The Castle

Your hotel and room are not a castle.  many times you feel protected within your room, but keep in mind, you are still very vulnerable.

While in Greece I co-worker was out drinking and returned to the hotel and told the front desk he left his key in the room.  They smiled and happily issued him a new key to my room!!!  The room had no deadbolt so he just walked in at 2AM and pulled the sheets off the bed and there I was.

Hotel Safety

After a long trip, you look forward to checking into your hotel room and relaxing. Keep in mind; you are using a room that has been visited by thousands of people before you. Have you ever seen someone in a public restroom leave without washing his or her hands? If they do that in public ? what do you think they do in a hotel room?????

Upon check in the first thing I do is sanitizing, my procedure takes just a few minutes. I carry a bottle of sanitizing spray (Lysol To Go) for doorknobs, TV remote (most dirty item in any hotel room) , light switches, phones, toilet handle, faucets, and thermostat. Lastly, I take a hand-sanitizing wipe, clean the toilet seat, and then wash my hands thoroughly.

Most dirty item in the bathroom?

Yea, the toilet seat is a common answer, but this is usually pretty clean.   The worst item is the water glass.  This has been shown time and time again to miss being cleaned.

Many times hotel maids are short on time, and this is a quick one to save a minute on.  This also saves her from having to lug the glass down to the basement where the non-working dishwasher is.

Next best place for germs is the handle on the toilet.

Room Ice

It’s nice to have ice in the room for a cold drink – but how often do you think the ice bucket is really cleaned?  I typically place my bottle soda in the ice bucket and then fill it with ice to cool down the drink.

Shower time!

I love to shower; it refreshes me plus makes me smell great. Too many hotels in North America provide bars of soap that only Tom Thumb would enjoy. And internationally you may only get liquid soap from a wall dispenser.

So I always carry a bar of soap packed in a travel case. To ensure you don’t leave your bar behind, place the carry case in your luggage wide open. So when it comes time to pack up, you will see it and remember to grab the bar of soap. If the bar is still wet, just use a towel to pat down excess water.


DND is the term for Do Not Disturb.  If you are in the room and want privacy, this helps, but is not a guarantee.  Always deadbolt the door.

I also find hotel staff who never knock and just open the door – this could be housekeeping,, mini bar service or laundry return.  Again, deadbolt the door if you are in the bathroom and want to protect yourself from an embarrassing moment.

I Talk to the Invisible People

When I temporarily leave a hotel room as I open the door I finish a conversation with make-believe people in my room. Anyone in the hallway will hear this and assume there is another person still in the room. I also leave the TV on so my invisible friends have something to watch.

If someone was planning to ransack the room while you are away, this would force them to choose another room.  This also helps to keep hotel staff who are nearby from popping in while you are out.

Space The Final Frontier

Hotels never seem to have enough horizontal space for my stuff. I refuse to use any drawers as its way to easy to forget things upon departure. If there is not enough space to lay out my stuff, I pull out the ironing board and instantly have a flat area.

Safe Test

If you are going to use the room safe, you should make sure it works properly and you can re-open it.  Close the safe empty and follow the instructions on how to lock.  Then follow the unlock instructions and make sure it unlocks.  I have found safes that will not re-open.  With nothing inside, no big deal – if I had valuables I needed – its a problem.

How Safe is the Safe?

Keep in mind that a hotel room safe is not 100% secure.  If you were to forget the combination the hotel can open.  This is done with a master key or special code.  The BIG question is who has access to those?  Once int eh Philippines when I couldn’t get the safe open the housekeeper came by punched in a special code and the door swung open. I would have been more comfortable if the procedure at least required a manager.

Now when I travel to many places I also pack a small money bag that I place everything into, lock the bag with the lock from my suitcase and toss that into the safe.  That will require them to take everything and not be able to siphon off small amounts of cash that I may not notice.

The Hotel Phone

This device is near extinction.  Never, ever use a hotel phone to make an outgoing phone call, especially international calls.  The charges will shock you.  If bored, call the hotel operator and ask how much a 15 minute call to North America is.  Make sure you are sitting down.

For making phone calls I use my cell phone domestically and international I am 100% Skype.  I will give my office the hotel name and my room number so they can call me, but I will never use the room phone to make that long distance call.

Key Cards

Most hotels these days use the credit card type of door key.  If you travel often, you should save a couple of these and keep in your luggage.

Some hotels use that same key card to activate room power.  As soon as you enter you need to place the card in a slot which then turns on room power and the heating / air conditioning.  90% of the systems just require a card be in the slot, not the real hotel key card.

The problem is, its way to easy to walk out of the room and leave the key card in the wall.

So I use one of my spare key cards in that case for the wall unit and keep the real room key with my wallet.

And the time is…..

There are so many hotels I have visited that lack a clock. Then there are hotel clocks that are set an hour ahead or behind or some other crazy time zone. I have just given up and carry my own. While a phone or iPad is a good time source, I prefer the old fashion digital one. My travel clock of choice is the slim LL Bean LED Nightfinder Alarm which can be found here

The Mini Bar is not so Mini with the Bill

Don’t use the Minibar!

No matter how hungry or thirsty you are, don’t use the minibar. The cost is astronomical….look at the prices before opening anything. On top of the prices listed, you may also be hit with taxes and even a service fee (so they can restock the unit)

Worse, some hotels are moving to automated systems that detect an items removal and your room is instantly charged.

Business Card

Keep a hotel business card with you. Should you become lost (it happens to even the most experienced traveler; me included), it will make returning to the hotel much, much easier

Double Check

Upon check out, make sure you have everything.  The most common item people leave behind are phone chargers. If you leave this behind the chances of recovery are near zero.

When checking out, do a good sweep of the room, bathroom and closet.  I also pull up the bedsheets to make sure I didn’t leave anything there while packing.