I can't fit in the hotel safe.
April 24, 2012 6:45 PM   Subscribe

I have to stay in a hotel tonight where I don't feel particularly safe. What can I do?

I can't change rooms or hotels. I'm here for work and there aren't any other rooms available, and I can't change hotels because work has already paid the bill.

I'm at the end of a hallway by the stairwell, and i'm in a kinda shady part of town.

I've got a big armchair in my room--should I put that against the door to give myself some peace of mind?
posted by Mimzy to Travel & Transportation (20 answers total) 5 users marked this as a favorite
It would help if you'd say why you feel less than safe. Is someone after you? Is it just in a bad neighborhood? Just by the numbers, it is highly unlikely that someone would by chance choose your room to unlawfully enter.
posted by Mr. Justice at 6:48 PM on April 24, 2012 [1 favorite]

If it will give you peace of mind, go right ahead and put that chair against the door.
posted by lizbunny at 6:52 PM on April 24, 2012 [23 favorites]

Are you on the first floor or higher? Your first priority is immediate external access.

This site has some useful generic tips.
posted by SMPA at 6:53 PM on April 24, 2012

I would say no to the heavy furniture in front of the door, just because it's really not much of an obstacle unless you get it wedged perfectly under the handle. But more importantly, it would be a significant obstacle to you getting out in a hurry if there a fire or other emergency.

I would think a deadbolt should give you plenty of piece of mind, so maybe there isn't one on this door?

Beyond that, you could I think reasonably rationalize to yourself that a potential intruder would be less likely to enter if he heard/saw signs of activity in the room -- to that effect you could leave a light and/or the TV on all night.
posted by Cortes at 6:54 PM on April 24, 2012

*peace of mind
posted by Cortes at 6:54 PM on April 24, 2012

I'm not a safety expert, but this is what I tell myself when I can't do anything else about safety: A sufficiently determined person WILL get me, almost no matter what reasonable precautions I take. So what are the odds someone out there really wants me? Pretty low? The rest are just opportunists. Great, so all I really need to do is make attacking me inconvenient (eg used all the locks at my disposal, closed all windows, that sort of thing), and now I'm good to go to sleep.

Does it have a chain or a deadbolt in addition to the lock? Use it. Doorknob locks are pure crap for keeping people out, I'm told. Keep your cell phone within reach of the bed. And if it makes you feel put the chair by the door & figure out what you'd use as a club in case of emergency. Which will not happen because no one feels like going to the trouble of breaking & entering, since you didn't foolishly leave the doors/windows open.
posted by Ys at 6:56 PM on April 24, 2012 [9 favorites]

Based on your question, I'm operating under the assumption that you don't feel safe in your surroundings but you haven't been threatened and the likelihood of actual danger is low.

1. Find the number for local law enforcement and put it by the landline phone, and also enter it into your cell. It should help you feel safer knowing that you have the information right there if you need it.

2. Create a plan to address whatever you are afraid of. If you are afraid of being attacked, figure out what you can use for a weapon and what your escape route would be.

3. Touch base with a close friend, let them know you are in a strange place and a little scared, and agree to call them first thing in the morning. If you don't call, and they can't reach you by a certain time, then they call the police.
posted by bunderful at 6:58 PM on April 24, 2012

I did the furniture against the door thing in a similar situation. It may not have actually stopped someone from busting in, but it gave me peace of mind knowing I'd at least wake up due to the noise. I'm sure you'll be ok. Try to read something comforting and get some rest.
posted by missmerrymack at 7:04 PM on April 24, 2012 [2 favorites]

It might be worth it to switch hotels and pay with your own money.

Alternatively, if they seem friendly go chat with the desk person downstairs and ask about the neighborhood. That way you'll know someone familiar if something goes wrong. Being familiar to potential allies is a good way to feel secure.

Good luck!
posted by the young rope-rider at 7:09 PM on April 24, 2012

The night my family inadvertently checked into a seedy hotel owned by a sex offender, I slept on the floor next to the door. We didn't test it but I'm heavier than a chair. I had plenty of blankets so it was comfortable enough.
posted by michaelh at 7:11 PM on April 24, 2012 [2 favorites]

Try to think about exactly what is ringing your alarm bells. If there are areas of comfort you can lean on, use them. Do you feel comfortable around the staff?

