Guidelines for Evaluating the Safety of Lodgings Abroad
Before booking a hotel room or other accommodations, travelers should read reviews on sites like TripAdvisor to learn more about the venue. For security information, TripAdvisor has a keyword search function that can be used to search for reviews that contain terms like “security” or “safety.”
What to ask/research when assessing an accommodation site:
- What is the general condition of the accommodation site?
- Is there a balcony?
- Are there evacuation plans? How many exits are there?
- What floor is the room on?
- Is the building located on a busy street?
- Does the room have Wi-Fi internet access? Is it secure or is it accessible to the public?
- Can guests access the building? Are overnight guests allowed? Are there local customs to consider regarding women and men visiting each other’s rooms?
- Is there 24/7 security in the building? Is there a curfew or time when the main entrance or gates are locked?
- What fire safety measures are available?
- Are there any visible fire hazards?
- How far is the nearest fire department to the accommodation site?
- Are there smoke alarms?
- Are there automatic fire sprinklers?
- How are the families selected and vetted?
- Can you switch homestays if a problem arises?
- Will you be the only guest of the homestay family?
- Will you have your own room?
- Are there separate or shared bathrooms?
- How far is the site to campus, classes or the conference location?
- How close are grocery stores/markets to the accommodation site?
- What useful stores/amenities are within walking distance of the residence?
- How will you travel to and from the residence?
- What is the general safety and security environment in the neighborhood? How would you describe the neighborhood? Would you describe the neighborhood as safe? Are there any “no go” areas in the neighborhood?
- Is the neighborhood urban, suburban or rural? What is the area like during the day? At night?
On-Site Apartment/Room Issues
- What protocols are in place if a problem arises at the accommodation site?
- Is there a 24/7 phone number to call to report an issue?
- What security measures are in place at the accommodation site? Do doors have locks/deadbolts? Are personal safes or lockers available in rooms for storing important documents like passports?
- Do first floor rooms have window bars or safety gates?
- What type of lighting is in place outside of the building, in the lobby, stairwell, and hallways?
- Are there CCTV cameras attached to the building? If so, are they actively monitored?