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Packing for Your Personal Safety While Traveling

Packing for your personal safety

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Sometimes on the road, I have had no choice but to walk alone after dark. I am sure many of you have found yourself in similar situations! And even in the brightest daylight, we are not guaranteed personal safety, whether we are at home or traveling around the world.

Before I left for a year in Australia, I promised my mom I would carry a personal security alarm. It gave her (and maybe me too) a little peace of mind to know that I had added security as a solo female traveler.

Whether you’re walking or traveling at night, going on a jog, or venturing through an out-of-the-way spot like a parking garage, adding one or two small items to your packing list may help you feel more secure on the road.

Personal Security Alarms

My mom bought me a keychain-size personal security alarm. A variety of companies manufacture them, and all are approximately the same size (about half the size of your palm or smaller).

How it works: A 120-130 dB alarm is activated by removing a metal pin from the device. It sounds until the pin is reinserted. These alarms are designed to draw attention to you and encourage would-be thieves or attackers to flee.

Pros: They can fit in your hand, are lightweight, and are easy to keep tucked away. Unlike some personal defense items, these cannot be used against you.

My concern: I was always afraid that I would accidentally set it off and draw attention to myself in the middle of a crowded place. I never did.

Features: Some come with a built-in mini flashlight. Why not choose one that does?

Personal Security Alarm Review

ila dusk alarm hanging
Ila Dusk Personal Safety Alarm, by Londoner Kate

Londoner Kate raved about her Ila Dusk Personal Alarm in our one little thing interview, saying that she doesn’t even like to leave the house without it, let alone travel without it. She especially loves the cute designs, so if she has it out or attached to her backpack. It looks more like a cute charm than a security device.

She goes on to say: “It’s not good to be paranoid of everyone and everything but if you’re wandering off the beaten track into a neighborhood you’re uncertain about then it’s great to have an alarm for peace of mind.”

Word of Caution: After using it once in a sketchy situation, she frantically pulled the cord and lost the pin. The device is set to go off for 10-15 minutes without the pin put back in place, which it continued to do even while holding it in a sink of water at home.

While the Ila Dusk Personal Alarm is not on the market anymore, there are tons of options available. 

She’s Birdie is a popular brand for personal safety alarms. They make a standard version and an upgraded version that even connects to the internet. She’s Birdie safety alarms are made for women by women and a percentage of each sale goes to organizations that passionately support women’s safety, shelter, and health. 

She’s Birdie Personal Security Alarm

Safety Whistle

If you don’t like the sound of a personal security alarm or are worried about losing the pin, a whistle can also be an effective deterrent to thieves and attackers. An emergency whistle is also a great addition when you go hiking or camping in an isolated area to signal distress or to get help if you’re lost. 

Get one you can wear around your neck or put on your keychain for easy access.

The TISUR Titanium Emergency Whistle for personal safety


A flashlight has a million uses besides personal safety. Your phone does come with one but it can be helpful to pack another light source as well

Not only will a flashlight make you feel more secure if there are power outrages but it will help you find your way at night if walkways are not lit.

We love a mini flashlight that you can clip onto your keyring for easy access.

Bring a mini flashlight for personal safety on your travels

Drink Protectors

The last thing you want to worry about on a night out is your drink getting spiked. While you should always be cautious no matter what products you’re using to protect yourself, a drink protector can give you some extra peace of mind.

There are different types and while there are reusable fabric options available, a silicone version prevents anything (including liquids that can seep through fabric) from entering your glass. Plus, you can stretch and seal them over most large glasses without them being loose on smaller glasses.

silicone drink protector

While drink protection covers are an amazing safety tool, please always stay vigilant. Don’t accept drinks from strangers and never leave your drink unattended. 

Security Products for Your Hotel Room or Airbnb

Door Stop Alarm

An alternative – or addition – to the personal security alarm is the door alarm. The door stop alarm is the perfect size for a traveler.

How it works: If someone tries to open the door, the door will put pressure on a plate on the door stop, which activates the alarm.

Pros: This alarm alerts you and may ward off intruders BEFORE they enter.

Cons: If you are staying in a shared room, flat, or home, this product is not for you. You want to keep potential intruders out, not your friends and roommates.

