These inexpensive, highly portable products can help keep travelers safe on the road.
Portable carbon monoxide detector
Most people don’t think about carbon monoxide (CO) when they travel. In October, three Americans tragically died of CO poisoning in an Airbnb in Mexico City that apparently had a boiler with a gas leak.
CO is a leading cause of poisoning in the United States, killing more than 400 Americans annually. Burning fuel (such as wood, coal, propane, fuel oil, or gasoline) creates carbon monoxide, a colorless, odorless, and tasteless gas. It can accumulate to fatal levels when a home is not properly ventilated. However, only 27% of US homes have CO alarms.
Accidental CO poisonings are completely unnecessary. A portable carbon monoxide alarm will detect a dangerous concentration of CO and alert you with a buzzer.
Kidde is a popular brand in both smoke alarms (I have them in my house) and CO detectors. Often recommended by professionals who fix gas furnaces, this CO detector has alarm modes and flashing LED lights for power, CO detection and low battery. It has an 85 decibel alarm and even works during a power outage, as it runs on 2-AA batteries, included in the package.
TravelFashionGirl calls this Kidde model the Best Portable Carbon Monoxide Detector. Battery-powered, if a bit heavy at 8 ounces, it can be a lifesaver at under $20 on Amazon. As one TravelFashionGirl reader noted, “I’m buying this for my next trip to Italy.”
Travel first aid kits
If you get hit by the proverbial bus while traveling, you will go to the hospital or urgent care. But if you have a small cut that doesn’t need stitches, a scratch, a headache or something similar, a first aid kit in your luggage can pay off.
Basic items you should have in most kits include items such as antiseptic bandages (such as bacitracin or neosporin) of various sizes, gauze, Tylenol and/or aspirin, tape, and alcohol or other pads. Tools like tweezers, scissors and scissors can come in handy, but be sure to pack them in your checked baggage.
If you’re backpacking or flying, a smaller kit won’t take up much space and will provide basic functionality. If you’re driving or carpooling, a larger kit makes sense.
For something truly portable, the Red Cross has a pocket bag or purse that’s only 4 inches high. Comes with 13 adhesive bandages of various sizes, cloth fingertip and knuckle bandages, two “no-sting” antiseptic cleansing wipes, and a triple antibiotic ointment pack in a clear red vinyl pocket pack. It also includes a booklet on treating minor cuts, scrapes and bruises. Honestly, if it’s a bigger problem than that, it’s time to think about urgent care or the local hospital.
The 19-piece set can also be used to store your house key, credit card, hotel key, or ID while hiking, biking, or running. The pack is only $5.39 on the Red Cross website, but you have to buy four. So close them and share them with your family and friends.
Johnson & Johnson offers the largest travel-ready portable first aid kit. It comes with 80 wound care kits for first aid on the go, including a cold pack, gauze, wipes, tape and first aid guide. It also includes what J&J calls “the #1 physician-recommended brands like BAND-AID® Brand, NEOSPORIN® and TYLENOL®,” created by who? Supplied in an easy-to-carry case, it might be a little big for a backpack, but it’s worth carrying for a longer ride and certainly for any kind of road expedition.
The First Aid Kit costs $9.82 and is available nationally at Walmart (in-store and online.)
Pack a battery pack
A phone charger/backup battery pack as a safety device? Absolutely, if your phone is almost dead and there’s no power outlet in sight. This battery boost can be enough to get you to your hotel where you can charge overnight.
Hyper is one of the innovators in the market. One of their products is the HyperJuice Magnetic Wireless Battery Pack, a small battery pack that magnetically attaches to the Apple iPhone 12, 13 and 14 models.
This is fair; no wires or cables needed to connect. There is a USB-C cable to charge the device from a laptop or other power source. If connected to your phone, the cable would simultaneously charge the phone and the backup battery.
A MacRumors reviewer found that without being plugged in, the little brick charged his (larger) iPhone 12 Pro Max to about 73%. The USB-C port on the battery pack can also be used to charge the iPhone battery and the pack itself at the same time when connected.
The HyperJuice Wireless Magnetic Battery Pack retails for $49.99, but is often discounted.
A flashlight? Yes, you have your phone. But at the end of the day when your phone is out of charge, just when you need to see where the keys to your Airbnb are hidden, that light will come in handy.
LL Bean offers a handful of flashlights for under $15. Available in black or blue, it offers up to 80 lumens of light in high mode, with two hours of run time on high power. The range is over 150 feet. It takes one AAA battery, included, but you can always buy a few more.
This compact flashlight can be used as a flashlight, flashlight or security light. Best of all, it’s SMALL, at 4.51″H x 1.18″, weighing just 1.94 oz. $14.95 at LL Bean.
Hide your dough
Finally, we come to the time-honored ways to hide money, passports and credit cards on your person – money belts, packs and the awkwardly named neck wallets.
Things have changed a bit, but these products still serve the same purpose—hiding your money and valuables from pickpockets and other thieves. Most so-called money belts are basically small, flat pouches or packs with a belt to wear around the waist.
Common sense also helps. As the writer at TravelFashionGirl says, “Whatever you do, DO NOT WEAR YOUR MONEY BELT OUTSIDE YOUR CLOTHES. I can’t believe how many travelers I see wearing it outside, advertising to thieves where to find their money. Please don’t make that mistake.”
The newest wrinkle in wallets and fanny packs is RFID blocking. Your convenient ‘tap and go’ contactless payment card transmits a signal, which can be picked up by smarter thieves with skimming devices. An RFID-blocking wallet uses a layer of carbon fiber or aluminum to block the electromagnetic signal your card emits. It is a real problem; European stores have limited the quantity sold to customers with such cards. Chinese protesting students have used RFID blocking to keep prying government eyes from ‘looking’ at their ID cards.
VENTURE 4 Travel Money Belt
This slim passport holder has an RFID blocking travel pouch to protect your cards, cash and travel documents. The pouch also fits most smartphones. Available in ten different colors, fits waist size up to 56”. Made from ripstop nylon, the manufacturer claims it will last a lifetime. $21.95 on Amazon.
Yoder Hidden Money Travel Leather Belt
The Yoder Leather Company Concealed Money Travel Leather Belt is a vintage leather belt (no RFID blocking here). Available in black or brown for waist sizes 32 to 54, it’s made from US-tanned English bridle leather, which helps account for its relatively high price tag ($65). pocket for money. Yoder says it holds up to 24 tightly folded bills, say if you were carrying twenty-five hundred euros and a couple of photocopies of your passport. $64.99, at Amazon.
VENTURE 4TH Wallet neck
Not everyone likes neck wallets, as they involve hanging things from your neck all day. RFID blocking adds extra weight. Some women also feel that neck pouches can be visible under their tops.
That said, this travel wallet features three ‘smart’ storage compartments to easily organize your documentation and valuables, including two zipped pockets, a Velcro closure and an ID window for boarding passes. And blocks RFID signals for added protection.
VENTURE 4TH says their RFID passport holder is suitable for both men and women and is thin enough to be virtually invisible even under thin layers of clothing. $17.95 from Amazon.