Always Grab the Keys!


by Justin Fricke, aka JustinTheWeekendWarrior

A couple weeks ago, I went on an annual all-guys surf trip with my dad, brother, and some of our buddies. We go surfing somewhere in Central America every summer, and this year we went back to El Salvador.




We’ve never really had any real problems – I’m not sure if it was dumb luck or us being smart. However, on this trip we had our first “problem”, you could say.

We flew into San Salvador and went to our first stop. When we got there, we were told we wouldn’t be able to get room keys until the next day due to a “rowdy” group that was there before us. Well, we were all stoked to be there surfing the pristine waves, so we didn’t think much of it. We were so engulfed with surfing that it didn’t dawn on us to ask again for keys. A few days into the trip, we were the victims of theft. We came back from surfing and found that we collectively were missing $500!

We were pretty upset and decided to start taking some extra security precautions for the rest of the trip. I did some research, and it’s pretty hard to nail down an accurate number of theft reports per year in Central America. Let’s face it, a lot of these small crimes are never reported to the police. For instance, we didn’t report our case, so who knows how many similar cases of theft go undocumented in Central American countries each year.

If you’re travelling to and staying in a foreign country be sure to take some of these things into consideration:

  • Use the safe:  Some rooms are equipped with a safe. If you have a safe, use it. Don’t just trust the locks on the door
  • Get creative:  Don’t just hide stuff in your bag – that’s way too easy. Money can be put in a plastic bag and stashed in the water reservoir behind the toilet. If you have hanging ceilings, you can put lots of things up there (be sure to put them in different panels). Air vents can sometimes work as well – just watch an episode of Breaking Bad.
  • Make friends with the staff:  If they’re thinking of robbing you, they might think twice if they see you as a “friend.”
  • Get a room key:  It’s a simple concept that often goes overlooked. A room key not only keeps your valuables safer, but it can give you peace of mind as well.
  • Keep the most important stuff with you:  When it comes to passports, credit cards, and cell phones, it’s always a good idea to keep them with you. That way, even if your luggage gets stolen, you’ll still have the means to contact people and get back home.
  • Constantly check:  Throughout the day, keep checking on all your belongings. When you’re out of the room, continually make sure that you still have everything in your bag or purse and periodically go back to your room to check on your luggage.

Looking back at the incident, we made a stupid mistake. We should’ve gotten a set of keys, but luckily our passports and electronics weren’t stolen. We learned from our mistake, and hopefully you’ve learned from our mistake as well.

Don’t forget the keys.