The 6 Best Travel-sized Carbon Monoxide Detectors of 2023

First Alert CO710 Carbon Monoxide Detector is our portable, long-lasting top pick.

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Best Carbon Monoxide Detectors for Travel in 2023

Travel + Leisure / Marcus Millan

You've got your suitcase packed with clothes, shoes, and toiletries, and your carry-on has your passport, phone, and laptop. But one thing you are likely missing is a portable carbon monoxide detector. While you may already have one in your home, have you ever thought about bringing a carbon monoxide detector on the road? There have been a number of instances when hotel or vacation-home rental guests have been killed by carbon monoxide poisoning. The gas is odorless and tasteless, which is why it's crucial to have a detector on hand.

"When renting a home or staying at a new place, travelers should ensure that there are working carbon monoxide detectors and smoke alarms to ensure their safety," says John D'Alessandro, association secretary at The Firefighters Association of the State of New York (FASNY). "Often, vacation home rental sites will list safety amenities — if this information is not provided, make sure to double check with your host so you can be prepared with your own portable carbon monoxide detector."

Most carbon monoxide leaks come from fuel-burning sources like furnaces or gas stoves. And, while you might not find those in many hotel rooms, D'Alessandro notes that improperly vented pool or spa heaters in hotels can also be sources of carbon monoxide leaks. "Carbon monoxide can spread quickly, so rooms near these amenities can be affected," he says. Our favorite one to pack when we travel is the portable and easy-to-read First Alert CO710 Carbon Monoxide Detector, but we’ve listed multiple options that fit different needs.

Best Overall

First Alert Carbon Monoxide Detector



Why We Love It
  • It has a temperature display.

What to Consider
  • It has a lithium battery that can't be checked.

The CO710 model detector from First Alert comes with a built-in lithium battery that will last for 10 years, making it the perfect device for taking on the road — no need to plug it into a wall or worry about batteries dying any time soon. If carbon monoxide levels become dangerous, an 85-decibel alarm will sound. It has a simple digital display that shows the current temperature as well as the concentration of measured carbon monoxide. This is a simple and effective device — and a reasonably priced one — that will get the job done. Just keep in mind you'll need to bring this device in your carry-on bag when flying as the lithium battery cannot be removed or checked.

Price at time of publish: $45

The Details: 0.94 x 4.75 x 2.63 inches | 10-year lithium battery | 85 decibels | 10-year limited warranty

Best Keychain

GZAIR SA103 Portable Carbon Monoxide Gas CO Detector



Why We Love It
  • It vibrates, which is helpful for those with sensory impairments.

What to Consider
  • It doesn’t float.

This small, waterproof carbon monoxide detector is ideal for adding to your keychain or backpack, particularly if you're on a multi-day outdoor adventure like backcountry hiking or rafting. But it's also useful if you're traveling via plane, train, or automobile and want a portable device. There's an LED screen that indicates carbon monoxide levels; if the gas crosses the threshold of becoming dangerous — yes, it can still happen outdoors — the device will emit a 95-decibel alarm, a red LED light will begin flashing, and the detector will vibrate (which is great for those with sensory impairments). It has a durable, bright orange rubber case to protect against damage and a battery that can last for two years with constant, 24-hour use.

Price at time of publish: $116

The Details: 4.3 x 1.8 x 1.3 inches | Lithium 9V battery | 95 decibels

Best Budget

Kidde Battery-Powered Carbon Monoxide Detector



Why We Love It
  • It has both visual and auditory cues.

What to Consider
  • It doesn’t really have any additional features.

This simple, affordable carbon monoxide alarm doesn't have metaphorical bells and whistles. All it has are literal alarms — both an 85-decibel auditory alert and a flashing LED light. It’s powered by traditional alkaline batteries as opposed to long-term lithium batteries, so it’s best to have backup AA batteries with you when you travel, just in case they run out of juice. It's also pretty small and lightweight (just 8 ounces), which makes it easy to take with you on the go. If you don't need extras like a smartphone app or a digital display, this is a solid, practical option for a carbon monoxide monitor.

Price at time of publish: $38

The Details: 3 x 7 x 11 inches | 2 AA batteries | 85 decibels | 10-year limited warranty

Best Splurge

Sensorcon Inspector 2 CO Carbon Monoxide Monitor



Why We Love It
  • It’s designed for commercial and first responder use, so you know it’s reliable.

What to Consider
  • It’s the most expensive option on our list.

These high-tech, ultra-durable carbon monoxide detectors are frequently used by first responders and emergency personnel. In fact, they're specifically designed for commercial and industrial use. The Inspector 2 has advanced electrochemical sensors that ensure fast and accurate carbon monoxide level detection, with a digital screen with real-time readouts. That makes it ideal for locating potential leaks — sweep the device around to see if there's any carbon monoxide seeping into your hotel room. The device sounds a low-level alert at 35 parts per million (ppm) and a high-level alert at 200 ppm. It’s also waterproof and dustproof, so it will work well during outdoor adventures.

