Vacationers shouldn't have to worry about anything during a hard-earned trip, so keeping one's valuables safe is an important yet easy way to avoid a travel headache. Theft is the most common crime committed in hotels, which are otherwise generally very safe places for guests. Unfortunately, research suggests that hotel employees are the biggest culprits in these petty crimes, so effectively hiding valuable items is an important preventative measure. By taking a few precautions and using a little creativity, hotel guests can discourage theft and protect their valuables while traveling.
- Slide items under the mattress, towards the middle so that they are less likely to be discovered when making the bed. It is best to use this tactic only after the bed has been made.
- Place flat items under a trash can in the corner, and do not use that trash can. In case a custodian moves the can, you may want to place the items in an envelope and affix it to the bottom with tape.
- Tape items underneath the desk or side tables. Placing items in an envelope helps protect them from damage by the tape.
- Enclose valuables within a small bag and pin between double drapes.
- Place cash within the pages of a book or telephone directory.
- Hide items in plain sight by keeping important documents concealed in a pile of restaurant menus and travel brochures.
- Roll items within very "personal" articles of clothing, such as underwear. As thieves are attuned to the "wallet in a sock" trick, throwing valuables in with the truly dirty clothes is the best deterrent when using this method of hiding items.
- Use a purchased or homemade "diversion safe," such as a fake can of shaving cream or hollowed-out paperback, to store valuables. Many varieties of these are available for sale at security shops and online.
- Take measures to prevent and discourage thieves from targeting your room. Keep suitcases locked. Wear modest jewelry and do not advertise any expensive shopping trips to hotel staff. Hang the "Do Not Disturb" sign on the door and leave the TV on when you are leaving for the day. Keep the room and your items very tidy so that any disorder would be conspicuous, and of course do not leave any valuable items out in the open.
- Don't forget to secure or remove valuables in your car as well. More than a quarter of all hotel theft occurs outside the guest room, in a vehicle in a hotel garage or parking lot. Fortunately, the predominant causes of theft from cars are easily avoidable: lock your doors and hide your valuables.
- Lock valuables in the hotel safe, but only use a safe that allows you to set a new combination. Longer combinations offer better protection, with six-digit codes providing the most security one should need. Never use a safe that requires a key provided by the hotel, as there may be untold numbers of key copies circulating among staff and former guests.