Last Updated May 21, 2021

How to Lock a Door Without a Lock (5 Best Portable Door Locks)

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Lock on door in Germany

There are many reasons why you would want to know how to lock a door without a lock. You could be travelling and staying in a room where the door does not have a lock. You could be staying in an Airbnb where the owner still has access, and you want to add a lock for peace of mind. Maybe even at home for that bedroom or office door without a lock. There is a cheap and simple way to protect yourself.

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Privacy and Safety

When you are at home, maybe you just want some privacy once in a while. Putting a permanent lock on a door with a key isn’t always necessary. Even the push and lock, door handles are easily unlocked in seconds, with something as simple as a pen.

Being a travel site, I think about situations when I have been travelling where an extra lock would have been nice, even when the door did have a lock on it.

I have travelled alone a lot and have had situations where I haven’t felt 100% secure in my room. My sister, a female solo traveller, has been in instances far more unpleasant than mine.

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The Problem

Any of these sound familiar?

  • Renting a vacation home (like an Airbnb) and the owner still has access.
  • Renting a room in an Airbnb or Couchsurfing and your room doesn’t have a lock on the door.
  • Staying at someone else's place as a guest and the bedroom does not have a lock. 
  • The hotel assigns someone your room accidentally and programs the same key card.
  • Staying at a hotel and housekeeping comes in.
  • Ineffective or broken locks in hostels.

If you have travelled enough, you will have encountered one of these situations or at least know someone that has. There would be nothing scarier than lying in bed and hearing the door open.

If a door does have a lock, how good is it if there are multiple keys? 

Hotels

Hotels don’t have that problem, right? They have those extra locks, like chains and U-locks, that you can put on when you are in the room. Watch the 84 -second video below and ask yourself how confident they make you feel.


Of course, the chances of someone going through this trouble are slim, but do you want to take that chance? I know I don’t.


Hotel rooms have far too many people with potential access to the room with a simple key card.

Hostels

There are a lot of great hostels out there. There are also the few that leave you with that very special feeling of never again.


Many people stay in dorm-style rooms, although many hostels now have private rooms you can rent. These private rooms can be cheaper than a hotel, so these could be a worthy option.


Again, the more keys that are floating around for that door, the less secure it is.

Renting a Room on Airbnb and VRBO

On Airbnb and VRBO, you can rent a room from someone. Essentially this means you are a guest in their home. You are renting a bedroom. Why would you do this?


It’s as cheap, if not cheaper than staying at a hostel. My sister does this a lot, and she has had many amazing experiences.


The hosts have been an excellent source of information on local things to do, ways of getting around, and how to stay safe in the area. At the end of her day, she would often be able to chat with her hosts and sharpen her language skills.


There is a large level of trust that comes with that. You are staying with strangers. Being able to lock your room door at night gives you extra peace of mind. Most bedroom doors, if they have a lock, are the door knob push locks. These can easily be opened with a pen.

How to unlock a door with a pen

Airbnb and Vacation Homes

I love vacation homes. I’ve almost exclusively stayed in them, even when travelling alone. I’ve almost exclusively stayed in them, even when travelling alone.


While lying in bed at night, there is a thought that creeps into my mind. “What if someone comes in with a key? I really don’t want to confront someone in my underwear.”


Has the thought of someone being able to come in at any time has crossed your mind? With vacation rentals, the owners, caretaker, and cleaning person all have a key. If you are thinking about how to lock a door without a lock like a bedroom door, or even the main door as an extra precaution, then you should get a portable door lock


There is a solution for all these situations, and it’s cheap, easy to use and portable.

Door Security Devices

When it comes to door security there are many options. They all have the same goal in mind. Lock a door without a lock. Or an added measure of door security for a door with a lock.

All have the same goal in mind. Not all have worked as advertised.

  1. 1
    Fork - Yup, I said fork. Would you trust your safety to a fork?
  2. 2
    Chair - Wedge the chair under the door knob. Chairs are for sitting, not security.
  3. 3
    Security bar - It may be a good option at home, as a door barricade, but it is not portable.
  4. 4
    Door jammers - Attaches under the door. Same idea as a chair, but fits in your suitcase.
  5. 5
    Door wedge alarms - May not prevent entry but will make a ton of noise and scare anyone away. 
  6. 6
    Portable door lock - Attaches to the frame and door. Make the door impossible to open.

The Solutions: 

Portable Door Lock

This little device weighs on average only 113g (4 oz), the equivalent of two chocolate bars. It takes up as much space as your average cell phone. These door locks are truly portable and make them a must-have travel gadget for any traveller.


