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Staying safe while traveling, Part 4: which defensive tools can you take with you?

Staying safe while traveling, Part 4: which defensive tools can you take with you?


How do you arm yourself when you can’t be armed?

The inspiration behind this series was traveling to places where I couldn’t have a handgun on my person. Even if I were to go someplace that recognized one of the concealed handgun licenses I possess, I can’t carry a firearm in the airports at either end, or on the plane. For a cross-country flight that means a large amount of time that I can’t have an efficient lethal weapon at my disposal. Travel overseas, and the situation is absolute: you’re not bringing that gun, period.

We’ve talked about the concept of being safe when traveling, and about some of the preplanning that can be done to minimize your exposure to risk. Minimization, however, is not the same as elimination, and you still face some risk of bodily harm every minute of every day. If you can’t carry a gun (or in many cases a knife), are there tools you can use to protect and defend yourself? Yes!

I’ll start with one of my favorite self defense tools, and one about which I’ve already written: the high-intensity LED flashlight. It can be used as an impact weapon; the long ones can be used in lieu of a Kubaton; and all of them can be used to search, identify, and distract a potential threat. I consider a flashlight one of the most important tools a traveler can carry.

When I travel I take two: a single-cell light that goes into my pocket, while the longer two-cell version is clipped onto the outside of my personal carry bag (which also serves as my first aid kit and camera bag; whether home or away, that bag is always with me!) The two-cell is always immediately at hand when the bag is with me, and the only time the single cell isn’t on my person is when I’m taking a shower!

For travel I stick with the AA-powered lights. The two-cell versions are longer than an equivalent lithium (123-size) light, making them better defensive tools, and both of them use batteries that are more immediately available wherever I go. If you can’t find AA batteries, you’re not going to find anything!

I use NiMH rechargeable cells in both, and I carry a spare pair with me. I’ve never had a trip where I needed to change batteries in either light, but they’re available should I need them. The AA cells are also safer than their lithium counterparts, an important consideration aboard a plane.

In addition to the flashlights, I also carry a very sturdy hexagonal aluminum pencil (or two, or three!) These too can be used as a Kubaton or a piercing instrument, as well as being my preferred writing tool. I prefer them to be of one piece construction, as those which are split in the middle just aren’t as strong and can be bent when using some of the Kubaton techniques.
No one looks twice at a pencil (or a pen) as long as they’re not of the “tactical” variety, which are intended to be used as weapons. I’ve heard more than a few credible stories of the tactical variety being confiscated by TSA agents, but I doubt they’re going to want a yellow mechanical pencil!

Remembering that personal safety is about more than just what weapons you have, I also carry a trauma/first aid kit with me. It’s a compact version of the kit I have with me when I’m at the range, downsized to fit the confined space and the light weight needed while traveling. In mine I have:

– SWAT-T tourniquet (my favorite CAT tourniquet has been known to be confiscated by TSA because of the metal windlass, which they contend can be used as a weapon. The SWAT-T is just a large rubber band which, so far, has not elicited any interest by the security folks.)

– (2) Hy-Fin chest seals

– (3) QuikClot EMS 4×4 Dressing (yes, I’d rather have a big roll of Celox gauze, but this should do for a single serious puncture or laceration, where it has to be forced to the bottom of the wound to work anyhow.)

– H&H Mini Compression Bandage (vacuum packed for maximum compactness)

– Various adhesive bandages, Immodium, antihistamines, topical antibiotics, and wound cleansing pads in single-use packets

All of that easily fits into a small pouch that measures 4×6″, and only an inch thick.

On Thursday I’ll talk more about defensive tools that you can carry and still travel light.

-=[ Grant ]=-

  • Posted by Grant Cunningham
  • On May 20, 2014

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