If you’re reading this magazine, you’ve probably already got your head in the game when it comes to personal and home defense. You have most likely accepted the fact that you might become the target of violent crime and have prepared yourself and your home accordingly. If you’re smart, you carry at least one weapon on a daily basis and you’ve pursued re- sponsible training to learn how to use it (or them) properly. You’ve probably also made the effort to assess your home’s physical security and strengthen it as necessary to deter or prevent a break-in or home invasion.

Unfortunately, many people who have done everything described above and generally maintain good habits have a fatal flaw when it comes to their person- al security—they travel. No matter how prepared and vigilant you are on your home turf, whenever you travel, things change. Whether it’s the nature of the potential threats, the weapon laws, or just being in an unfamiliar place, personal security away from home is different. To keep yourself and your family safe, you need to know how to change gears accordingly.

Mindset

On your home turf, you know your way around, you know how to get places, and—very importantly—you know which places not to go. In case of emergency, you know where to find police stations, fire stations, populated areas, friends’ houses and other potential safe havens and sources of help. You can also carry appropriate tools to pro- vide for your personal defense and power those tools with well-trained skills and reflexes. Interestingly, when you’re at home, you also fit in and do not stand out from the other locals.

Now imagine suddenly taking all these things away. Most rational people would be very uncomfortable with that and feel vulnerable and unprotected, but amazingly, many do not. To many people, traveling is an excuse to mentally “check out.” They take the concept of “getting away” very literally and actively try to separate themselves from the stresses and pressures of everyday life. This is particularly true of folks going on vacation, who make the conscious decision to “do nothing” when they’re away from home.

Traveling should not be a reason— or an excuse—for you to leave yourself or your family vulnerable. This article is designed to address this problem and suggest some options to help you keep your guard up when you’re on the road.

Security

The first step in staying safe is making personal security a priority. As obvious as that may seem, I am constantly amazed at the number of people who completely abandon their personal- defense strategies when they travel. If you have taken the time to develop good, security conscious habits at home, make sure you take those habits with you when you travel.

Regardless of where you are, aware- ness is always going to be your most important personal-defense skill. Staying actively aware of what’s going on around you is the best way to identify potential security threats and causes for concern early in the process. The sooner you are aware that something isn’t quite right, the more options you have to avoid it or address it before the situation escalates.

Again, logic would suggest that in an unfamiliar environment you would be more alert than normal and more likely to actively scan your surroundings. After all, what you’re seeing is new and different than your typical at-home scenery. Unfortunately, traveling often has the exact opposite effect on our awareness—especially when we’re traveling for pleasure. When we’re on vacation, we tend to go to places that are fun, visually exciting, and—we believe— safe. We choose vacation destinations that offer “a lot to see.” And the more sights and attractions there are to gawk at, the more distracted and potentially vulnerable we become.

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