It’s time to add a personal safety alarm and portable door lock to your packing list.
There’s a freedom that can only be experienced while traveling solo — when every discovery you happen upon and every accidental adventure is absolutely your own. But exploring the world independently can also come with its share of worries.
As a travel journalist and editor who mostly travels on my own, I’ve had my share of shady situations — from being put into a car with destination unknown in Morocco to being followed by a stranger in Cape Town. Luckily, in every case, I’ve found the kindness of strangers watching over me to prevail, but the little hiccups on the road have also led me to collect a wide collection of “just in case” solo travel essentials so that I’m overly prepared for any situation.
While safety and security are priceless, I’m happy to report that my go-to personal safety device must-haves are all on sale for Cyber Monday at Amazon. Read on for the 17 solo travel safety product I’m most excited about, from personal safety alarms to portable door locks.
Whether I'm walking alone at night or exploring a new city by day, an ever-present item in my purse is the simple but powerful personal safety alarm. There are several great brands out there (I use this personal alarm from Sabre that can be heard up to 1,000 feet away) but Travel + Leisure editors also trust the best-selling She's Birdie: The Original Personal Safety Alarm. All it takes is a quick sturdy pull of the top pin in an emergency, and the sound is triggered. In addition to the siren, there's also a flashing strobe light to drive away would-be attackers. At nearly half price now, it’s a no-brainer for every solo traveler — and makes a useful stocking stuffer.
Sleeping easy while you’re traveling solo can be a challenge, but one easy way to relieve the anxiety is with this best-selling portable door lock. This travel-friendly version can slide right into the hinged door crevice of any hotel room or vacation rental in mere seconds for an extra layer of security. One shopper attested that it “works well” and “truly does make me feel a lot safer.” Sabre also makes a handy TSA-approved portable door lock, too.
After my checked bag didn’t arrive when I went to London for the Platinum Jubilee last year — despite the airline’s tracking system saying it had — I knew it was time to take measures into my own hands. Now I pop a tracking device into every one of my bags, so I can assure I know where they are at all times. On the safety front, parents or loved ones back home are also increasingly using them to track their kids. Right now, the Apple AirTag is just $27, though this Nutale version costs less and is also compatible with the iOS’ FindMy app.
Ever since the spike of anti-Asian hate in recent years, I have started walking around New York City with a Sabre Pepper Spray in my bag — or even pocket when I’m in more tenuous situations. Thankfully, I haven’t had to use it yet, but I have watched virtual training and tested it out so that I’m prepared. Now while I’m out on my own, there’s a reassurance that if things do go sour, I have the power to slow down a perpetrator while I seek safety. Note that pepper spray laws are different in every state, so it’s important to familiarize yourself with the regulation where you are — and to keep in mind TSA says it can only be packed in checked bags when traveling by air.
A challenge of traveling solo is finding a safe spot to leave your things, whether you’re on the beach, poolside, or camping. This brilliant portable nylon safe solves the problem by using a three-digit combination lock to secure itself to any stationary object, like a park bench, fence, golf cart, and the like. The 5-inch by 5-inch by 0.7-inch waterproof device is also slash-resistant so you can enjoy those moments with ultimate freedom.
If you’re traveling out of the country, the one thing to keep close to your chest (or waist in this case!) is your passport and some extra cash. While hotel safes are convenient when you’re stationed around one location, when I’m on the go, I like to keep mine in a discreet money belt. Boxiki’s version is flat with an adjustment strap to customize the fit on your hips where it’s comfortable and comes with two zip pockets and RFID-blocking material.
One thing I’m most paranoid about while traveling alone is running out of power on my phone — after all, it’s pretty much my entire lifeline, with maps, Google translate, Apple Pay, and so much more. While some power banks can weigh you down, this 6.9-ounce portable charger can charge an iPhone 14 Pro about 1.5 times in a single charge and comes with a three-year warranty. As one recent user said it “worked wonders” on their recent trip and was “small and thin enough to fit in my jeans pocket.”
