February 10

How to Lock a Door Without a Lock (or add an extra lock)

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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

On Airbnb, 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. 


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. Many people find they slide on smooth floors (e.g. hardwoods). With enough force, they move anyways.
  5. 5
    Door wedge alarms - They won't prevent entry but will make a ton of noise. 
  6. 6
    Portable door lock - Attaches to the frame and door. These are the best all-around solution.

The Solution: 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.

Where Would You Use a Portable Door Lock?

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. These can accommodate any size door latch (like the #2 pick below), but not very common.


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. 

The best part of all, not one of these is currently over $13 (not including taxes and shipping, of course).


5 Best Portable Door Locks

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.

If you still would prefer something like a door jammer, then I recommend this one.  I've just seen too many people complain that door jammers are ineffective, especially with a smoother floor. 

#1
HIFEOS Portable Door Lock Heavy Duty Dual Sidedir?t=aciu0d 20&language=en US&l=li2&o=1&a=B08D6J7WDS

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 vertical prong, allowing it to fit more doors. That makes it a better choice if you are travelling to Europe.

  • Lightweight
  • Vertical prong and wide opening design on one side allows it to fit more doors
  • Dual-sided for more options
  • Heavy-duty
  • It has a built-in bottle opener! (very important in Europe)

5 of 5 stars

#2
GSERA Ratchet Portable Door Lockir?t=aciu0d 20&language=en US&l=li2&o=1&a=B08K47JWCJ

GERSA 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 and open. Meaning the height of the door strike opening won't matter. 

  • Easy to use, quick to remove
  • Unique vertical and open hook design
  • Heavy duty
  • It weighs twice as much as more common designs (6.5oz) 

4.5 of 5 stars

#3
Two Sided Portable Door Lockir?t=aciu0d 20&language=en US&l=li2&o=1&a=B08LK7X33Z

Two-Sided Portable Door Lock

This lock is similar to our number one choice. It has two sides, giving it more flexibility than a single-sided option.
One side has a taller opening, with horizontal dual prongs. It will fit more doors.

When you order it, you have the option of buying 1,2,3 or 4 locks. Ordering more saves you as much as 40% per lock. Great gift for travellers, or staff you have that travel a lot. 

  • Lightweight (3.6 oz)
  • Dual-sided for versatility
  • 1.1-inch wide side for tall door strikes
  • May not fit narrow door strikes

4 of 5 stars

#4
Addalock Style Portable Door Lock Original Styleir?t=aciu0d 20&language=en US&l=li2&o=1&a=B07LCDPP7T

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 60% of 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

3.5 of 5 stars

#5
Mydlock Superior Portable Door Lockir?t=aciu0d 20&language=en US&l=li2&o=1&a=B07RHQNDP7

Mydlock Superior Portable Door Lock

This lock design is different altogether. The concept is the same as with the other locks.

It inserts into the door strike plate with a vertical prong.

The curve makes it easier to close the door when you are attaching it. With the other designs, that is one of the things you have to learn.  

Once the door is closed, the thumbscrew slides around against the door, and you give it a couple of twists to snug it up. 

  • Lightweight (3.2oz)
  • Easy to use
  • The curve makes it easy to close the door
  • Not the quickest to get off in an emergency 

4 of 5 stars

#6
Portable Door Alarmir?t=aciu0d 20&language=en US&l=li2&o=1&a=B01C0H0000

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
  • It will not stop someone from opening the door
  • Battery required

4 of 5 stars


How to Lock a Door Without a Lock (or even with one)

Step 1 - Test fit the door and frame 

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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