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?
P.S. Female Travel Safety Advice: Listen or Ignore?
I carry a loud whistle. Haven’t had to use it yet, luckily!
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!
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
As long as the alarm doesn’t go off, I would think it is OK.
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?
Hi Michelle! Yes, we have plenty of tips. Try this post:
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!
Michelle, I think the ladies above have offered great tips!
Have you considered traveling with a friend or joining organized group tours?
If a place or person or situation “feels” wrong, regardless of what your “logical mind” says, GET OUT immediately!
Food for thought! Great article!
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!
drucila vettiner says
On pinterest where your blog was mentioned I saw passport socks—where does one find them?
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.
When you say intruder- did you mean a creepy crawlie or a person?