Clark Howard

The $10 Travel Essential Clark Howard Always Packs

Money expert Clark Howard loves to travel. One way he saves money on baggage fees is by packing everything into one bag. He's recently added an item to his luggage that he calls a "lifesaver." And he means it literally.

This Is Clark’s Must-Have Travel Item

“Recently I purchased something for $10 that could potentially save my life,” Clark says.

It's a portable carbon monoxide detector.

Clark says he got the idea after reading about a deadly carbon monoxide leak at a hotel in the Bahamas.

Carbon monoxide (CO), an invisible and odorless gas, is harmful when you breathe it "because it displaces oxygen in the blood and deprives the heart, brain and other vital organs of oxygen," according to a fact sheet from the Occupational Safety and Health Administration. "Large amounts of CO can overcome you in minutes without warning — causing you to lose consciousness and suffocate."

Unfortunately, there is no law requiring hotels to have carbon monoxide detectors in every room. A consultant and former Hilton employee told the New York Times, which did an in-depth article on the subject, that installing and maintaining in-room carbon monoxide detectors would be "outrageously expensive" for the hotel industry.

“So it’s pretty crazy, right?” Clark says about the issue. “Because everywhere you go, pretty much, smoke and fire detectors are required.”

How To Shop for a Carbon Monoxide Detector

Clark says he did some online shopping to find an inexpensive carbon monoxide detector that he can take on his travels.

"I went on eBay and I went on Amazon, and I put in 'portable carbon monoxide detectors.' One search I did was 'carbon monoxide detector for travel' and found more stuff," he says.

“I found this little device that fits in the palm in my hand. It runs on two AAA batteries. Ten dollars is what it cost me,” Clark says. “No brand name on it, so hopefully it works.”

We found portable CO detectors, with ratings of four stars or better, on Amazon for as low as $13.89.

Where To Install a Carbon Monoxide Detector

According to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, carbon monoxide detectors should be installed on an interior wall.

“Because carbon monoxide is slightly lighter than air and also because it may be found with warm, rising air, detectors should be placed on a wall about 5 feet above the floor. The detector may be placed on the ceiling,” the agency’s website says.

“When I go to a hotel room, I put it on the dresser. And hopefully, if there is a leak, it’s going to alert me,” Clark says.

Final Thoughts

When you’re traveling, hotel safety is something you have to be proactive about. Buying a portable carbon monoxide detector is not only inexpensive but also potentially priceless.

Clark says he doesn’t travel without it.

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