The 10 Best Portable Safes
This wiki has been updated 24 times since it was first published in March of 2017. Keeping your valuables secure while you're away from home is a challenge best met with a device that's both diminutive and reliable. Our portable selections for this category include a mix of locking and diversion safes, so you'll have just the right choice for whatever circumstance you're facing. Some are also great for when you're on the move, driving or riding your bike. When users buy our independently chosen editorial recommendations, we may earn commissions to help fund the Wiki.
February 08, 2021:
While the vast majority of our picks for this category still proved to be great choices, we did wind up removing the Liquid Wrench Diversion Can due to availability issues.
In its place, we added the Stash-It Diversion Water Bottle — an alternative diversion safe that we thought was worth including on our list to supplement some of our more obvious choices, like the Fort Knox PB1 and First Alert 2030F. We felt that this pick was superior to our former selection based on the fact that it’s likely to blend in easier in more locations.
October 08, 2019:
To accommodate various travel scenarios, we've kept a range of both locked and diversion safes. The former are designed to be hard to break into, while the latter can usually be opened — if the intruders can identify that it is, indeed, a safe they're seeing. In the former category, the SafeGo Lock Box continues to take top honors, although it must be said that it's not a bank vault. You'll want to use common sense and take smart theft-prevention precautions, just as you would with a home safe. There's also the Pacsafe Travelsafe GII, but the lock can be finicky. And we've kept several handgun safes, including the Fort Knox PB1 and the Vaultek VT20i.
As for diversion safes, we still like the Liquid Wrench Diversion Can, and we've elected to add the Stash-it Hanger. We like this Stash-it model for travelers, since it's lightweight and more sensible to pack than many. But it doesn't offer any actual locking capabilities, so you probably shouldn't choose it for high-risk trips.
Why You Need A Portable Safe
As you can see, storing things in the hotel-provided safe may not be the best idea.
If you're off for a big adventure, you may be trying to limit the number of items you stuff into your luggage, since many airlines charge an arm and a leg for every pound you go over the weight allowance. But perhaps you should leave a pair of shoes or a hairdryer behind in order to make room for one of these portable safes. They could, ultimately, make the difference between a trip that is a real joy and one that is a waking nightmare, involving police reports and confrontations. When you leave home for a long time — especially when traveling internationally — you have to pack a number of important items, from valuables and prescriptions to identity documents. Should someone steal these, you may need to spend hours at a consulate or, worse, could face a medical emergency. So, keeping them in something as secure as a safe is very important.
We've established that a lockable vessel is non-negotiable for sojourners, and you may be thinking that the one provided by your hotel should suffice. But there are some issues with that, one of them being that research has found widespread employee theft at some hotels. And, as anybody who has ever forgotten the combination to their hotel safe knows, employees are actually able to open them up for you and reset the passcode. Unfortunately, the very individuals whose job it is to keep your belongings secure could be the same ones who are after them, meaning that a hotel safe won't be effective at keeping your valuables from nefarious hotel employees. As you can see, storing things in the hotel-provided safe may not be the best idea.
Despite the security a portable safe provides, there are some valuables you should have on your person at all times when traveling abroad. Should you get into any sort of trouble with the police, you will want your passport or travel visa in order to prove your legitimacy. You may even need bail cash to get out of a sticky situation, swiftly. These items are generally best kept in a money belt hidden under your clothes.
How To Stay Safe When Traveling
Whether you're visiting a place that has a reputation for being very peaceful, or you're braving a not-so-safe destination, tourists are often targets of pickpockets and robbers. Travelers are naturally more vulnerable since they are unfamiliar with the local customs, struggling to find their way around, and a bit tired after their journey. One easy thing you can do to avoid being a victim is simply not to look like a tourist. Skip flashy outfits, massive backpacks, and full camera and tripod setups. These only draw attention to the fact that you're not from the area.
Skip flashy outfits, massive backpacks, and full camera and tripod setups.
Purchasing travel insurance should be considered non-negotiable at this point — something that more and more travelers seem to be realizing. Most plans cover things like lost luggage, medical costs, and other incidents that could be tremendously expensive without insurance. If you have a health emergency while you're abroad (say, because a pickpocket stole your medications) you could face a catastrophic hospital bill without travel insurance. Skipping one of these plans just isn't worth the price you may pay without one.
Some travel threats are of a more technologically advanced nature. Always be wary about using public WiFi, as you can't determine how secure it really is. It's best to use the WiFi at your hotel. And as for your online activities, refrain from checking into locations or posting real-time photos and videos. This notifies strangers on the Internet that your home is vacant, as well as local thieves who use social media to find their victims that you are a fish out of water who is vulnerable to a scam. Everyone can be a little disoriented when on vacation, which is why it's best to take these precautions before stepping out of the hotel.
How To Choose Your Portable Safe
When selecting your portable safe, you'll see that there are a lot of designs to choose from. So, ask yourself how active you plan to be. If you hope to always be on the go, seeing the sites on foot, by bicycle, and maybe on the back of a camel, you may want a model with some sort of shock-absorbing lining. That way, if your safe goes flying off your motorcycle, your fragile belongings like laptops and camera won't be harmed. Another way to secure those items is by getting a safe with a cable that you can attach to things like beach chairs and steering wheels.
At least if a criminal makes it into your quarters, they probably won't think to check inside a spray paint canister.
As for accessibility, there are models that require a simple key, and others that allow you to set a passcode on a combination lock. If you know you're someone who might accidentally misplace that key, then you may want to choose a design with a combination lock. But, make sure to choose a passcode that is very difficult for a stranger to guess, and change that password with some regularity — especially after having given it out to somebody. If you want the option to leave your portable safe in your hotel room or other accommodation, some models can be mounted beneath beds or in other discreet areas.
Those wanting their safe to be totally incognito in case a burglar does make it into the room (which many have found a frightening hack for accomplishing) might like one of the creative options that look like something they aren't. Some resemble books, bottles, and other items that an onlooker would never guess contained precious documents and valuables. At least if a criminal makes it into your quarters, they probably won't think to check inside a spray paint canister.