We all know that feeling, we are on holiday and about to leave for the day but there is a doubt in your mind. Have I done enough to protect my valuables? Are they safe? Today’s post will focus on where to hide valuables in a hotel room.
At the end of this post, you will have learnt what the real travel professionals do. These people are experienced travelers and know a thing or two about hiding valuables safely. They limit their risk by taking action.
In this post, I will run you through what they do specifically and why they do it. You will have the options available to you so you can decide what you want to do.
Is your hotel room safe?
There are two aspects that I consider when I go to a hotel for the first time;
- The hotel environment and lobby
- Your hotel room
The hotel environment and lobby
The first thing you need to establish when you arrive at your hotel is whether it is safe. When I say safe, there are a number of things you need to assess.
I always look at the environment outside the hotel. If it feels unsafe, chances of a robbery are automatically increased. That is not to say it will happen, it may not. I am simply talking about the increase in chances.
I then assess the entrance to the hotel and ask myself the following;
- Is the front door secure?
- Are there lots of people around…thereby increasing chances of people slipping in and out?
- Is the reception desk manned?. And by how many staff? Is it 24 hours?
- Is there CCTV? Is there a buzzer system?
- Is there a night porter?
- How many exits does the hotel have?
- What is the demeanor of the staff? Helpful and professional?
This is simply a process I use to assess the risk as soon as I walk in. Do this, it will guide your opinion on the next steps.
Your hotel room
The security assessment must start the moment you arrive close to your hotel. There is little you can do to change any of that short of changing hotels.
When you arrive at your room, there are a number of things you need to do. Firstly, I check what floor the room is on. If it is ground floor, I immediately ask to move. Being on the ground floor makes you immediately vulnerable to theft. The access to thieves is too easy and they can get away quickly without having to leave through standard exits.
When I arrive at my room, I will check the corridors and location of the room. Is the room next to fire exit stairs? Is it at the end of a corridor in a secluded place? Importantly, is there CCTV covering my room?
I next check the door for any damage. Are there any signs of a forced entry? If so, it means you are vulnerable.
The windows are next…do they close properly? And importantly, whether they have a locking mechanism. This obviously matter less when you on an upper floor but I still make the checks especially if there is a flat roof outside it or adjoining balconies.
Summary of assessment
Once I have scoped the hotel entrance and the room, this leaves me in a better position to assess the risk.
Regardless of whether the risk is positive, I still make it a habit of not taking chances. I will ALWAYS hide valuables I am not prepared to lose. You should make this a habit too.
Tools you will need
Tools? Yes, you will need some basic things with you to do what you need to. Don’t worry, it is just some basic things that you should make a habit of packing, it will make your life easier.
Here is what you will need;
- Duct tape – I always roll some up and keep it in my luggage. I would recommend this to all travelers anyway as it is a lifesaver when it comes to repairing luggage. You don’t need the whole roll, just a few meters rolled up.
- Screw driver – I have a handy little ratchet screwdriver that contains lots of different sizes. This is perfect and small enough to fit into the palm of your hands. They are literally a couple of dollars but makes things very easy for you.
This is all you need to do most things I will suggest, importantly it opens up a whole range of options to you.
Where to hide valuables in a hotel room
With a little imaginative thinking, your hotel room is just one big hotel hiding spot. There are a number of opportunities to hide your valuables. Leaving valuables in a hotel room may not be the big drama you imagined.
Even the most basic hiding place is better than nothing. The best hiding places are not only concealed but not obvious.
Good places to hide money in a hotel room take time to find…something a thief is unlikely to do unless they are certain there is something worth finding. In most cases, they will retreat empty handed.
Are travel safes for hotel rooms secure? In most cases no. Professional hotels will limit the number of people with reset codes but they can be overridden or opened using the ‘bounce’ method. Do not trust them, if anything, use them as a decoy.
