Safety & Enjoyment

In other sections of this site we cover the basics of ” and “.  This section deals more with enjoying your stay and protecting yourself from some of the inherent dangers of traveling abroad. 

Never Leave Your Passport with a Hotel

Every now and then, we come across a hotel that wants to keep our passports or driver’s licenses during the duration of our stay.  This is an absolute no-no.  It’s not uncommon for hotels to make photocopies of passports or driver’s license (which is fine), but there is absolutely no reason that your travel documents and identification should be kept longer than a few minutes.  Any hotel that demands to keep your passport (even for a day) is a hotel worth avoiding. 

We cannot stress this point enough.  Except for the few minutes it takes to make a photocopy, your passport should be with you and/or your belongings at all times whenever you’re abroad.  In some locales, your travel documents can fetch a hefty price from the right buyer.  Protect your passport at all times. 

Using the Room Safe

Some experienced travelers suggest that you never use the safes that come with many rooms.  Others say that using them is a good idea.  We don’t have strong feelings one way or another.  However, if you do use the safe, make sure that you wipe down the keypad every time you touch it.  This helps get rid of any fingerprints that could then be used to guess your combination when you’re not there. 

Get Good Hotel Directions

Whenever possible, get directions in your language and in the local language (and alphabet/script).  If you ever get lost and need a taxi driver or passerby to point you in the right direction, the local language directions will come in handy.   

Unless your computer supports numerous scripts and alphabets, you might need the hotel to fax you directions in advance.  Many facilities have business cards with maps and directions on the back (in English and in the local dialect). 

Take Names

If you ever have any dealings with hotel staff before your trip (and you certainly should), be sure to write down the names, dates, phone numbers, and any other relevant information.  Ask the staff member to spell out his or her name so that there won’t be any confusion. 

Call Ahead and Confirm before Getting on the Plane

Make sure that your reservation is still in good standing before hopping on a plane.  Call ahead, go over all the details, check your itinerary, and make certain that everybody is on the same page. 

Print out Your Itinerary

Whether you book online, over the phone, through a travel agent, or through the hotel directly, you should receive some type of electronic confirmation.  Be sure to check over this document to make sure that it is correct so that you can avoid any “misunderstandings.”  You’ll also want to print this document and keep it with your travel papers. 

Lock Your Doors at All Times

Obviously, you want to lock your door (and perhaps turn on the TV and set out the “do not disturb sign”) every time you leave your room.  You should also lock the door whenever you are in your room.   

Never Book a Room on the First Floor

Unless you’re staying in an extremely large hotel with plenty of security, it’s best to avoid rooms on the first floor.  Such rooms provide easier access for those who might want to take a peek, whether you’re there or not. 

Check for Hotel Safety Features

Even though you’re on an exotic vacation abroad, that doesn’t mean you should sacrifice any of the safety precautions you would normally enjoy in your home country.  Make sure your hotel facility has working smoke alarms, sturdy doors, clear exits, fire escapes, sprinkler systems, and anything else you would expect from a hotel back home. 

911 Is Not International

Emergency numbers are not the same in all places.  Make sure you know ” for whatever ” you visit. 

Adapters and Converters

If you plan on bringing electronic appliances and gadgets with you, make sure you have the right types of adapters and converters.  If you’re not certain what type of voltage the country uses, you can ask the hotel, or you can also use “. 

Know Tipping Policies and Practices

Tipping is a personal choice, and we’re not here to tell you that you should or shouldn’t tip.  Some ” expect it.  Others discourage it.   

Fortunately, few countries tip as much and as often as America does.  So if you use the US as your baseline, very rarely will you offend anyone by tipping “too little.”  But if you want a more comprehensive snapshot of when and where to tip, use this handy “.

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