and even Canada is a stretch: cablecos don’t really force that one upon us in their bundles)

I was almost impressed by the equally prominent "Reject" cookies button until I realised that when you press it, it refuses access.

Ironic for an article about how to be a security paranoiac.

Edit: Especially as it recommends an online booking and doing so without regard to cookies and other trackers is probably leaking far more personal information to people who actually could use that information than saying your name out loud.

And illegal (in EU) anyways, as you cannot deny the service when people refuse to accept the tracking cookies..

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