I Travel Solo Often, and This Expert-trusted, TSA-approved Pepper Spray Gives Me Serious Peace of Mind
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It gets law enforcement’s stamp of approval and is just $10 at Amazon.
“You must have been doing something to provoke them.” That was what someone told me when I was attacked by two men while traveling abroad several years ago. Their comment stung. Although I was traveling solo, I’d done nothing wrong. It was 3 p.m. on a weekday afternoon, I was in a family-friendly neighborhood, and I wasn’t wearing any expensive jewelry or flashing my valuables. I just happened to encounter two individuals intent on harming someone that day.
Fortunately, the attack hasn’t deterred me from traveling by myself, and I still love my job as a travel writer. Therapy helps, but I also have serious peace of mind now that I pack pepper spray. At the time of the incident, I didn’t even know you could fly with pepper spray. I just assumed you couldn’t. But post-attack, my parents gave me this best-selling Sabre Pepper Spray. “Don’t worry: it’s TSA-friendly,” said Mom. “But only use it on people who get a little too friendly,” added Dad.
To buy: amazon.com, $10
Pepper spray is one product where you can’t risk buying a lemon. You need to know it works well, every time. While I’ve never had to deploy mine, I am 99 percent confident in my Sabre Pepper Spray because it’s ranked number one on Amazon’s list of Best Sellers in Self Defense Pepper Spray. In fact, it has nearly 82,000 five-star ratings and an impressive 4.7-star rating. Plus it’s the brand law enforcement uses. Rich Guerrero, the instructor of Nashville Armory’s popular Personal Safety Pepper Spray Class told me he personally carries this exact spray on him every day. “Frankly, anything Sabre you should buy,” he recommended before adding, “Beware of ‘off brands.’”
Related:The 13 Best Travel Safety Products of 2023
The great thing about this Sabre pepper spray is that it’s just .54 fluid ounces, which falls well under the amount you’re allowed to fly with according to the TSA. The TSA website reads, “One 4 fl. oz. (118 ml) container of mace or pepper spray is permitted in checked baggage provided it is equipped with a safety mechanism to prevent accidental discharge.” Although the TSA permits pepper spray in checked luggage, you should always confirm with your airline that they allow it, as some airlines don’t. And if you’re traveling internationally, you’ll want to find out if it’s legal to carry at your destination.
To buy: amazon.com, $10
For domestic travel, Guerrero recommends this pepper spray because it’s legal in all 50 states, and if it gets confiscated by TSA for some reason, at $10, it’s easy to replace. Of course, it’s also great to have on road trips. And since it has an ergonomic design meant to fit comfortably in your hand, I hike with it, too. When I want to attach it to my backpack or pants, I use the keychain it comes with. The keychain even has a quick release button, so I don’t have to fiddle with it to get the spray off when I need it. As Guerrero likes to say, “If it’s not in your hand, it’s already too late.”
Worried about accidentally discharging it? Don’t be. This Sabre pepper spray has a safety mechanism that ensures it won’t go off unless you unlock it first. When you are ready to use it, after a verbal warning doesn’t work, you have about 25 bursts before it runs out. That should be plenty to keep your attacker at bay. Make sure you have the nozzle pointed away from you, and aim for their face. (This spray can reach up to 10 feet away.) And never try to hold the pepper spray like hairspray where you press down with your forefinger. Experts say to fold your dominant hand around it and press the trigger with your thumb since that gives you a better grip.
Guerrero told me the biggest mistake most people make when it comes to pepper spray is they don’t take a class. “My students always say ‘This is the best class I did not know I needed.’" If you can’t attend an in-person class, he recommends practicing with Sabre’s practice spray kit that shoots water. It’s available on Amazon for $17. “It works exactly like the real deal,” said Guerrero. “All my students say the best part of the class is getting to see how it works, and I always get an ‘Oh wow’ moment that it was different deploying it than they thought it would be. The learning curve is real fast.”
To buy: amazon.com, $10
And if you’re worried about the formula not working, don’t be. This Sabre pepper spray has double the strength of many pepper sprays. One shopper said it saved their life, and they were up against a bodybuilder much bigger than them. They wrote, “The only problem is that when I sprayed it, he was tackling me and so some of the spray hit me. I was probably hit with only 10 percent of the spray but I can tell you it was terrible. It was so powerful that the cops couldn't stay in the house for long because of the residue in the air.”
Fortunately, most shoppers are like me. They simply cite how safe this spray makes them feel. “It is comforting to know I can stop an aggressor with this pepper spray,” wrote one shopper who titled their review “Hope I Never Use It.”
It may be small, but Sabre Pepper Spray allows me — and many other solo travelers — to feel a million times better about doing activities alone whether it’s running, walking the dog, working night shifts, or in my case, traveling solo. My parents have given me a lot of great gifts over the years, but this is by far the best.
At the time of publishing, the price started at $10.
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