An ex-CIA operative’s nine-part hotel safety plan

Some people just can’t unwind. Taking time off to travel and checking into a luxury hotel is not enough to set their mind at ease.

For the perpetually paranoid traveller the website has tracked down an ex-CIA officer in search of their top travel tips.

Drew Dwyer, a former secret agent turned-author has spent the last ten years living out of hotel safe houses, from which he always had an exit planned.

He retired from active service to advise on films and computer games, but he’s not beyond dispensing travel advice.

Here are Dwyer’s tips, some more applicable to a holiday hotel break than others:

1. Have an escape plan

Make sure you have a copy of the fire escape plan. These are often on display in the rooms motel chains, but are often hidden in the guestbook along with wi-fi codes, local interests and other items. Be sure to read this, and take a picture or make a copy of the escape plan when you do.

2. Avoid the ground floor – or the top floor.

Ground floor suites are most vulnerable to snooping eyes and opportunist intruders. However, a top floor room can be equally problematic should things go wrong.

As Dwyer euphemistically puts it, the top floor “does not allow any room to manoeuvre” in the event of fire or other such emergency.

Instead, the first floor is the optimum base of operations for your holiday. Significantly out of the way but also easily accessible for emergency vehicles and fire crews, wherever you might be in the world.

3. Keep the “Do Not Disturb” sign on the door, even when unoccupied

This one is a little excessive.

Presumably you will want your linen changed at some point, especially if it is a long stay. Who will refill the coffee?

The sign does very little to put off determined intruders, beyond giving the impression that the occupant likes to lie in. But it does mean that anyone entering your room was not supposed to be there.

4. Keep the blinds pulled at all times, even when occupied

At this point, Dwyer’s tips seem determined to suck the fun out of any hotel stay.
We recommend only taking this piece of advice if you genuinely believe someone might take a pot shot at you. Or if you are a vampire.

Here’s a bonus tip: don’t pay extra for a seaside view.

7. Prepare a ‘bug-out bag’

Keep a small bag of emergency items and photocopies of your passport, travel documents and insurance in an easily accessible place.

This might be the first useful piece of advice on the list. In case of uncontrollable events, loss or theft of your belongings, this portable bag will allow you to recover from most disasters and keep your plans flexible.

8. Carry a motion alarm to fit on your hotel door

If you are concerned that someone will try to access your room while you are away, you could always resort to James Bond-style gadgetry.

These devices are more readily obtainable than you’d think.

Solutions such as the Techko Door Guard Alarm has over 170 reviews on the Amazon marketplace – through the majority of these users seem to use them to childproof parts of their house.

“I have a monitored home security system but these alert me if someone attempts to open my door,” writes satisfied customer, Linda.

With people this trusting, it’s a miracle we ever leave the house at all.

9. Keep a flashlight next you your bed and within arms reach

Again, a piece of advice that might prove to be overkill, however it is useful to have a plan in case you have to leave and the lights fail you.

While travelling you may stay in places with regular power cuts and lights in your hotel might be a rare surprise rather than a given.

It is helpful to keep a mobile phone or a small torch charged and with you, should you need to make your way out in the dark and in a hurry.

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