Whether you are travelling alone or with people, you may have to stay in a motel for a night or two. It is vital to consider safety while looking into your motel options, as well as change your habits to ensure that you don't put yourself or friends at unnecessary risk. The following are tips for how to choose a room and what to do to protect yourself/selves.
1. Choosing the motel room
The closer you are to the ground the more vulnerable you'll be to criminal activity because of the ease of access. It is better to choose a modern-looking, fire-safe motel and then go for rooms on higher floors. However, don't go too high as higher floors can be a disadvantage in case of emergency rescue, such as from fire. Ask for a room located towards the middle of the hallway – not close to exit/entry points that could be used by intruders, including fire escapes.
2. Checking entry points
Before picking a room, ensure that the doors are made of sturdy material: solid wood or metal with a deadbolt lock that can self-lock. Check the door, window and balcony locks for signs of tampering and stay away from motels that seem to have worn or pried locks. It's even better if there's a doorknob you can push to exclude keys once you're inside the room – this will deter people with keys like former guests/staffers from unauthorized access.
A door with a peephole is preferable since you can see who's on the other side before opening. Check the balcony and confirm the difficulty/ease of access from the balcony side. Keep the door and windows locked as much as possible.
3. Letting people in
Avoid opening the door to unannounced guests, particularly when you're alone. You can alert the front desk to give you a call if they're going to send someone over unexpectedly. Intruders often gain unfettered access to travellers' rooms by posing as room service, maintenance and other motel staff. Don't open the door to peek even if there's a chain lock; it can be easily kicked in from this point.
4. Leaving the room
If you need to leave, leave clues of occupancy to deter intruders. You can put the DO-NOT-DISTURB sign up, though this will interfere with housekeeping. Put on the TV/radio loud enough to be heard from the outside and have one light left on if you'll come back at night. Don't leave any doors or windows unlocked.
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