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There’s a lot of advice out there about staying safe while traveling, from taking precautions at the airport, to using public transport, or actually wandering around. But after an incredible day of exploring, we often get back to the hotel, kick our feet up, and let our guard down.

And I totally get it – you’re on vacation, and the last thing you want to do is worry about hotel security. But hotel stays carry an inherent level of risk, and everything from break-ins, to fires, to bed bugs, and terrorist attacks could potentially affect you.

While it’s not worth becoming too paranoid about some of these, after-all you’re much more likely to be killed by a vending machine than a terrorist, it’s definitely in your best interest to take a few precautions to protect against common hotel risks.

8 Hotel Safety Tips

Research Accommodation Before Booking

Whether you’re staying in a hotel, an Airbnb, or staying with strangers, it’s important to keep safety in mind before you make a booking.

Research your accommodation and pay close attention to things like the property’s security measures, whether the desk is staffed 24 hours, if there are surveillance cameras, or whether you have to have a key to access guest floors.

One of your biggest considerations should be location. For instance, are you staying in an upscale neighbourhood, or a seedy commercial district? Is it a safe area to walk around after dark; are there any services nearby, like a police station or embassy?

You can easily find neighbourhood information online, or by looking at recent hotel reviews on sites like TripAdvisor. Google Street View is a great resource for checking out a neighbourhood and seeing what it actually looks like. Keep an eye out for any mention of safety concerns when reading reviews.

Nestled on the waterfront of Hobart’s Franklin Wharf, and inspired by the history and colourful characters of Tasmania’s past

Photo credit: Adam Gibson for MACq01 Hobart

Request a Room on a High Floor

Rooms on the ground floor are the easiest target for robberies, so requesting a higher floor makes you less likely to have your belongings stolen.

Many safety experts recommend rooms on the fourth – sixth floors, as these are high enough to be difficult to break into, but not so high that a fire truck ladder can’t reach them.

If fire safety is a concern, you can also request rooms that are close to the stairwell. But try to avoid rooms near vending or ice machines, as these offer criminals a great place to loiter.

If you’re staying in a motel where your room opens directly to the outside (as opposed to a hallway), try to aim for a room which overlooks an interior courtyard instead of a car park. If you’re staying at an Airbnb, try and find one with adequate security.

A recipient of a Forbes 5 star rating, Crown Towers Melbourne offers the most stunning accommodation Melbourne has to offer.

Stay With Your Luggage

How many times have we heard airport security barking instructions not to leave our luggage unattended? The same logic applies to hotels.

As soon as you walk into a hotel lobby ahead of your luggage, it has the potential to be snatched. Don’t wait for the valet to bring your bags to your room, take it yourself, and either check-in while someone else is watching the bags, or keep them in front of your feet at reception. If you’re checking into an Airbnb, or apartment, don’t leave your bags unattended in the street.

Case in point – last year a Channel Nine TV show was robbed of more than $100,000 worth of video equipment while they checked into their Bali hotel.

“They put their gear down and walked up to the reception desk and in the space of four seconds these guys who had followed them from the airport swooped in, picked up the gear, and took off”.

Southern Cross Travel Insurance advises that lost or stolen luggage generally won’t be covered by travel insurance if you haven’t exercised reasonable care with it. If you leave it behind, or leave it unattended, you’ll have less chance of your claim being successful.

Crowne Plaza Canberra Hotel Review

Lock Your Valuables in the Hotel Safe

Protect your valuables by using the hotel safe. Travelers are divided on whether you should leave your passport in the hotel room, or always carry it on your person, but if you decide to leave it behind, make sure it’s secure, along with electronics, important travel documents, and anything else of value, in the in-room safe.

That being said, hotel safes are usually hidden inside the closet and out of sight when you’re packing up at the end of a stay, so make sure you don’t forget to retrieve your things.

Traveling with a lock for your suitcase is a good alternative if you have valuables which are too big for the safe (like a laptop or camera lens), and from personal experience, make sure you don’t forget your self-created passcode.

You should also check that the safe is actually safe before you use it; some hotels don’t change the default unlock code, which is there as an override if you forget the code. For most hotel safes this is 000000 or 123456 – not exactly an original passcode! Some hotels will also have safety deposit boxes where you can hold your valuables.

