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Michael Hodgson

Traveler at HI Travel Tales
Born to British parents in Canada, Michael Hodgson had been schlepped back and forth across the pond since he was a toddler. In college, he took the big leap and spent a few months in Kenya – and never looked back. His biology major somehow led him into a writing career, focusing on the outdoors, hiking and gear testing. Building on his lifetime of travel with travel writing was a natural, although he still loves to seek out the wilder side of a mountain – or a city -- for a good story. Michael also is a partner in a consulting business (www.NewNormalConsulting.com) built on a passion to help specialty businesses and brands succeed both domestically and internationally.
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As an increasing number of electronic devices, computers and cameras get toted along on our travels, the more we have come to see the value in packing along a little extra security for our valuables. Security that comes in the form of a Pacsafe Travelsafe X15 anti-theft portable safe.

Pacsafe Travelsafe X15 being carried as a shoulder bag through the airport. Holidays and travel are hopefully a utopian experience. Unfortunately, opportunistic criminals can quickly wipe away the smiles and good times if a traveler is not focused on safety. In a hotel room or other accommodation, that means securing your valuables when you are not there to watch over them. But how?

True, many nicer hotels (three star and above) have safes, but they are tiny at best (room for cash, credit cards, a passport or two, and perhaps a small tablet) and not as secure as one might think. And for hostel travelers, the accommodations traditionally offer lockers (although you will need your own lock). But what about those times for example you are sleeping on a train, in a guesthouse, using Airbnb, or staying in a hotel that doesn’t have a safe? Or just hanging out in a train station, coffee shop or airport waiting, working or socializing?

Those are the times when the Pacsafe Travelsafe X15 ($99.95) shines. The 16-liter Travelsafe is a lightweight (1 pound, 9 ounces), padded, EVA foam-laminated bag with a soft brushed polyester lining (to protect against scratching your electronics). But it is much more than just a bag. It is a portable safe because it features an eXomesh steel mesh security system sandwiched between the lining and the outer fabric that is combined with a strong cable and a heavy-duty TSA-accepted combination lock (included with the bag). It is in fact also a backpack liner for added security too.

When traveling to, from an around China, we used the water-resistant bag as an over-the-shoulder tote and “personal item” carry-on on trains, planes, buses and taxis for extra stuff (things that didn’t necessarily need security). Then, in the hotel, that tote became a secure safe into which we placed two Macbook Airs, one iPad Pro, one iPad mini, a video camera, a large DSLR camera, several backup drives, a wallet containing SD cards of photos, our passports and cash. Yup, all that fit in there, although you did have to layer carefully.

HITT Tip: We have heard of thieves cutting into a Travelsafe with a knife between the spaces of the mesh, and then fishing around for cash and even passports (items small enough to work out between the wires of the small grid). So if you do stow your passports and cash in a Travelsafe, be sure to place them in a larger pouch and then sandwich that between a laptop and tablet. Just don’t make it easy for any thief.

It is important to realize the Travelsafe is not going to be 100-percent effective against determined thieves. Professional thieves will have bolt cutters and other equipment to crack all but the most hardened security measures. But using the Travelsafe is the best security a traveler has against opportunistic criminals or even those few unscrupulous hotel workers tempted by crimes of convenience – such as snatching a computer simply because it is charging on the desk in plain view – or a hostel traveler who wants more than holiday memories.

When you go to lock your Pacsafe Travelsafe, be sure you secure the attached cable to an object or bar that is permanently attached to a wall or floor, such as pipes or built-in furniture. The more immovable the better, of course. We were forced in one situation to use the heavy wooden support bars of a large desk (above crossbeams so someone couldn’t just lift the desk, slip off the cable and make off with our goods). We’ve also used heating pipes, water pipes, radiators, and even the drainpipe below a sink. On a train, use the bars on a luggage rack or the arm or leg of your seat. Bottom line: You just want to be sure anyone with criminal intent has to have serious tools and be forced to work really hard to make a getaway with your valuables – that alone will deter the vast majority of thieves.

Pacsafe Travelsafe being attached to a sink drain pipe to be as secure as possible in our hotel room.

The lock that comes with it attaches to a loop on the bag when not in use. Do not have a brain-dead moment and secure it on HI Travel Tales Seal of Approval for Travel Product Excellencethe other snap loop, as we did once. Luckily, the loop did not come unsnapped, which would have resulted in a lost lock. Also, there is a short learning curve in figuring out how to thread the cable through the top to secure the bag closed. We highly recommend the video on the Pacsafe website to jump you over that hurdle.

All in all, though, we love our Pacsafe Travelsafe and what it offers. Thus, in recognition of great design and outstanding portable security in our travel lives, we’ve bestowed the HITT Seal of Approval for travel product excellence without a moment’s hesitation.

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