Day: February 4, 2021

Thur. Feb. 4, 2021 – a bit of a blast from the past…prepping for travel

Another nice day, cool but clear.   There was a bit of overcast late in the day yesterday but otherwise the howling wind kept the sky clear.  It was a little on the cool side, but I didn’t want a jacket.

Today I’m at home, hoping to catch up on some home things.  I spent part of yesterday doing pickups and drop offs.  Got my plumbing supplies.   Got some lego for youngest’s birthday if I don’t get something else before then (I’ve got a couple of months but hey, prepper!)

While looking for something else, I came across this old comment from 2015 and decided to clean it up and put it here.  The discussion started with an article about bug out bags, and EDC gear in your bug out vehicle.   It was a ridiculous article that thankfully is no longer online.  It did spark some good back and forth, and some froth from me….  hopefully there are some nuggets in there still… and it doesn’t have a gear list, because that is a whole internet’s worth of posts… and beyond a few critical things, the gear probably doesn’t matter as much as the person carrying it.

nick says:
  • @OFD

    “You gotta figure where you are, where you might have to hump it for a while, and what can you efficiently carry with the least discomfort and pain.”

    That means if you are building a bag-o-tricks to take with you while traveling, it should address your most likely problems. Those are:

    Missed flight, late arrival, stuck at airport, lost or delayed luggage.

    And the best things to combat those things are:

    Food, entertainment, toiletries, meds, glasses if you wear contacts, an airline lounge membership, a change of clothes, and cash or credit cards. Add a blanket or (microfiber) towel for cover, or a soft hat. Not one of those is tactical [the original article was filled with tactical looking stuff which draws attention, and your typical internet article full of “preps” like a signal mirror, fishing hooks, and knives-lots of knives].

    So if the UN-likely happens, and you are away from home and there is a local or regional problem, you need to get out of the region and ‘back to civilization’.   For whatever reason you can’t just fly and you decide to use your bag o tricks and leave. In the most likely cases, it’s weather, transit strike, local civil unrest, or (lastly) terror attack. Assuming you can’t just stay put in a safe place for a couple of days, MONEY is your best prep here. Cash in hand and credit cards that aren’t maxed out. No survival knife or kydex will get you a rental SUV to drive thru the snow. The stuff in your bag should make your life easier WHILE getting out of town and is coincidentally the same stuff that makes a missed flight easier to deal with.

    Flexibility is your second best prep. Flexibility starts with questions.  Since you can’t fly, can you drive? Are cars available? Can you rent from the airport/hotel/neighborhood storefront/rent a wreck? Can you rent a truck or moving van? Can you hitch a ride with a colleague or co-worker? Is there a train? A private party willing to drive? Cab? Cheap car to purchase? Driving all the way home or just outside the affected area? If you decide to drive, will you be able to get gas and food? Or should you hit the store for some shelf stable food and some boxes of granola? Again MONEY will make this all easier. Consider options you might not normally look at.   When all the cheap cars are gone, the Hummer might be available (this happened to a female co-worker who was trying to G.O.O.D. in Oklahoma before a storm. Only vehicle left at the rental was a Hummer at an eye watering rate.  She took it and Got Out Of Dodge ok.  Had to explain to corporate bean counters why she took a vehicle outside of the approved class, but it worked out and she got somewhere SAFE.)  Sometimes the only hotels with vacancy are the high end ones.  Money gives you options.

    Finally and least likely, there is a SHTF event, and all normal modes of travel are out.

    In that case you should start with some harder questions.  Is it better to look for allies and resources locally or to start off cross country? How do you know there is anywhere to go back to? Wait and see if things improve or move quickly? Any waterways going the right direction? Do you have family or friends along the way? Company offices? MONEY, FLEXIBILITY, and also INFORMATION are once again your best preps. In a collapse or major multi-regional event, info is gonna be the hardest thing to get. And there isn’t much you can do except carry some with you (to help you get home).

    I carried a garmin GPSIII for years. It had a built in basemap, with freeway exit info. It ran a long time on 4 AA batts. It showed RR tracks, waterways, and roads. (Now I download an area map in Google Maps that covers my journey.)   Before I left home for a job, I looked up and mapped the closest Home Depot and Lowes stores. I had that printed out and carried in my job site folder. I carried a compass. I always got the paper maps at the car rental agency (these are specific to the local area, about 11×17 inches, and have local points of interest on them too.   The local maps and points of interest were to help me gear up, and get away if I needed to.  The Garmin was for guidance along the route home.  In terms of gear I carried, I had my EDC knife and a multitool. I carried minimal first aid- bandaids and super glue. I had lots of flashlights, bug juice, and water purification tabs. I had a messenger style bag, not a backpack.  The plan was to gear up on the way out, if possible and if needed.

    If I had to start traveling, and driving was not an option at all, I’d be looking for waterways or RR tracks. I’d be looking for bicycles, canoes, or jonboats. (For one lengthy project, I mapped a route that I could get from my customer’s plant to within a couple of miles of my parents’ house by canoe.  I could walk from there.)

