Wednesday, 3 August 2016- Traveling and the prepper, some thoughts

I can say from experience that when you are an active prepper, travel and vacation are much more stressful than when you are blissfully unaware. This is especially true when traveling by air and with your family.

The amount and type of preps you can carry/use are greatly limited, and I have to just accept that I’m not really going to be as prepared as I’d like to be. It usually means NOT carrying a GHB, sometimes not having access to a firearm, being far from your preps, and other stressful limitations. The only way I can do it is to compartmentalize mentally, and accept that there are times and events that I can’t prep for adequately.

That said, there are things you can do.

Whenever possible, travel with at least a pistol and an extra mag. Arm up as soon as you can after arrival. (Or don’t travel by air.) If you can’t carry, add another knife. You can CHECK your pistol/s and/or rifle/s when you arrive at the airport. You just ask for a firearms declaration form at the baggage check in counter. At least here in TX, that doesn’t even get you a second look. Of course, read and understand the policy for your airline. It will be on their website. Some people recommend printing the policy and carrying it in case you run into a clerk that doesn’t know the rules, but I’ve never had issues. FOLLOW THE RULES TO THE LETTER and you should be fine. One thing you will need is a locking box. I use this:

in a laptop sleeve, locked inside my luggage. You should also research the laws in your destination state and city regarding ownership, carry, and any other restrictions. There is a lot of info available online, just look at the dates of any posts and make sure you are looking at a current article.

My blow out kit moves from my range bag to my carryon bag for air travel. Given recent events, it just seems prudent to have upgraded medical capability with you at the airport. Trauma shears are allowed again. Look at the TSA website for details on blade length.

Consider using a backpack/bookbag for a carryon. Hands free is critical for self defense and movement. DON’T carry anything with molle or camo patterns unless you want everyone to notice you. This is especially true for overseas travel. I use an older Targus laptop bag. It has a ton of pockets and compartments, is well padded and sturdily made, was cheap, and isn’t at all ‘tacticool’.

Carry a nice metal flashlight that can work as a weapon. I love my Pelican 1920, you might like something different.

Think about getting a tactical pen, or whatever alternative weapons you can carry and use. A simple metal mechanical pencil or metal pen can make an effective weapon when nothing else is available.

My ‘boo boo kit’ (my altoids tin “everyday” survival kit) goes with me everywhere the kids go. It has basic medical and comfort items. It can’t go in carry on luggage because it includes a Leatherman micra and a Gerber STL 2.0 knife but my blowout kit has bandaids and minor first aid in it, so I put the ‘boo boo kit’ in a checked bag. I have an ‘airplane’ boo boo kit that doesn’t include the multitool and knife, but my wife usually carries that.

My checked toiletries bag includes a good multitool, spare knives, antibiotics and anti-diarrheal meds, as well as normal OTC meds. I have more OTC anti-diarrheal and some other handy OTC meds in my carry on bag in a little pouch.

Having a couple of energy bars in your carryon is smart. Having a couple more in your checked bag is even smarter. Distribute them throughout your group, but have at least one bar per person with you.

Keep your eyes open, and your threat condition up.

Look at a map, know where you are and have at least a basic idea of where you might go.

Look at where you are staying, identify exits, look at the structure, look around when arriving to see the area and neighborhood.

If you are going to be someplace longer than a day or two, see if you have friends or relations nearby. Or friends of friends. Yes, just showing up somewhere is WAY less than optimal for all involved, but it’s better than NOT having a plan or a (possibly) friendly face at the end of the trip.

Some online folks claim to assemble a GHB at their destination whenever they are away from home for any length of time. Some of the articles were very interesting especially looking at what you could get quickly and cheaply from stores or from yardsales. It’s worth thinking about. What would you grab and where from if you had to equip yourself in a hurry?

Try out this thought experiment:

What I can put together just from stuff in my bags?

For me, it’s pocket knives, multitool, energy bars, bottled water, a pretty good first aid kit, OTC drug bag, water resistant outerwear-long pants and a pullover, several flashlights, extra batteries, ham radio HT with listen only on public service bands, ziplok baggies, cable ties (zip ties), a couple of binder clips, chargers, a lightweight extension cord, and two ereaders (entertainment and distraction for the kids).

What can I grab from the hotel room?

Typically you will find lightweight blankets, pillow cases, bottled water, anything from the mini-bar, any electrical cords and string from blinds, small hand towels, plastic bags from trash cans, soap, and improvised weapons from chair legs, ironing board, or other furniture.

