Being Far Away From Home When It Hits The Fan…

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…

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 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


  1. I read something somewhere awhile back regarding traveling overseas. Although the chances are slim, but if you happen to be traveling in a country that we suddenly declare war on or if they declare it against us, then your citizenship is forfeit for the duration of the war and may even be difficult to re-establish afterwards.

    1. If that is true, I probably better not turn through SVO on my next trip to the home office. Cost savings be darned. AMS or CDG only.

  2. My biggest worry about traveling is something that stops transportation — not like 9-11 — but something that stops it for years, such as an EMP, foreign invasion, martial law, volcano eruption, etc.

    Then you might have to walk. The largest town in NW Wyoming is Cody. That is where the doctors, hospitals, WalMart, garden center, etc. is. It is 55-60 miles away from me. 55 to the Albertsons, 58 to hospital/doctors, 60 to WalMart, 62 to Northern Gardens… Too far for me to walk.

    Another thing, as I mentioned yesterday, carrying large sums of cash is asking for trouble. Law Enforcement Agencies (using asset forfeiture laws) steal more than robbers, burglars, bank robbers, embezzlers and scam artists combined. If you are caught with large sums of cash, dishonest LEOs will try to find some reason to confiscate it (false positive drug dog alert) because their agency gets to keep whatever they confiscate.

    I have told all my relatives that if I die, don’t throw anything away without checking all the places a $20 bill could be hidden — pockets, behind checks in a check register, inside the leaves of a book, inside a glasses case, inside the pocket of luggage, in a shoe….. I never keep my cash where someone can find it all in a big wad.

    A good idea, if you must carry cash, carry proof of how you acquired it. For instance, keep your last pay stub and have the bills in your wallet exactly match the dollar amount of your last pay or last bonus. Or keep the withdrawal slip from when you withdrew cash from the bank (and your register showing that the money in there was from selling your IBM stock.) Keep the form showing proceeds from broker transactions also. I used to own a private detective agency and a lot of my work was serving summons and subpoenas. Often I would serve a Summons that said, “The United States of America vs. $769.53” or something like that. The government would be suing, get court approval to keep the money.

    The people I serve would tell me that a LEO found the money on them and they couldn’t prove that they acquired the money legally, so it was presumed to be drug related. (Drug dogs can alert on almost any money because it is all tainted with drugs.) Most of the time people can’t afford to hire an attorney so they can’t fight it. Sometimes the government offers to give them PART of their money back if they sign a confession of some sort.

      1. Old Lady,

        This article was about getting HOME. Not walking TO the stores.

    1. 60 miles is pretty far even on horse. Back in the old days (before the 20th century) most people lived and died within less than 30 miles of where they were born.

      Hypothetical: Take a look at Route 66, when they opened up I-40 it shut down most of the small towns all along the way. Now if there was some kind of SHTF event I wonder how long it will take for the reverse effect to happen. It will happen, I just wonder how long it’ll take.

  3. I travel to Europe quite often during the year, my fear is when TSHTF or an EMP strikes the US, you will not be getting home anytime soon, it may take several months up to years to “cross the pond”. If anyone has a suggestion on how to prepare for that then I’m all ears!!

    1. Start checking Marinas. There will always be boat traffic crossing ‘the pond’, and if you’ve got something to offer, there will always be takers.

    2. I am thinking the same thing as Drifter. Depending on where in Europe you are, you may be able to make a deal to get back to the US on a cargo ship or something else coming across the Atlantic. But, depending on the circumstances US currency might not buy your fare – you may have to have something to trade/barter.

      If you visit the same place(s) repeatedly in Europe, you may want to start making some local contacts/friends in those places if you that’s an option. You never can tell who may know someone that knows someone who could help you in a crisis.

    3. Bluecatmatt,

      People in the villages are friendlier then in the cities. Also, because there is not so much space in between places like here in the states, your chances of survival there are better then in the States. I understand your concern because you have family here and not over there that this would be your absolute priority to come back across the pond, but perhaps you might want to think about grabbing your family along on your trips (if possible) and have them with you in case something does happen.

