As most of you who read this are aware, I’ve been on vacation for the last 10 days. First a flight to northern rural NY to stay with relatives, then a day at Niagara Falls, then a car trip across Canada to Michigan, and some more staying with relatives.
Ten days away from home and stacked preps is stressful for me (and I’ll assume for any serious prepper). Add in the car travel cross country, the travel in ANOTHER country, the flights, and the fact my family is along for the trip, and we get a great big pile-o-stress for your humble commentor. On top of all that, add typical family dynamics and a very sick father (thankfully on the way to recovery) and you get a BIG PILE….
Anyway, here are some observations, some things that went well, and what you might want to consider in a similar situation.
NB- I will travel, I will go places that are targets, and I will subject myself to crowds because I recognize the odds are slim, and my wife and I have a philosophical commitment to giving our kids as much of the sort of life we grew up with as possible within the current circumstances. Sitting home on top of my pile of preps, forted up in my castle, isn’t desirable or practical. YMMV.
So, with that out of the way, what’s a prepper to do? I’m traveling by air, and land, and crossing international borders. Can’t carry my usual defensive tools, either in NY or Canadia. Can (and did previously) in Michigan, but the logistics of shipping tools to MI just for the 4 days outweigh the benefits. Travel by air with defensive tools has its own logistical considerations that I’ve commented on previously. In any case, it wasn’t gonna happen on this trip. This DID free up space and weight in checked baggage…
Other than my normal air travel considerations, what was especially worrisome about this trip? Well, mostly the 8 hrs of driving across Canadia and Michigan. So, I packed the ‘trauma’ bag from my truck to carry with us. We’d have a car (SUV) the whole time from landing in NY to flying out of MI. The one thing I really didn’t want was to come across a wreck and be unable to help. (Given my personal history of coming up on wrecks shortly after they’ve happened, this isn’t at all far-fetched.) No fire extinguisher, but at least I’d have my big first aid kit.
Other considerations were being in places that could be terror targets, and being away from home if a major event happened. Increased vigilance, and carrying my ‘travel bag’ addressed both concerns, as much as I could. Normally we travel very lightly when going to parks or any other activity. This time, I kept my carryon backpack with me. This gave me a few more resources if there were any major issues.
I’ve been carrying the bag, mostly unchanged, on trips with the kids for several years. It’s an old but VERY sturdy targus laptop carrying book bag style backpack. It’s from the era of 14 pound notebooks and has heavy cordura, good padding and suspension on the straps, and lots of pockets and compartments. It isn’t at all “tactical” looking, other than being black.
On this trip, I pulled out some stuff I’ve been carrying unused for some time. Nothing life saving or critical, but it made a difference and kept minor issues minor.
The first real reach into my bag of tricks was when we were getting on a sightseeing boat, and I noticed an older couple with difficulties. He had the very thin skin of the elderly and was bleeding pretty steadily from a tear on his forearm where he’d bumped into something. She was trying to mop up and control the bleeding with a napkin. From my ‘blow out kit’ (small first aid bag, meant to treat one serious injury like a gun shot or serious bleeding injury) I took a couple of extra large bandaids. I gave them to the lady and turned their issue into a non-issue for the 2 hour tour. I had more serious dressings if that didn’t do it, but when I checked back they were fine.
I pulled out a towel for my shivering wet child after doing the walking tour at Niagara. I’ve had the tightly rolled up micro fiber ‘super towel’ in my bag for a while. It makes a decent kid blanket, or towel. It’s lightweight, and rolls up into a package smaller than a coke can. If you’ve got little kids, get a good towel.
I used the foot first aid, blister care on my little one. I’ve been carrying the blister aid, and moleskin packages for a while. Tough resealable envelopes, weigh nothing, slip in a pocket, and invaluable when you need them. Again, not lifesaving, but quickly addressed the little one’s pain and kept us moving with only a short stop.
The food bars, and lightweight rain coat came in handy too, as did the drinks. My EDC knife and FLASHLIGHT got their normal daily workout.
