Being Far Away From Home When It Hits The Fan…

May 2, 2016, by Ken Jorgustin

united-airlines-heavy
United ‘Heavy’…

It’s one thing if you’re fairly close to home if and when the SHTF (whatever that may be) but what if you’re far away from home? Some of you travel for work, perhaps requiring a flight and hotel overnights, or maybe you’re on a vacation with your family when ‘it’ happens.

Lets talk about some of the things you might do to prepare for such a circumstance – to give you a better chance to deal with the crisis being far away from home and/or to get back home during a worst-case-scenario…


 
I recall the day during ‘9/11’ when all air traffic came to a grinding halt. Regardless of where the planes were in flight they were ALL ordered to land and diverted to the nearest available airports. The entire airspace’s of the United States and Canada were closed (“ground stop”) except for military, police, and medical flights. 6500 planes and approximately one million people were ‘stranded’ in whatever airport city they landed in. Flights resumed several days later, although it took quite some time to get the system back to ‘normal’ (although ‘normal’ had just changed forever).

Several of my work mates were traveling then and became part of the stranded masses. While the circumstances of 9/11 were terrible enough, imagine a future event that is just as bad, or worse. And then put yourself in the middle of it. Are there things that you can do and precautions that you can take in order to help during the aftermath?

There are a number of scenarios that you might hypothetically put yourself in, some worse than others. If you travel enough to be concerned about it, then use your typical travel routines and put yourself on various parts of the timeline and push the big red button… what would you do?

-stuck in an airport between flights
-at your hotel
-at the place of business during your trip
-on an airplane or public transportation
-International travel?

 
Preparedness for disaster or SHTF far away from home involves a preconceived notion or plan, a clear-thinking head, adaptability, and the means and assets for your journey.

Preparation for this begins with hypothetical thought. As with any discussion or preparedness plan there are hypothetical SHTF circumstances that range the gamut of severity and/or potential longevity from mild, moderate, to red hot, and your preparedness for such will hinge on your severity of choice. Choices may also vary depending on your perception of risk vs. current-events during any given upcoming trip – although ‘SHTF’ tends to come without warning.

If ‘it’ happens, many will not be thinking clearly, especially at first. When a wrench is thrown into the works, so to speak, many people need time to process the major disruption in their routine before being able to function again with any sort of normalcy. Few are able to effectively or efficiently adapt, especially at first. So, use that to your advantage. Be the first to take action. Be the first to adapt to whatever has happened and beat the crowd before the ‘clamp down’.

I believe that despite whatever ‘tools’ you may have at your disposal, greater success will be determined by preemptive planning, clear thinking, and your ability to adapt and make good decisions, especially during the initial phase of your SHTF event.

 
Here are a few thoughts to get the conversation going:

 
Be first to get home.
The ultimate goal and natural instinct following a SHTF event will be to ‘get out of dodge’ – to get back home. The extent of your hypothetical scenario will quite obviously determine the likely level of difficulty in doing so and all of the things you might have to do in-between.

If infrastructure is still functioning, flights may book fast. Rental cars may book fast. Hotels may book fast. ‘First’ wins the race. You snooze, you lose.

Preemptively make and keep with you a contact list of all airline carriers, car rental agencies, hotel chains, and even cab companies, with their ‘800’ phone numbers, locations, website addresses, etc..

During 9/11, a few of my work mates who were stranded about the country immediately booked rental cars and literally drove home, although it took days…

If you are in a region where infrastructure is not functioning or you do not have access to transportation, then you are in an entirely worse scenario whereby an evaluation of your circumstance comes first followed by decisions to best protect and shelter yourself until such time when you further a plan…

Think of the this: STOP

Study any information that you may have been given or have discovered about the event.

Think about what you need to do to survive. Think about the consequences for NOT taking action. Use your brain. Consider, envisage, surmise and understand the situation.

Observe the area. Look for risk. Look for shelter and safety if need be. Survey and inspect the space you are in, and the resources available to you.

Prepare your plan and implement it. Decide how you are going to use your available resources. Do not delay. Remain calm. Think clearly and acutely.