      As much as people say things about Europe, I rather be there when something happens then here in the SW of the States. We have the infrastructure built up to a degree where people can be and are better off when SHTF. Even in the cities simply because we are surrounded with farmland and fuel sources (forests). And yes, people there are still practicing preparedness in every day life unlike here.

      With that said, rentals outside cities are actually decent in prices and you can find for 300 euros or so a house to rent (small in size compared to the US-but most homes there have cellars for storage). Something to think about.
      If you don’t mind asking me, which part of Europe do you go for work?

  4. A few years ago we were flying to visit family that would have taken about 18 hours of driving time. I don’t like flying for any reason but we had time constraints to deal with at the time.

    So anyway, first thing I did was locate a bike shop closest to where we were staying. Just in case we needed alternative transportation to get home. Then we rented a car (initially we were going to fore-go the car). We decided if we were faced with another 9-11 scenario, that we would just drive home and deal with the aftermath later.

    Now because we were flying we couldn’t bring much with us as far as stuff to help us get home, but I did make sure that we had our Life Straws. I also had a fair amount of cash kept in the envelope the bank gave me with the receipt as proof that I withdrew this from my account. Then I wore a money belt under my clothing with most of the cash in it, just keeping enough out for small purchases.

    I even made sure that we brought good walking shoes as part of our wardrobe. I think the only thing I overlooked was bringing good maps with us.

    1. Wearing a money belt through an airport today is taking a very real risk of losing it, due to airport scanners.
      Good luck with that one.

      1. I took it off and put it in the tray that goes through the scanner, but I kept a close eye on it. Then went into the bathroom and put it back on. I knew that if I wore it going through the scanner that they would likely stop me.

  5. How timely. I just got dispatched to the Bay Area. Leaving first thing in the morning, gone 1-2 days. Heading north always reminds of being stranded north of the 14 freeway collapse onto I-5 in the 1994 Northridge quake; as chronicled here awhile back.

    I have nothing to add, it’s scary as hell. Maybe I might be slightly better prepared mentally after that experience, although truthfully for being just a 20-something at the time, I remain proud of my mental discipline during that time. The panic didn’t actually set in until I got home and saw the devastation in my neighborhood.

    Here’s a trick… I was comfortably in my office on the morning of 9/11. However some of my colleagues were stuck in Cleveland at a trade show. Ken is right, everything got upside down. No planes, trains or automobiles to be had at any price.

    A clever engineer ran out and rented an RV. It held all four of them comfortably and provided a place to sleep as well as a place for the sales team to cry and hold each other. Three days later this grungy, motley crew came bumbling up our front driveway, safe and alive.

    1. That was good thinking on the RV – that engineer deserves the gold star for quick thinking. That would not have been my first thought, but it’s on my radar now. Thanks for sharing that, and safe travels this week!

  6. Great timing for this article.

    My wife is going to fly in 3 weeks. Twelve plus hours, with one hour layover. CMH to HNL via PHX.

    I am trying to explain function over fashion.

    Thank you for the travel tips.

    1. Sounds like an old cactus route taken over by US Air. I hope her layover is later in the day. Morning rush at PHX can be bad. I’ve spent an hour in progressive taxi at that field in the morning.

  7. If I can’t DRIVE there…..I am NOT GOING!

    Going next week to enjoy grand children. Daughter offered a plane ticket…I thanked her then told her I would be driving. Leaving one day early on each end to accomplish that. Much better plan!

  8. Consider the worst case senerio, you are 100 plus miles from home, and planes, cars, motorcycles, boats and bicycles (flat tires) and pack animals do not work. But you do have ample supplies, more than you can carry for this discussion. What is the solution? Sheep, lots of 2 legged sheep along the way that volunteer (even at gun point if necessary) to carry your load. A person has to be creative to survive. By the end of the trip some of the sheep may even learn to understand what is necessary to survive.

    1. That might work if you have a companion. If you are alone, well you gotta sleep sometime, and likely to end up with your throat cut.

    2. Another problem with this scenario is correctly identifying which of those are “sheep” and which are wolves or sheepdogs. You choose wrong, you may end up on the receiving end.

      1. I expect that people with a 200+ pound “get home bag” and a “Rambo” complex will last about 30 minutes into day one of a true “SHTF” event.

