Going on holiday? Don’t forget safety and security || Part two

In part one, we looked at safety and security measures in the planning for your holiday. Now we come to the big day – departure.

For the purpose of this feature, we will focus on those travelling by air although some of the advice is applicable for those using other forms of transport as well.

Social media

Research shows that around one in 10 people share on social media how long and where they are going on holiday, while one in eight post pictures and statuses while they are away. Surveys also show that 8% of the British public return home to a house that has been burgled and less than a quarter of people believe that there could be a risk of posting about their holidays online. Police now warn about the oversharing of holiday plans.

To reduce the risk, turn off location-sharing features, update your privacy features and stop broadcasting to people who aren’t in your group of friends.


Car parks at airports can be vast so allow time to park. In the rush to check-in, ensure you lock and fully secure the vehicle and do not leave anything on view inside.

In the terminal, keep possession of hand luggage at all times and never check in or carry onboard bags for people not in your travelling group. Only allow uniformed airport staff to handle your luggage.

Security at airports is now tighter than ever, so do not behave in any way likely to draw the attention of the police. This includes consuming large amounts of alcohol at the airport. If you have drunk too much you may be refused permission to board the aircraft. The same applies on flight.

On arrival at the destination airport

When collecting your checked-in bags make sure they are yours and look to see if they have been damaged and/or tampered with. If you suspect they have been interfered with, report the matter straight away before making your way through immigration and customs.

Avoid opening your baggage in the baggage arrival hall as this may raise suspicions with customs officials.

If you are being met by a taxi to take you to the hotel, make sure that the driver has your details before you get in the vehicle. If it is your driver then they will have your name and know the hotel to which he or she is taking you, without you volunteering this information. Check carefully that all your baggage is loaded onto the vehicle.

Hotel – checking in

If you arrive in a bus or cab, stay with your luggage until it is brought into the hotel lobby and keep a close eye on your luggage, handbag, etc. when checking in, as thieves will often take advantage of the distractions to take your things with them, especially if the lobby is busy.

Don’t leave your credit card lying on the check-in counter whilst completing your registration. Also make sure you do not lose sight of your credit card and that the one handed back to you by the hotel clerk is really yours.

Most hotels these days use electronic room keys in the shape of a credit card. There has been concerns in the past that these contain a great deal of personal data about you, but this is not true. The limited information they do store is encrypted anyway.

In some hotels where conventional door keys are still used, take a look on how keys are stored and if there is a pile of these on the counter then this is an indication that the hotel does not take security seriously.

Your bedroom

In all likelihood, your hotel bedroom will already have been assigned before your arrival. If you have a choice however, select a room above the ground floor and away from a staircase, as these are rooms where burglary is less likely to occur.

Check your means of escape in the event of a fire or other emergency. There should be a plan on the back of the bedroom door or close by to indicate your escape route. Always use the in-room safe, even at night when you go to sleep, or if no safe or the value is high use the hotel’s main safe.

Always use the door viewer and door limiter/chain to check a caller at your bedroom door. It is always best to meet visitors in the hotel lobby or other public place. Keep the bedroom door locked at all times when not in use and if your room is on the ground floor, never leave your window open.

Using of hotel computers

Many hotels have policies that require hotel public computers’ desktop of any documents and public files to be purged frequently, but this is not to say this is regularly enforced. It is important to remember that it is a public computer and be mindful to log out of personal accounts and delete personal documents before leaving the computer.

When using a hotel computer, if you intend to enter a password, disable the feature on the window’s program that stores passwords; cover your tracks by deleting your temporary internet files, web page history and cookies; don’t save anything on the computer; empty the recycle bin; log out and exit the browser when you’re done.

Venturing out

The level of security you need to take should vary depending on the risk level, which you should have ascertained during the planning stage. In any event, a good idea is to ask the staff at the hotel about the local annoyances and scams in the area before you go out. Make sure that you have the name of your hotel written down before you go out (but NOT the room number) as this will help in case you are involved in an accident.

Regardless of the risk level, as a general rule take with you only the cards and the amount of cash you will actually require for the day. Leave the rest in your room or hotel safe. Split your cash and cards between pockets and bags, and avoid the display of valuables.

And lastly

Holidays are a great occasion to relax and enjoy ourselves. Hopefully the advice in these two articles will help you have a trouble-free and safe time.

By David Thomas
|| [email protected]

David Thomas is a former Assistant Commissioner of the Hong Kong Police, consultant to INTERPOL and the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime. In October 2011 he founded Safe Communities Algarve an on-line platform here in the Algarve to help the authorities and the community prevent crime. It is now registered as Associação SCP Safe Communities Portugal, the first national association of its type in Portugal, with a new website launched in May 2015. He can be contacted at [email protected], or on 913045093 or at