Packing a solo travel safety kit can be an empowering way to prepare for solo travel. Many solo travelers, aware of the risk of setting out on international trips alone, fear what could happen. The following safety and security-oriented packing list can empower you in your preparations for your trip.
Knowing you are prepared to care for yourself and have what you need to cope with an unexpected crisis can help you travel with less anxiety and set out on your adventure ready to thrive.
Here’s what you should pack in your solo travel safety kit:
1. A serious first aid kit
Every traveler should have a few basic first aid supplies (like pain reliever, Band-Aids, and antibiotic ointment), but as a solo traveler, your safety kit should include some stronger medications: Talk to your doctor before your trip and ask about prescription-strength anti-nausea medication, altitude sickness prevention, or an antibiotic to have on hand.
Why bother with the extra expense? We’re never more vulnerable than when we’re sick, so having medication on hand to treat symptoms before they impact our ability to make good decisions can be an essential addition to our solo travel safety.
NOTE: Add activated charcoal to your standard travel first aid kit. Activated charcoal capsules pack in a tiny amount of space, are inexpensive, and can reduce the symptoms of traveler’s diarrhea or food poisoning almost immediately.
2. Portable hotel door alarm
Nothing in my solo travel safety has soothed my mind more than my portable door alarm. This inexpensive device has helped me sleep soundly in many hostel rooms that were a little too loud and Airbnb that were located a little too close to a questionably safe space. This Lewis N Clark Door Alarm is my personal pick.
The nice thing about portable door alarms is that they tend to be very adaptable to many different types of doors. As long as there is a gap for the thin prongs to slip into, this travel alarm stays in your doorjamb all night and emits an extremely loud and piercing alarm if the door is opened and the two-prongs separate.
Portable door alarms are especially helpful when renting a room in a shared house or apartment through Airbnb.
3. A crisis bag hidden in the lining of your suitcase
If you solo travel for long, the chances are fairly good that you’ll be pickpocketed or have a handbag stolen during your travels. A good travel safety kit includes a backup bag that can make the loss of your primary handbag an inconvenience rather than a disaster.
Tucked into the lining of your primary suitcase (which will probably spend most days locked in a locker or secured in a hotel room) should be a zip-top bag or small waterproof zipper tote like this one that contains the following:
- backup cash in US dollars
- a copy of your travel health insurance card
- a color copy of your US driver’s license
- a color copy of your passport’s main page
- 3-5 days worth of any medications you need daily
- (optional) a spare (unlocked) smartphone that can be activated if yours is stolen.
Most suitcases have space for items to be zipped into the liner for discrete carrying. Paired with a luggage lock, your items can be protected by several layers of security: a lock on your hotel or hostel door, a lock on your suitcase zipper, and the extra security of well-disguised storage.
3. Personal Alarm
If you are not already familiar with personal security alarms (aka sound grenades) check out the selection before you leave on your solo trip. I like and use this one. A sound grenade puts off a deafening alarm when activated and can be a good addition to your keychain, your travel lanyard, or even to keep on your nightstand as you travel from lodging to lodging.
Carrying this small device can help you call for help if you need it for safety or even health reasons during your solo trip. A personal security alarm belongs in every traveler’s safety kit.
4. A phone, an international plan, and a wrist strap
It goes without saying that safe travel in the 2020s requires a smartphone with international data. Although many travelers purchase a sim card at their destination in order to use their phone, this isn’t ideal. Your travel safety kit should include a phone that will function internationally without needing to find, purchase, and install a special part.
Phones like Google Pixels running Google Fi automatically find and connect to international data providers, which helps ensure you have a working cell phone as soon as you are on the ground in your destination country.
WRIST STRAP: The least expensive but most helpful item on this list. Your solo travel safety kit should include a wrist strap for your phone. (Get one here) Not only can wrist straps help prevent cracked screens, but they also help reduce the risk that your phone will be stolen in crowded places like subways, buses, and public spaces. Grab-and-run theft is on the rise, but with a wrist strap, any attempt at a grab-and-go robbery will likely result in the phone immediately slipping out of the would-be robber’s hand.
5. A luggage lock
Probably one of the oldest pieces of travel safety equipment that travelers have been packing in their safety kit for decades: a luggage lock is classic. I like the original Master Lock Combination Luggage Lock.
Most luggage locks aren’t physically that strong – they can be cut with some scissors, but they discourage casual thieves and can significantly reduce the risk that your luggage will be opened and pilfered in transit, on trains, by other hostel guests, or even by hotel employees. This simple lock feeds through the holes on each zipper pull and prevents the zipper from being opened.