You can use these locks at home for extra privacy or security.


They connect to the strike plate on the door frame of any inward opening doors (most doors open inwards) and prevents the door from being opened from the outside.


The door won’t even open an inch. These locks, can’t be manipulated from the outside like all those secondary locks on hotel doors.


It can be attached in seconds and taken off in a second if you ever need to get out in an emergency.

Portable Door Jammer

A door jammer slides under the door itself. You tighten the screw which anchors is under the door and secures it to the floor. 

Now through the magic of physics, when some one pushes against the door it creates a downward force on the door jammer, holding the door closed. 

Like anything, if someone repeatedly started slamming into the door, it may move. This would prevent anyone who has a key from entering the room, which is 99.9% of the time what you are trying to prevent. 

Where Would You Use a Portable Door Lock or Door Jammer?

This small device is great for additional safety and privacy anywhere. It doesn’t just have to be for travelling. Whether the door has a lock or not you could use it at:

  • Hotels
  • Rented rooms
  • Any shared accommodations
  • Additional home security on any door
  • Cottages 
  • University or College dorms
  • Hostels
  • Staying as a guest in someone else's home
  • Apartments


Keep a portable door lock in your suitcase, and you’ll always have it available if you need it. Use one at home for extra privacy or security. 


Important Things to Look For in Your Portable Door Lock

At a glance, when you are looking to buy a door lock in this style, they may all look the same. Yes, some may be dual-sided and some just single-sided, but there is something far more important to look at.

The prong size and direction are the keys. While most of these all function the same, the prongs  make all the difference in fit. Different styles allow you to fit the lock into a variety of door strike plate sizes and shapes. To see how portable door locks work, click here

How the Door Works With a Portable Lock

Parts of a Door

The main door components that matters are the latch bolt and the strike plate. They can vary from country to country. Hotels and residential doors can also differ. 

The latch bolt fits into the strike plate to keep the door closed. Your portable lock needs to go around the latch bolt and into the strike plate. 


Horizontal Prongs

There are a couple of different styles when it comes to portable locks. You will most often see two sizes and two directions of the prongs. The reason for this is to accommodate different door latch bolts and strike plate shapes. 

The most common types you will find are horizontal prongs. Older models will have the a 0.8-inch size that would fit a latch like pictured above.

On dual-sided locks, some will have a taller opening of 1.1-inches. This opening will accommodate taller latch bolts found in many hotel rooms.

Horizontal Prongs on a portable door lock

Vertical Prongs

There is one other problem you can encounter with strike plates, width. In older homes, you may find very narrow strike plates. 

Horizontal prongs won't fit if they are too wide. This situation is where vertical prongs come in. 


Narrow door strike from a 1921 house

Narrow door strike from a house built in 1921

Vertical prongs on portable locks

Vertical prongs solve the problem of narrow strike plates. The opening size can vary between the more common 0.8-inch size and the less common 1.1 inch size. Some vertical prongs just have a hook. Vertical prongs are harder to find. 


Keep in mind the world is big, with many different styles of doors. Not one of the locks will fit every door. Some definitely will fit more doors than others due to their design.

If you are looking to lock a bedroom door without a lock, maybe the classic single-sided design is enough. If you or someone you know are travelling a lot, a dual-sided travellers security lock is what you need.

If you are buying one for elderly parents and their winter vacation home, maybe you want the
simplest lock to use

Everyone has different needs. 


Best Ways to Lock a Door Without a Lock

There are so many options now available to secure a door. This is a travel site, so the focus is on portability. Solo-travellers loves these. Regardless if you travel alone or not, these locks give you that extra peace of mind. 

When it comes to door locks for use at home, I would still recommend these options, mainly because they are so versatile.

If you decide to go somewhere locally and rent a hotel, or Airbnb, these styles can easily come with you.

I've chosen to pick these items from Aliexpress. Why? It will save you money. Many things you see on Amazon, comes from Aliexpress and gets marked up. You'll be cutting out the middle man. Let's support the people making the products. 

I order from here almost weekly. It does take longer to get to me, but the savings are substantial.  

#1
Two-Sided Portable Door Lock

Most Versatile Dual-Sided Portable Door Lock - Top Choice!

This lock is the number one choice for its versatility.

This portable door lock is a heavy-duty version with strong ABS and sturdy stainless steel. It operates the same as most similar-looking locks.

The advantage it has is that it is dual-sided. It also has a tall opening, allowing it to fit more doors. That makes it a better choice if you are travelling to Europe.

