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Security with personal items while traveling???

On another topic the question came up... Do you use the hotel in room safe? Lock your luggage when not in the room? Or do nothing? Any other options or "hacks" out there?

Posted by
6180 posts

We use the in-room hotel safe and never lock our luggage. The biggest security item is wearing our money belts.

Posted by
4061 posts

No to using hotel safes. They are just not as secure as some will have you believe. Yes to locking luggage when not in the room. Locks keep honest people honest -- if a determined thief wants something badly enough he or she will probably get it. And we always use money belts (and have our passports with us) in transit and when out and about.

Posted by
14030 posts

I do nothing, ...neither lock the spinner roller nor do I use the hotel safe. Never used a hotel room safe anywhere either in the US or in Europe. When I had a suitcase, I used to lock it , but not always.

Posted by
24895 posts

I have occasionally used one of the small in-room safes, but I now just lock things in my suitcase. No one will be able to get into the bag without my knowing it, which should deter theft by the tiny percentage of hotel staff who might be tempted.

Posted by
308 posts

I wear my money belt at all times, but I don't use the hotel safe nor do I lock my backpack.

Posted by
5928 posts

We usually use the hotel safe if we're going to be there more than one night. It enables us to lighten the load in our money belts. Our luggage consists of backpacks, primarily, so even though we have locks for them, we seldom use them. The locks, I mean. If anyone wants something, he'll just take the bag!

We're more likely to use the luggage locks when we're out and about with our backpacks, especially in pickpocket prone areas. And don't say you'd feel the thief try to open a zipper - I turned around to talk to my DH as we were walking along a narrow sidewalk in a rather less popular area of Palermo, just in time to see a startled young man quickly turn and head back the other way. When we checked DH's pack, a zipper was undone, and some electronics cords were hanging out of that unzipped pocket. And he never felt a thing!

Posted by
2766 posts

I don't understand the anti-inroom safe view. Granted, a money belt is safer. But if something is staying in the room, isn't the safe safer than anywhere else in the room? What am I missing?

I don't lock my luggage in hotels. It's a bag. Someone could pick it up and take it, getting the lock off at their leisure later. I suppose you could lock it to the bed frame but that's a bit much for me. I just put it in the closet so it's not in plain view, and if there's anything valuable in there I bury it under clothes.

I leave valuables (cash, extra credit card, iPad, ) in the in-room safe. never had a problem, but things happen.

I

Posted by
518 posts

I lock my bags and sometimes even lock the bags to a piece of furniture. I know that if someone really wanted to take your things, the locks would be meaningless, but it might slow them down or discourage them and have them move on to the next easier target. I usually have the most important things on me at all times anyway (passport/ID, credit cards, phone).

Posted by
308 posts

My main reason for not using the in-room safe is that I would possibly forget to empty the safe when I check out. For me, that is more likely to happen then to have my room broken into.

Posted by
5928 posts

That's why we seldom use them on a one-night stay.

Posted by
3091 posts

I don't have anything in my bag worth stealing, generally, so don't lock my bag in the room, usually. There is always an exception. I do keep my bag out of sight of the hallway incase the maid leaves the door open. I don't use the safe.

Posted by
548 posts

I never use in-room safe.
I don't lock bag because there's nothing worth stealing in it. All important stuff is usually with me. On occasion I have hidden something in a pocket, hanging in the closet.

Posted by
489 posts

Oh, Rita! That is exactly what happened to my husband and son when we were in Sapa (northern Vietnam) we had 2 rooms and he put his PP and my son's PP in the safe. Then we left for a 1 hr drive back to the train and once in line for train he realized "no PP" . We were headed on a long train ride back to Hanoi.... Well, we stayed at a reputable resort and they found the PPs and sent a valued employee on the next train to Hanoi with our PP. Cost a bit, but the most valuable lesson.

Posted by
22891 posts

...isn't the safe safer than anywhere else in the room? What am I missing?.....

There is a common code for hotel safes. The code could be well known through out the hotel. They have to have a code since an occupant might leave the safe locked and the hotel needs to unlock the safe when they leave.

We follow a similar practice as TC - Atlanta. Never lost a thing in 20+ years of travel.

Posted by
7786 posts

We keep our valuables on us at all times. We do not carry billfolds or very much cash when traveling, and we hide our credit cards on our bodies in non-visible places. And we do have sufficient theft insurance to replace the valuable jewelry.

