Top Five Security Measures to Take While Traveling Unarmed

Editor’s Note: The following is a post by Mark Kakkuri, a nationally published freelance writer who covers guns and gear, 2nd Amendment issues and the outdoors. His writing and photography have appeared in many firearms-related publications, including the USCCA’s Concealed Carry Magazine. You can follow him on Twitter @markkakkuri.

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Read Mark’s previous articles in this “Top Five” series:

I’ve just returned from a business trip that took me out of state for several days. While I did not anticipate nor encounter any kind of situation that threatened my security, I still followed the same basic safety rules I follow when I’m at home. But because I was traveling by air and not checking any bags, I was without any kind of firearm or blade for self-defense. Yes, I could have checked a bag and thus allowed myself the opportunity to be better armed, but I chose instead to be as mobile as possible, able to get out of the airport and to my final destination quicker.

With that, here are my top five security measures to take while traveling. Interestingly enough, I still follow these when I’m in my hometown, carrying a concealed handgun and a good folding knife.

1. Carry a Tactical Pen and a Mini Flashlight

When traveling without a gun or knife, I still carry a tactical pen, sometimes two. One is in my shirt pocket, looking for all intents and purposes, like a pen. The other is nearby in a backpack or other carry-on bag. The pens I carry are typical black tactical pens. In other words, they look “tactical.” But not one of them has ever gotten so much as a blink from the TSA or any other law enforcement officer when they’re being X-rayed or when they are spotted in my pocket at an airport or other public places. And while they rank pretty low on the scale of self-defense tools, at least I’ve got something I can grab easily if needed. Tactical pens run the gamut of features and price ranges. My favorites are medium-weight, easy to hold and made from anodized aluminum or titanium, so they’re exceptionally strong. But you can turn a plastic pen into a self-defense tool if you have to. Whatever you do, have it with you all the time. As for the mini flashlight, even the simple keychain LED light can prove super useful in a variety of normal activities. In an emergency, they’re priceless.

2. Maintain a High Level of Situational Awareness

It’s easy with business travel — and even more so with travel for pleasure — to get so focused on getting from Point A to Point B that you forget that there’s a distance between those points that could contain threats to your safety. So, whether you are driving from your home to the airport or walking from a parking lot to the TSA checkpoint or from your hotel room to a restaurant, keep your eyes open and be aware of what — and who — is around you. Your heightened state of alert — head up, looking around — signals potential threats that you are in an active mode of self-defense and not a good target. But, even if a threat comes to you, at least you are potentially more aware and able to respond appropriately. Make sure to keep your situational awareness up when you are at a destination though too. In a restaurant, sit at a table that gives you a view of the doors and other patrons. In a parking lot, look around your car before getting into it. This is not a call to paranoia but to preparedness.

3. Carry Money or Important Documents on Your Person

And preferably strapped to your waist or otherwise deeply hidden under clothing. Bags and backpacks can be too easily left behind or snatched. Wallets can get lifted right out of pockets. Plenty of waist packs, zippered neck pouches and belts with hidden compartments exist today to help store away important documents and cash during a journey. Let’s face it: Anything can happen and certain emergencies might require you to immediately vacate an area, taking nothing with you except the clothes on your back. In such a situation, it won’t be long until you need a credit card or some cash to sustain life, establish communication with loved ones and more.

4. Have an Escape Plan

These days, virtually every building you enter will have posted escape routes in multiple locations. Do you ever look at these and note your location relative to the exits? If you don’t, now is the time to start paying attention. Hotels are usually very good at posting escape routes. Take note of where the stairs are located. Actually take the stairs at least once during your stay to get a basic understanding of the route and how the doors work. In a restaurant, think of the path you would take to leave quickly in an emergency. In a large convention center, exit signs are usually numerous, but note which direction they will take you. When you’re going to be walking in an unfamiliar downtown area, review a map well in advance and get a general understanding of how the city is laid out. When walking downtown, think through how you would escape danger if it showed up right in front of you. Is ducking down the alley a good idea? Could you run into the street and avoid traffic? Could you do a 180 and run?

5. Lock Your Doors

Getting into a rental car or into your hotel room offers a decent sanctuary from the outside world. But use the locks. Locking the car door as soon as you enter it — not waiting for the doors to automatically lock — could prevent an unseen thief or mugger from opening your door and attempting something. The two seconds of time you gain from this might be enough to start the engine and drive away. Same for hotel rooms. After you’re in your room, turn the lock and swing the secondary lock over to prevent anyone from entering even if they have a room key or the means to defeat the initial locking system. For added security, carry a door stopper audible alarm. This unit attaches to your door or jams under it and sounds a very loud alarm if the door opens at all.

There are other security measures to take while traveling. What are yours?

Discover how you can join more than 200,000 responsibly armed Americans who already rely on the USCCA to protect their families, futures and freedoms: USCCA.com/gunsamerica.

