How to Pick the Best Portable Travel Safe To Secure Your Gear



Whether you’re travelling for business or pleasure we all travel with valuables.  This could be your laptop, phone, camera, cash or credit or debit cards.  It could be the little matter of your passport.  And we don’t always want to carry them with us at all times.  No need to take the full bag out for dinner or while you’re sightseeing in the city.   It’s especially difficult if you’re solo travelling and there isn’t someone you trust to “look after your stuff” while you go snorkelling for instance that’s why we always travel with a portable travel safe.   It helps us feel secure in the knowledge that our gear is locked away, regardless of what our accommodation or situation is.  Here’s how we use a portable travel safe, why we use it and how we secure our valuables while at home and abroad.

What is a portable travel safe?

A portable travel safe is a packable device that includes security elements like steel mesh cages, or durable quality plastic.   There are different designs for different use cases, but all offer the ability to lock valuables inside the safe which is designed to stop opportunistic thieves.  All portable travel safes are then designed to be securely attached to a stationary object.

We’ve attached portable travel safes to trees, fences, spare tyres in the trunk of a car, bed frames, toilets and a whole lot more!

portable travel safe on beach

Portable travel safes come in different sizes – so it’s important to buy one for the scenario that you’ll use it in.  No point buying a small portable lockbox if you want to secure your laptop!  It’s most useful to actually have two portable travel safes – so you can leave your larger valuables like a laptop secured in your accommodation and then a smaller one to secure your keys and cash if you’re heading to the beach.

If you enjoy a lot of beach and water sports, you might also want to consider waterproof portable safes.

Why use a portable travel safe

Some hotels provide room safes.  Some don’t.  Some hotels and hostels advise you to leave your valuables at reception.  (eye roll).  The chances are that the safes that they provide just aren’t big enough to get your laptop into anyway!

Some accommodation just plain doesn’t have any safe options for valuables.   Using a portable travel safe allows you to take control of the situation and apply your own rules to the physical security of your stuff.  You get to choose how to lock it up and where to lock it up.

And all the hotel safes in the world don’t help you when you go to the beach for a day and want to go snorkelling.  Of course in this situation, you can put your small valuables in a container and bury it in the sand, but I’m never convinced that there isn’t someone watching for people doing exactly that!.

When to use a portable travel safe

The best time to use a portable travel safe is when you want to secure valuables that will not be on your person.  So if you’re leaving a hotel room to go to dinner.  If you’re taking an overnight train and want to be sure that your valuables will be secure while you’re asleep use a portable travel safe.  Use a portable travel safe when camping or leaving valuables in your car while you’re visiting or sightseeing.  The list is endless.

Where to use a portable travel safe

Portable travel safes are now available for all sizes, shapes and use cases.  You can use a portable travel safe anywhere, but here are some examples of where a portable travel safe is useful

  • In a dorm room in a hostel
  • At a swimming pool
  • At the gym
  • In your car
  • On a boat
  • On the beach
  • While camping
  • Inside a hotel room
  • Inside an AirBnB
  • On an overnight bus
  • On an overnight train

portable travel safe for snorkelling

Types of Portable Travel Safe

There are several types of portable travel safe, but here are the main ones.

A steel mesh travel safe to secure a bag or backpack

Securing your backpack, case, tent or equipment inside this steel mesh stops thieves from walking away with it. Your entire bag goes inside the mesh and you then attach it to a stationary object. See how it works here. There are different sizes available – 55 litre, 85 litre and 120 litre

A hard-sided beach lockbox for small valuables

These types of portable travel safes tend to be of lightweight plastic.  They’re hard-sided and you can use them both indoors and outdoors. They’re designed to be water-resistant and have a heavy-duty flexible steel cable that you can use to secure around fixed objects.  See your options here.  They usually come with a combination code lock.

An internal wire mesh travel safe portable travel safe

With an internal wire mesh infrastructure with a tough fabric covering, this design of portable travel safe looks quite like an ordinary travel bag.  (check it out here) A stainless steel locking cable and padlock of your choice (key or combination) allow you to secure it to any stationary object.

Water-resistant portable travel safes

With an internal wire mesh design and a highly rated water resistant back, this is a great option for all weather and all activity security  Take it on a boat, tie it to a tree in the rain.   Great for regular divers or snorkelers.

Best Size of Portable Travel Safes

The best size portable travel safe to pick depends on what you want to put in it and how you’ll be transporting it around.  Some of the best rates small travel safes weigh more than 3lbs (1.4 kilos) and that’s too heavy for me to add to my backpack.  We aim for lightweight, but secure.  Our suggestion depending on how you’ll use your portable travel safe is to actually have two.

  1. A small one for smaller valuables –  like car keys, wallet and phone that you can lock if you’re at the beach, pool or gym > our favourites here
  2. A large one that fits laptops, cameras, e-readers and the like into that you can leave in your accommodation or the trunk of a car > our favourites here

What to look for in a portable travel safe

Depending on how you travel, where you stay and what your activities are will define what you should look for in a portable travel safe.   We travel with backpacks, stay in hotels, hostels, AirBnB’s and sometimes campsites.  What you should look for in a travel safe also depends on what you want to secure in the safe.

