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Where Not To Hide Valuable Items On Holiday

15th June 2022

Would you believe it, it’s June already. Yeah, you probably would, I expect you all have calendars and the ability to sense time passing. Anyway, I hope you’re all okay out there. I am currently writing this over the long bank holiday jubilee weekend, so thanks Your Majesty for making it to 70 years on the throne, always nice to have an extra day off, even if the weather’s not been up to much – maybe you can sort that out for your 80th anniversary.  

This last week has also seen quite the half term holiday chaos – my sympathies if you got caught up in all the carnage at the airports. But you can understand the rush of people wanting to get away, especially after lockdown prevented so many planned holidays and celebrations. 

In case you hadn’t noticed me building up to it, there’s a holiday theme to this month’s blog. In a slight departure (nice holiday reference there, please note) from the norm, I won’t be talking about home security, but rather about the security of the possessions you take with you when you go away on holiday, whether to a hotel or apartment. And for those of you seething at me, and muttering about not being able to go on holiday this year for financial reasons, hopefully you will still bear with me as at least one of these tips can be translated to the home setting, I promise!

You might think that the hotel safe in your bedroom is the best place to store your valuables. It’s not a daft thing to assume, right? After all that’s what it’s there for. However, in reality it may not be as safe as its name implies. Security experts are warning that holiday goers should forget about placing their valuables in these safes for a couple of reasons. 

The first is that the safe is the first place that thieves will look for valuables. There was a story recently where a family returned to their hotel room to discover in horror that the hotel room safe containing all their passports had been physically ripped out of the wall. As well as losing their passports they also lost mobile phones, credit cards and around £1,500 in cash. The disruption the loss of the passports alone would have caused to their holiday doesn’t bear thinking about. 

The second reason not to rely on the hotel safe is that they can be worryingly easy to break into using simple codes. Many hotels don’t change the default engineer code, and even if you ring hotel reception, they will often give you a standard reset code to get into the safe. I won’t repeat it here for obvious reasons, but the codes are easily found out there on the internet, depending on the model of the safe. It stands to reason that hotels need their own code for the safe, should the room owner not be able to access their own belongings, but it’s surprising how often these override codes are left as the default, and not changed by the hotel management.

So, if that’s the problem, what about solutions? Well one possibility if you have valuable or irreplaceable belongings is to ask staff at the hotel or holiday complex if you can use their own safe for valuables. If this is not realistic, there are various tricks you can use – one is to hide cash in old sunscreen bottles. No, really, bear with me. This can be done by taking the top off the bottle and washing out any residue of shampoo before letting it completely dry out.

Then, using some scissors, carefully cut a hole in the top big enough so that you can slide your valuables inside. Ensure you leave enough of the top in place so that the lid can be screwed back on. After doing this, you have what looks like an ordinary shampoo or sunscreen bottle. You can even take it to the beach – it keeps your valuables in one place, and people are unlikely to want to steal sunscreen or shampoo. Just be careful you take the right one in to the shower with you, for goodness sake! Note for all you staycationers that this tip can easily be transferred to home – told you I’d cover that too. 

On a similar theme, hollowing out the inside of old lip balms will provide an excellent hiding spot for rolled up bank notes. Again, with the lid back on, no-one will think it’s anything other than an ordinary lip balm – hardly worth stealing. 

If you’ve travelled to, lets’ say, a somewhat more dangerous location than the UK and want to keep safe when in the hotel room, a simple rubber doorstop, costing less than 50p can act as an extra barrier against intruders. These are wedged against the inside of the door by travellers in more dangerous parts of the world where the risk of terrorist attack is greater, but they can still be used for peace of mind on a more prosaic holiday. You do need to weigh up the risk of emergency services not being able to access the room to rescue you in case of fire etc though – as with many security precautions it’s a balancing act depending on your attitude to risk. 

Hopefully I’ve not totally put you off that holiday you’ve got booked for the summer now. Although those of us not going anywhere on holiday may be feeling a bit more smug that we don’t have to consider all this. I hope some of the above has been useful even if you’re not going on holiday, and will simply act as a reminder about steps we can take to protect our personal security and belongings. 

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