Price at time of publish: $164

The Details: ‎3.9 x 2.3 x 1.6 inches |1 CR123A battery | 80-plus decibels | 2-year warranty

Best With Smoke Detection

Google Nest Protect Smoke & CO Alarm 2nd Generation

Google Nest Protect Smoke & CO Alarm 2nd Generation


Why We Love It
  • It's the most aesthetically pleasing detector on this list.

What to Consider
  • It needs to be connected to Wi-Fi to send alerts to your phone when you're away from your hotel room or vacation rental.

This sophisticated, dual carbon monoxide and smoke detector comes with many great features, including a convenient mobile app that allows you to control the detector and receive alerts remotely and, perhaps most importantly, a reminder of when it’s time to change the battery (no annoying chirps!). The Nest Protector also speaks rather than beeps to give precise information about what it detects and where the problem is. Just keep in mind that while the device doesn't need Wi-Fi to detect carbon monoxide or smoke and sound the alarm, it does need it to send push notifications to your phone.

Price at time of publish: $119

The Details: 5.3 x 1.5 x 5.3 inches | Energizer Ultimate Lithium “L91” AA batteries | 80-85 decibels | 2-year limited warranty

Best Plug-in

Kidde Nighthawk Plug-In AC/DC Carbon Monoxide Alarm Detector

Kidde Nighthawk Plug-In AC/DC Carbon Monoxide Alarm Detector


Why We Love It
  • There's a back-up battery in case the power goes out.

What to Consider
  • You should install carbon monoxide detectors at least 5 feet high in a room, so you'll need to use the device's extension cord for that.

If you'd prefer to run your carbon monoxide detector via a wall socket, this detector has prongs. But it also has a backup battery in case the power goes out. The device has an 85-decibel alarm that sounds when carbon monoxide levels are dangerously high — you can see how much there is via the digital display. Do note that carbon monoxide detectors should be installed higher in the room, not lower, so you might want to use the included extension cord to place it on a shelf or piece of furniture rather than directly into a wall socket. And don't forget to consider adapters if you're traveling internationally!

Price at time of publish: $31

The Details: 6.06 x 3.75 x 1.75 inches | Plug-in + 9V battery backup | 85 decibels | 10-year limited warranty

Tips for Buying a Carbon Monoxide Detector

Choose your power source

If you're traveling internationally, you might not want to take a plug-in detector with you, as you'll likely need an adapter to use an outlet abroad. That's when a battery-powered device comes in handy. It'll also work well if you're staying somewhere off the grid, like a remote cabin. Generally speaking, battery-powered carbon monoxide detectors are easier to travel with, but they can be more expensive than plug-in models.

Prioritize portability

Since you'll be taking this carbon monoxide detector with you on your travels, portability is an important factor to consider. Just keep in mind that smaller devices often are more expensive, as the technology needs to be scaled down to fit in a more compact package.

Look for additional features

Carbon monoxide detectors range from the super basic, which will simply sound an alarm when it detects an unsafe level of carbon monoxide, to more high-tech, which might have displays to communicate the levels of carbon monoxide, and an app that alerts you when you're away. You might also want a carbon monoxide detector that detects smoke as well.

Frequently Asked Questions
  • How do carbon monoxide detectors work?

    "Carbon monoxide detectors use a sensor that detects and measures the amount of carbon monoxide in the air. The alarm will activate if the carbon monoxide detected in the air exceeds a safe threshold over a specific time," says Kaitlyn Brown, clinical managing director of America’s Poison Centers.

  • Where in the room should I put a carbon monoxide tester?

    "Carbon monoxide is lighter than air and rises with warm air. It is best to place your detector on a wall about five feet above the floor or about eye level," says D'Alessandro. "Along with smoke alarms, carbon monoxide detectors should be present, at minimum, on every floor of the residence, including basements and outside of sleeping areas."

  • Can I put a carbon monoxide tester in my checked luggage?

    Generally speaking, carbon monoxide testers can be checked into the cargo hold of airplanes. One exception is if the device is powered by a lithium-ion battery — that battery would need to be removed and carried onto the plane with you, as lithium-ion batteries are banned from the cargo hold.

  • What are some symptoms of carbon monoxide poisoning?

    The most common symptoms of carbon monoxide poisoning are headache, nausea, vomiting, and dizziness. More severe poisoning can cause life-threatening symptoms, including loss of consciousness, chest pain, and seizures," says Brown. "Anyone concerned they have been exposed to carbon monoxide should contact their regional poison center through the national Poison Help line, 1-800-222-1222, or visit Poison Help for online support and resources."

Why Trust Travel + Leisure

Stefanie Waldek is a freelance travel writer with nearly a decade of experience. For this article, she evaluated carbon monoxide detectors based on their portability, power source, and additional features. She also spoke to industry experts, including:

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