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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
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Non-Alarm Door Protection
A door lock provides 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.
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.
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.
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!
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.
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.
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.
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
- Different Types of Bag Locks for Travelers
- No More Lost Luggage: 5 Devices to Track Your Bags
- Luggage Identification: Easy, cute ways to mark your luggage
- The Bra Stash Personal Security Wallet
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.
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.
For Even More Posts on Safety While Traveling:
- Stylish Theft-Proof Travel Clothing for Women
- Female Travel Safety Advice: Listen or Ignore?
- Why Women Travelers Need Insurance
- But My Mom Taught Me Not to Lie!
- Common Travel Scams and How to Avoid Them
Have you ever packed a personal safety alarm? What steps do you take to protect your personal safety on the road?