Self-Defense on the Road

Dear Fellow Survivalist;

Those of us who put a priority on defending ourselves and our families tend to develop habits and systems for how we go about that task. That’s not really all that surprising, as we humans tend to be creatures of habit anyway. It’s just that a habit which helps us to stay alive is considerably more important than one for how we brush our teeth.

But what about when we can’t depend on those habits; what do we do then?

Traveling is one of the times when we can’t necessarily depend on those habits. Pretty much everything is different, making the basic job of defending ourselves much more complex. If we don’t realize this, we could be putting ourselves in danger, without even knowing it.

For those of us who carry concealed, defending ourselves started before the trip does. Before leaving, we need to check on concealed carry reciprocity and the firearms laws in the states we are going to visit, as well as any states we might accidentally end up in. The last thing we need is to end up someplace where we are carrying illegally, without even realizing it.

This happened to a traveler with a concealed carry license a few years back. His travel plans didn’t involve going to any states where he couldn’t legally carry. As he was going by air, he wasn’t concerned about other states. Following the necessary regulations, he packed his gun and checked his bag. But due to inclement weather, his plane was forced to land in New Jersey for the night, where he was arrested in his hotel room.

The problem was that New Jersey requires a permit to even own a pistol, let alone carry it. So even though he wasn’t carrying concealed and was in his hotel room, he was breaking their law. Apparently New Jersey law enforcement looks for opportunities like this and used it to nab this man before he could leave the state. Had he left his suitcase at the airport, instead of accepting it back from the airline, he would have been okay.

Besides making sure that we remain legal, the most important thing we need to do is to ratchet our situational awareness up a notch. One of the things we depend on, perhaps without even realizing it, is our familiarity with our surroundings. That allows us to spot things that are not normal, whether they be people who don’t fit in, vehicles that don’t belong in the neighborhood or people who are just acting a bit strange. Those things tend to catch our eye, leading us to go from condition yellow to condition orange.

But when we’re in unknown ground, we don’t have the advantage of knowing what is normal. We can very easily end up with a lot of perfectly normal things attracting our attention, just because they aren’t normal to us. That can cause us to tire of being in condition orange all the time, rather than in our more comfortable condition yellow.

The solution to this problem is to give ourselves the time to learn the territory where we are. Arriving at a location 15 minutes early and using that time to take a good look around, getting a feel for that place, can give us enough of an understanding of the normal feel of a place, so that everything isn’t causing us a distraction. It won’t be perfect, but we’ll be much more likely to only trigger on those things that deserve our attention.

Of course, a lot of potential problems can be avoided by finding out which areas of town are dangerous before going there. We all know about that at home, but when we’re away from home it may not be so obvious. Sticking to the “rich areas” is usually safe, but that might keep us from seeing the very things we traveled someplace to see.

Information is often available about the various areas to go and to avoid. Hotel staff can usually provide this information, if we take the time to ask them. You won’t find a travel brochure in the lobby, outlining the places for visitors to avoid, but those people live there and know the good areas of town, as well as the bad ones.

You should also be able to count on the people you are seeing to steer you clear of dangerous areas. As with the hotel workers, they know what’s going on. Even if you are going places without them, share your plans with them and ask their advice. Letting them know where you’re going to be and when you’re going to be back provides a fail-safe, in case something happens and you don’t get back in time. If you don’t trust them to do that for you, why are you visiting them in the first place?

Finally, make sure that you keep your valuables in a safe place. If the hotel offers safes in the room, make use of them. If not, ask at the desk if they have a safe. By and large hotel workers are honest people, but not all are and you’ve got no way of knowing which ones are and which ones aren’t. If the hotel can’t keep your valuables safe, then you’re better off locking them up in the trunk of your car, assuming you have a car with you.

Like I always say, keep your powder dry and your survival gear close at hand. This is especially true when traveling, as many problems can crop up on the road. Carrying a survival kit may seem like a waste to a lot of people, but you’d be surprised how often it comes in handy. You might not need it to survive, but you will most likely need it to avoid some minor problems.

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