What If The SHTF While You’re On Vacation?


You are enjoying a well deserved vacation when the worst happens – SHTF!

Not just a small localized disaster, but a true SHTF event.

It’s been in the back of your mind (since you’re a prepper) the ‘what-if’ thought.
What if you were on vacation when ‘it’ happens? The shite hits the fan.

What will you do?

It’s something worth thinking about. One never knows the day or the time (if and when) the SHTF, but what if it happens while you’re away from your home base?

Given the variability in SHTF scenarios coupled with the variability of where or how far you may be from home base at the time, there’s no one clear answer to this problem. However there is some good general advise – as follows:

My number one priority (apart from my immediate situation and security) would be to get back home – to where I’ve prepped for just such an event.

Most people who are confronted by the impact of a SHTF disaster will suffer from disbelief or shock for awhile – and will probably not make the best initial decisions (if at all). Many will simply sit and wait for ‘help’. The sad truth is that the vast majority of the public assume and depend upon government (or agencies within the system) to save them or help them.

This is your key window of opportunity to take immediate action – before things get even worse.

During the impact stage of SHTF, it is important to:

1. Remain level-headed
2. Recognize and understand what has happened.
3. Estimate the follow-on consequences.
4. Gauge your response and actions accordingly.
5. Adapt.

There is an immediate aftermath, which may involve chaos and a unique set of problems.

After having considered the effects of the disaster’s impact itself, you need to consider the short term aftermath and adapt to it so that you can get back home (assuming home is safe, and where you want to go).

Most places where vacationers frequent are busy with high population density during the vacationing season. If and when they all realize that the S has hit the Fan – many will begin to clog the roadways while attempting to get out.

If you were unable to beat the crowd, then it may be wise to use back roads.

A key to success is planning.
Give some forethought to what you would do if confronted with SHTF while away on vacation.

Even while on vacation, you should have some sort of bug out bag which will help sustain your life while traveling from point-A to point-B. A 72 hour kit of sorts.

Always keep the fuel in your vehicle topped off. Get in the habit of NEVER letting your gas tank drop below half. The extra miles downrange will be significant by keeping your tank full.

Always keep enough cash for emergency purchases (if and while systems are still up). Do not rely on credit or debit cards to always be working.

While most ‘sheeple’ won’t initially understand the value of precious metals, it may prove helpful to keep a few silver and/or gold rounds in your wallet.

Always keep a road map in your vehicle. ‘Know the exits’ (so to speak). Know how to get back home without GPS and know more than one route.

Always keep a supply of water in your car (more important than food!). Buy a case of water and keep it in the trunk, etc.

If you’re on vacation without a vehicle (maybe you’ve flown there), have at the ready – important phone numbers to quickly assist in getting you out of there (Rental Car Agencies, Airlines, Cab Companies, etc.).

No two disasters are alike, and one bad enough to qualify as SHTF will truly require forethought, preparation, planning, and adaptability in order to make it back home to your castle.

While there’s no sense ruining your vacation over-analyzing a ‘what-if’ SHTF scenario, it may be worth a bit of thought given that you will be in a more vulnerable position while away from your home base…

What are some of your thoughts and suggestions about being prepared for SHTF – regarding while on vacation?


  1. Calculate the miles you are from home.
    500 miles divided by 20=25….so carry 4 (5) GALLON gas cans.
    Dangerous???? Hell yeah, and so is being 500 miles from home when TSHTF; don’t think less is more because the closer to home, maybe the worse obtaining gas will be.

    Just one thought, but I would not count on the stations even being open in a serious situation—and then, there will be the long lines.

    1. I would think that a major concern would be if you were successful in getting back to your home you would have to possibly deal with people who are now occupying your home and in possession of your preps.

  2. Preppers take vacations? I didn’t think they wasted their money on that?

    1. Agreed. Vacation – $300.00 to $400.00, imagine the preps that can be bought with that!!! And, we have a comfort zone from our home. Walking distant of about an hour.
      I drive a truck part time and at times have to go an hour out, I hope and pray that nothing happens while I am that far out.

  3. I’m glad I’m a full time RVer. Tow a tool/shop trailer with it. Now all I have to do is find the best wilderness area within a reasonable drive & setup camp. I plan on keeping my head down for a few weeks, and then VERY CAUTIOUSLY attempt to make contact with like minded people. Then the rebuilding process begins. Fortunately my fuel tank is MASSIVE so I can drive a while. Over a thousand miles on a fillup. In a SHTF situation, a lot of RVers will probably convoy together. And it will mean driving out of the way, but its worth it to run in a pack for mutual defense. The important thing is A. Be in a group of like minded people so that I’m not an easy target for thugs or locals trying to conscript technical support or tools. B. Stay away from dense population centers. I do think that in a global/national/regional SHTF circumstance, there will be many cases of local ‘authorities’ or community ‘leaders’ attempting to ‘use’ someone else’s assets for the ‘community good’…. A polite way of saying politically connected people are going to continue stealing from Joe Public until they are forced to stop stealing…

  4. What timing! We will be going on vacation in about 2 months and we will be flying, which means no supplies or “Get Home Bag” with us. Although we will be getting a rental car, and if need be we will drive it home should something happen while there. Our only real option is to make sure that we have plenty of cash on hand. Beyond that, there isn’t allot you can take with you in the way of preps when flying. I think about the only thing I can fit into our luggage would be some maps and our life straws.