EMDMAK Door Stop Alarm

Non-Alarm Door Protection

A door lock provides an extra level of security.

Addalock door lock for an extra level of security
The Addalock door lock for an extra level of security

If you plan to have solo accommodation or think you will on occasion, packing the “add-a-lock” portable door lock adds another layer of security. It is smaller than the door stop alarm and makes no sound.

If you want to keep it really simple, a plain old door stop can help keep intruders out of your accommodation while sleeping. Just slip it under the door and people will have trouble pushing the door open.

Window Locks

If you’re staying on the ground floor of an Airbnb or hotel you might want to invest in an extra layer of security with window locks, especially if you’re staying in an area you don’t know well or seems a little sketchier than you thought when you booked online.

It’s no good securing your door but leaving the windows exposed.

Maxdot Sliding Window Locks
Maxdot Sliding Window Locks

Note: These may only work with certain windows so if window security is something you are very concerned about, try booking a room above the ground floor. It’s always a good idea to book rooms that are not on the ground floor for extra security.


Having your phone charged is one of the easiest ways to boost your personal safety. Not only does your phone give you access to maps, information, and your friends and family, but it also allows you to call emergency numbers in case of any accidents or suspicious behavior. 

Portable Charger

Getting a new phone with a fresh battery or replacing your phone’s battery isn’t an option for everyone. A brand new phone battery might not even last the whole day if you are using your phone for maps, to order transport, and to take photos.

A portable charger is an easy way to make sure you stay online and connected no matter what. Just make sure you remember to keep it charged!

The Anker Portable Charger

Universal Travel Adaptor

Don’t be caught unaware when you finally get to your hotel room after a long day (or days) of travel and realize you can’t charge your phone because the plugs are completely different than back home. Make sure to always bring a universal travel adaptor with you.

The Newvanga Universal Travel Adaptor

Anti-Theft Bags

Having your bag stolen or being pickpocketed may leave you lost and stranded in an unknown place. Not only do you now have to deal with replacing all of your things (including your important documents and expensive phone) but you may be unable to get back to your hotel or hostel without money and your phone for directions. 

Having a bag that keeps your personal belongings safe and secure is even more important if you’re a female solo traveling

Pacsafe Convertible Backpack

The Pacsafe Convertible Backpack features smart zipper security and is made from cut-resistant materials. An RFID blocking pocket protects your credit cards and passport against unwanted scans. It can be worn as a backpack or folded down into a handbag.

The Pacsafe Citysafe CX Anti-Theft Convertible Backpack
The Pacsafe Citysafe CX Anti-Theft Convertible Backpack

(It comes in more colors on the official Pacsafe site but it’s cheaper on Amazon!)

Travelon North/South Crossbody Bag

The Travelon North/South Crossbody Bag has a 5-point anti-theft security system with a slash-resistant mesh barrier and strap, locking compartments, and an RFID blocking organizer. It also features a tethered key clip with an LED light.

The Travelon North/South Crossbody Bag
The Travelon North/South Crossbody Bag in Peacock (left) and Black (right)

For more bag options check out our theft proof bags for travel blog post. 

Keeping Your Belongings Safe

Keeping your belongings safe is a key factor in personal safety. If your important documents get stolen you may end up with logistical issues and without your phone, you may struggle to call for help.

Not only that but it’s upsetting and annoying to have to replace things while you’re traveling.

Check out these posts for some more info on keeping your belongings safe

One of the easiest ways to keep your belongings safe is to travel with less of them! It’s much easier to keep track of a single backpack than a backpack, a big bag, and a handbag. This gets even harder the more people you travel with. 

Check out the HPL Packing Method to learn how to pack so confidently light you could travel for a week in a personal-item-sized bag. A proven 4-week program.

Personal Safety Tips You Don’t Have to Pack

  • Register with your home country’s embassy in your destination country for timely safety updates and to make your general whereabouts known.
  • Know the emergency phone numbers of the countries you are traveling in and program them into your phone. In Australia, for example, it’s 000 instead of 911.
  • Consider taking a self-defense class before you leave on your travels.
  • Read up on how to safely use rideshare apps as a solo female traveler.
  • Think about splurging in situations that might offer safety perks.
  • Research local customs and culture so that you don’t dress or act in a manner that draws negative attention.
  • Travel carry-on only as a solo woman so that you can be more in control in transit.

