How do you stay safe on vacation so you can relax and enjoy your time away from it all?
It's that time of the year once more. School is out for the summer, and people around the country are seeking out well-deserved vacations. Vacation is an interesting topic for the world of concealed carriers. It often involves traveling, staying away from home, and potentially going outside of your normal secured zone. With that in mind, let's talk about vacation, self-defense, and concealed carry.
Any defense should be planned with layers. In the military, we call it a defense in depth. This means we've utilized multiple layers of security to prevent an attack. These would be things like C-wire, claymore mines, machine guns, open fields of fire, and more. Sadly machine guns don't fall into your defense-in-depth and typically don't make sense when it comes time to kick your feet up, jump in the pool, and relax. However, that doesn't mean you don't eliminate the defense-in-depth ideals. Let's dive into the layers you can use to improve your security during that well-earned vacation.
OPSEC means operational security. OPSEC applies to your vacation security just as much as it applies to military operations. Loose lips sink ships, and loose lips get your home robbed as well. Social media is essentially an intelligence agency's dream, and in that same vein, it's also beloved by criminals.
When you post a count down to your vacation out of state, all you're doing is alerting the wrong people that you'll be gone at this date. This means your home is ripe for robbery and empty at this exact time. Besides not letting the world know you're on vacation before you go on vacation, it's also wise to wait to post those vacay pics until you're home.
Don't build a digital sign saying your home is empty. Keep it quiet. Don't build a physical sign your home is empty either. Be smart and have someone pick up your newspapers, so they don't pile up on the driveway. Get something as simple as a light timer that turns your lamps and lights on and off at certain times, making it seem almost random.
When you start planning for your vacation, you need to research the self-defense and carry laws of the state you are traveling to. Does your concealed carry permit offer reciprocity in that state? Are there any specific laws regarding things like magazine capacity, ammunition choices, and similar problems? Believe it or not, some states ban hollow point ammo, and that can create a big issue for you while on vacation.
Know the laws, especially around concealed carry, when it comes to travel. If you're driving, you need to know the rules between each state you're traveling through. New York famously arrests people on layovers because they are traveling with firearms and magazines that might be banned in the state or in New York City in particular. Be smart and know the gun laws of where you're traveling and where you're traveling through.
Additionally, do the research on where you are staying or plan to stay. Is your hotel in a bad part of town? Maybe consider a different location. Where are the hospitals? Is a bad storm moving in that area? I live in Florida, and thunderstorms happen all the time, which might create power outages, and decreased road visibility. Research, research, research the location before you arrive.
You know the laws. Your OPSEC is tight. What's next? Well, now it's your chance to plan. First, consider how far from home you're going. You will be in a new palace with a potentially new culture, you won't know the roads, where the hospitals are, and your neighbors won't be there to help.
With that in mind, how do you pack and plan? Well, for one, I'd consider bringing some extra goodies that depart from your normal EDC. First and foremost, bring a holster that very effectively conceals your firearm. You don't want to be the person that stands out if you can help it, especially if you're a stranger in a strange land.
Next, consider bringing extra ammo. Not because you might get in such a vicious gunfight that you'll need it, but because stuff happens. That stuff being ammo getting fouled by the environment, magazines breaking, and the general Murphy's law of vacation occurring.
Bring common emergency response items with you. This includes things like a flashlight that can help if the power shuts down or if you need to change a tire on the side of the road in the middle of the night. Bring an IFAK or just a general first aid kit to treat both booboos and big wounds.
Don't forget a good pocket knife paired with a good multitool. Between the two, you can conquer most tasks requiring tools. Also, I'm a big fan of the external cell phone battery. Cell phones are super handy tools, and having the ability to keep your phone charged on vacation can be super handy. You might not find a plug and a dead cell phone eliminates your option to call 911, and you want that option.
I'd also suggest a portable safe with a locking cable. One you can use to leave your gun safely behind in your vehicle, hotel room, or Airbnb. Let's be real, some places don't allow you to carry a firearm, and that doesn't give you an excuse not to safely store it. Lock it up if you aren't in direct control of it. You might take the wife to a bar, or a theme park with metal detectors, or somewhere else where carry isn't allowed.
Ahh, a vacation should be the opposite of a stressful day at work. A little planning can go a long way. I don't advocate paranoia, but I do advocate preparedness, even on vacation. Be smart, plan well, and plan ahead.
Travis Pike is a former Marine Machine gunner who served with 2nd Bn 2nd Marines for 5 years. He deployed in 2009 to Afghanistan and again in 2011 with the 22nd MEU(SOC) during a record-setting 11 months at sea. Travis has trained with the Romanian Army, the Spanish Marines, the Emirate Marines, and the Afghan National Army.
He serves as an NRA-certified pistol instructor and pursues a variety of firearms-based hobbies.
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