        Yes, the first truly prepared citizen he approaches will attempt to advise him to trim his load. If he rejects the advice and attempts to force his will upon that truly prepared person, he will quickly learn the difference between bravado and real life preparation. He will cease to be a threat. Quickly.

    3. “Consider the worst case senerio, you are 100 plus miles from home, and planes, cars, motorcycles, boats and bicycles (flat tires) and pack animals do not work.”
      It is sad prepper who cannot fix a bicycle puncture. 100 miles will take about 2 days of pedalling on a bike, 1 day if you are athletic with your own bike. In practice, when emergency strikes a city such as London 7/7 or Tokyo earthquake, everyone rushes to the bike shops to buy anything that will get them the 10-30miles home.
      Pack animals are fine and dandy but where do you buy one in an emergency? If you have one, where do you store it till needed?

  9. When I flew to the Dominic Republic last October, I brought a map of the island also contact numbers for the US Embassy and its location.

    1. A few years back, I knew some folks who went on holiday to China.

      I hunted up contact numbers for them for emergency, the Embassy, etc etc,..
      and gave it to them.

      They thought I was “silly”

      Glad to hear you had such.

  10. I travel for a living. My company knows better than to ask me to fly. I hate it; delays, cancellations, security, excess baggage, etc. I use to jump out of plane in the Army so its not a fear of heights.

    Anyways my vehicle always has a go bag in it. I top the tank off every night in case I have to get out of dodge. Keep cash on hand and 10oz silver. I tell my wife that if the SHTF happens I am going to make up as much ground as I can in the first 2-3 days. If fuel is still flowing I should be home in that time. If not I will go to ground after 2-3 days and figure I will make 10-20 miles a day on foot depending on the land and tactical situation. I am looking for a fold-up bike to help improve my travel time as well.

    If you are facing this type of situation don’t overlook educating the rest of your family on what they need to do. If they are not receptive to the “prepper” way of thinking now you can write it down with instructions to follow in a SHTF situation.

  11. Ugh, my husband says his map is in his head! He’s so damn stubborn.
    He’s leaving this weekend for a week long trip 600 some odd miles away. I’m gonna put everything in his car that he needs.

    It’s just a pain in the arse because I wish he would be more on board with preparedness! Grrrr! I will be holding the fort down and if anything happened it would really suck. I’d be on my damn own too ‘cuz he has no plan other than “Don’t worry I’d get back just fine”.

    1. Lifelonglearner
      For your piece of mind, place a map in the items you packed into his vehicle. If a time comes that he requires it, you will have given him options.
      Nothing says love as the tranquility for one staying behind at the home front.

  12. If you must fly, think seriously about methods to conceal a small, inexpensive .22 caliber semi-automatic pistol, such as a Taurus PT-22 or a NAA single-action .22 revolver. Now, I know that things are pretty dicey right now. But, how much do you value your life and security?

    I have, on more than one occasion, secreted small handguns in my checked-through luggage and have gotten away with it. Most TSA screening personnel are mouth-breathing morons. Charm, smiles, flattery and diplomacy have worked for me so far. Maybe I have just been lucky.

    If you want to cover all bases, then go on the TSA website and see what you have to do to declare a handgun. If you are alone in a big city and feel naked without protection, then you may want to go that route. You should not lose your God-given right to self defense simply because you are forced to travel.

  13. I travel 40+ weeks a year and have for a few years both CONUS and OCONUS. Some tips that work for me.

    1. Always a carry $500 cash CONUS and $1000 OCONUS. You need a few large bills as a wad of $20’s is a obvious to bad guys. Stash it in different spots between wallets, shoes and gear bags. You need at least this much cash to bribe your way into a rental vehicle especially if the system is down due to no electricity. Remember it is a one way rental and they have additional fees.

    Cash is king in this case so $300 gets me in a car and I’ll use the rest for fuel and food. I can sleep in the car when needed. Carry $4.00 in quarters. No power in an airport but some vending machine may still work.

    2. Carry at least 2 pairs of socks and a shirt in your carry on. They always lose luggage and if you have to walk out fast fresh socks make all the difference and let you push through for a few more miles.

