by Hillary Boucher
I absolutely love to travel. Getting to experience different areas of the country (and the world) is probably one of my favorite things. I am also lucky enough that when my boyfriend has a work trip, I can often swing going. Then only thing better than a trip is a trip where the hotel room is completely covered by someone who isn’t me. This does however put me in situations where I am in large cites (which compared to Vermont that’s really not a difficult feat) that I’m completely unfamiliar with and I’m usually left to my own devices. I have the advantage that Chris knows the area at least a little, and we are usually staying in a business district of some kind so I know the neighborhood is safe, and that the hotel probably has decent security in place.
Typically my day involves a trip to the hotel gym, breakfast, and then wandering around the city. When I’m done I usually find my way back to the hotel, and I kill a few hours reading by the pool or just watching TV in the room until Chris gets back from the office. This means I spend time in my room and in the common areas. Hotels have always had this unique feeling to me, it’s both incredibly public and yet so very private. People are really trusting because it’s supposed to be a safe place, your home away from home. I have also found that when you’re staying in a place full of people dressed in business attire, it is easy to drop your guard.
When I am in my hotel room I always make sure that I have the door locked, and not just the deadbolt, always use the chain (or whatever the door has on it) and never prop the door open. Always know who it is before you open the door, if its unexpected person who is calling themselves hotel staff, feel free to call the front desk to verify.
When I go to the gym the first thing I do is look around and make sure I know where the exits, the rest rooms, and pool are so that I know where people may be coming and going. I always make sure that my headphones are low enough that I can hear doors open and close, and I do my best to position myself in ways where there aren’t any obstructions to seeing the room and doors, mirrors really can help.
I personally think elevators are the worst part; they are these little boxes that get filled with people who end up in your personal space and then go up hundreds of feet in the air. Anytime stairs are an option I do try to take those (good for burning off dinner too!). More times than I can count I’ve have other women get on the elevator, turn their back to me then pay more attention to their phones than anything else. When I walk only the elevator I make sure my phone and mp3 player are put away and that I know where my room key is (preferably in my pocket so I don’t have to try and find it when I get to my room). I do my best to stand with my back against the wall so that I can see the other passengers, and when I go to get off on my floor I actually make sure no one else is getting off with me – certainly not behind me. I’ve more than once back tracked like I had gotten off on the wrong floor, into the areas with the vending machines, or even just faked a phone call so I could stand where I was and talk.
The biggest thing I can stress is being aware. Be aware of the neighborhood, be aware of other guests, and be aware of your own surroundings. If being safer only costs a few minutes of time and energy, then it’s well worth it.