There is one surefire way for a trip to get ruined: theft. Whether it is a pickpocket on the streets of London, a con artist at the Metro in Paris, or an opportunistic cleaner at a hotel in Hawaii, the theft of your valuables will leave you feeling vulnerable and unhappy. It also requires you to get admin work done during the remainder of your trip in order to try to find your valuables or claim form insurance.
To give you peace of mind when you are away from your hotel room or Airbnb, hotels, and hosts provide safes. It is tempting to leave all your valuables there while you tour, rather than bringing them along. However, are hotel room safes really safe?
The simple answer is no. Hotel room safes are never going to be perfectly safe, and you should take steps to protect your valuables when travelling. Make sure you have the right insurance before leaving your country. Renters and homeowners insurance policies cover your possessions even when you are outside the country.
But this is not to say that hotel safes are pointless. They can be safe, but only under specific conditions.
The main reason hotel room safes are clearly not safe is that the hotel can override your code if you need help opening yours up. If they can do this when you forget the code, they can do this when you are out enjoying the city. And while few hotels will actively steal your valuables, cleaners or maintenance workers might take a chance.
However, there is some added security when you are at a well-reputed hotel. That is the fact that the hotel will do its best to help you find your valuables if they are stolen. It is in their best interests to do so rather than harming their reputation, and they will take action against any employees who try to steal from you.
Considering that they know who is on duty cleaning your room and have cameras in corridors, they can find the person fairly easily.
That being said, there are certain items best not left in a safe regardless. If you leave a lot of cash, you may not notice if some goes missing. The same may be true if you bring a ton of jewellery.
If you go with Airbnb or similar services to book a unit, you may not have to worry about staff. Some hosts will provide a cleaning service, while others will only clean up before you arrive and after you leave. As such, there are no staff on the premises when you leave.
This means that unless there is a break-in on the property itself, the only person who has access to your safe is the host. With so few suspects, they would be putting themselves at significant risk of ending up in serious legal trouble. You are unlikely to have possessions expensive enough for them to justify this risk.
You should be particularly careful if they have staff coming to the property regularly. They may be employing the person on a more casual basis than a hotel would, making it difficult to find them if they get away with your valuables. You will have to use your discretion based on the situation and the value of what you are trying to protect.
There are ways to make your hotel safe much safer. In particular, you can get a hotel safe theft deterrent device. This is a portable lock that adds an extra level of security to your safe. It is one that cannot be easily opened by the hotel staff or management. Only you will be able to get into it, and it will be immediately obvious if someone has tried to tamper with it.
Whether a portable safe lock is worth buying depends on how you travel. It may not be worth it if you travel light and are careful about where you stay. However, if you are carrying valuables like jewellery, a safe lock can give you the peace of mind you need on a family holiday.