The best gear to stay safe on the go

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 at an Airbnb in Mexico City that contained a gas-leaking boiler.

CO is a leading cause of poisoning in the United States, killing more than 400 Americans annually. Burning fuel (such as wood, charcoal, propane, fuel oil, or gasoline) produces carbon monoxide, a colorless, odorless, tasteless gas. When a home is improperly ventilated it can accumulate to dangerous levels. Yet, only 27% of American homes have CO alarms.

Accidental CO poisoning is completely unnecessary. A portable carbon monoxide alarm detects dangerous CO concentrations and sounds an alarm to alert you.

Kidde is a well-known brand for both smoke alarms (which I have in my home) and CO detectors. Often recommended by gas furnace repair professionals, this CO detector has warning modes and LED lights that trigger power, CO detection and low battery. It has an 85-decibel alert and works even during a power outage because it runs on 2-AA batteries included with the pack.

TravelFashionGirl calls this Kidde model its best portable mini carbon monoxide detector. A battery-powered, if slightly bulky 8-ounce, life-saving bargain for 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 are hit by a bus while traveling, you will go to the hospital or urgent care. But if you have a minor cut, scrape, headache or something similar that doesn’t need stitches, it pays to keep a first aid pack in your luggage.

Basic items that most kits should include are antiseptic (such as Bacitracin or Neosporin), various dosages of bandages, gauze, Tylenol and/or aspirin, tape, and alcohol or other pads. Tools like tweezers, scissors and scissors are useful, but make sure to pack them in checked luggage.

When you’re backpacking or flying, a small kit won’t take up much space and will provide basic functionality. If you’re car tripping or just interested, a bigger kit makes sense.

For something truly portable, the Red Cross has a pocket or purse-size kit that measures 4 inches tall. It comes with 13 adhesive bandages in various sizes, fingertip and knuckle cloth bandages, two “sting-free” antiseptic cleansing wipes, and three antibiotic ointment packs in a red vinyl pocket bag. 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 a local hospital.

The 19-piece kit can also be used to store your house keys, credit cards, hotel keys or ID while hiking, biking or running. The pack is just $5.39 on the Red Cross website, but you have to buy four. So wrap them up and send them to your family and friends.

Johnson & Johnson offers a large travel ready portable first aid kit. It comes with 80 wound care items for on-the-go first aid, including a cold pack, gauze, wipes, tape and a first aid guide. Who would have guessed that J&J is the #1 Doctor Prescribed BAND-AID® Brand, Brands Like NEOSPORIN® and TYLENOL®? Supplied in an easy-to-carry case, it might be a little big for a backpack, but it’s well worth taking on a long trip and certainly any kind of road trip.

The First Aid Kit is $9.82 and is available at Walmart nationally (in-store and online.)

A battery pack

Phone charger/battery backup pack as a safety device? Of course, if your phone is almost dead and there is no power outlet in sight. That battery boost might be enough to get you to your hotel where it can charge overnight.

Hyper is one of the innovators in the market. One of their products is the HyperJuice Magnetic Wireless Battery Pack, a compact battery pack that magnetically attaches to the Apple iPhone 12, 13 and 14 models.

That’s right; No wires or cables to connect. The cable has USB-C for charging the device from a laptop or other power source. If it’s connected to your phone, the cable will charge both the phone and the spare battery at the same time.

A MacRumors reviewer found that the small brick charged his (larger) iPhone 12 Pro Max by 73% without being plugged in. The USB-C port on the battery pack can be used to charge both the iPhone’s battery and the pack at the same time.

The HyperJuice Magnetic Wireless Battery Pack has a list price of $49.99, but is often discounted.

Message Flash

electric light? Yes, you have your phone. But at the end of the day, when your phone runs out of charge and you need to see where the keys to your Airbnb are hidden, that light comes in handy.

LL Bean offers a handful of flashlights for under $15. Available in black or blue, it provides up to 80 lumens of light in high mode, with a run time of two hours on high power. The range is over 150 feet. It includes one AAA battery, but you can always buy a few more.

This compact flashlight can be used as a flashlight, lantern, or security light. Best of all, it’s compact, measuring 4.51″H x 1.18″ and weighing just 1.94 ounces. $14.95 at LL Bean.

Cover your dough

Finally, we get to the perfect ways to keep cash, passports, and credit cards hidden on your person—money belts, fanny packs, and the infamously named neck wallet.

Things have changed a bit, but these products still have the same goal—to hide your money and valuables from pickpockets and other thieves. Most so-called money belts are small, flat pouches or fanny packs with a belt that you wear around your waist.

Common sense also helps. As the writer at TravelFashionGirl says, “Whatever you do, Don’t wear a money belt outside of your dress. I can’t believe how many travelers out there wear it. Please don’t make that mistake.

The new wrinkle in wallets and fanny packs is RFID blocking. Your convenient ‘tap and go’ contactless payment card sends out a signal that can be picked up by skimming devices by curious pickpockets. An RFID-blocking wallet uses a layer of carbon fiber or aluminum to block the electromagnetic signal your card emits. This is a real problem; European stores have limited the amount sold to customers with such cards. Chinese student protesters have used RFID blocking to chase government prying eyes to ‘see’ their ID cards.

Venture 4th Travel Money Belt

This slim passport holder has an RFID block travel pouch to protect your cards, cash and travel documents. The bag fits most smartphones. Available in ten different colors, it fits up to a 56” waist. Made of ripstop nylon, the manufacturer claims it will last a lifetime. $21.95 on Amazon.

Yoder Hidden Money Pocket Travel Leather Belt

Yoder Leather Company’s Hidden Money Pocket Travel Leather Belt is an old-school leather belt (no RFID blocking here). Available in black or brown for waist sizes 32 to 54, it’s made from USA Tanned English Bridle Leather, which helps with the relatively high price ($65.) The cash pocket, Yoder says, holds up to 24 bills folded the short way, and you can put twenty 500 euro notes in your passport. Tell me if you have taken some copies too. $64.99 at Amazon.

Venture 4th Neck Wallet

Not everyone likes neck wallets because they leave stuff hanging around your neck all day. RFID blocking adds extra weight. Some women have visible neck purses below their tops.

This travel wallet has three ‘smart’ storage compartments to easily organize your documents and valuables, including two zippered pockets, a Velcro-closure patch and an ID window for the boarding pass. It also blocks RFID signals for added security.

VENTURE 4TH’s RFID Passport Holder is suitable for men and women and is slim enough to be invisible even under thin clothing. $17.95, from Amazon.

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