Travel: Stealing from Hotels? Do’s and Dont’s

The video of an Indian family stealing hotel belongings (hangers, shampoo dispensers, flower pots!!!!) at Bali went viral in July 2019 and raised a few questions – ones that always existed. Having traveled extensively, observed and blogged over the last fifteen years, I thought of sharing a few facts, perceptions, do’s and dont’s related to travel, over a multiple part blog series.

Stealing things from a hotel can land you in trouble

1. Do only Indians steal?
No. Stealing is a habit, a disease. If you notice, this family had kids alongside with whom they were stealing. It’s a result of poor upbringing, that’s being passed onto the next generation. On top, they were yelling and talking of settling with money. That’s multiple bad lessons being imparted. However, stealing from hotels is done across demographics, across nationalities and across economic backgrounds. Almost every nationality has strong presence of tourists stealing from hotels – the Chinese do it, the Americans do it. So, no, its not just the Indians. However, the percentages vary; the smartness varies too!! 

But as I noticed in my case, Indians are now a nationality that others will target/be in a hurry to put down. Till 1.5 decades ago no one bothered about an Indian overseas – they anyways travelled less, weren’t conspicuous even in countries they settled and weren’t taking up as many jobs globally – things have changed, since. Indians are now everywhere – managing ground jobs to advanced technology roles to holding the highest positions in many global MNCs. Hence, jealousy is obvious. It’s a proud moment to be an Indian when you know you are being looked up and scrutinized every minute. You deserve that limelight, that focus. All the hard work, overnight studies, quality education, ambitious mindset, urge to prove your self and make it big, are all paying off now. Hence, every Indian or matter of fact, any highly rated nationality overseas, is a brand ambassador to his or her country. And vulnerable to being targeted, bullied by biggest of institutions (including the state) and racially abused for the minutest of mistakes.

2. So what can we pick from hotel rooms?
Anything that belongs to you AND anything that is disposable, replenished daily and cannot be instantly used by the next customer. Small soaps, tiny shampoo bottles, single use dental kits, tiny cream bottles, shaving kits, match boxes, combs, the thin hotel slippers made of cloth (maybe one piece, not pick daily), fruits or chocolates put in your room complimentary or couple of coffee or tea sachets. Products which after one use, cannot be reused and handed to the next customer, are the only ones you can take with you. Like once you have opened the toothpaste seal or the body lotion, it cannot be passed onto another customer. So that’s yours to take. But a towel can be washed and handed over to the next guest – so that’s a strict no no – and likewise.

3. What can we not pick from hotel rooms?
Anything that’s not listed above! Definitely nothing from the mini bar that you haven’t paid for. Not towels, not dispensers, not hangars, not ashtrays, not wine glasses, hair dryers, coffee machines, not the bath robe, pillows, bedsheets, chair, tables, lamps, bulbs, paintings, nothing!!

4. What can we pick from hotel receptions?
The candies, apples, biscuits, maps and pamphlets that are kept complimentary there.

5. What can I pick from breakfast buffets?
This is the question I get the maximum number of times from first time travellers. Picking a fruit, a muffin, croissant or a boiled egg is FINE from the breakfast buffet as long as you pick in moderation and can inform the staff. This is done by all nationalities. Specially if you have kids who were sleeping and could not make it to the breakfast table, it’s fine to pack multiple stuff for them to take to the room. But inform the staff.. you will be more at ease. Often travellers have a heavy meal for breakfast and want to pick an apple or a muffin that would act as a light lunch snack. It is fine. You can request the staff and say you like that product and ‘can I pick an extra one?’. 99.99% times they will say, ‘sure’. What’s not done is not informing the staff and putting five things in your bag and taking them away.

To be continued…!

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