Last updated on March 17th, 2022
Hotels may have their own security, but solo women should have their own checklist
by Evelyn Hannon, Founder, JourneyWoman
Today’s females are travelling solo like never before. Whether as business or leisure travellers, we, women, must choose our accommodation wisely and arm ourselves with ‘know-how’ that will improve our safety during hotel stays. Yes, hotels provide their own security and do everything they can to keep their guests safe. However, female travellers should also have their own checklist for keeping themselves out of harm’s way. Here are our 12 JourneyWoman tips to get you started.
1. Don’t be gender-specific when you reserve your room. Always use your first initial and your last name.
2. Avoid rooms that are in isolated areas of the building. Asked to be placed in more heavily trafficked areas.
3. Request that your room number and location be kept private. A good desk clerk will write your room number down rather than say it out loud. Others within hearing distance could use this information to gain access to your room.
4. Don’t accept ground-floor rooms that have easy access from outside such as a balcony or fire escape.
5. Make sure all the doors and windows of your room can be locked from the inside and can’t be opened from the outside with a key.
6. Carry a rubber door stopper that can be easily installed on an inward-opening door.
7. Never give your room number to anybody. If someone is coming to meet you arrange for a meeting in the lobby.
8. Instead of filling out a room service card and leaving it on the outside of your door, call room service directly. There is no need to alert potential wrongdoers that you are the sole person in the room.
9. Ask that your room service order be delivered by a woman.
10. Just because someone knocks on your door and identifies themselves as a hotel employee is no reason to open the door. If you are the least bit suspicious ask for their name and why they are there. Call the front desk to verify.
11. Avoid solitary situations. If your hotel has underground parking ask that a hotel employee park your car for you.
12. Finally, There is no harm in relaxing in the hotel bar but never leave your drink unattended. Social deviants find this a perfect time to drop date rape drugs into your beverage and leave you vulnerable to their intentions. The good news is that now there is a product to test your own drink and foil these wrong-doers. See: http://www.drinksafetech.com
A private bathroom in my dorm…
One summer I studied French at the Sorbonne and stayed at a university dorm in Paris. Though I was in my Fifties then, dorm living suited me perfectly especially since some of my classmates lived there as well. The only thing I could never get used to was the common washrooms with other students lining up to use the facilities in the early morning. I devised a plan. I made a sign that said, ‘Toilet En Panne’ which was the closest I could come to ‘Toilet Out of Order’ in French. I found a small out of the way bathroom on the top floor that most people didn’t bother climbing up to and each morning I went up there, put my ‘out of order’ sign on the door and prepared for class without anybody bothering me. I must admit … I lived in fear of the maintenance man coming in to check but he never did. Shhhh … don’t tell anybody my secret. (Evelyn Hannon, JourneyWoman)
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I had to travel alone in a job that was usually held by men – I was a union organizer. I learned lots of things to be safe! I found that when I checked in I would tell two people at the front desk – most often these are women – that I was traveling alone and, in confidence, I would appreciate any help they could give me, they were very eager to make me feel comfortable and would point out anything they felt I should know. Make sure you talk to more than one person in the presence of the other!
1. Instead of asking for a woman to deliver your room service, when the server arrives, just step outside of your door (with your purse), leaving the door open, and wait until the person exits before you re-enter. Very seldom in my experience do hotels use females to deliver room service because it endangers their female employees.
2. As soon as you enter your room, check the fire exit map on the inside of the door (this is the law in the U.S. but not everywhere else). Then count the number of doors between your room and the exit stairway so that you can find your way in the dark if necessary. This is helpful not only in a fire but in an electrical blackout or if you are threatened.
3. If you are uncomfortable in any way, perhaps because you arrive very late at night, ask for someone to accompany you to your room and check it out before you enter. I have been given a room – with a working key – that was already occupied by a MAN!! Fortunately, he was a gentlemanly fellow and was very gracious, but it could have been disastrous!
4. If that is not possible, ask the front desk to call you on your room phone about 5 minutes after your check-in to see if everything is ok. Then arrange to tell them something specific if you are in danger, such as, “Everything here is just peachy,” or some other phrase you agree on.
Lots of other things that I’ve used over the years, so maybe I will send those along when I remember them!
Frances, thnk you for sharing these great tips!
That was good advice. Living in a hotel is no different I think anyway as living in an apartment complex. You don’t know everyone there so you take precautions there are dangers everywhere. If a house a single apartment you take precautions no matter what.
Some years ago I was in a hotel in Florence . After a long day I had a good bath and went to bed. Much later a key turned in my lock and a man appeared. I yelled and he quickly left. I truly believe he was a hotel employee who thought that room was vacant and he’d have a rest since there was little likelihood of more guests arriving at that hour. In the morning I told the person on the desk. “You must have been dreaming, madam” was his reply. How frustrating! My only advice is to YELL LOUDLY if you see an unwanted guest entering your room.