    1. One possibility is to purchase some rudimentary supplies on the other end – while you’re there. Like you said, you could always drive the rental car home (lots of people did this during 9/11 when all flights were grounded). Having a supply of high-calorie food bars and a case of water will get you pretty far on a tank of gas. Cash is King (for a while – until it’s not) following a crisis.

  5. What is a good kit to put together for oversea’s/out of country flights? We do mission trips a couple times a year, and have put a few things together, but am restricted to an extent.

    1. I used to travel internationally once in awhile during a previous career.

      I would first consider my security (a pocket knife, etc., in my baggage – although some countries ban this item believe it or not…). You can be quite creative with what to use as an improvised weapon – many ordinary things.

      Next consider how you would get home in an emergency. Take with you enough cash to get home if you had to without credit or debit. In addition to American dollars, convert some currency to the country you’re in. Also, I always carried some precious metals (everyone recognizes gold as money) just in case.

      Do not rely on your electronic devices for all of your contact information. Keep a hard copy of important contacts and other numbers to help you get home if you had to (friends, family, rental car chains, hotel chains, airlines, cab companies in your area, etc.). Understand how international dialing works… country codes and such.

      I ALWAYS brought a flashlight with me. If there was a fire or other such emergency (in your hotel?), your flashlight could save your life in the middle of the night while trying to escape. KNOW the escape routes.

      I also ALWAYS brought a small portable AM/FM Shortwave radio.

      When at your destination, KNOW how to get to the airport (rental cars are there too). Look at a map and understand where you are.

      Be aware of your surroundings. Blend in. Don’t look like a tourist.

      I would always bring (and purchase more) food to keep with my baggage. Also, water.

      The fact that you’re thinking about it is a very good thing. Most people don’t give it a thought at all…

  6. We just returned from a 7 day trip over 700 miles away. Great thoughts Ken. During our trip I wondered many times what we would do. Keeping the tank full was a must. We had a fair amount of food. About a week. My biggest concern was an EMP scenario. There is no way I could hike 4 young kids and my elderly in laws 700 miles through the Smokey Mountains. My plan was to get as far away as possible and find like minded people. We would only have our skills to offer, but we can do a lot that most folks can’t. Getting home would be a goal, but I just can’t see it happening for awhile in that type of a scenario.

  7. good article.

    while back was reading another article re such a situation, and their suggestions (in addition) were
    – keep handy (paper and on cell) numbers of airlines flying out of where you’ll be/ trains and buses too. So, in even of SHTF, you can be the first one to call and maybe get the last (few) seats available to leave.
    -try to keep enough cash to pay for above tickets, as in SHTF credit card machines might be down.

    -wouldn’t hurt to scout out some alternate accomodations (before you leave), such as b and b, store number, so again, you have alternate place to lay your head.

  8. It always depends on where I am going.

    I always leave all of my info, itineraries, emergency info, etc with a loved one back home. I always bring maps.

    I always have at least a couple hundred bucks in cash…. I believe the “pros” of having this on hand outweigh the “cons”. I know quite a few people who had cash on hand who were able to find a way home by paying someone a couple hundred bucks to drive them.

  9. What’s a ‘vacation’? Oh…isn’t that what you do when traveling from one duty station to the next? I don’t take those anymore.

  10. Carry maps. Weather alerts and civil advisories may be given by county name, and if in a rural area an alert may be given exclusively by county name or an area described by highway numbers (‘tornado moving to the north along hwy 16’).

    Carry a weather alert radio. This will give you a heads up on a weather condition that may result in a local or even regional SHTF.

  11. Thankfully, my family and closest friends enjoy camping, so that is 99% of our vacations. That makes this topic a no-brainer. I just pack the few extra essentials like a rifle and ammo, hand tools, life straws and what not, and we can live the good life in the woods for quite some time.

    1. You could, maybe, do a camping trip or two in the back yard. Gives you, maybe, a good excuse for the fire pit/barbeque that you always wanted.