    3. Carry at least 6 snack meals in your carry on. Beef jerky, peanuts, m&m’s and protein bars. I can stretch that into 4 days of food even while walking.

    4. Carry a full bottle of water on the plane in addition to a second to drink while on the plane. This helps if you land and it is already in chaos. I have landed and the power was out in the airport. All stores only accepted cash.

    5. Flashlight and zip ties and a small roll of electrical tape are worth their weight in your carry on. Use one with a single AA.

    Have a plan for when you land if it is crazy. First RUN to the rental car facility then concern yourself with food and water. Getting home is the mission and transportation is the first priority.

    1. I don’t know what you mean by CONUS and OCONUS

      You are very right about keeping money in different places and in different denominations. You are also very right about socks. But I would carry 4 pairs, 2 liner pairs and 2 regular pairs. Wearing 2 pairs of socks keeps blisters away; all the rubbing is sock against sock, not sock against foot. The other 2 pairs are for changing when they get wet. Nothing irritates feet more than wet socks.

  14. I put an average of 800 to 1000 miles a week traveling for work.

    I have a GHB and an EDC. Combined its my traveling BOB. I go through it every six months, and add or take out what I feel is necessary for the climate. I always have boxes and the like if I needed to build a lasting fire. I know where all the places are to buy a bike.

    If by some odd chance that the bikes weren’t there to be purchased, I would try to procure one from a barn or residence. Someone, somewhere has a bike that they never plan on using… I would pay ca$h of course… Money talks. I don’t have a problem abandoning my vehicle if it ever hits the fan, and I knew before most that it would be permanent.

    The longest distance I travel on a ‘normal’ day is up to 2-1/2 hours drive in one direction with many, many mountains. I take different ways home all the time, and have for years. I pretty much know what roads have less hills etc…

    Pedaling along a rails to trails would be the best idea to avoid people. I would guess other like minded people **might** be on them as well. Railroad beds are always an alternative to hike along… provided you keep “50 feet” away from the tracks…. I guess its the “law” — Ok…I can hear a train before I see it. haha.

    So, railways, valleys, and small roads that wander along stream beds. (Indians used them for pathways in my area).

    If on foot or by bicycle is a good alternative for those that might be stuck…

  15. I’ve come to the web site for a few years now and this is the first time I’ve posted here, yes I’m a lurker.

    I’m one of those that was traveling on 9/11. I flew into Reagan National Airport (last to re-open after 9/11). I had to deal with an airport being evacuated and a metro train system not working.

    Lucky for me the client and the hotel were in Old Alexandria, the opposite direction of the Pentagon and DC. I had a hotel room, my luggage and once the metro was running, local transportation. The planes landed anywhere they could; people were pulled from them and placed on the metro trains that were headed away from the DC area.

    I was so much better off than those around me, which look like deer in the headlights. They didn’t know where they were or where they were going. I wasn’t prepared for what happened, but I also didn’t panic. I just took in each event and used common sense to deal with it. This was in no way as bad a complete shutdown of a system or society but it did started me thinking of what could happen at anytime, anywhere and what I would do while traveling, which I do anywhere from 30 to 45 week a year.

    For the last 2 years I’ve been traveling from Michigan to California every other week. With the distance between work and home being about 2,200 miles I’ve often wondered how I would handle getting home. Biking or walking are options but not the best for the distance and I don’t always have a car because of client cost restrictions.

    Lucky for me I’m a few months away from being able to retire, which I’ve decided to do. And, yes, while I’m typing this I’m sitting in a hotel room in southern California.

  16. Thank you for this article. I have often considered this angle, and how it relates to my situation. What you write is certainly not wrong, everything depends on the context and the individual. Here is my thinking, which is in places in contrast to yours.

    Be first to get home.

    The first task is to survive whatever is going down right now. Saving yourself is the number one priority, because if you become incapacitated then you are of no help to anyone, and are perhaps a liability. When the situation allows, and only then, do other concerns increase in priority.

    Why fly when you can drive?

    Flying takes less time for a comparable journey, is less dangerous per number of miles traveled, and is itself highly secured and of high protection priority versus any other form of transport. At the same time, traveling by car offers independence and versatility.