Obviously, prevention is better than the cure. It is always better to make it look like your room is occupied. It is a simple and effective tactic. Leave your lights on as well as your TV. The sound and light may put off an intruder. Leave the ‘Do not disturb’ sign on your door handle, it may be enough to deter people.
I would also mention at this point that divide and conquer still applies here. DO NOT hide all your valuables in one place. Spread them around the room which spreads your risk. Even if one item is found, you have not lost everything.
So where do we start…let’s look at a few places where you can hide your valuables and money.
- Drawers and furniture
There are number of places to hide valuables in a bed. It also just happens to be the largest furniture in your room. There are a few spots to hide valuables.
Use the frame
My favorite is under the bed. If there is room to slide under your bed, I recommend duct taping an envelope containing your money and documents to the side of the frame closest to you.
It is unlikely that a thief will run their hand along the underside of a frame. If they do bend down to have a look, they will not see anything unusual. I have used this method many times, it is simple, quick and easy.
If it is a Divan bed i.e. the bed pretty much goes to the floor, this requires a little more effort. Lift and prop the side of the bed up using another piece of furniture. I then cut a small hole in the lining underneath and duct tape the envelope to the inside.
Once the bed is down, everything looks normal. Obviously, I don’t recommend damaging hotel property…but that’s your call.
Under the mattress
This method is only usable if your bed has been made for the day.
Essentially, you are duct taping an envelope to the underside of the mattress. The assumption of anybody looking under a mattress is that they will find something laying under the mattress but on top of the bed. They will not see anything.
Make sure you secure anything to the middle of the mattress. Remember, hotel mattresses tend to be quite heavy, so anybody searching it wont hold it up long.
Remember that this only works if you make your bed again…perfectly. It must look undisturbed.
If your bed has already been made by room service, this is another opportunity. I have in the past hidden things in the duvet and pillowcases. This is a simple hiding place but effective, mainly because it is unexpected.
Sometimes the best hiding places are those that are simple. Just remember to make it look like the bed has not been touched.
Drawers and furniture
Depending on the size of the room, you may or may not have a lot of furniture to play with. At worst, you will have a couple of items of furniture.
Again, duct tape is your best friend here.
The best place is the bottom drawer of a desk or a set of drawers. Put your money and documents in an envelope and duct tape to the underside. Make sure you can still close it.
This is the most difficult place for thieves to get to. If you don’t use the bottom drawer, then can quickly check the undersides of other drawers by opening the drawer below and reaching up.
Again, it is unlikely they will go to that much trouble.
The same principle applies to any furniture – find the most inaccessible part of it and duct tape it to it flat. This obviously takes some effort on your part but it can make the difference.
The bathroom provides a wealth of opportunities to hide valuables and money. It is the unexpected that fools the thieves. Remember, the more effort you put in, the more likely you are to succeed.
There are 4 main aspects to hiding valuables in hotel bathrooms;
- Shower pole
- Shower curtain
- Decoy bottles
- Toilet cistern
This is a great hiding place as it is so unexpected. It looks totally natural and no thief would assume that you would go to that much trouble.
The method is simple but you may need to use your screwdriver. It really depends on the fitting. Some are screwed to the wall, others have a bracket. Either way, they are pretty simple to remove.
Once you have undone it, remove it. The shower pole 99% of times is hollow. This means you can slip things like money and valuables into it. Once done, simply reattach it to the wall, everybody is none the wiser.
Remember, make sure you can get the tings back out again.
This method may sound a little bizarre but it works. It works because of people’s assumptions. There is nowhere to hide anything in a shower curtain.
I have used this method many times. I simply duct tape an envelope to the inside bottom of the shower curtain. Once you are happy that it looks and falls naturally, it is done.
I then close it and everything looks normal. This method takes some convincing that it works but trust me, it does.
There are many decoy bottles available on the market but I prefer to use bottles from toiletries I already use. This makes it look natural.
Using a bought one can mean it sticking out like a sore thumb. However, they serve a purpose and well worth buying.
