Armed on Vacation: Safety Considerations

Armed on Vacation: Safety Considerations

With the end of summer, many of us have returned from vacations at the beach and other destinations. If traveling to a place that denies you your rights, you may go unarmed. But if traveling to the Second Amendment friendly states within the continental US, you may choose to travel armed. There are a number of complications that come into play when we do so, and if we go armed, we must maintain safety while away from home.

Consider your family situation. Are you traveling by yourself, with a significant other, with children, with friends? The nature of the group with which you travel should influence your decisions. How will you secure a firearm when at your destination? This may change according to who you are traveling with. A group with children may change what precautions you need to take when at the location.

Also, consider how you will dress while on vacation. Are you traveling to the beach where you will be spending a lot of time dressed in only shorts? If you typically carry a full-size handgun, that may not lend itself well to being dressed in beachwear. You might find that affixing a holster to a belt does not prove feasible when going to the beach, a pool, or other such activates where wearing a proper belt and holster is not realistic. All of these considerations are important before setting off on your trip.

Safe Firearm Storage on Location

Be aware of the rules in the jurisdiction of your travels. What is the hotel policy concerning guns? I won’t even wade into that decision here, but I will submit that, whether against a hotel’s policy or not, leaving guns unattended in a hotel room poses a lot of potential issues. Guns get stolen out of vehicles, from homes, and from hotel rooms. If your vacation activities are going to impose complications for having the gun on you at all times, then where will you leave the gun when not wearing it?

If a gun must be stored while unattended in a hotel room, then you should at least ensure that it is locked up in a way that will make walking off with it more difficult. One possible solution for this is to utilize a locking box or small hand safe that works with a locking cable. These work similar to a Kensington lock that you would use to secure a laptop. The small lockbox or safe can be cabled to a piece of furniture, or some other heavy object, in the hotel room. I would also suggest hiding it from view, which may be difficult if you are attaching the safe to something secure. You certainly don’t want the gun safe in view so that cleaners or maids can see it. Having a small lockbox or hand safe that can be hidden in luggage may be the best option. There remains, however, the possibility of theft, and this should be considered.

Lockable Vehicle Safe

If you have a vehicle during your travels and you plan to secure the gun in the car while you are not carrying it, take extra security precautions. A gun left in a bag or backpack in the car is perfectly likely to walk away. Thieves often smash a window and simply grab whatever looks easy to walk off with. A firearm should be kept in a locked receptacle in the vehicle that requires a key or code to unlock. A small hand safe that uses a tough cable that can be fastened to the vehicle structure may serve well, and the safe should remain out of sight, perhaps in the trunk or under a seat. Even so, there are no guarantees that a determined thief will not take it, but it is less likely than when a gun is unsecured in a bag or an open glove box.

Any time the gun is not on your person, it should be locked up. This is a best practice even in your own home, but while on vacation, there is likely more chance of the gun ending up in unauthorized hands. Be mindful of where the weapon is left at all times. Who will have access to the room or house you are renting? Is the gun sufficiently secured while left unattended?

A Minimal EDC Setup May Prove Best

If you are vacationing at the beach or anywhere that involves going about with minimal clothing, a minimal carry setup may be ideal. Consider your handgun and holster options. A full-size pistol that requires a sturdy belt and good concealment may not work well when you are likely walking around in only beach shorts. A small gun that you will indeed have on you is better than a full-size gun that you won’t put on because it is inconvenient due to the way you are dressed. Also, if you will be taking the gun on and off frequently, something that facilitates this more easily is the better option.

Small Guns: Ruger LCR & Ruger LCP II

In my personal experience, the small-frame light-weight revolver is my preferred vacation gun. Guns like the Ruger LCR or lightweight variants of the Smith and Wesson J Frame work great for such circumstances. I find that a holster that can be quickly clipped and unclipped from the belt proves ideal (verify that the holster does indeed hold the gun securely). This makes putting the gun on and taking it off easy and safe. Rather than have to thread the belt through holster loops, a holster with good quality clips allows you to simply put the gun on and off quickly and efficiently. This simplicity can go a long way in ensuring you go armed when otherwise you would not. If you are familiar with the practice, pocket carry can work well on vacation. A small gun in a pocket holster may work well.

Gun Maintenance

Finally, bear in mind that certain environments, like the beach with all of its salt air and sand, can be very rough on a handgun. Realistically, you probably will not do much in the way of cleaning the gun while at your vacation destination. However, upon return, it is best practice to field strip and thoroughly clean and lube the gun. I have found that a few days at the beach will result in rust forming on guns that otherwise never have much of an issue with such.

Read Also: 5 Tips to Make Cleaning Guns More Enjoyable

Staying armed while away from home allows you to enjoy a vacation that much more. The unfortunate dangers of this world do not disappear just because we are spending leisure time at a destination. Some pre-planning can help you maintain your safety while out of town.

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Salvatore is a firearms instructor, competitive shooter, and life-long practitioner of the concealed carry lifestyle. He strives to serve as a conduit of reliable information for the ever-growing community of armed citizens and concealed carriers. You can contact him at his website Reflex Handgun.
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