    I am well aware of the routes and travel time required to walk home from where I work, and I have a pair of walking boots in the office for just such an eventuality. The ability to walk any significant distance will always be highly dependent on your own physical fitness and your equipment. Traveling light is key, as well as being able to survive through rain or cold.


    Maps are generally bulky and are rarely of sufficient resolution for local intelligence. Unless you are going somewhere without road signs and completely foreign to you, maps are of little use. I prefer to know the back roads, alternative routes, and geographical features of my main environments. Driving an alternative route on my daily commute is time well invested in increasing my local knowledge.

    Have plenty of cash with you.

    Sufficient cash to pay for a day or two is good advice, carrying large amounts of money in any situation with a compromised response from law enforcement is just asking for trouble. If the situation becomes really bad, then cash is nothing but toilet paper. (As an aside, having a packet of tissues on you is my #1 tip for essential edc items).

    Keep your gas tank full.

    Yes, if driving, this is essential.

    Pack enough food.

    Food is of little consequence except staving off hunger (which may have important psychological advantages for some people). The body has enough reserves for several weeks of energy in most people.


    Water is heavy. Unless you’re in an arid region, water can always be found in toilet cisterns, creeks, streams etc. More realistically, vending machines can be harvested. A drinking straw is always in my car and in my GHB.

    A pocket knife.

    I prefer a small multi tool, such as a leatherman. It has hardly more of an inconvenience than a knife, but has infinitely more flexibility in solving problems. Mine has a function for cutting wires.

    A backpack

    We need to differentiate here when this container will be used. If you are facing walking, then anything larger than a daypack will be a heavy hindrance, and a large target. However when in a vehicle, then a fully featured get home back is critical.

    You must bring a flashlight.

    I completely disagree. A flashlight is just one more thing to break, to be lost, or to be mugged for. Absolute darkness is a rarity found only in man made structures, usually underground. If you face this possibility then yes a flashlight is important, but for most people this is a very unlikely eventuality.

    There is a tendency in our circles to over-equip. My philosophy that less is more. I don’t want to be worried about my equipment, holding on to material out of a hoarder’s perspective. I feel it is more important in these situations to be inventive, adaptive, and responsive.

  17. First sign of a major SHTF – while long distance from home – you need to put together an ad hoc GHB to supplement what you’re carrying …. find a nationwide chain store and load up – keep the hard goods in the original packaging until needed and safeguard the receipts …. you can always return that 5 gallon water jug and popup tent when you make it home …. better to have than not

  18. This topic has always been a concern of mine. Fortunately I don’t have to fly as much as I used to but I still fly at least once a year sometimes more. I try to drive when I can but when there is no other choice and I have to fly, which I will be doing in a couple of weeks. I do my best to make sure I am prepared as I can be given that I cant take my normal GHB on the flight. My main worry is a grid down or EMP while I am away from home. There are a ton of other SHTF incidents that can happen but to me the grid going down or an EMP is pretty much the worst. Several of you mentioned some great ideas RV’s, U-Haul’s, etc. as alternate ways to get home, but if there is no power then you have to focus on other means of travel.

    First thing I do is pack as much as I can into my wheeled checked luggage that I can get through checked luggage security. Several of those items Ken has already listed, pocket knife, flashlight, extra batteries, extra socks, lighters and still packing what I need for business. I try to wear my good walking shoes and comfortable clothing while I am flying just in case I can’t get my checked bag. My last trip I didn’t pack a water filter but I am going do it this time and whatever else I think will get through security.

    Normally I carry a briefcase with laptop, etc. But since I have a new backpack that will blend in, I will be using it. One thing I have always done when I get to my destination is go buy some bottled water (usually the more expensive ones with higher grade plastic bottles), high protein snacks and other misc items. I may spend about $20 or so and if I have to throw those items away before I board my flight home so be it. My peace of mind is worth $20. Then I review routes to get out of the city. I also get maps of the cities and states that are between me and home. I have AAA so it’s easy for me to get them for free but you can also print them or check the phone book/welcome book in your hotel room. They usually have a map or 2 of the city. An atlas is great but sometimes a larger state map is more detailed, i.e. back roads, small waterways, etc.