Posted by
5697 posts

Will consider both alternatives if I ever should leave "valuables" in a room -- cash, cards and passport are with me in a money belt, phone in a purse or pocket. Suitcases don't have locks, maybe a twist-tie to keep the zipper closed on trains. He who steals my suitcase steals trash.

Posted by
614 posts

My passport and money goes in a money belt.. Everything else stays in a locked suitcase. I rarely use an in-room safe. Occasionally, when traveling domestically without a passport or money belt, I have been known to stash a single bill of cash in my shoe for a worst case scenario.

Posted by
5142 posts

I always keep my passport & other valuables in my money belt.

I don't use in room safes because I know hotel staff can open it if they choose to
(most hotel safes can be opened with a master keys)

I don't usually lock my suitcase, except on my most recent trip because my daughter had her laptop with her (needed it while studying abroad) & we definitely didn't want to lug it around with us all day.

Posted by
969 posts

I mostly have everything of value with me in my money belt, but occasionally I will leave things in a safe. When I do, I always put something in it that I will need before I leave, like car keys or my contact case. That way I will be forced to remember to get my things out of the safe. My biggest fear with hotel safes is me leaving something in it.

Posted by
22891 posts

....My biggest fear with hotel safes is me leaving something in it........

That is a common problem that has been reported here frequently over the years.

Posted by
15093 posts

We take everything out of the safe before we go to bed on the last night.
Some people put something necessary in the safe as a reminder, like one of their shoes.

I realize that the hotel has a master key for the safes but we've both used them when traveling for business as well as for pleasure and haven't had a problem. Doesn't mean it'll never happen but then, nothing is ever for certain!

Posted by
630 posts

A number of times my husband and I have gone back to the hotel room (Marriott or Courtyard) while the maid is cleaning. The door was wide open for anyone to walk into the room and take something. We walked in and took whatever we wanted - without the maid saying anything to us. Of course we were very friendly and acknowledged the maid with a friendly hello. I guess the maids don't think thieves will be friendly - so they let us take whatever we wanted. We now lock our luggage in the closet so no one can walk in and roll it away with a friendly smile to the maid.

Posted by
489 posts

thanks folks.... Frank II I'm still laughing! You must travel with extremely small luggage!

Posted by
2677 posts

We have used hotel safes for decades and never had an issue. We understand some hotel employees can access the safe, but that is a chance we are willing to take based on our experience. We usually lock our money belts and passports and carry enough cash in a secure spot for lunches, etc. If we need a credit or debit card we strap on the belt. We have locked things in luggage, such as souvenirs, but, as others have said, luggage can walk, so never anything we can't afford to lose.

Posted by
731 posts

We definitely keep all valuables on our person and safe in our money belts. We also luck luggage and put them in the closet when we address out of the room. We do this within the states as well.

Posted by
15093 posts

Frank has taken packing light to the extreme, methinks. He travels with a lunch bag.

Posted by
518 posts

Yes, do not leave your luggage near the door (whether locked or unlocked). Keep it on the far side of the room, in the closet, behind a desk, etc., anywhere that either makes it not visible to the passerby or too inconvenient for someone to grab and run.

Posted by
1193 posts

I usually don't leave my stuff in a safe as most safes have a default passcode. I have left my money belt in a key lock safe when the only other person with a key was the manager. This was in the middle of the jungle with boat only access. It would be hard for someone to get away with the theft.
I will lock valuables (binoculars etc) in my soft luggage and throw the luggage in a drawer so it is all out of sight. If there is shelving instead of drawers I'll put my clothes on top of the soft bag. This mostly covers it up.
If I have a rolling bag I'll lock it and put it in the closet.
I'm a firm believer that "out of sight" reduces temptation.
FWIW I also lock my luggage in transit.

Posted by
524 posts

Yes, I doubt most people have access to the default passcode. We typically keep iPads, ..really just anything we don't want laying around. If there is not a safe, we have locked things in our bag. Nothing is completely 100% safe, but much more so than in plain view.

We always leave tips on the pillow. Never hurts.

Posted by
13840 posts

Some of you know that I live in hotels. Two weeks ago I went to my room while it was being cleaned. All the doors were on the latch meaning the housekeeper opened all the doors and used the security latch to keep them open while cleaning. She was in a room across the hotel and a couple of doors down.

I slipped into my room unseen, opened up a few of the drawers, grabbed my ipad, made sure she was out of sight, and left.

