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How to Be Extra Prepared for 2020 Vacations


Preparing for a vacation isn’t a new topic for me, but it is a more difficult topic than I thought it would have been back in February. Unfortunately, many of you might not be taking a vacation this year because of potential factors directly related to the COVID-19 virus — be it the loss of your job, using vacation time to prevent the loss of your job, needing to spend vacation money to get by or that the location you were planning on vacationing is shut down.

My family is currently in the last category because our annual vacation is in mid-August in Michigan. We have no idea if we will be going because Gov. Witmer continues to extend the lockdown, shutting down all rental properties, including hotels, motels and cottages/vacation homes. It’s a rough spot to be in — both for those who have had to cancel vacations and those who make a living from the tourist trade. But for those of you for whom none of these things is an issue, please read on.

2020 Takes Extra Preparedness

I know that while most of you travel prepared, some others travel with a minimal level of preparedness. You may carry an everyday carry (EDC) handgun with some reloads, a less-lethal weapon, an EDC knife and a tactical light. While this is a good foundation to build on (and about all you can pack when traveling by air), more survival gear may be needed this year. Traveling by vehicle allows you to pack additional survival gear — the main focus of this article. Below are some essential items I recommend in addition to the EDC minimums so that you may meet the demands of vehicular vacation travel in 2020.


  1. The wearing of a separate “driving gun” while en route to your destination is critical. A driving handgun is chambered in a service-pistol caliber. This will allow you to fight back against a heavily armed suspect, regardless of the type of weapon directed against you.
  2. In 2020, packing a “longer” gun — think personal defense weapon (PDW) pistols and rifles — along for the vacation trip is a must. You may end up being stuck under less than favorable conditions at your destination for an extended period of time. Check to make sure the type of longer gun you pack is legal in your destination.
  3. A good supply of plain FMJ ammo is a must. Don’t spend extra money on more-expensive JHP or higher-tech/high-performance ammo. Spend the money saved on ancillary but essential supplies.

 Ancillary Essentials

  1. Emergency food: In addition to our emergency food backpack, I will be bringing along an additional emergency food bucket to extend the long-term survival of my family.
  2. Bottled water supply for preparation of dehydrated emergency food supplies
  3. Toilet paper
  4. Trauma-level first-aid kit
  5. Survival knife and/or tomahawk
  6. Fire-starting supplies: I recommend rechargeable electronic lighters/matches.
  7. Duct tape for emergency repairs
  8. General illumination lantern: Choose either a replaceable-battery-operated type or a rechargeable model with an AC/DC charger like those from Streamlight.
  9. Silver coins or ½-gram gold bars for emergency barter
  10. Masks (as some places are requiring them) and hand sanitizer for stops that may be less than sanitary

Moving Forward

We all want to get back to a pre-COVID normal — not some Orwellian “new normal.” However, we should be willing to work within the requirements for some much-needed vacation relaxation. This includes extra gear. If we can, I believe it’s our duty as Americans and concealed carry permit holders to lead the way in reopening our tragically closed nation. What better way to do that than by taking your vacation? Remember what President Franklin Delano Roosevelt said at the start of the first Great Depression in 1933: “The only thing we have to fear is fear itself.”

About Scott W. Wagner

Scott W. Wagner is a criminal justice professor and police academy commander from Columbus, Ohio. He has been a police officer since 1980, working as an undercover liquor investigator, undercover narcotics investigator, patrol officer, SWAT team member, sniper and assistant team leader. Scott is currently a patrol sergeant with the Village of Baltimore, Ohio, Police Department. He has been a police firearms instructor since 1986 and is certified to instruct revolver, semi-automatic pistol, shotgun, semi- and fully automatic patrol rifle, and submachine gun.

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