    I have come to the conclusion that the only way I am going to get home to my family is by walking or any other primitive means of travel. I know the odds of me being able to walk 1000+ miles home are pretty slim and I constantly would be looking for better and faster ways to travel. But me getting home to my family is my only priority. We all know that in a grid down/EMP situation you have about 2 or 3 days before things get really bad and my main focus is to have the basic supplies to get out of the city ASAP, while everyone else is panicking I will be at least a few hours ahead of the sheep. Also after day 4 or 5 you may need to start looking at traveling at night and resting during the day. It all depends on the current situation at the time.

    I hope and pray that all the preparing is for nothing and everything will be just fine.

    Adapt and Overcome.

  19. I like to take a few days in fall and go to the Crater Lake area. It’s about a 5 hour drive – don’t have a clue how I would make it back if I had to walk but it wouldn’t be good.

  20. Interesting timing, will be heading to see good old Mom soon, a 1100mile trip one way, going via rental car.
    A lot of very interesting and good ideas here; thanks all.
    I’ll be taking a LOAD of “stuff/supplies” to Mon, so going will be no problem if I get stuck somewhere along the way.
    Coming back; well will still have the GHB, and taking the BOB, will also toss in a case of MRE’s for the heck of it. Yeah a lot to carry, but I’m thinking to stay put for a while if TSHTF. Than head out after the smoke clears a bit.
    Someone mentioned firearms. That’s a tricky one for sure, as a CCW person most states I travel through honor the license but there are some that get a little “upset” with the “gun bag” so ya gata be careful what you have on you at each state….. Hence I NEVER go to California, what a bunch of wackos and their oddball gun laws, IE no mag’s over 10 rounds? HAHAHA what is that? And how about Portland? I hear that even a slingshot is illegal now… LOLOL
    Anyways, ya all be careful traveling, the “unknowns” are the tough part.

    1. @ aka
      The only person I ever hurt with a slingshot was myself… HAHAHA
      OMG did that hurt, had a Black & Blue mark for weeks and weeks.
      FYI, do NOT shot a Slingshot at a chunk of steel… LOL

      1. Long ago every kid on the block had a slingshot. Usually home made- one from the store was something every kid envied

    2. Ask Goliath about sling shots. Or better yet ask David. Oops can’t ask either but remember Goliath died first. Technically it wasn’t a sling shot as we know it but the same basic principle. A stone mechanically accelerated.

  21. Youtube: MASK tactical urban survival series. Youtube: US Marine shows how to survive in an urban environment. Perhaps some will benefit from some of the concepts proposed in these videos. also contributes viable information. Basically you really need to understand where you are and what resources are available to you there, with backup plans if those resources become unavailable. Know how to navigate around should traditional modes of transportation become unavailable. Notify your dependents what to do should you get stranded and not know when you will be able to return.CR

  22. I think you all owe me a very heartfelt thanks. The end of the world as we know it has not happened because I have not taken my wife to Hawaii. Yet. Be warned though, I’m seriously thinking of doing so in the next month or two.

    If SHTF while we are there we’ll head for a marina. Folks with boats will be leaving and experienced crew is usually wanted. For us I’m a retired ER RN. If you were going to cross an ocean would you want me along?

    Certainly other considerations need to be assed. AS I recall many of the NYC hotels gouged the folks who had planned on flying out that day. Some of them tripled the rates. Pirates. They should have been taken out and hung.

    I agree on the not carrying large amounts of cash but wonder why not $50 dollar bills and understand that the $100 bill is the preferred currency of the cartels and their related gangs and dealers. I think I would feel comfortable carrying $1000 in 50s. I’m also going to look into jewelry using gold coins. A one ounce maple leaf would probably get you passage on any ship. Smaller ones on a bracelet would also be very useful.

    1. @me, I feel that smaller denominations (e.g. 20’s) will be simpler for making change than 50’s or 100’s. When people see large bills, they sometimes are a bit taken aback… (strange, but seemingly true).

      With the right kind of wallet, a stack of 20’s is easy to carry. I’ve been carrying the following style wallet for years (in cargo pants pocket) – love it… will easily carry 500 in 20’s (you could even double that without issue).