And then I did it again. Neither time did she see me.

I walked straight to the manager's office and explained what happened. That same day I was told the head of housekeeping talked to her staff about this practice. I hope it is not repeated.

I always put my electronic equipment in one of the drawers when I know housekeeping is coming in. Now, I lock it away.

As for my "light" luggage, here's a photo of me with what I carry. Actually, on this trip I took more than normal so I needed a luggage cart:

My luggage

Now you understand why I can fit it into the hotel safe.

Posted by
13840 posts

The hotel in question is my "home base" in the U.S. so I have stayed there many nights (hundreds) and I know all of the staff very well including the manager. I first mentioned it to the front desk person between trips into my room who alerted the head of housekeeping. By the time I told the manager, the discussion with housekeeping had already taken place.

And I'm going to be at thie hotel for another few weeks so I wanted to make sure the next time they clean precautions had taken place for security.

Posted by
2090 posts

Frank II, great picture of you with your luggage; I never realized how handsome you are!

Posted by
2506 posts

I don't bring anything of tremendous value and only take my iPhone, which is always with me anyway. I do keep my suitcase and carry-on in a far corner of the room if possible, suitcase zipped and carry-on locked since my personal info is on documents inside, prescription meds, etc.

Posted by
2393 posts

No safe for us - anything valuable is kept with me. We also leave our bags, usually open on the luggage rack - nothing of value in them. What a PITA to zip, close & store when you leave the room. Really - nobody wants to steal my clothes!

Good for you Frank - poor training with that maid - she should only unlock the room she is currently in.

Posted by
1193 posts

What a PITA to zip, close & store when you leave the room.

???! It takes less than a minute to zip the luggage and lock it and throw it in the drawer.

Posted by
18864 posts

As for just leaving things in a locked room, even in a suitcase, I once returned to my room at the end of the day and found the maid's key still in the lock. Anyone (even a non-emplyee of the hotel) could have entered my locked room. And given all afternoon, they could have broken into any suitcase.

I've only twice (in over 40 places) stayed somewhere with a hotel room safe. The first time, I locked my moneybelt in the safe while I slept (seemed like a good idea since the safe was there). The safe was in a shelf in the room desk, It was hard to see it. I'm not sure if I entered the wrong number (I used my ATM code, which I know well), but in the morning it wouldn't open. The manager came with his master code (who else in the hotel knew it), and it didn't work either. So he got a special tool to take off the front of the safe (I wonder if you can buy one on ebay?).

So, as far as I'm concerned, nothing of value (and I don't travel with much of value) is going to be out of my possession.

Posted by
14030 posts

On this last trip in May/June and that of last year, I didn't bother zipping up the spinner roller before I left for the day. Petty cash, ie, one to ten Euro was left on the desk or bed, cell phone at times. I used to close and lock diligently the suitcase, now I hardly bother. The maid is not going to come in your hotel room for house cleaning if you leave the sign on the door handle. That is what I do. You have to know how it operates at the place you're staying. At the Pension in Berlin it's the proprietor or her daughter doing room cleaning. I leave the roller unzipped and unlocked in the room. It goes without saying i trust them, I'm their steady customer.

Posted by
648 posts

I regularly leave my pad, Kindle, and train tickets behind in our apartment/hotel room. If there is a safe I use it if I don't need to be charging an electronic goodie. I take cash, passport, camera, and cell with me always.

Posted by
518 posts

*" What a PITA to zip, close & store when you leave the room.

???! It takes less than a minute to zip the luggage and lock it and throw it in the drawer. "*

That's what all these discussions (money belt, passport carrying, safes, travel insurance, etc.) are ultimately about in the end, your own individual level of tolerance for such chores. For some people, it truly is a PITA, worse than dragging yourself to the gym every week. For others, it's a way of life so part and parcel to travel that they don't even notice it.

"The maid is not going to come in your hotel room for house cleaning if you leave the sign on the door handle."

I agree, I tend to hang that tag out no matter the number of days I'm staying, or the level/class of hotel. I mean, I'm no more messier while staying in a hotel than I am when I'm at home, and I don't need to clean up the house/bathroom every single day, so I don't see a need for it when I'm traveling.

Posted by
1193 posts

I agree, I tend to hang that tag out no matter the number of days I'm staying, or the level/class of hotel. I mean, I'm no more messier while staying in a hotel than I am when I'm at home, and I don't need to clean up the house/bathroom every single day, so I don't see a need for it when I'm traveling.