The idea is simple, conceal your valuables in bottles that look like everyday toiletries. If you are using one of your own bottles, empty it out and place your valuables inside it.
In most cases, the top can be screwed off or pulled off. Put some tissue at the top so you can’t see inside it. Make sure it does not rattle.
A simple yet effective solution.
This is the ultimate in bathroom hiding methods. There are plenty of examples of this method being used in films…Godfather for instance!
All you need is your trusted duct tape and a waterproof bag. Place your valuables in the bag and seal it up. Make sure it is water tight. Failure to do this check may be a disaster.
Once you are ready, duct tape the bag to the inside of the cistern closest to you. Close the lid and you are done.
The toilet will function as normal so there should be no issues leaving it there for a while.
This is a very effective method, thieves do not have the time to check everywhere. This is an are they will overlook.
Making use of the electronics in your hotel room is one of the best methods you could potentially utilize. It is secure as the assumption is that you won’t go to that much trouble.
A word of warning. Never mess with electronic items that are plugged in. You risk electrocuting yourself. If you are unsure, do not use this method. The other methods are more suitable.
There are a few opportunities to use this method.
Air conditioning unit or vent
This is a clever one and all you need is your trusty screwdriver. Make sure it is switched off at the wall so there is no power running through it.
Simply undo the holding screws and remove the facade. You can then place items inside it. There is always room to do that. Replace the facade and the screws. Everybody is none the wiser.
If it is simply a vent, open it and slide the valuables towards the back. Make sure that it is in a darkish cover so it disguises itself in the darkness.
If your hotel still has an old-style TV…yes some do, you can take the same approach as the air conditioning unit.
Switch off the power and open up the back. Hide the money and replace the back.
This is a very effective technique as once again, thieves will assume you won’t go this far.
Most rooms have some kind of telephone. If you have opened on up, they do have some room to hide things. Not a great deal of space, but enough for money etc.
Again, open them up using the screwdriver, insert items and replace the backing. It should function as normal.
So, this concludes this section on where to hide valuables in a hotel room. Remember that there are hiding places everywhere…you just have to get a little creative.
A word of warning, don’t mess with electric items if you don’t know what you are doing. Use one of the alternative methods. It is much safer.
Also, all these items belong to the hotel so I do not recommend that you damage them. Proceed however, you see fit.
Don’t forget your duct tape and screwdriver…you will need it.
General things you should always think about
- Don’t show wealth
- Don’t show items
- Don’t act too concerned
- Don’t tell people what you want protecting
- Leave your room quite messy
- Leave decoy money
There are certain things that should always form part of your mindset when you go to a new environment. This is not the moment for ego or flaunting your wealth.
Be conspicuous and fly under the radar…at least initially.
Therefore, don’t show your wealth. Don’t show your expensive items…such as watches and jewelry. Trust me when I say this, criminals see this as soon as you walk in.
How you ‘act’ matters
In terms of behavior, you may be worried about your items but here is the thing, don’t show it.
Don’t show that you are worried. Doing so rings alarm bells to criminals…what are they trying to protect? What is it they have that is so valuable?
It always pays to be ‘cool’, assess your surroundings but don’t look panicked. Do not make the mistake of telling anybody at the hotel your concern and what exactly you need protecting.
Chances are they are very professional but a minority may be linked to crime. Do not take that risk.
If you do want to put something in the hotel safe, frame the request around the fact there is a concern for general crime in the area and that you would like to use the hotel safe. This is less likely to raise alarm bells as it is a general request based on fact…not necessity.
It’s ok to leave a messy room
Another thing I do, that goes against my general behavior, is that I leave the room in my hotel quite messy. It gives the impression that I don’t really care and it generally displays a lowly standard. This can mislead a criminal into thinking there is nothing of real value in the room.
In addition to this, I always leave a decoy in a very obvious place. I will leave $100 on the side table. This helps me in two ways.
