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 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 (i.e., 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?
The Ila Dusk Personal Security Device
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 neighbourhood 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.
Security Products for Your Door
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
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.
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 number 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?