Understanding travel and security issues within the United States and abroad is important. While traveling within the Continental United States (CONUS) is much safer than Outside the Continental United States (OCONUS), there are downsides and drawbacks to both. The best way to stay safe is to make sure you are traveling with correct documentation, camping in secure locations, and locking up and securing your valuable items.
There are several pieces of documentation that are good to carry whether traveling CONUS or OCONUS. You should always have your driver’s license, vehicle registration, and insurance readily available. While some states are allowing digital versions of insurance cards to be shown it is still a good idea to carry a paper copy as a primary.
A passport is a must-have document to carry if traveling abroad. Foreign countries will not let you in without having one. Michigan is unique in that you can have an enhanced driver’s license. The enhanced license acts as a passport allowing entry into Canada and Mexico only. I cannot be used in other countries.
Photo identification can come in two forms if you have them on you: your driver’s license and a passport. It can’t hurt to have a few extra passport photos with you just in case you are entering a country where you need a visa.
It might be a good idea also to have multiple copies of everything you are carrying. This ensures that you can prove who you say you are in the event of documentation being lost, stolen, or held by border crossing guards.
Traveling CONUS doesn’t have the same risks that traveling OCONUS does. Most of the time, as long as you have the proper documentation, you will be fine. Not having it means you run the risk of getting a hefty ticket depending on where you are. If you are concealed carrying or carrying any weapons at all, ensure you understand the laws and rules of the state you are carrying in. This goes for firearms, knives, and non-lethal weapons.
There is a lot of research and paperwork needed to travel to foreign countries. On top of the regular paperwork you should have when traveling CONUS, you may also need additional documents to be able to pass through checkpoints, such as vaccination reports, bank statements, and even fiche documents. If you are unfamiliar with what a fiche document is, it’s basically a document used to track where you have been.
Do your research before entering a foreign country. Some countries require additional driving permits on top of your country of origin driver’s license. Insurance also needs to be considered. While you would be covered CONUS, going into another country does not mean you will be covered there. Look into short-term insurance coverage for traveling abroad. The investment could end up saving you lots of money in the event of a breakdown or accident.
Make sure you have access to money as well and what the rules are for currency in the country you are traveling. There is no reason to be caught without funds or access to funds. This could very easily ruin whatever plans you might have had. Keep an eye on exchange rates and bank fees for exchange rates as well, especially if you are operating on a budget.
While traveling, you want to make sure your high value and important items are not stolen. One of the easiest ways to do this is to have a travel safe. Something small enough to keep valuable items in such as vehicle keys, documentation, credit card, and/or cash. Larger items like computers and cameras can be hidden in storage compartments. If you have items on the roof of your vehicle, consider getting lockable tie-down straps and lockable roof clamps.
You also want to ensure you are going to be safe at a campsite. Depending on the area you travel in, it may be necessary to scout sites to camp at. You also want to make sure you are not going to camp in a well-traveled area or a spot that is affected heavily by weather, for example near a river if it rains. Make sure you know and understand what type of wildlife you may encounter. Know whether there are restrictions on making a fire, so you don’t accidentally start a wildfire.