Turns out Pepper/Mace Sprays CAN be checkedOn my last trip in Mexico, I was unfortunately jumped by some fellow on the street late at night. Caught me by surprise and landed an nice punch squarely on my kisser. Don't worry ladies, I'm still pretty. ;)
Anyhow, there's nothing I could have done to prevent this and to be honest, I was really lucky that all I suffered was a little bit of swelling and temporary fear. After the stars cleared, the young fellow was still dancing there and throwing punches at me. I'm not an experienced fighter, nor was I carrying any weapon to defend myself.
Luckily, the guy got spooked by some other folks approaching and took off, but it got me thinking about what I'd do if it happens ever again. My friend Ruth there in Puerto Vallarta, loaned me a small can of pepper spray for the week I was there. It was really nice to know that if I did need to defend myself, I had something right there in my pocket that could at least buy me some time. I'd thought about carrying a knife, but you have to get in close to use it and there are legal issues to contend with. That, and they might just take it away from you and make matters worse.
With pepper or mace spray, you can nail them at a distance. It's easy to carry, etc. but others told me there's no way you're going to get one of those on a plane, and that you'd have to buy it when you get there.
I just checked the U.S. TSA checklist and you can in fact check "defense spray" in your luggage"
"Self Defense Sprays - One 4 ounce (118ml) container of mace or pepper spray is permitted in checked baggage provided it is equipped with a safety mechanism to prevent accidental discharge. Self Defense Sprays containing more than 2% by mass of Tear Gas (CS or CN) are prohibited in Checked Baggage."
So, next time I travel you can bet my backpack will need to accommodate just one more item. :)
I don't know which product is most recommended, but I found these on Amazon that have good reviews, are inexpensive & appear to meet the TSA specs. If you know of one that's a better choice for travel and would be approved for checking in luggage by the TSA, please drop a link in the comments below.