 
Why fly when you can drive?
This may not be doable in many or most instances depending on your travel, but if you can, consider driving instead of flying. This way you’ll have your vehicle (and whatever ‘stuff’ you decide to bring) and will not be at the mercy of external transportation systems – not to mention the hassles at the airports…

 
Maps.
Even if you’re flying, you may need to drive. Do not depend solely on your GPS device, be it a built-in nav unit or your smart-phone. You might consider keeping a U.S. Road Atlas in your bag. If you are bugging-out to home from your place of stay, the more detailed maps that you have with you – the more options you’ll have to route yourself home. Here’s one:
Rand McNally 2016 Road Atlas

A road atlas for each individual state will include every road there is – even the back-roads (very good to know). In my vehicle I always keep several of these. My own state plus the surrounding states where I may travel.
Road Atlas For Each State

 
Have plenty of cash with you.
If for some reason there are problems with the credit/debit/banking system, cold hard cash will be king, at least for awhile for some establishments or service providers who are able to accept it. Cash will help you procure some of what you may need during such circumstances and the amount you carry is discretionary. Personally, I always carry a moderate amount of cash with me at all times since I use cash for most purchases anyway. I bulk up on twenties. Never 50’s or 100’s.

 
Keep your gas tank full.
Whenever you’re driving, especially while traveling far away from home, keep that gas tank on the full side of the gauge. Your travel distance is directly proportional to how much gasoline you have. If the grid goes down, so do all of the gas pumps.

 
Pack enough food.
Most people don’t give this a second thought – assuming that they will always and simply be able to purchase food while on-the-road without issue. Consider packing a number of high-calorie food bars (for example). It’s all about calories, so whatever you choose to bring along, count the calories. If you’re on your trip when ‘it’ happens, consider (among other things) quickly buying up some extra non-perishable food to throw in your pack (even candy bars or other such junk).

Even though the human body can survive for weeks without food, your energy level will quickly lower, and unless you are in peak physical condition and/or have been trained to survive (psychologically and physically) under such conditions, you will be in a world of hurt…

 
Water?
Water is seemingly most everywhere. However don’t count on it always being pure to drink. Just one gulp of contaminated water will shortly stop you in your tracks… (you know exactly what I mean if you’ve ‘been there’ before). You might consider bringing along a very small water filter to fit in your bag, perhaps like this one:
Sawyer Mini Water Filtration System

 
A pocket knife.
While bringing a pocket knife aboard an airliner in your carry-on or in your pocket might prove to be problematic, you can still put one in your checked-in luggage.

 
Small portable AM/FM Shortwave radio.
When I traveled, I would often take with me a small portable radio. Not only did it provide occasional listening pleasure during the evening (listening to a favorite talk-show or two) but it’s a source of news and information during an ‘event’.

 
A backpack.
In addition to, or instead of a traditional luggage bag, a backpack (not the enormous frame – but a small/moderate bag) will enable carrying ‘stuff’ with you while on-the-go. When I traveled I would use a backpack for my carry-on while also checking in a bag (with wheels of course).

 
You must bring a flashlight.
Not only do I always keep a small flashlight on my keychain, but I ALWAYS bring a second (a bit larger) flashlight in my bag. There are too many uses to list, most of them obvious. For example, picture yourself in a hotel when the power goes out. Will their emergency lights work? I always keep one on the night-stand next to the bed.
This is the flashlight that I bring along…

 
It’s a ‘kit’ of sorts…
As you’re starting to see here, I’m basically putting together a list of things that you might ordinarily consider keeping in a emergency kit or bug-out bag. When traveling far away from home, the decisions as to what you might bring with you for ‘just in case’ will depend on your own circumstances, risk-awareness comfort level, feasibility, etc.. While you probably don’t want to haul around an entire secondary bag filled up with bug-out gear, on the other hand you do want to bring along some assets. The question is, which one’s?

The thoughts listed above are there to provoke your own thoughts and opinions. So lets hear your ideas. If you’re traveling far away from home, what might you suggest so as to be better prepared for if and when the balloon goes up while you’re away?

 
You might also be interested in the following article that I wrote awhile ago:
10 Personal Security Tips For Hotel Stays