Several hotels have a maximum number of days you can go without housekeeping. Usually they require that your room is cleaned twice a week. Check with the desk to find out which days are required.

Posted by
14030 posts

I have not had any hotel tell me that the room had to be cleaned when I stayed for several days, either in the US or in Europe. Usually it's a max of five to six nights in the US. In Vienna it was nine nights single occupancy. I put the sign out once I got there.

Posted by
1193 posts

@Fred. Comfort Suites Old Town Scottsdale. I was staying there for several weeks on a business trip.
Which is why I brought it up. I've never had that happen before.

Posted by
14030 posts

@ Cindy H...Several weeks ...that's totally understandable compared with one week, which has been my experience in the US. Your point is well taken.

Posted by
1193 posts

@Fred. The room had to be cleaned twice a week under their rules. I chose Mondays and Thursdays. They actually had me fill out a form for my request.

Posted by
13840 posts

Just because you put up the "Do Not Disturb" sign up doesn't mean they won't come into your room. I've had this happen when they needed to do some maintenance.

It happened to me today. My hotel phone wasn't working correctly and they needed to call in someone from the outside. I got a call to see if it was okay to send him up. If I wasn't in, they would have sent him up even with the sign on my door. He would have been escorted by one of the hotel's maintenance people.

One of the reasons some hotels insist on at least getting your room cleaned once or twice a week is not just about the room. It's also about you. They are checking to make sure you are okay.

Posted by
14030 posts

True...I see the validity for several weeks. My only experience has been 10 nights max in a big chain hotel (more in a Pension but then there is no sign to hang out anyway), and those ten nights were in Vienna. I've probably lucked out since all the times I've had the sign out be it in the US or Europe, no one has come in.

Posted by
15093 posts

One of the reasons some hotels insist on at least getting your room
cleaned once or twice a week is not just about the room. It's also
about you. They are checking to make sure you are okay.

Great point, and one I hadn't thought of.

Posted by
4 posts

Money belt: Have one or two, never found them terribly useable. No point in them if I pull them out in public. I find it easier to travel with a minimum of cash. ATMs are almost always available without too much hassle.

I carry some cash in one rear trouser pocket, some cards in the other, no wallet. This is also my day-to-day carry style. I've found that if I do what I normally do, I am less likely to forget or misplace something. Passport goes in a zipped or velcroed pocket, if available, and in a front trouser pocket if not. I've mostly settled on two identical-but-for-color pairs of trousers, both having closed cargo pockets and rear zips. I don't use a travel-vest or travel-jacket. They sound great, but since I don't always wear one, I don't believe I would keep track of them and their contents. Same routine at home - jacket pockets might hold a hat, scarf, gloves, or umbrella, never phone, wallet, cash, or ID.

Phone is always in right-front pocket, no zip. Fold-up hat in the other.

I avoid pickpocketing situations. I don't place myself where I can be surrounded by jostlers, and I keep my hands hanging naturally, but in position to block if necessary.

Personally, I believe a large part of avoiding becoming a crime victim as a tourist is in the attitude. I just about always look like I know where I'm going, even if I don't. I have been completely lost, and had people ask me for directions... in the native language. I also avoid walking around with the deer-in-the-headlights look that so many seem to have.

Luggage is always small. One backpack, usually 13 or 20 liters. That also happens to describe my daily-carry bag at home. Laptop is tiny (roughly 1 kilo) and rides well inside or in the hydration pocket. One pocket of the bag, usually with the zipper clipped shut, has extra credit/debit cards and backup ID. If I'm out and about with it, I'm careful not to leave it in position for a swipe and grab.

Posted by
2 posts

I take cash, passport, cards, cell phone with me always. Other valuable goods put into a luggage fulled of clothes and locked with a tsa lock, look like this, 3 digit combination, it's small and practical.

Posted by
518 posts

"Personally, I believe a large part of avoiding becoming a crime victim as a tourist is in the attitude. I just about always look like I know where I'm going"

Before you leave your hotel room, cafe, restaurant, etc., know where you are headed to next and study the maps, familiarize yourself with the street names on there, rehearse it in your head, dare I say it, use Google Maps street view function to really put yourself there virtually so it doesn't look completely foreign once you are physically on the ground. At a minimum have a sense of which direction (north, south, etc.) you need to head once you exit through that door. The keyword in all of this is "BEFORE." A little homework goes a long way.