For example, it's OK to call the front desk from your rental car and ask them to accompany you to your room. It's even ok to ask them to check to see if the bathroom fan is working, or if the window lock is broken, because youre feeling the heebie jeebies and their presence might calm your nerves.

It may make you feel better to call the front desk and ask whether they are staffed all night, if there is security on-call.

This may be lame, but... If the front desk staff are actually what makes you nervous, consider telling them that you are expecting your husband to arrive sometime tonight. Let them know your husband knows you don't answer the door at hotels and that they must call your room first. I guess this only works for one, maybe two nights max.
posted by samthemander at 7:19 PM on April 24, 2012 [6 favorites]

On a long trip by myself when I was staying at a series of old motels, I slept with the light on every night. I felt safer. I don't sleep with the light on at my home or even out on business trips in bigger, nicer hotels. But I slept better with the light on. I look back on that with some amount of humor now, but at the time I really did not feel comfortable without the light on.
posted by aabbbiee at 7:19 PM on April 24, 2012 [1 favorite]

(Husband, wife, or Big Bird himself-- I didn't mean to make a big assumption there-- just let them know you aren't alone.)
posted by samthemander at 7:21 PM on April 24, 2012

I had to stay in a "If you put me in a place like that again, consider this your I quit and I'll be flying myself home" hotel earlier this year for work. We're talking burglar bars on the windows in a part of town where I didn't want to be walking around after dark, and I lived in the hood for a while so I have a high tolerance for bad neighborhoods.

I used a couple kid tricks from my misspent youth after throwing every lock, deadbolt, and chain I could into place. Slid the heaviest thing I could in front of the door, for starters, then took some cans and bottles I got earlier and put some coins in each one, then put them on the thing blocking the door and put them under the window. It might not stop people from coming in, but it'd make a hell of a racket if they did. Then I left the bathroom light on, since the bathroom was close to the door and created that "light under the doorway" effect, and one of the talkier stations on the TV, with the TV shifted to point at the door, so it'd sound like people were up and around. Then I figured out what I'd use as a Reasoning Stick should someone come barging in and put it within hand's reach from where I was going to be sleeping.

Nothing happened, but I definitely felt better about it.
posted by Ghostride The Whip at 7:35 PM on April 24, 2012 [7 favorites]

I know a few women who travel with a door stopper like this. Just wedge it in the door when you go to bed.
posted by teedee2000 at 8:01 PM on April 24, 2012 [6 favorites]

There are also door stoppers that double as alarms - a nice 120db to wake you and scare off whoever.
posted by jason_steakums at 8:36 PM on April 24, 2012 [2 favorites]

If you don't have a door stopper with you, perhaps you can make a rudimentary one with something in the room. Hanger, washcloth, magazine, pillowcase, etc.

I think my strategy would involve making any door intrusion trigger a loud noise. Maybe you can put a cup with spare change or other pieces of metal right next to the door. As others said, a determined person can succeed, but perhaps you can achieve peace of mind knowing that you will be alerted if danger approaches. Think of it like using the presence of smoke to indicate a fire.
posted by germdisco at 9:03 PM on April 24, 2012

A trick I learned from my brother when, as a teenager, he didn't want my parents to come barging into his room while he was (ahem) "chilling", is to stuff the toe sections of two soft shoes under the cracks of the door. Instant doorstoppers! Even if someone did manage to get the door unlocked, the harder they'd push, the tighter the shoes would wedge under the door. (He also made use of some pretty hilarious over the door and window booby traps, but since you're in a strange place and probably already feeling disoriented, I wouldn't advise using them as you'd be just as likely to injure yourself when going to the bathroom or something.)

Keep your phone close by your bed. Have 911 on speed dial.

Sleep with a light and the tv or radio on.

If you don't have a baseball bat (call me crazy, but I travel with one in my car and make sure people see me carrying it with my luggage), unplug an unused lamp or something else you can clobber someone with if necessary and keep it nearby.

Leave the bathroom door phone in case you have to get up quickly and be ready to grab your phone and lock yourself in there in an emergency.

Go to sleep. You'll be fine.
posted by LuckySeven~ at 10:16 PM on April 24, 2012 [3 favorites]

Oops! That should read "Leave the bathroom door open..."
posted by LuckySeven~ at 10:18 PM on April 24, 2012

If you're on the first floor, park your car near your room. Keep the key fob near you on the night stand and press the panic button if you need to create a racket.
posted by Ostara at 6:30 AM on April 25, 2012 [1 favorite]

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