  12. I’ve thought about this a good bit, but haven’t let the possibility drive our choices. My son and I have been scuba diving in four different countries, and we take vacations every year to destinations far enough away that a significant event could make it very tough for us to get home. My F-150 is set up to allow us to take spare fuel, extra water, and get-home bags in a way that is hidden from sight, and still leave room for the more-than-we’ll-need vacation stuff we always seem to take. I’m not naive enough to think what we take will hold us against anything that might happen, but it’ll definitely give us an edge. We prepare and remain alert to what is happening in the world, but we also live our lives to the fullest. That being said, if something were to happen while we’re in Key West, we will not be among those who are waiting for the government to tell them their next move. By the time that “help” is delivered, we’d be well on our way to the house.

  13. We just did a trip from CA. to ND, SD, WY, etc. I always take my truck with tonneau cover for road trips. I had our packs with us along with 2 hand guns and ammo. Although in CA. I have concealed carry for other states. It was a great feeling as this was our first road trip having my guns with, especially advertising with my CA. plates where I was from. I thought about an EMP or such, and thought of the walk back home. Just turned 60, but others did it years ago, although there would have been different Indians to worry about. I just really liked the piece of mind knowing I would have a chance at surviving.

    Although I don’t fly much because I don’t like TSA, you can ship your bags back to your destination. I did this years ago with things we had purchased. Didn’t cost much at the time. Worth a look into.

  14. “Critical Thought”
    Can you elaborate a bit on extra water and fuel for your F-150?

    1. It’s just a “box/shelf” along the front of the truck bed (under a camper shell) that will shield a few 5-gallon cans, cases of water, etc. from sight. It’s not that there’s an issue hauling either…I just like keeping all of it from sight of casual observers. None of what we’ll take with us this trip would get us all the way home by itself, but it would get us most of the way, and especially get us out of that immediate area without stopping…really wouldn’t want to have to dally around any in the south FL (Miami) area in any kind of SHTF scenario.

  15. We take a 4 day vacation every spring and go to Yosemite (just before winter rates quadruple into summer rates ;), I’m cheap that way) It’s only 2 hours away, but the shortest route takes us through Fresno, and that is one place I’d hate to be if SHTF. So, we have alternate routes mapped out to carry us through less populated areas, taking 8 hours or more. I also pack a huge cooler with all the food we need for the trip, plus emergency extras. I always keep all sorts of stuff in the big truck bed box, gas, water, tire chains etc. It would take us way more than a week to walk that 125 miles home, since neither of us are very mobile. So we take the electric scooter and chair, and their charging stuff, plus I have a small solar charger for them. Both have packs that strap on back of the seats that are quite large, bigger than I could carry.
    I’m not naive enough to think that those preparations would make us all set for a huge emergency, but I think it gives us a pretty good chance of getting home in one piece.

  16. I travel for work 50% of the time and my wife always asks why I look at my sites every day. My answer is always the same, if I get an inkling that something is up just 24 hours ahead like a bank holiday or troop movements or…. I have a chance to get home. I also carry some small gold and silver coins for when our dollar goes to zero and I need to get home.

  17. If you plan to fly to a vacation spot, do what many do with luggage. FedEx your BOB, have fun and FedEx it back home.

  18. We live in the Northeast. We were invited to a wedding in Alabama in October 2012. Everyone wanted to fly down and back. NOT ME. I could not take all my survival supplies on the plane. So, we drove, roughly a 1000 miles down and another grand back. We had to research all the state laws to see where our CCW reciprocates. There were times we had to stop, unload the guns, separate the ammo and move them out of reach from the passenger sections of the vehicle. I have a few “batteries” of weapons. I do NOT lug my “A” list around with me. Those guns are to defend our home. I do keep weapons in the vehicle, along with Get Home Bags, extra ammo, food and water. These firearms are more geared for survival than offensive military operations. The Get Home Bags are actually built or set up around the weapons system. For instance, I converted a range bag for my S&W Governor revolver into a survival kit. I stuffed the pockets of the Ruger 10/22 Takedown bag with camping/outdoor items. My web gear (with buttpack) is a stand alone kit. I stuffed an AR-7 .22 LR in a backpack that serves as a Get Home Bag, too. Counting the EDC pocket pistols my wife and I carry everywhere, a Ruger Security-6 .357 MAG within reach in the cab and a Savage 24J .22LR/.20GA in the back, each member of the family has a handgun and long gun should we need them.

  19. We all have nothing. Its a good idea to think about starting from there. Im in a foreign country, no way home, money is no good, what to do?

  20. All still pertinent information as I plan for family vacation next month. Just in time for summer
    I’m hoping the slow roll towards SHTF does not switch to avalanche speed while we are 800 miles from home
    I mean if Washington/Rochambeau’s troops could survive the ~700 mile walk down to Yorktown in 1781 surely my family/teen could do it if we had to in 2021 ?
    Better go optimize my GHB for longer than 72 hr…

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