{ 11 comments… add one }
  • Robert Patridge October 8, 2017, 6:25 pm

    My tricks are to always wear a concealed carry vest that extends beyond the belt. Not to carry but to keep important things out of sight and out of reach. Examples are my wallet which is in an inside pocket, my tactical flashlight, two steel pens, a whistle, my smartphone, my real wallet, and a throwdown wallet. My tricks include an encrepted word document inside my email account. You do know you can password protect any word document. That document contains credit card numbers, emer numbers, and other data. My last trick for this commentary is keeping an old credit card with paperclip to a small wad of small bills in my front pocket for things like a cup of coffee. The old credit card has the purpose of having low credit limit for items like dinner and a hotel room for the night.

  • Jonny5 October 8, 2017, 12:40 pm

    I’m not sure if a tactical pen would be a great help in defence when you have a CIA patsy firing on full auto from the 32nd floor of a trashy hotel. Good luck anyway. Hey, you’ve always got your pen torch?!

  • Darry October 7, 2017, 7:34 pm

    these things i’ve being doing for a long time. i always lock my car doors as soon as i get in even though they lock when it’s put in gear. another thing i do, that read about years ago, is when stopping at red lights or stop signs or in any kind of traffic thats going slow is to always leave a way out. don’t get right on the guy in front of you bumper. red lights and stop signs, slow traffic always stop no closer then being able to see the bottom of the guy in front rear tires this gives you room to turn and go around them if you need to should someone come up to your window or from another car around you. even if it means plowing into other cars to get away.

  • Steve October 7, 2017, 1:41 am

    I wouldn’t say that Americans are hated overseas; envied or viewed as a mark, most certainly.
    My best advice: locals you meet in a pub probably aren’t your friends; that cute gal is probably dangerous; never drink to drunkenness in a strange city anywhere in the world.

    • Darry October 7, 2017, 7:23 pm

      man ai’t that the truth

  • Jim October 6, 2017, 12:40 pm

    Being a world traveler, I can say from experience that Americans are not hated all over the world. I have enjoyed countless nights of fun experiencing other cultures and people. You do not have to be any more aware of danger than you do in America. Danger is everywhere, especially in our own country.

  • William October 6, 2017, 12:02 pm

    “Americans are hated through out the world”. It’s true! Americans have been killing people all over the world since the early sixties. Korea, Vietnam, Iraq, Afghanistan, etc.etc.etc. The U.S. Has military bases in over 150 countries. Then we wonder why we have mass-shooting in the U.S!
    There are people in the U.S. that hate our own government! The Las Vegas shooter had two airplanes. He could have filled an airplane with fueled nitrogen, crashed it into the twenty two thousand people; and killed thousands! The shooter chose guns! He had fourteen guns in the two rooms. He wanted to enfasize guns! To make a spectacle of guns! Why? The Second Amendment is the only thing that will devide this country!

    • David` October 9, 2017, 3:00 pm

      enfasize?????

  • Dwane October 6, 2017, 9:05 am

    Some good ideas. I carry a throwdown wallet and change. The perp will get my wallet with $$$ and plastic cards and business cards all untracible to me.

  • traildawgz October 6, 2017, 8:37 am

    Good point on situational awareness, locking doors and escape route etc.
    A few more ‘pointers’.
    In a public place (restaurant, cafe, hotel lobby) try to have a seat where you can observe the front entrance and exit if possible. Back to the wall – so that your awareness can follow your gaze/POV.
    Have a paper map with roads/streets avenues of egress if you need to evac or simply GPS is not working.
    In a building hotel/office building/apartment complex – learn where the stairs are, exits to the street and which street does it exit to – I have been in numerous circumstances where we had to leave in a hurry and elevators were not an option…ending up in a one way alley or a back of a building at night with no light is not a great feeling if you are not oriented and understand where safety lies.

    Footwear – leather soles are not recommended – mobility is key whether you have to engage/fight, flee or just walk more than a few miles.
    If you are accosted – even if you are well trained, agile, fit it is universally better to acquiesce and leave uninjured and without the hassle of foreign LEO. Of course a life threat and or a physical assault is another matter.

    Lastly – good for you health, your situational awareness and peace of mind – Exercise, actively train in unarmed self-defense. While this is not popular it will give you other tangible benefits.

    Travel safe and don’t be a victim!

  • Martin B October 4, 2017, 3:59 pm

    Observe the behavior of people around you, especially if they appear to be acting in concert, but physically separated. And especially if you decide to go down a narrow street. Two or more people moving at your pace, shadowing your movements, are a sign to watch for. In a crowd, watch out for hands groping over your body. This is a particular technique of gypsy thieves in Europe. Keep your jacket buttoned or zipped up firmly. A lot of muggings start with somebody innocent looking coming up to you to bum a cigarette. This can be a distraction from a pickpocket going through your hip pockets. Always have at least $50 in your pocket to hand over, if getting knifed is the alternative. If you get into an altercation in a foreign country, nobody is going to look on an American as the good guy. Americans are actively hated in most of the world. Americans do not understand this. Americans have very little understanding about the rest of the world. This is behind most of their military disasters, all of which were fully avoidable if a few brain cells had been used. So apart from your money, don’t expect to be instantly loved anywhere you go. Most people regard Americans much as Europe regarded Germans in the post war era. But try to have a good time anyway.

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