Passport stamps

 Keep Your Door Locked at All Times

It’s important to keep your door locked at all times, even when you’re inside the room. This includes any deadbolts, security chains or swinging metal security locks which make it impossible for someone to break into your room.

You should never prop your door open, no matter how briefly, and if someone comes to your door claiming to be hotel staff when you’re not expecting it, quickly call the front desk to make sure the visit is legitimate. The peephole is a great way to confirm someone’s identity before opening the door.

A great way to deter break-ins when you’re out is by leaving the TV or radio on, and hanging the “Do Not Disturb” sign on the door; both of these tricks deter thieves by giving the impression that you’re still there.

Hotels which have modern electronic guest room locks are generally safer than those which operate off a traditional key. The key cards for these locks are automatically wiped at the end of each stay, so there’s very little chance of someone having a duplicate key. If you lose or misplace your key, ask the front desk for a new one straight away.

Check for Bed Bugs

Before unpacking your luggage and jumping onto the hotel bed, check your room carefully to avoid bed bugs. Look out for tiny brown bugs that are similar to cockroaches. When you squish them, they emit a pungent smell and appear reddish.

Inspect the corners of your bed and the edges of your mattress before settling in. You can also examine the carpets and curtains for bed bugs. If you find them, request another room on a different floor, or check into a different hotel.

Avoid keeping your bags on the floor, as placing luggage directly on the ground allows bed bugs traveling from other rooms to access your luggage more easily. You should use the suitcase stand if your hotel provides one.

A recipient of a Forbes 5 star rating, Crown Towers Melbourne offers the most stunning accommodation Melbourne has to offer.

Use a VPN if You Connect to the Internet

Free WiFi is something we’ve come to expect from hotels, but that doesn’t mean that it’s safe to connect.

You’re ultimately still connecting to a public hotspot, which means anyone on the same network (which could be thousands of people inside the hotel) can easily see your data: usernames, passwords, credit card numbers, and your addiction to adult content!

In some cases, criminals have been known to target hotels and set up open WiFi networks specifically to trick people into connecting. So it’s incredibly important when you’re traveling that you don’t connect to the internet without a VPN.

A high quality VPN (I use Hotspot Shield) is one of the most useful tools you can have to keep your information secure when connecting to hotel WiFi. It encrypts your traffic so that cyber criminals using the same network won’t be able to access your information, or even detect your presence.

Using Hotspot Sheild

 Don’t Give Out Personal Information Over the Phone

One of the most recent hotel scams is to call the hotel and asked to be put through to a specific room. When your phone rings, it looks like the call is coming from within the hotel, because the front desk has forwarded the call.

A scammer will then imitate the receptionist and say that they require you to confirm your credit card details again.  This is a particularly effective scam, which has seen thousands of travelers become a victim of fraud.

Never give out any personal information over the phone. If you’re asked to re-confirm your credit cards details, hang up the phone, and call reception directly to confirm it. Then visit the lobby in person.


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DoorJammer Portable Door Lock Brace

UV Flashlight Blacklight Stain Detector


Megan is an Australian Journalist and award-winning travel writer who has been blogging since 2007. Her husband Mike is the American naturalist and wildlife photographer behind Waking Up Wild; an online magazine dedicated to opening your eyes to the wonders of the wild & natural world.

Having visited 50+ countries across all seven continents, Megan’s travels focus on cultural immersion, authentic discovery and incredible journeys. She has a strong passion for ecotourism, and aims to promote responsible travel experiences.


Disclosure: Despite having received payment for creating the content, the views and opinions expressed in this article are my own, and not necessarily that of Southern Cross Travel Insurance. 

This article may contain hyperlinks to other websites owned or operated by third parties or references to third party products or services. Southern Cross Travel Insurance is not responsible for, and makes no recommendation about, the content or accuracy of any third party website or for the suitability or performance of any product or service. The inclusion of a link in this article does not imply that Southern Cross Travel Insurance endorses the website or third party product/service.

Southern Cross Travel Insurance products and services are underwritten by Southern Cross Benefits Limited. For further information about Southern Cross Travel Insurance (including policy terms and conditions) or to get a quote please visit


  1. Staying with luggage is always a biggie Meg, or having eyes on it while you’re gone. If we need to wait before checking in I make sure the storage space is secure and safe, set back behind a counter where the desk person is watching is 24-7. Gotta have eyes on it for me to walk around; otherwise I’m lugging it with me ;) Smart tips!