Speaking of staying in hotels, take a minute to find the fire stairs and note which direction they are from your room. If the door isn’t alarmed, open it and see if you can get back in from the stairwell, or if the door locks behind you. An advanced tip is to locate the service elevator. It’s usually behind a plain or ‘staff’ door, behind the public elevator. If there are multiple elevator banks, it’s often behind the one furthest from the front desk. I’ve never run into one that needed a special key or key card to operate and it just might get you down and out in a hurry if needed. Check if it needs a key card to call it to your floor. Public elevators usually need a key card for the ‘special’ floors, but the service elevator usually counts on security by obscurity. The service elevator will also either go to lower floors or open the back door to access utility spaces. They are usually not crowded, and may be a faster way out than the front exit.
Casinos are a special case. Generally, casinos take access control and security VERY seriously. Don’t mess about in a casino.

Don’t forgot the most important travel prep– cash and other convertibles…

CASH is king. An event like 9-11 will take out pretty much all landline comms in the area. That means ATMs, POS machines, and credit card terminals will stop working. As soon as you know a major event has happened, find a cash machine and max withdraw on every card in your wallet. Screw the fees for cash advancing from a credit card, you will need the cash. You can always put it back if you don’t use it. If you are accustom to using cards for everything, at a minimum be sure you have cash advance activated on your cards and know how to use them.

CASH is king. Have some on you. You should have at least $100 in $20s, several hundreds if you can afford it. Distribute it throughout your stuff, so you can’t lose it all at once if you have a ‘misadventure.’

While cash is king, having some other easily convertible valuables on you is a good idea too. This is what that stainless steel Rolex watch is for. It’s your border crossing bribe, your last seat on the last flight out, your taxi ride to the border, your ‘get out of dodge’ money. A genuine Rolex is widely recognized and widely exchangeable for cash. Even in America, any pawnshop in the country will give you cash for a Rolex. Anyone routinely traveling overseas should consider a plain Rolex, and it’s a fairly unobtrusive and useful prep here.

Since I don’t have a Rolex, I carry a few small gold coins. They are a bit harder to convert, but if you have any time at all, there are LOTS of places to do so. As part of prepping, and USING your preps, take some time and go to a pawn shop, or ‘cash for gold’ place and see what it’s all about. At the very least, read about it online. You’ve already got PMs as part of your preps, carry a few with you when traveling. Smaller coins are preferable to bigger ones. Carrying a couple of gold chains might be a good choice too, but they will be harder to convert to cash anywhere other than a ‘cash for gold’ shop, or pawnshop.

Travel is usually stressful enough, even without the added concerns that prepping brings. Take a few minutes, do what you can, and then accept that it isn’t optimal, but it’s the best you can do under the circumstances. Use your most important tool, your mind, and stay aware, but don’t let your concerns spoil family time on your vacation. It’s possible to find the balance.


Wednesday, 3 August 2016

10:20 – Barbara is recovering nicely. She didn’t even bother to fill the hydrocodone prescription her doctor gave her. She’s making do with high-dose ibuprofen combined with mid-dose acetaminophen.

More kit stuff today and every day for the next couple of months at least. This is still early August, and the craziness doesn’t usually start until mid-August, as people get ready for the new school year. I’ve never figured out why homeschoolers, who can set their own schedules, almost all follow the public school year.

We’ll make time sometime in the next two or three weeks to do a Costco run down to Winston. We’ve started going on weekdays because it’s so much less crowded than it is on weekends. We’ll pick up a lot of meat, as usual, and stock up on other stuff we’re running short on. I also want to pick up several 50-pound bags of flour, sugar, rice, etc. and 30 or 40 pounds of oats. This time, we’ll repackage in the LDS one-gallon foil-laminate Mylar bags, which will be a lot easier, faster, and less messy than using empty 2-liter bottles.

Brittany has read the comments here about securing their LTS food against rodents. Her husband picked up some scrap sheet metal from his brother, and plans to use it to enclose their storage shelves, including building covered doors for the shelving. He’s working on that this weekend. Also, Brittany and Jen are now in contact with each other and exchanging emails and phone calls. Brittany and her husband decided to run a readiness exercise over the Labor Day holiday, so Britanny has been getting tips from Jen. Each of them is formidable. The two in combination are a force to be reckoned with.

One interesting thing I’ve noticed in these email exchanges I have with preppers is that, while they are evenly divided between men and women, the women tend to be a lot less public about what they’re doing. Also, although there are exceptions, the women tend to focus on food and the men tend to focus more on guns and other tools. I suppose that makes sense biologically. A couple million years of evolution has equipped women to think about feeding their families and men to think about protecting them.