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Reader Question: How Do I Protect My Belongings in an Apartment Rental?

protecting belongings in a holiday apartment rental

My friend, Sam, is planning a trip to the USA very soon and has a question about keeping her belongings safe:

We’re going to be staying at an Airbnb apartment during our time in NY. There won’t be a safe or a locker where we can store valuables like extra cash and our passports. What would you suggest we do?

While it is unlikely that anything will happen to your belongings in your Airbnb apartment rental, I say it’s always better to be prepared and have some basic measures in line… just in case.

First of all, don’t bring anything with you on your travels for which you can’t fathom the idea of being lost or stolen. Take cheap costume jewelry instead of your real bling, and don’t bring a laptop or fancy camera if they won’t be used a great deal. Smartphones tend to be enough these days!

The simplest setup to protect your belongings left in your room is to have them out of sight and locked up in your luggage. Always, always bring a luggage lock for your suitcase or backpack (if it’s the type that can be locked) because it will serve the purpose of keeping your belongings safer both in-flight and in your rental apartment.

There are also retractable cable locks you can get to sort of lock your luggage to a fixed object in your room. This is great for smaller bags that can easily, and discreetly, be taken and broken into later.

Retractable cable lock by Master Lock
Retractable cable lock by Master Lock (see on Amazon).

Or, you can get a portable safe bag. PacSafe make some that are lined in a slashproof eXomesh and come with a cable you can lock to a fixed object. Some are just big enough for phones, passports and money, or you can get larger ones that fit a computer.

Pacsafe Travel Safe Bag
Pacsafe Travel Safe Bag (see on Amazon)

Another way to go about keeping your stuff safe is to hide it in other stuff. So, you can put money in a tampon box or wrapped up in a sanitary napkin (who’s going to look there?!). An empty shampoo bottle or lip balm tube can be a great hiding place for money and jewelry.

Hide spare money in weird places... like in pads and tampon boxes.
Hide spare money in weird places… like in pads and tampon boxes.

Do you have any other tips for keeping your belongings safe in an apartment rental?

Written by Brooke

I run the show at Her Packing List and love packing ultralight. In fact, I once traveled for 3 entire weeks with just the contents of a well-packed 12L handbag. When I'm not obsessing over luggage weight, I'm planning adventures or just snuggling with my pet rabbit, Sherlock Bunz.

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Reader Interactions


  1. Inge says

    Great ideas! Those retractable locks are usually sold as ski/snowboard locks, so try a sports or winter store. We’ve never had anything stolen out of hotel rooms (touch wood). We always put stuff inside a bag and lock the bag and put it somewhere not too obvious (under the bed or something). Most crime is in hotel/b&b rooms is opportunity crime. They probably won’t take the effort to break through a lock. Also, even if you leave valuables at a reception, make sure there is a little padlock on your money/passport bag. Even if an employee with the code to the safe wants to take something, they won’t risk breaking a lock for it and leaving such a visible trace. Taking a $10 note from a stash of $200 is much less obvious! Don’t give them a chance. Happy travels!

  2. Emily says

    Do you have any experience with the Pacsafe wire mesh bags that you can fit your whole backpack into? I’m leaving for my open ended trip next month and worrying about the safety of my gear. Some people love it, some think they’re a waste. Any thoughts on that one?

    • Brooke says

      Hi Emily, Once upon a time, I owned one for my very first big trip, to Central America. I didn’t use the mesh bag once because it felt really out of place… it also drew attention to the bag and it added extra weight that I didn’t need to carry. I sold it when I got back home. I’d prefer just keeping anything truly valuable in my money belt or Pacsafe daypack, or locking those specific items up back in the room as opposed to carrying the big bag covers.

  3. Mel says

    I always use a Pacsafe bumbag (fannypack) which is slash proof etc. I lock it to something like a rail in a wardrobe under a hanging garment or to the back of the sink or a radiator pipe.

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