Hostel & Hotel Safety Abroad

Students and backpackers often use hostels and cheap hotels while travelling, in a bid to save precious cash. While low prices are appealing, it is important not to sacrifice safety for the sake of a few pounds or dollars.

Many hostels and inexpensive hotels do not have the same kind of security that more expensive lodgings offer. This can pose a threat to both the well-being of the traveller as well as to valuables and belongings. They may be situated in poorer areas of a town where crime is rife, or be open until all hours allowing anyone from the streets to enter.

The following should always be checked out before booking a hostel – it is far better to be safe than sorry.

  • Locked access or manned entrances means that only guests may enter. Curfews may mean that parties have to be cut short but they do ensure the building is locked up after a certain time preventing trespassers.
  • Locker space for valuables is always useful. Not only does it keep treasured or expensive possessions safe, it also means they are out of the public eye. If a hostel does not offer lockers, find out if they have a safe or securely locked room for storage. Always carry money, credit cards, passports, and air tickets in a money belt or neck wallet that can be hidden under clothing. Leave expensive or flashy jewellery at home, as this will make you an obvious target for thieves.
  • Avoid accommodation sited in areas of known criminal activity, especially red light districts. If there is no choice then do make sure that there is some form of security within the building and do not go out after dark wherever possible. Stay with your group if you must go out and use taxis rather than walking in unlit neighbourhoods.
  • Dormitory style accommodation is quite normal in low-priced hostels but with many people sleeping in close quarters, there is the risk of disease spreading if someone is ill. If another guest does appear to be unwell, look into moving to another room or even another hostel.
  • Take valuables wherever you go, even if it is just to the bathroom. They should be close to hand in case of an emergency such as fire.
  • Carry a sturdy combination lock or padlock with you so that bags or your backpack can be locked to a bed frame or a fixed object to prevent theft.
  • Be friendly with other guests but be careful. Do not give out too much personal information and beware of sob stories and requests to borrow money. Some people may not be genuine and are simply scam artists.
  • Single women are very vulnerable when it comes to harassment, so do report any incidents straight away. And if you are a woman planning to go on a date with another hostel guest, it is wise to let staff or other guests and staff know relevant details.

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