      Spec-Ops Brand T.H.E. Wallet

  23. My husband and I are history buffs and travel to archeological or historical sites. We learned a few things the hard way! Always bring more water than you expect to need. Bring cash in small bills, 1’s, 5’s, and 10’s. A 20 in a poor part of the world marks you as a tourist. Do your best to blend in. Know some of the local language. Always take food with you. Dress in layers, easier to strip down in the heat. Bring lots of cash, be creative about hiding it.

    One adventure included our youngest daughter going into anaphylactic shock in a foreign country. The doctor spoke little english, but the signs for choking are universal. The place was not the most sterile, but they had drugs she needed. When the crisis was over, they wanted $800 cash, right now.

  24. I purchased a folding two wheeler awhile back. It stays in my vehicle, except for when I take it out to ride it around and make sure everything’s okay. I’ve figured out that it is NOT a comfortable bike. Especially now that I’m recovering from a back injury. And I’ve been worrying about falling. A bicycle accident – not good!

    I’m now looking for a folding 3 (three) wheeler with a recumbent type seat. I figure I could carry more supplies and falling over would be less likely.

    Traveling scenario’s are something I think about often. Beach’n

  25. A Journalist for the Wall Street journal was interviewed on what he packs for overseas travel. Here are some of the things he brings (if memory serves me right) He travels to primitive war zones as well as first world countries.

    2 small simple headlamps- redundency in action. The simplest LED headlamps sold at REI cast $20.00 a piece. very little to go wrong and dead simple to operate. Battery life is very long with LED lighting. Plus a headlamp allows one to ride a bicycle/wash dishes/write in the notepad while you travel.

    Lighter and cigarettes- in war zones among US soldiers and Pashtun Tribesmen, American Cigarettes are a premium trade commodity. Also popular in all areas where workmen and trades people live. (the ones likely to help you get home.

    Pocketknife- One multitool was packed in luggage and one (defensive dagger) was purchased at destination upon arrival. Frequently, the dagger was left/ traded with local before boarding the plane home.

    Several changes of both socks and underwear. check on luggage gets lost sometimes.

    Guns: This guy was a journalist for a newspaper so he carried his press credentials in place of a weapon. 2 thoughts on weapons and camoflage clothing: When going on Safari in Namibia, Americans are advised to pack solid color clothing and leave the camoflage at home because the ONLY people walking in the bush wearing camoflage are either soldiers or rebels and bandits. In a warzone, the only people carrying weapons are either friendlies or the enemy. I don’t want to risk a gut wound in a far away land by friendly fire or by the enemy. Same results in the end. Besides, if things got really bad, there will be plenty of weapons laying on the ground.

    Extra cotton T-shirts to tear up and use as bandages and/or cover the mouth and nose.

    Lifestraw water filter. x2.

    small backpack or internal frame backpack: more tolerant to abuse by the luggage handlers at the airports.

  26. Hi all! I traveled about 100 miles away from home Monday with a friend to look at a truck and tractor for sale. We both had Ghb along with personal security and ammo.(he was carrying cash for the purchases.)
    We talked about this subject on the way up. He’s a mechanical engineer and travels quite a lot for his firm. His wife sewed pockets inside his jeans at the knees and he carries cash in them. He also wears 2 pairs of socks and carries cash between them on the bottom of his feet.Has done it for years without incident. He also carries change in his carry on but it’s all pre 64 coins. About $2500.00 when he flys. He figures he can buy/bribe his way out of Dodge.He would try to get a motor cycle if he could which is a good idea.
    I read the rest of the posts and a lot of good ideas/info.
    Thanks Ken…

    1. That’s an interesting idea about sewed pockets inside the jeans for cash. Apparently the airport scanners have not picked it up… Also, brilliant having cash between socks while passing through the scanners.

      Now if there were only a way to get gold coins through…

      1. Ken,thanks for the link for the hose bib key. I have one on my key chain and in all my vehicles. The wife has one in her purse.