    • Absolutely Ryan, Mike and I usually have one of us stay with the bags while the other checks in / out. I’m not even willing to let the valets take the bags, i would much rather carry it myself. Not only do you know it’s secure that way, you also don’t have to wait half an hour for it to be brought up to you :D!

  2. Love the new look of your site Megan. Always best to be prepared when traveling. I leave my most important things together in a bag next to the bed so I can grab it and go if necessary. Also, I have a tiny flashlight – power is interrupted so frequently in some countries. Best to be have a light source with you – and a fully charged power bank. :)

    • Thanks Sue! Agreed re being prepared when traveling – clever to have a bag full of essentials and everything important next to the bed – and a small flashlight is a fabulous idea, especially as you’re in the room for the first time so it would be very unfamiliar at night.

      Thanks for sharing your tips! :)

  3. Great list! My friends laugh at me for this… I had the unfortunate experience of the housekeeping staff either stealing my watch or leaving my door open and room unattended… as a result, I never have my room cleaned anymore.

    • Thanks Susan! Sorry to hear your watch was stolen – that’s terrible :( We never have our room cleaned either, mainly because we like to come back in early afternoon and don’t want the inconvenience of having to wait for housekeeping, but also because we leave a lot of electronics which are expensive, and it’s not that I don’t trust that they’ll go missing, but I don’t like the idea of other people touching them even to move it to a different shelf, possibly dropping stuff, breaking lenses etc. So the do not disturb sign is always the first thing we do! Plus it’s not like we really need clean towels, or the bed made every day anyway!

  4. So, having survived two hotel fires, i agree with be near a staircase, but one should also alter routines. Don’t sleep “au naturel”- and be prepared to walk down those (in my case, 36 and 52 flights)- carrying a blanket. (It was winter!)

    • Great tip Roy, being fully prepared before going to sleep in case you need to make an emergency evac in the middle of the night. Crazy that you’ve been caught up in two hotel fires! Glad you got out ok!!

    • Meg Jerrard and, they were national brands!

    • Yikes!!

  5. I must say that I hate it when a hotel leaves our luggage in the middle of the lobby for ages! They don’t always let you take it to your room yourself which is a nuisance. Some great recommendations here for staying safe when in a hotel

    • There’s nothing worse! I’ve never arrived at a hotel which actually doesn’t let you take it up yourself – that’s terrible! We’ve experienced push valets, because obviously they get tipped if they perform the service, but we always strictly insist that we will be staying with our luggage.

      Glad you enjoyed the post Suze!

  6. Very good these tips! I loved it because I’ve had problems on some trips just for lack of care:)

    • Thanks Leonardo, I’m glad that our tips were helpful :) Happy travels!

  7. These tips are amazing!! I believe also it’s also so so useful to check all or any google reviews- people are typically very honest about how they were treated at any hotel or hostel!!

    • So glad the post was helpful for you Marie. And great tip about referencing Google reviews before you head out – thanks for sharing!

  8. Terrific tips! We always travel with headlamps and keep them on the nightstand when sleeping. Never know when the lights will go out and you want to be handsfree. ?

    • Thanks Viviene! Headlamps is a great idea for being able to navigate your way around if you wake up in the middle of the night – because it’s always a new environment I find I always forget where the light switches are at!

  9. These are some great tips. In one of our trips, my husband was attacked by bed bugs. It was awful.

    • Glad the article was helpful for you Chrysoula – yikes, sorry to hear about your bed bugs experience though. I’ve started getting into the habit of checking for bed bugs on first entry into every hotel room. If you spot them in advance you can avoid the whole horrible experience. Hopefully you won’t have to go through that again XX

  10. Oh haha ! I usually leave the door unlocked, will certainly be diligent in locking it now. Thanks for the post

    • 95% of the time you’ll be absolutely fine, but I do it in case of that 5%. Glad we could set you up with a couple of tips … happy travels! :)

  11. I’d also recommend only bringing the essentials. You don’t need your laptop unless it’s a business trip. Leaving behind valuable makes you less likely to have them stolen.

    • Great advice Susan – I’ve always tried to employ the approach of anything I can’t bear to lose – leave it behind.

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