In a dream world, travel should be fun, safe and hassle-free, but we know that’s not always the case. While flight delays, bad weather and overbooked hotels can always put a damper on a vacation, it’s best to be prepared for the worst and to know how to mitigate any potential risks associated with travel.
One way to do that is by traveling with a portable carbon monoxide detector to ensure your accommodations are safe and habitable. For some, that might sound extreme, but in recent years there have been a number of incidents at hotels and home shares in popular vacation destinations related to carbon monoxide poisoning — including one earlier this year at a luxury Hyatt resort in Mexico that resulted in two fatalities. That is reason enough to leave one of these handy, compact devices in your suitcase.
At home, we sleep safely knowing carbon monoxide detectors are working in the background to keep us safe. Why not get that same reassurance while staying somewhere you can’t guarantee is safe? Especially considering that carbon monoxide is nearly impossible to detect without assistance from a detector.
According to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, “carbon monoxide, or ‘CO,’ is an odorless, colorless gas” that can kill people and is found in the fumes produced from furnaces, gas ranges, grills, stoves, fireplaces, lanterns, engines and fuel burned in vehicles. It affects people of all ages, but certain groups — including infants, elderly people, those with breathing problems and those with heart disease — are more at risk of getting sick.
Considering the invisible nature of carbon monoxide, the best form of defense against CO poisoning is a carbon monoxide detector. You can also look out for symptoms that are associated with poisoning. The CDC says that common symptoms of carbon monoxide poisoning include:
- Upset stomach
- Chest pain
The CDC also notes that “people who are sleeping or drunk can die from CO poisoning before they have symptoms.”
Andrea Rotondo, travel expert and TPG’s director of content operations, explained why she brings a CO detector when she travels:
Not all destinations have the same robust building codes or safety measures that we enjoy here in the U.S. I try to be hyperaware of my surroundings and potential safety issues. When I heard about several tragedies involving carbon monoxide deaths in hotels and vacation rentals in the Caribbean and Mexico, I knew I needed my own plan to keep my family safe. Now, on every trip, I carry a lightweight, portable carbon monoxide detector. It’s small enough that there’s always room for it in my carry-on, so no reason not to bring it along for peace of mind.
With all of that in mind, you can feel comfortable and safe by ordering one of the best carbon monoxide detectors for travel to pack for your next trip.
Best portable carbon monoxide detectors
Kidde Portable Carbon Monoxide Detector
Running on two AA batteries and small enough to slide into your favorite suitcase, this simple Kidde carbon monoxide detector is affordable, weighs only half a pound, can easily sit on any tabletop at a hotel or Airbnb, and has thousands of five-star reviews on Amazon. If the device detects carbon monoxide, an 85-decibel alarm will sound and a red LED indicator will light up, providing both audible and visual cues that something isn’t right.
“It’s super lightweight,” TPG’s director of content Nick Ewen said. “Since the batteries can be popped out and put back in, there’s no need to worry about it going off in a suitcase if the test button is accidentally pushed.”
Price: $32, Amazon.com
First Alert CO710 Carbon Monoxide Detector
With a built-in 10-year battery, this First Alert carbon monoxide detector is a no-hassle option that can live in your suitcase for years without the fear of having to recharge it or replace batteries. It features an LED screen that indicates both the temperature and CO level, as well as peak CO levels. If carbon monoxide levels are dangerously high, the machine will alert people with an 85-decibel alarm. And when that 10-year battery starts to die, a chirping noise will indicate that it’s time to replace the system.
Price: $37, Amazon.com
Gzair Travel Carbon Monoxide Detector
One easy way to make sure you never forget a portable carbon monoxide detector is by purchasing one that can easily clip onto your bag like a keychain. Luckily, this one made by Gzair has an attached lanyard. This handy device comes with a pre-installed battery that doesn’t need to be changed for two years and a backlit screen that shows real-time CO levels. To alert travelers of unsafe conditions, it emits a 90-decibel alarm, a flashing red alert signal and vibrations.
Price: $116, Amazon.com
Cekkiena 3-in-1 Portable Carbon Monoxide Detector
Another solid option with a lanyard for maximum portability, this orange carbon monoxide detector by Cekkiena measures CO levels in real time, as well as temperature and humidity levels. Instead of having to replace the batteries with this device, the 50-hour battery is rechargeable with an included USB-C cord — just don’t forget to make sure it’s juiced up before traveling. In the event that carbon monoxide levels get dangerously high, the device issues audible alerts to notify users of potential danger.
Price: $40, Amazon.com