        I’m thinking the pockets just look like reinforced knees that are in a lot of work jeans so I guess it’s not noticed. I thought it was a good idea for every day money carry too. My friend hits the bathroom after security and takes the money out of his socks. I’m guessing it might get a little rank after a 6 hour flight.Lol! Still a good idea…

  27. On 9/11 I was at a client’s home in Las Vegas.We were supposed to meet at his compound in South America but he had business in Vegas so he changed it about a week before. Glad I wasn’t in S.A. at that time.Have friends in Vegas so I was ok.

    The scenarios I run in my head are always worse case . I got some good ideas from you folks.Thanks.
    Btw,Everyone should buy and keep with them a commercial hose bib key.That way if you’re traveling you can open water hose bibs on commercial buildings.Just know that sometimes they haven’t been opened in awhile so let the water flow a while to get the standing pipe water out.

    1. @Bill Jenkins Horse,

      Thanks for the goods ideas on the hose bib and also the pre 64 coins. After reading several of the comments here today I have decided that I will pick up some more for my travels. Those won’t call any attention to you or your bag when flying like a silver eagle or something similar.

      Adapt and Overcome.

      1. 11H, I was amazed how much money he carried. $500 each knee and $500 in each sock.He hit the stores at the airport and would break a couple $100 from his socks and put the change in his wallet. He said the change was for laundry and parking meters if they got curious.
        I have used the hose bib key many times while on the road.

        1. Do you have just the single key? I see some on amazon that are a 4 way. Just curious if it’s worth the extra money for the 4 way.

          Adapt and Overcome.

        2. 11H, I have just the single.I have seen some that have a metal panel that has to be unlocked first,swings away then you can get to the bib or a water valve. The ones I encountered had the same size as my key. I imagine there are some that are different size so maybe having the 4 way key would cover any you might encounter. I just haven’t run into a problem…yet

  28. Today I was at my mechanics place picking up my truck. We got into a discussion about air flight, and how many planes are always in the sky.
    (It made me think of this blog)

    He mentioned to me the name of a website to see where flights are in their path.

    A simple search engine search for “FlightRadar24” will point you to the web page.
    Some of you may be surprised to see how many planes are in our skies daily. Even at night the sky is filled with planes…

    If you have a loved one that flies often, you can always have a look at that site to see where they are, and the path they take. Its a cool site. See? Big Brother IS watching! :D

    1. I have had that app for some time. Its one of the best flight trackers. Its interesting to simply observe whats going on in our skies.

  29. Good reminders from everybody. Also
    Ear plugs to help you sleep in noisy places. At least $250 available in plastic for deposit to rent a car. Cell phone preloaded with all relevent numbers. And a bic lighter.

  30. Get home bags ( GBH’s ) are required when traveling, But I found that 25lb bag is very heavy after a few mil. unless you train with it. I found a folding two wheel hand cart at Northern tool for $49. has a 150lb capacity. folds flat about 3in thick. takes up no space in the trunk. I put 50lb of water bottles on it and walked around the park. was effortless. you can pull or push it. I have a lot more then 25lb of gear in the trunk now and know I can take it with me.

    Must have weapons with you or know how to make them from what ever you can find along the way. a multi tool ( leatherman charge ) duct,tape and para cord and you can make a bow and arrow. look up a “stacked bow” they are simple to make.

    A “Sawyer water filter” is a must have and I think it is far and away the best, and cost around $19 to $24 about the size of a pop-cycle.
    And have 4 or 5 ways to start a fire.
    Good luck.

  31. After reading the above posts, I’m surprised no one mentioned hopping a freight train like the Hobos did in olden days. The thing to know would be where the tracks go.

  32. I hear these people talking about how hard it would be to walk home in say an EMP attack. What?, nobody can ride a bicycle? They’re much more efficient and you could bike 50 miles in a day easily. Much easier on the feet too. Oh! and just about any Wally World has a bike section. If you cant buy it, steal it.( sorry mom )

  33. In addition to some of the items you recommend, when traveling to foreign countries , I always make sure I know where the embassies are, not just American but all “friendly” countries. I take a strong antibiotic, life straw and wear a couple of pieces of real jewelry (silver or gold chain, earrings) cash is king but you can trade jewelry too. In addition I always make sure I pack a low key comfortable outfit even on business. You may have to ditch the suit and move quickly.

Comments are closed.