That covered us on the road, and while sightseeing, but what about getting home in the event of a big event?
The number one prep for that was that we had a rental car. This gave us tremendous flexibility, and many more resources. After much consideration and back and forth, I didn’t add any additional items to my normal travel bag, other than the big first aid bag. I decided I had enough knives and didn’t need to add a Mora. I was gonna add a water filter, but actually spaced out and didn’t throw it in. FAIL.
What I did do was make sure there was a case of water in the SUV and enough ‘snack bars’ that we’d be able to move and keep moving if we had to. For the first part of the trip, we’d be at a campground surrounded and supported by family, many of whom were camping and brought camping stuff. Several of them are Eagle Scouts, and scout leaders, so I figured that was pretty well covered if we had to stay there.
For the second half of the trip, we’d be with family in Michigan. This is somewhat far from home, but I’d considered it as a destination if bad things down here forced a move out of the area. Unfortunately, it’s a ‘weekend’ house and not prepped. That doesn’t mean it’s without resources… It has all the stuff a house in a wooded area by a lake, in a small town rural area has. Fire pit and woodpile, axes, chainsaws, other tools (but no defensive tools), gas grill, well, etc. What it doesn’t have is any real stored FOOD, or a gennie.
I wasn’t able to add a gennie or any gubs, but I did make a start on food. I made a mad dash thru Home Depot and Walmart before we left, and bought a few things. Granted it is not a well considered or comprehensive list, I feel much better now that I added this stuff.
From Home Depot, 2 at 12 gallon “Tough Totes” and a food safe 5 gallon bucket and lid. These are mini versions of the heavy black bin with the waffled yellow lid. I went with 2 smaller bins as being easier to move. The bucket is for rice.
From Walmart, I hit the camping aisle, got a single burner butane stove, and 4 cans of butane. 2 packs of “Hot Hands” as there were no O2 absorbers. Sawyer water filter. Then off to the food aisles. I was limited in time, and by what was there. I got really lucky as this store stocked Keystone Meats. So I grabbed a bunch of canned meat in various flavors, some canned veg, some canned soup, 3 liters UHT milk and 2 small cans of Nido powdered milk. One liter peanut oil, one bottle soy sauce, big package of oatmeal, 2 big jars of peanut butter, nutella, and a can of pie filling rounded out the cans. Added 20 pounds of rice and 5 packages of spaghetti. The shortest storage life is the UHT milk. The rest should be good for years stored in the basement.
At the house, the cans and all the rest went into the tubs. The pasta and rice went into the bucket followed by the hot hands and the sealed lid. I know O2 absorbers would be better, but the hot hands have to be better than nothing. The bins went on a shelf, the burner and a couple of leftover 6 packs of soda went on top of the bins. The bucket sits on the floor.
It’s not comprehensive, but it should provide food for a couple of weeks depending on how many of us are at the house, and what else is in the kitchen cabinets. I’d like a more well-rounded and PLANNED larder, but it was the best I could do quickly with what was there. All told, I spent about $250 USD with better than $70 spent on the filter, burner, and fuel. I put it all together in about an hour, while family was at the beach, and it takes up very little space in the basement. I feel a LOT better knowing there is some back up food there for any winter storm, tornado, or any other reason.
Maybe on my next trip there, I can find a used gennie at a yard sale and convince my relatives that it’s worth having. The house is already wired for a gennie with an outdoor connection and transfer panel. I’d love to get some other stuff stored there too, but family is resistant. We’ll see, esp. as conditions in Chicongo deteriorate….
Anyway, that’s the report. Nothing extraordinary, but preps and preparedness kept minor issues minor, quickly provided comfort and aid, and I got a small cache established at a possible bug out location (translating everything into prepper-speak.)
(added- I also downloaded the appropriate maps for the driving part of the trip, as we’d be out of wireless data coverage, and studied the route first, in case the maps didn’t work. Filled the gas tank long before empty too. Avoided the cities in MI that are no-go zones after dark. All the standard things for traveling by car…..)