Where you’ll use the portable travel safe

If you plan on using your portable safe at the beach, you’ll want to get a water-resistant one.  Check the best dry bag portable travel safes here.  And the right size for what you plan to put in it.  Check the best beach lockboxes and the best portable safe for the beach here.

Wanting to secure your valuables while backpacking?  We recommend the Portable Travel Safe by Pacsafe – its relatively lightweight, pack easily and secures well.

The type of lock that the portable safe has

We have a combination lock on our portable travel safe.   It means that there’s one less key to lose.

What size of portable safe should you get?

What are you going to put into your portable travel safe?

A 15-litre portable travel safe from Pacsafe holds 2 11 inch laptops, 2 e-readers, a camera, passports, cash, wallets and our box of cables that we can’t live without.  > check out options here.

A 5-litre portable travel safe keeps our wallets, car keys and drivers license secure when we go snorkelling or diving from the shore. > check options here.

What to attach your portable safe to

The idea of a portable safe is to stop the opportunistic thief.  So you’ll want to attach it to something sturdy.    We aim for a wooden or metal bed frame.  Or if that’s not possible, then we look at attaching it around the toilet, or the plumbing of a sink.

where to secure portable travel safe

This won’t stop the most determined of thieves, who may just rip the plumbing apart, or they’ll pull the bed frame apart.  However, the noise and mess that they make in doing that are likely to bring them to someone’s attention.

We haven’t had anyone tamper with or portable travel safe, or try to break any furniture or plumbing while we’ve been travelling.

How we use a portable travel safe

Our portable travel safe goes everywhere with us.  We opted for a 15 litre one, it folds flat to go into a backpack when we’re on a plane or a bus and our valuables are in our daypacks.  We use it in our accommodation.  We use our portable travel safe when diving, snorkelling when all our gear is in the trunk of a car if we’re exploring a city.  Here are a few more details about just how we use a portable travel safe.

Using a portable travel safe in your hotel room or accommodation

We use our portable travel safe in our travel accommodation.  We mainly stay in AirBnB’s, (check out these awesome stays in CASTLES!) hotels and hostels.  When we leave the room we gather together all the valuables that we’re not taking with us – laptops, power banks, cash, passports, kindles and secure them into our portable travel safe.  We then lock the travel safe to either a bed frame or secure it to some part of the plumbing in the room. (this can be around the toilet or the sink)

Using a portable travel safe when taking day trips

If we have a car and are taking a trip, with valuables that we don’t want to carry with us – say if we’re hiking, then we’ll secure the valuables in the portable travel safe and then secure the travel safe in the trunk (or boot) of the car.  We always try to do this BEFORE we arrive at the destination where we’ll be parking the car.

Using a portable travel safe when taking overland trips

This was our original use case for a portable travel safe.   We took an overland trip from Istanbul to Nepal (we didn’t actually get all the way there, having a family emergency midway through the trip), but our portable travel safe secure our belongings while they were left on the overland truck – and our travel insurance made sure we weren’t out of pocket.

Using a portable travel safe when camping

We camp occasionally, (as in stay and sleep in a tent), and take our portable travel safe for camping trips.  If we have a car with us, we’ll secure the portable safe in the boot of the car.  If we don’t have a car with us, then we’ll find a sturdy looking tree that we can attach the safe to.  It stays inside the tent with us overnight.

Using a portable travel safe on the beach

We’re not huge beach people, but we do use the beach when we’re snorkelling.  Because the one thing you can’t lock in the car is the car keys and car keys are electronic and do NOT react well to being submerged in water!  We’ll secure all the valuables that we’re not leaving in the trunk of the car into the portable safe and then attach it to a tree or fence post or gate. We use a combination lock on our portable travel safe so it means we don’t have to worry about dropping a key while snorkelling.

portable safe for beach

Using a portable safe while diving

Especially if you dive from the shore you’ll want to secure your valuables.  We did this in Cuba, in the Bay of Pigs, where shore diving makes it one of the cheaper places to dive in the world.   Cuba, we felt was very safe, but that apparently doesn’t work with insurance companies if something gets stolen.  So we loaded up our portable travel safe and tied it to a tree, then jumped into the Caribbean Sea.

Which is the best portable travel safe?

This really should be what is the best portable travel safe for you.  Which travel safe you buy and use depends on how you’re going to use it.  If you want the best beach lockbox, then we recommend SafeGo, if you want what we think is generally the best portable travel safe then we recommend the Pacsafe.  The easiest way to find the right portable travel safe for you is to work out what you want to use it for, what you need it to secure and then take a look!  Good luck and let us know how you get on!


best portable travel safe

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About Sarah Carter

Sarah Carter is an avid reader, writer and traveller. She loves hiking, sailing, skiing and exploring the world through food. She left a successful career in IT security and compliance in both the UK and US to travel the world with husband and partner in adventure, Nigel.

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