    If anyone would sell, I’d be a buyer. If not, there are always some laying around. Even a kid’s bike can hold the weight of your gear while you walk. What about a shopping cart? Wheelbarrow? I think normalcy bias will have lots of people still willing to exchange goods for money for a while until the new reality sinks in. Boots, appropriate outerwear, backpack, food and water. All should be available to buy if done right away. You are looking for packable stuff- water purification tabs, compact calories (powerbars), rain poncho, hat, what else do you need? Trash bags for rain gear and concealment are everywhere. So is clothesline or wire. You are already setting off on an impossible journey. It will only be harder with 20 pounds of stuff. Food and water should fill your pack. A partner will double your chances. Whole books have been written about the cross country journey after the SHTF, and they are worth reading for ideas and for the exercise of considering what might work for you.

    Now back to real life. The most likely SHTF is the same while traveling as while at home– personal SHTF.

    Auto accident
    Work accident

    Rather than packing a bunch of kydex, in your EDC do you have a copy of your employer’s auto insurance rider? What about their Workman’s Compensation certificate? (If you are traveling on personal business, do you have the equivalent personal info?)  Do you know where the nearest Urgent Care or Emergency Room is? Do you have the address of your hotel or workplace so you can call 911? Does anyone expect you home at a specific time and do they know where you are staying? There are services that will provide a Doctor to come to your hotel, do you have their number in your phone or card in your bag? Do your co-workers at the worksite have your hotel info (to find you if you don’t show up on time, since you are vomiting your guts out from bad dinner?)   While driving, do you note the exits as you pass them, or the cross streets, so you could call 911 for help and know roughly where you are?

    Add travel outside the US and now you should ask yourself:
    Do you know where the US embassy is? The UK or Canadian? Israeli? Have you checked in with the Embassy? Do you have a medical insurance phone number that will send an english speaking doctor to your hotel? Do you know which hospital treats Europeans? Does your employer have kidnap insurance? A Risk Management Department? Do they know where you are? Do they have a contract with any of the international medical and rescue (extraction) companies? (You can buy this sort of insurance as a private person too, it’s surprisingly affordable.)   Have they given you any plans/contacts/security info? Will your company or local contact be providing drivers? Security? Accommodation? Is your local contact a native or ex-pat? Do you trust him? If you are on your own, or work for a small company, have you read the CIA world fact book entry for the country? Are you familiar with any factions or unrest? Have you read the State Department travel advisories for the country? Have you looked at a map to know where you are? What is the nearest friendly place?

    In my opinion, if you can’t answer these questions, you are NOT prepared for any problems with your travel, no matter how tricksie your gear is.

    -and that is the crux of the matter, info and brains are your best preps for EDC or BOB or GOOD, supplemented with a bare minimum of ‘things’.

    And lest anyone think all that travel stuff was overkill, while traveling for work, I’ve had co-workers in serious car accidents. I had one fall on the job and break her hip. I’ve had a friend of a friend die in a hotel room. I had a boss slip and fall in the hotel shower and be unable to work for the entire event. I’ve been food poisoned on average 5 times a year by hotels and restaurants. Once I was so sick with pneumonia I couldn’t get out of bed in Miami until I got some antibiotics. I have co-workers who were robbed at gunpoint. Two that narrowly missed getting drugged and raped in Miami (men, and they were drugged but got out of the bar in time.) One that had to race to get out of town before a hurricane hit, and one that had to drive a Hummer to Texas to avoid a tornado storm. (Same female used steristrips to close a cut on her FACE after a server fell on her at work.  Her daddy didn’t raise any snowflakes.) I’ve driven home when my flight was canceled. I’ve rented SUVs to get thru snowstorms. We drove from NYC to St Louis after 911. One coworker had a car bomb explode outside his hotel in Europe. Another passed bodies stacked along the road like cordwood in Indonesia after an attack by rebels. Same guy was locked in and threatened by OUR CUSTOMER in the Middle East. And yes, my employer had kidnap insurance as we worked worldwide and throughout Africa and the middle east, as well as Colombia and some other more southern sh!tholes.

    You really appreciate the value of a paper copy of insurance coverage when you’re bleeding from several places and have a broken foot after your taxi gets hit in a strange city.   Or having your own first aid while bleeding from a cut on your hand in China…

    I’ll admit that I carry a few more things now, since I’m traveling with my family. I have a much more complete first aid kit for example and better weapons. And several times people here have volunteered safe havens or way points if things went pear shaped while I was traveling with family.   But MONEY and FLEXIBILITY are still the best preps for travel and “getting home when it drops in the pot” and they weigh very little.

    Still a bit disjointed, and meant as more of a memory jog, or food for thought than a finished article, but hopefully worth the time it took to read.

    And while I’m an advocate for carrying just a few critical items when traveling, and acquiring the rest as needed, I am a firm believer in having as much of the stuff you think you’ll need close to hand when at home.

    So keep stacking!  But also organize, “curate”, and use what you’ve got.


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