Travel Safety Tips From a Former Green Beret
Now, we know what you’re going to say: “What’s so dangerous about checking into a hotel?” Admittedly, we didn’t think it was that big of a deal either. Until, that is, we read Dan Bova’s recent article in Entrepreneur. The piece thoroughly rattled us, and we wanted to share some of its highlights with you. (Remember, we’ve already given you a head start in the survival department.)
For one, if you give your luggage to the wrong person—i.e., someone who’s posing as a friendly bellhop—he or she could walk off with it. And you’d never see that vacuum-packed charcuterie and wool sweater again. Then there’s the issue of international travel and that all-important passport, which is basically the skeleton key that opens all the cool doors. (Without it, you’re sort of sunk.) The list goes on and on.
Bova tracked down former Green Beret and Sergeant Major Karl Erickson, who shared some of his best practices from years of traveling to sketchy countries and dealing with a range of potential threats. Here are our favorite travel safety tips of Erickson.
Move It on Up
Erickson notes that it’s best not to stay on the first or second floors of most hotels. Why? Because that’s where the most burglaries occur. It’s pretty logical if you think about it. It’s easy come, easy go for baddies, and all they really need to do is kick in your door, and out goes all your stuff.
In the Key of Safety
As Erickson points out, it’s unwise to show people your hotel key in public. For one, it notes to strangers where you’re staying that night. And two, it tells a potential robber that you’re not in your room right now. So find a place deep in your pocket—or in that secret pouch in those cargo pants your friends are embarrassed you still wear—and hide away that key.
Always Bring a Rubber
No, not that kind. Erickson says he never leaves for a hotel without a rubber doorstop. That way, he can jam the sucker under the door, and it makes for a second layer of security. (Be sure you take it out before you leave, or those pillows won’t get fluffed.)
Divvy Up Your Valuables
Here’s another surprisingly obvious tip that we never would’ve thought of in a million years. And it works perfectly for foreign and/or business travel. Divvy up what you put in your wallet and money belt. That way, if someone picks your pocket in Madrid’s Puerta del Sol, you won’t lose everything all in one fell swoop. Also, in case your iPhone gets nicked, write down on a piece of paper all your important phone numbers and hotel names and emails and confirmation numbers. You can always go to an Internet café and fire up Skype or your Gmail account.
Back Yourself Up
Why didn’t we think of this one? If you’re a business traveler and you get your laptop stolen at the airport or hotel, you won’t be able to give that big presentation at the annual meeting. But if you back up everything beforehand on a thumb drive and put it in your money belt or pocket, then you’ll be good to go. Even if you get robbed. Just go to your hotel’s business center, rent a computer, and keep your job.
Make Copies of Everything
Obviously, you can’t make an exact replica of your U.S. passport or license, because that’s illegal. But you can make photocopies of them. In fact, you should make photocopies of everything that has a serial number on it. That includes credit cards, gym memberships, and BJ’s Wholesale Club cards. This way, if someone steals these items, the hassle of canceling everything won’t be as bad as it could be. Sage advice, for sure.
Read Bova’s full piece here.
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