If you are fortunate to live in one of those bastions of freedom which trust their citizens to carry handguns without the need for unconstitutional infringements or silly permits, and never drive across state lines, this is going to be a bit of a shock but SOME states do not feel the same. I could write a very different (and vitriolic) editorial about the merits of such draconian jackassery, but I thought instead since I will be on my way home from a cross country trip at the time you read this that I would instead try to lend some of my experience preparing from this trip. No, I'm not referring to packing socks and underwear, I'm referring to how to LEGALLY carry a concealed handgun across state lines.
Firstly, be extremely aware that each and every state has passed it's own laws regarding the carrying of firearms, and the federal governments (thanks for nothing SCOTUS) has thus far been reluctant to remind these state governments that their ability to regulate the rights of their citizens begins and ends short of those rights enumerated within the US Constitution. So, there is no federal law giving guidance or restriction to carrying a typical handgun over state lines (if you're stepping up your game carrying an SBR or other NFA item across state lines, that is a completely different animal from what I understand.) But, handgun, no issue.
So, if each state has different laws, how in the world do we navigate that mine field? The short, ugly answer is research. I use an iOS app called Legal Heat to keep me abreast of the laws in states I am traversing through, as well as insure that my concealed weapon's permit is valid in those states. If you feel something is vague, I'd recommend a call to the applicable state police office for clarification. Regardless of what you determine, make sure you know the intricacies of the state laws, for example is it legal to leave your firearm in a vehicle with an unlicensed person while loaded and not locked??? In my home state of Louisiana, no problem. In a state I plan to drive through, that would land my wife in prison. Be aware and plan accordingly.
Now, below are a few items I highly recommend regardless of the laws where you may be passing through or your final destination:
Lockable case and padlock - Some states REQUIRE you transport a handgun locked up, with the ammunition in a separate container, with both out of the passenger compartment. Even if not, having a way to secure a firearm in a room I would you assume you may be sharing with family members is just good common sense unless you loaded up your gun safe and brought that with you.
Spare magazine/s and ammunition - Never one to let a good opportunity pass for a Zombie Apocalypse scenario, what would you do if your vacation suddenly encountered turbulence and civil unrest broke out. How many rounds would you like to have on hand for your handgun? I say pack one or two spare mags (not necessarily at the ready if that's your choice, but in your bags at least) and a spare box of ammo. It won't take up much space and you'll be no worse for wear finding space for it than if you needed it and didn't have it.
Rag, maybe oil - I would venture to say that you won't be gone long enough or your firearm see enough hard use in a vacation to require serious cleaning, BUT mine finds pocket lint constantly and if you're going to be near a salty/seaside environment a little extra oil to fend off surface rust is cheap insurance. Probably not 100% necessarily, but isn't going to hurt anything either.
PAPERWORK - Your concealed weapon's permit is obvious, but what about proof of purchase? Think I'm crazy if you like, but I've heard of particularly underhanded tactics employed by some less scrupulous LEO's involving declaring a handgun stolen, and asking the OWNER to prove it's rightful purchase. Now, without delving into what a completely miscarriage of our legal system that little stunt is, that whole scenario could be put to bed by having a receipt from the purchase (or bill of sale from private purchase) in the case that your brought demonstrating quite clearly you are the rightful and legal owner. Also, if something were to happen to the firearm (loss or stolen) you have a record of it's serial # which law enforcement will be very anxious to learn.
Holsters - No, not one holster, bring a couple. I keep two holsters for my EDC, one that I wear 90% of the time at 2 o'clock, one I carry at 5 o'clock with my shirt tucked in. You do not want to have to leave your gun in your room because your outfit and holster are not cooperating with each other, so plan ahead.
So, after this whole list you're carrying quite a little assortment of gear just for a simple handgun. Yes, but I have said time and again that carrying a handgun is a lifestyle, not a decision. These are the things I recommend you have on hand to support the tool of your trade. While it would certainly be simpler to leave your gun at home and enjoy your vacation, bear in mind that criminals often target vacationers and tourists for exactly those reasons. Arm up, be smart, and be safe. Come check out the Facebook group in a day or two, I'm sure I'll be sharing pictures from my family vacation. - Phil Rabalais