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I’m a Solo Woman Traveler, Here’s What’s in My Safety Kit

The must have tech, devices, and hacks for women traveling solo.

Whenever someone learns that most of my travels are solo adventures, I am always met with safety concerns—and rightfully so. We often hear stories of solo traveling women being assaulted, harassed, and/or stalked during their trips. While the possibility of any of these makes me uneasy, it has not slowed down my love of travel. Depending on location, a few of these safety devices are always in my bag for extra security.

Safety Devices for Hotels, Vacation Homes, and Lodging

1. Carbon Monoxide Alarm: While I do not use Airbnb often, recently, a story surfaced about three young women who passed while on vacation due to carbon monoxide poisoning in Mexico City. Immediately, I thought about all the times I’ve stayed in a vacation rental home checking things like doors or windows for reinforced security but never the installed alarms. These are now a part of my safety kit. This $20 portable carbon monoxide alarm is battery-operated, which means it can be used without damage to the vacation home/rental because it does not require hard wiring. For additional safety in vacation homes, you can use devices such as portable windows or door alarms.

2. Portable Door Locks: These are my absolute favorite, and the $15 price point includes two locks bringing tons of additional security to any door. I find them relatively simple to use as they easily nest into the grooves of an existing lock. However, once latched, it is impossible for a door to be opened from the outside. The installation takes only a few minutes, and without the use of tools, there is not any worry about damaging a hotel, rental property, or vacation home.

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3. Door Stop Alarm: This alarm is battery operated, comes in under $10, and requires no installation as it simply slips under the door like a traditional door stopper. The alarm is adjustable with the switch of a side button, allowing for low, medium, or high volumes. Once the door is open, the alarm sounds, giving you time to call for help or possibly sneak out using another door. However, the alarm is designed to be a deterrent to intruders.

Safety Devices for Navigating Alone

Even though some of my trips are for pure relaxation, most are for exploration, food, and dining. Two things I do for peace of mind are always sharing my location from multiple sources and sharing the ride with a few trusted sources if I am taking a ride share. However, both methods depend on a stable internet connection, phone service, or being in a country where ride-share apps are utilized. But what about safety when walking from one block to the next? Or being on a tour—which sometimes can be a 1:1 setting? Or protecting yourself in a crowded/public place? These are my must pack-safety devices that can be used with or without phone connectivity.

1. Birdie Personal Alarm: The personal alarm is a small but powerful tool meant to be a deterrent against attacks. It can be stored on a keychain, and when the pin is pulled, a 130-decibel (extremely loud) alarm and flashing strobe light are set off that will either scare off an attacker or draw attention to you for assistance. There is an app (supported by both Apple and Android) for users who opt to upgrade to Birdie Plus, a yearly subscription that includes enhanced support such as sharing location with preselected contacts when the alarm is activated, 24/7 live agents and fake calls that will aid in helping you leave potentially unsafe environments. The devices come in several colors and start around $35. Bonus, there is typically some kind of sale going on and a free trial offer to the subscription. What I love the most about the Birdie is that it is TSA-compliant making it safe to be packed in carry-on luggage. Currently, the subscription service is only supported in the United States, but the alarm itself can still be used during international travels.

2. Plegium Smart Pepper Spray: Pepper Spray just got an upgrade, and it’s one that we have been waiting for. After downloading the app (Apple and Android supported), setup takes less than 5 minutes. There are four different pepper spray models to fit any traveler’s needs. The standard pepper spray ($19.95) can latch onto a keychain containing maximum strength spray. Option two, the Combo spray ($29.95), includes the above features but adds a siren and led strobe lights that go off when activated. Plegium offers the 3-in-1 Smart Mini ($44.95) that adds on the option of phone calls to emergency contacts as well as the option to notify emergency contacts of your location through text, however, it removes the siren and LED light features. The final version is the 5 in 1 Smart Pepper Spray ($54.95), which includes maximum strength spray, options for texting or calling emergency contacts, LED light, and a siren. No matter which model is selected, they each have a “no charge battery life” of four years. For those who may be a little leery to use pepper spray, there is also a Smart Emergency Button ($34.95), a silent alarm that sends texts and calls to your emergency contacts. They also offer a subscription service with one month free that provides 24/7 monitoring, live tracking, and a panic button that can be found in the app. Currently, Plegium is supported in 20 countries, making it safe for international travel where allowed.

3. ResqMe: If you like to road-trip (or frequent ride-share services), this is the best safety device to have in your arsenal. ResqMe is the ultimate escape tool that allows you to cut a seatbelt or break a window in the event of an emergency. These colorful tiny tools can be stored virtually anywhere that will help drivers and passengers remember it’s there: on a keychain, sun visor, headrest, or around the review view mirror. Adding ResqMe to your safety device kit is easily the best $10 you will spend. The company also offers its version of a personal alarm called DefendMe at the same price point. Similar to other personal alarms, it activates by pulling a pin that lets off a loud siren.

Safety Devices for Partygoers

1. Cup Condoms: The general rule is never to leave your drink unattended or drink a beverage you left behind. But in those instances where you are drinking in a crowd or with new friends (aka strangers), keep your drinks covered with these reusable covers to protect your drinks from foreign objects life roofies. They’re easy to store in a wallet, purse, or back pocket. To use, simply open to stretch across a cup, beer container, wine glass, pitcher, or any other open container. Cup Condoms are available starting at just $5.99 for a pack of 3. If you have a latex allergy, you should avoid use or use with caution.

Be aware that some safety devices (such as tasters or pepper spray) are not suitable for carry-on luggage or permissible in some countries. You should always check with TSA and your destination to be sure you are able to bring certain devices along with you.

jpsartre3207 January 9, 2023

Isn't it ridiculous that women have to be over-the-top vigilant.  Instead more #MeToo types movements need to take place ensuring laws are put in place, enforced and those violating penalized.