There are enough things to worry about when you’re traveling on your own, and having your personal info stolen shouldn’t be one of them. Wallets with Radio Frequency Identification (RFID) blockers protect your info from being digitally stolen, as seen in this faux leather passport holder. With 31 shades, ranging from rose red to coffee gray — and now for less than $10 — it’s an essential worth investing in.
A small but mighty device I’ve long carried with me on my solo travelers is a mini headlamp. It’s surprisingly come in handy, like when there was a blackout while I was in Cuba and when I couldn’t find my way to the restroom in the middle of the night while on a Moroccan camel-riding camping trip in the Sahara Desert. Energizer’s reliable design comes with 35 hours of light, and seven different modes to choose from for any situation, so you’ll never be left out in the dark.
I’ve long been a fan of Lewis N. Clark for their mindfully made quality travel products — all with a reasonable price tag. One of the most versatile is this 3-inch by 4-inch travel pouch, which fits credit cards, IDs, and cash. The heavy-duty clip affixes it tightly to your waistband or pocket, so there’s no chance of losing them while you’re on your global adventures. The accessory comes in four hues — black, tan, charcoal, and rust — and also has RFID protection.
I’m constantly on the hunt for a travel bag that can fit everything I need for a day out but is also discrete enough that it doesn’t attract thieves. At a roomy 9.75 inches by 7 inches by 1.5 inches, but only 8 ounces, this simple Baggallini crossbody bag checks off all the requirements, and as a bonus is chock full of thoughtful anti-theft features. Not only do the zippers lock, but there’s also RFID protection in its passport and wallet pockets, and the adjustable straps are cut-resistant. Plus, interior panels protect it from getting slashed.
After hearing news stories of travelers unknowingly staying in places with high levels of invisible carbon dioxide, my sister convinced me to start traveling with a travel-sized carbon dioxide monitor. Lightweight with a standby time of 72 hours, this Chtoocy one shows the measured parts per minute for CO2 — and will ring an alarm when it reaches dangerous levels. As a bonus, it also measures temperature and humidity.
While many suitcases these days have built-in locks, this versatile cable lock can be used on backpacks, duffles, and other bags that may not have that security. But it can also be stretched with its 30-inch retractable steel cable to be used on bikes. I even saw a clever area in the Taipei airport where rolling suitcases could be padlocked while you use the restroom.
While I initially got this Nathan Personal Alarm to clip into the custom pocket of my Nathan Reflective Running Gloves for winter runs after dark, the compact design is so easy to slip onto a pocket or waistband, turning it into one of my travel staples. For peace of mind while roaming around after dark or in nerve-wracking situations, the 115-decibel alarm can be heard as far away as 600 feet away and is quickly accessed by the pull of a cord. This version also comes with a vibrant LED strobe light to ensure you always feel seen.
While I haven’t worn scrunchies regularly since the ’80s, I’m digging the concept of this four-pack of velvety material ones in classic colors of black, cream, pink, and blue, since they each have a hidden zipper pocket. That means you can go retro and stash cash and keys in a totally inconspicuous spot. One Amazon shopper said they are “super soft” and “can hold quite a bit for [its] size and a great value.”
I’m all about stealthy safety devices that no thief would suspect. Similar to the hairbands, this clever infinity scarf not only keeps you warm but also has a 7-inch wide zipper pocket to store items as large as your phone, passport, and wallet. Available in four colors — including leopard print and red gingham — the rayon, polyester, and spandex mix accessory can also flip inside out into a little pouch, making it extremely portable and packable.
Being extremely prone to motion sickness, I’ve gotten sick on trains in Peru, boats in Bermuda, and buses in Taiwan, so keeping myself from feeling ill is a major priority. One item that often helps is a motion sickness wristband with a built-in stud that applies weight to an acupressure point to naturally relieve some of that stress. I use this one but the Lyjee Motion Sickness Band at Amazon is also highly rated — and a small price to pay for comfort on the road.
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