Firstly, it lets me know whether the cleaners are trustworthy. If it is gone, I know there a problem that makes my guard go up.
Secondly, in the event of a theft, it misleads the criminals into thinking that I am lax with my security. If I can’t be bothered to hide$100, chances are that I wont bother hiding anything else. It almost leads them to not bother looking any deeper than the superficial look they will have.
What should I do if my hotel is not safe?
If you are in a position where even hiding valuables and money in places described above STILL makes you very nervous, it is time to start thinking.
Ideally, if you are in this position, it is time to move hotels.
If this is not possible for whatever reason, consider the following alternatives;
- Leaving valuables in your car
- Carrying your valuables with you
Leaving valuables in your car
This is a realistic option if your hotel is really not safe. This method, albeit carrying some risk, is deceptive to thieves. They assume that valuables are taken with you to hotel rooms where you can keep an eye on them.
It is this assumption that makes this work.
A couple of things before you do this. Don’t leave you car with any other valuables on show. There is a small chance that your car could be broken into for something else, only for them to discover more valuables than they anticipated.
Secondly, be discrete when you transfer your valuables. Try not to let anybody see what you are doing.
When it comes to hiding valuables and money in your car, the same principles as your hotel room apply. It is all about hiding it in places that criminals will not think to look.
If you are hiding something relatively small like money, duct tape it behind the dashboard or under the seat. Somewhere where criminals are not likely to look. The cars bodywork is great for this. Removing some of the trim reveals plenty of space.
If you need to do this away from your hotel, do so. You will need some space to work in.
If your valuables are quite large, employ the following tactic. Put whatever the valuable is in your luggage and take it to your car. Get in your car and drive away to somewhere discrete.
You do this for a couple of reasons. Firstly, it gives you time to prepare your safety mechanism. You are locking your luggage into your car trunk and securing it with a bike lock. This makes it difficult to take the suitcase. It also means that any criminal needs to break into the luggage…time is always at the essence for them.
Secondly, it gives the impression to anybody watching you that you have taken the luggage elsewhere. You no longer have it in your possession. This is sometimes enough to deter some people.
Carrying your valuables with you
If the hotel and car options are not available to you, you have little option to carry your money and valuables with you…I’m hoping that they are not bulky nor heavy.
In most cases, this only applies to money and documentation.
Sometimes, your safest option is to carry it with you. The same divide and conquer principles apply. Spread them around your body.
If you are pick pocketed, you will not lose everything.
In order to carry things with you, you can do so on your body or you can carry a bag.
Make sure the bag is lockable, ideally with a TSA lock such as a luggage back pack.
If you are carrying money on your person, there are a number of things you can wear to make things easy for you.
Money belts are the most well-known form of carrying money or documents. These sit under your clothes on your waist.
You also have the option of neck pouches, shoulder pouches, arm wallets, thigh wallets and secret internal pockets.
In other words, there are a number of choices available to you if you have to carry your money and valuables with you.
Well there you have it…how to protect your money and where to hide your valuables in a hotel room.
The important thing to remember is to spread your risk. Divide and conquer is the best form of defense.
Remember, your assessment of your security begins when you enter the area of your hotel. You need to scope risk immediately from arriving, checking in and all the way to your room.
Check your room entrance and vicinity, followed by your room. It is important that you do this properly and thoroughly.
Identify places where there is potential to hide your valuables. Hopefully, you have already decided beforehand how you are planning on splitting your valuables.
Although the tone of this post sounds like you will become a victim of crime, the fact and the statistics show you will not. In most cases, your vacation will pass incident free.
This post is designed to reduce that risk by giving you actual tactics you can implement with relative ease. Use them, you never know what is around the corner. In the event of an incident, you will thank me.
If you have any advice you would like to share, leave a comment below. We would love to hear from you. Do you have any tactics or advice not mentioned above? Do you have any experience of traveling with money and valuables, leave a comment below.