6. A slash-proof bag
The newest addition to my own lineup in my solo safety travel kit, a slash-proof bag preemptively deals with one of the fastest-growing types of personal theft: slash and run robberies. Rather than stealing phones or handbags, thieves in some locations (particularly Rome, Paris, and other major tourist spots) will stand behind a victim in a crowded line, bus, or subway car, and slice their backpack, waist bag, or handbag open. Before a traveler even realizes they’ve been a victim of a crime, the thief disappears into a crowd.
New fabrics offer a way to prevent this type of theft- and this new bag from Locktote even serves as an all-round travel safe- it’s slash-proof, tear-proof, and able to be locked to almost any fixed point, this bag is a new workhorse in my travel kit thanks to the safety it offers my belongings.
7. A lanyard
I know what you’re thinking- “a lanyard? in a travel safety kit?!” but here’s the thing: these things are ridiculously versatile. Here are two ways to use a lanyard during travel that will have you packing one for every trip- click here to see the lanyards from my favorite brand at Amazon.
A. Nighttime Alarm. Loop a lanyard onto your headboard or bed frame, then clip the snap to the anchor point on your personal alarm/sound grenade. If for any reason you need help in the night, an deafeningly loud alarm will be within reach, easy to find in the dark, and impossible to knock out of reach by accident.
B. Anchor your Gear. With their huge loop, strong straps, and easy-to-use clips, lanyards are a great way to prevent dropping important belongs or even losing them to theft. Whether it’s clipping your Airbnb keys to your daypack, or anchoring your daypack to a chair to prevent theft while you work on your travel journal or catch up on remote work emails, lanyards are a cheap and useful addition to your travel safety kit.
8. A phone lock screen that displays emergency information
If you’re injured, sick, or unconscious while solo traveling, how will health care providers contact your family, access information about your health history, or reach out to your travel health insurance provider?
One intangible essential in your travel safety kit should be a screenshot of a text file that contains this critical information. Use the screenshot as a lock screen background so that anyone viewing your phone- even if they don’t have the unlock code- will be able to access critical information.
Be careful not to put too much personal information on your lock screen. You may want to register an anonymous email address that automatically forwards incoming mail to your emergency contacts.
Your lock screen should include:
My Name is: (use only a first name or first + last initial, for privacy)
If this phone is lost, contact: (email)
My home country is: (where your passport is registered)
In case of emergency,
Contact: (emergency contact + include an email address because it doesn’t have the fees associated with international phonecalls)
Name, Policy Number, + Contact Phone for your Travel Health Insurance Providers
(add a translation to the dominant language when traveling in non-English speaking countries)
How do you stay safe in a hotel alone?
To stay safe in a hotel alone, use common sense (like avoiding dark secondary entrances after night) and basic security (like activating additional locks supplied by the hotel). For extra security, invest in a portable door alarm that fits in the doorjamb or a personal alarm to keep at your bedside. For easy extra security, request a room without a balcony or patio and place a chair against the interior door before going to be.
How can a solo female Traveler stay safe?
Female solo travelers can stay safe by staying alert, planning their trip carefully, and opting for the best-reviewed lodging that’s affordable. It may be worth shortening your trip in order to be able to afford private rooms or hotels in safe areas rather than booking a longer stay in a sketchy hostel. Pack a good personal safety kit, and plan for contingencies.
Where should I stay when traveling alone?
Solo travelers often stay along in hostels (which offer dorms or single private rooms), hotels, Airbnb apartments, or Airbnb bedrooms in shared homes. The right place for you to stay alone while traveling solo will be personal, and vary according to your budget, risk tolerance, or ability to sleep in noisy hostel dorms (need some tips on the latter? Check out our hostel sleeping advice).
How do I not get lonely when traveling alone?
Loneliness can be an issue for solo travelers- in fact, it can be a security issue. Lonely travelers may be more inclined to let down their guard and speak to someone who is trying to take advantage of a solo traveler.
Lynli Roman’s unique approach to travel is informed by decades of experience on the road with a traveling family and, later, years spent as a solo international traveler. When she’s not writing about Seattle from her Pike Place Market apartment, Lynli writes on-location while conducting hands-on research in each destination she covers. Lynli’s writing has been featured by MSN, ABC Money, Buzzfeed, and Huffington Post. She is passionate about sharing information that makes travel more accessible for all bodies.