Be safe, not sorry.

When I saw this story about a woman who claims she was sexually assaulted by a man who was mistakenly given a key to her hotel room, the first thought I had was, "Why wasn't this woman using the deadbolt on her door?"

It may sound sexist but it's true: women traveling alone are at greater risk than men and need to take extra care. I've said it to my wife, my sister, my daughters, friends, and now to you. BE CAREFUL.

Common sense is usually your greatest asset, hopefully accompanied by your personal radar. But some other tips might help, too.

DON'T BROADCAST THAT YOU'RE TRAVELING ALONE unless you want to be flirted with, hit on, followed, or worse. If you want to strike up a conversation with that guy at the bar, it's your call. Maybe he'll just offer to buy you a drink, or maybe more.

One tip I've suggested to women traveling alone is to go to the bar and order two drinks to take back to your room. That way, you're subtly communicating that there may be someone else traveling with you. Worst case scenario, you'll have two drinks instead of one.

DON'T PROP YOUR HOTEL DOOR OPEN. Whenever I travel, I'm amazed by the number of people who use the deadbolt to prop the door to their room open. DO NOT DO THAT! If you need fresh air (and how "fresh" is the air in the hallway or parking lot anyway), open a window.

LOCK YOUR DOOR AND USE THE DEADBOLT! During a recent visit to the Hyatt Regency in downtown Vancouver, B.C., I noticed that the in-room guide included the following direction: "Close the door securely whenever you are in your room and use all locking devices provided." I don't know how it could be made any more clear.

Like it or not, it happens: hotels occasionally give a key to the wrong people. I've been on both sides of that transaction: I've walked in on people and they've tried to walk in on me. In the latter case, the deadbolt communicated pretty quickly that the room was already occupied.

If you have any concerns about anything at all suspicious, call the hotel front desk or security immediately. They're there to help.

Safe travels!

Visit my main page at for more news, reviews, and personal observations on the world of upmarket travel.

Photo by Carl Dombek
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