Have you ever packed a personal safety alarm? What steps do you take to protect your personal safety on the road?

packing for your personal safety

Written by Heather

Heather Rudd Palmer is a 30-something with a love for travel, food, and healthy living. After short trips to Europe in her 20s, Heather left her job at 30 to live, work, and travel in Australia for a year. She visited every state and territory, embarked on two road trips, worked at an organic food store, and ate her way through Sydney. She's now a career counselor for university students. You can find Heather at There's No Place Like Oz and Healthy Life Heather.

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Travel Resources

HPL Learnables

Handbag Packing Masterclass – Learn to pack your lightest bag ever in this revolutionary packing class run by HPL founder, Brooke.

Creative Ways to Minimize Your Toiletry & Beauty Kit – Practical tips alongside DIY recipes designed to help you pack lighter, smaller & with fewer liquids. (Also included as a bonus to Handbag Packing Masterclass.)

Book Your Trip

Viator – Enhance your trip experience by booking from thousands of tours across the globe. – Search for hotels, hostels, and apartments using this one resource. Use it for flights, car rentals, and airport taxis as well.

Trusted Housesitters – Save money on travel accommodation by becoming a housesitter. Housesitters often have extra duties, like caring for pets and gardens.

Reader Interactions


    • Heather says

      Rachel, I’ve heard of several ladies who pack a whistle but I’ve never considered it myself! Definitely a small, lightweight tool that, like the personal alarm, can’t be used against you!

    • Gayle says

      My husband has bought me a small personal alarm with built in torch, I was wondering can I take on the plane in my carry on luggage ? I’m travelling interstate alone, feel I will be stopped at security . Would love some feedback please. 😊. Thanks. Gayle

  1. Michelle says

    Thanks for these great tips! I must admit that my fear of travelling alone in a foreign country is preventing me from making that dream world trip. Do you have any tips for those who are filled with wanderlust, but have never ventured outside their comfort zones?

    • Nethwen says

      There are tons of resources online where women tell about there positive experiences travelling solo and offer tips for staying safe.

      I recommend everyone take a self-defense class that focuses on prevention, whether or not you travel. That is, take a class that teaches you how to identify potentially dangerous situations and remove yourself, as well as teaching you how to take down a man twice your size. When you have mental and physical skills to keep you safe, you will feel more confident.

      Being comfortable travelling alone is a skill that can be learned. Why not pick a place an hour or two from where you live, make an itinerary of what you can do there, then spend one day and one night on your own. Repeat at different places until you feel ready to take on a weekend alone. As you gain confidence, your wandering grounds naturally will expand. If you practice good travelling skills at home, going abroad will be less stressful.

      Also remember that your travel adventure doesn’t have to be like everyone else’s. If you can’t stand museums and crowds intimidate you, maybe plan a trip to see famous gardens. Do all your friends brag about their wonderful hostel experiences, but you only feel safe in a hotel? Then save a bit more or take a shorter trip and stay in hotels.

      Don’t allow fear to stop you from doing what you want. Make a plan to get you to the level of confidence you want and work on that plan as if your career depended on it. You are able to gain the skills to be confident travelling alone!

    • Heather says

      Michelle, I think the ladies above have offered great tips!

      Have you considered traveling with a friend or joining organized group tours?

  2. Kalilileth says

    If a place or person or situation “feels” wrong, regardless of what your “logical mind” says, GET OUT immediately!

  3. Marjorie says

    I love the idea about the personal safety alarm – it would have been great for peace of mind in college!

    I always travel with a rubber door stop – it is great when I am traveling solo, or in a group that has odd numbers. I have wound up using it to keep shower doors shut when in shower facilities where the door’s latch is broken, and on a ferry where the shared bathroom door would swing open with every wave – it was the only way we slept!

    And my favorite advice has already been mentioned – listen to your gut!

  4. Erin says

    Torches are great, and multi-functional. I packed a small one on a trip because I expected power outages, and ended up using it to blind and chase away a late-night hotel room intruder. I now carry a torch everywhere, just in case.


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