  • Lightweight
  •  Wide opening design on one side allows it to fit more doors
  • Dual-sided for more options
  • Heavy-duty

5 of 5 stars

#2
Ratchet Portable Door Lock

Ratchet Portable Door Lock - Simplest to Use!

This lock is one of the simplest locks to use. Just insert the hook into the strike plate, close the door and push forward. Click the button to release the ratchet mechanism. 

Its unique hook design is vertical hook, meaning it can fit narrow doors.  

  • Easy to use, quick to remove
  • Unique vertical and open hook design
  • Heavy duty
  • It weighs twice as much as more common designs (6oz/170g) 

4.6 of 5 stars

#3
All Metal Portable Door Lock

All Metal Portable Door Lock

This simple design is unique because the height of the strike plate is now irrelevant.

It has a little prong that fits on the bottom or top of the strike plate. Then you choose the appropriate slot that puts the brace snug to the door. 

Shipping with this one could take a little longer with the free shipping. You can choose other shipping options to get it quicker. This is a super affordable portable door lock you could buy a bunch and give them as gifts!

  • Lightweight and small (3.5 in/8cm)
  • Open hook design
  • All stainless steel 
  • May not fit thick doors

4.9 of 5 stars

#4
Original Single-Sided Portable Door Lock

Single-Sided Portable Door Lock - Original Design

This lock is like the original design most people are familiar with of the famous Addalock. This copy works the same but is about half the cost. 

With its single side, it is not as versatile as the dual-sided ones. Works in standard 0.8-inch tall latches. 

  • Lightweight (3.5oz)
  • Easy to use
  • May not fit narrow or tall door strikes

4.7of 5 stars

#5
Portable Door Jammer

Portable Door Jammer

Portable Door Jammers use physics to create force against the floor when the door gets pushed. 

This design has the screw on top making it easier to tighten.  

They are bulkier compared to the portable door locks above. The door strike plate size doesn't matter. They will work on any door as long as the space under the door is at least 3.5cm/1.4 inches . 

  • Strong metal design
  • Quick to attach
  • Door strike shape or size doesn't matter
  • Not the quickest to get off in an emergency
  •  Heavier and bulkier than other portable door locks
  • Expensive compared to the rest

4.9 of 5 stars

#6
Door Wedge Alarm

Bonus Add On - Door Wedge Alarm

The door wedge alarm is an alternative or addition to your security lock. Place it behind the closed door. If someone tries to enter the room, the door hits the wedge and sets off a 120 dB alarm (as loud as a rock concert). This alarm will scare anyone off and get the attention of others.  

Great for solo travellers and those deep sleepers. 

  • Extremely loud
  • Small and lightweight
  • Very affordable, combine it with a lock for extra security
  • On/Off Switch, use it to hold a door open when it is off
  • Won't necessarily stop someone from forcing the door open
  • Battery required

4.9 of 5 stars


How to Lock a Door Without a Lock (or adding extra security)

Step 1 - Test fit the door and frame 

Here is how to lock a door without a lock or adding an extra level of security to a door with a lock with several keys out there.

Step 1 - Test fit the door and frame

With the door closed, use the backside of the nickel-plated handle to test the gap width. Ensure that it slides between the door and door frame.


Do not force it. 

Step 2 - Test fit the Prongs

Step 2 - Test fit the prongs

Open the door towards you and insert the prongs of the portable lock into the door strike.

Step 3 - Insert the Prongs into the Door strike

Step 3 - Insert the prongs

Once you have inserted the prongs into the door strike, close the door.


If the door closes on the right side, ensure that the chain hangs on the outside (door frame side).

Step 4 - Hold the red handle by the top

Step 4 - Hold the red handle

Hold the red handle by the top of the widest part. Doing this will make the moving metal rod slide to the bottom.

Step 5 - Insert the moving metal rod into the triangle hole

Step 5 - Insert metal rod into triangle hole

Insert the moving metal rod into the triangle hole of the metal plate. It must be between the metal plate and the doorknob.

Step 6 - Let the red handle slide down

Step 6 - Slide red handle down

Ensure that the red handle slides down to the bottom.

Step 7 - The door is now locked!

Step 7 - Door is locked from the inside

How simple is that? Your door is now locked, from the inside!


No one can come into the room or place you are staying while you are inside. 

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About the author

As you can tell, I'm not an Instagram model. This means I have to be frugal about travelling and have found many ways to save money when I travel. I made this website because I want to show you the way real people can travel, on real budgets. If you want travel tips for Europe, you are in the right place. If you want pictures me staring off into a sunset, in front of iconic European landmarks....sorry wrong guy.


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