Do You Fly Often? | Stranded Far Away From Home After SHTF Event

what to do if stranded

Preparedness for when you have flown far from home

Mission objective: Get back home. At least that’s what it will be for most situations.

I recall the September 11 (2001) attack. Many of my work colleagues became stranded in place. Why? Because they were working in other cities (having flown there). All private and commercial airline traffic was immediately grounded in the United States and Canada.

I used to fly a-lot back then. Part of the job. That day I was local. I was not stranded. Though my work mates were.

What did they do? Some of them immediately rented cars and began the drive back home. It took days (for some). But they made it.

Why am I talking about this? Well, though I personally haven’t flown in 10 years (thankfully!), I know that others who are preparedness-minded DO FLY (because of their jobs). So the question is, how do you prepare for the unknown possibilities of SHTF while you’re far away from home (having flown there)?

I’ve written a few articles on the subject. You might want to visit them and read the comments too (links at bottom). It’s been awhile since I discussed this particular topic. So I’m looking for your input so as to help others with the thought process of preparedness for this.

Things To Take With You

I’ll get the discussion going by letting you know some of the items that I used to bring along with me when I flew all over the place…

Flashlight. A good quality small flashlight (like this one – on amzn). Always kept one on the nightstand next to the bed in the hotel. Otherwise it was with me in my bag wherever I went.

Small portable AM/FM/Shortwave radio (related article). News and information will be critical immediately following an ‘event’. It will help to understand the potential scope of the problem. Better decision making that way.

A good pocket knife. I couldn’t do “carry on”, but I would tuck one in my luggage (if I had luggage other than carry-on). Always had a pocket knife as part of my EDC (related article).

Cash. 20’s (nothing larger). Cash is King. At least for awhile…

Food bars (related article – and my suggestion). Great for keeping you going.

Water. I would take at least one water bottle on the plane (not sure if you can do that anymore). Also would be sure to have some water bottles on hand during the trip.

Backpack. Instead of a traditional type of carry-on bag, I would often use a soft backpack instead. If I needed more space for the trip, I would also carry on a nice bag on wheels – extendable handle. Good quality.

Navigation. Map your way home. Today’s cell phones have excellent GPS navigation capabilities. (Getting home?). The only thing that would inhibit you in this regard might be a EMP-event (which would be total/major SHTF!), or major power outage whereby your phone battery eventually goes dead. Though a car-charger would still work (if the vehicle runs). Prior to my travel, I would look at mapping of the area. Had a good idea prior to hitting the ground where I’m going and how I might get back.

Okay, I got the ball rolling. For your flyers out there (or former flyers), what do you carry with you for preparedness, just in case? And/or what measures/precautions would you take (or do).

Being Far Away From Home When It Hits The Fan

10 Personal Security Tips For Hotel Stays


  1. There are quite a few books about getting home after a nationwide disaster. Some better than others. (Some terrible and some not believable.) I have several in my home library:
    The Going Home series by A American.
    77 Days in September by Ray Gorham (one of the better ones)
    Lights Out by David Crawford (also pretty good, as I remember)
    The Pulse by Scott B. Williams
    The Darkness After by Scott B. Williams
    Final Dawn by Mike Kraus
    I have a few others but can’t remember the plots, so I won’t mention them here.

    It has been a while since I read these and some may be out of date, but I think it is a good idea to read a couple of books of these types.

  2. We always take a sandwich and dried fruit & nuts. I carry a USB power bank and a USB powered fan in the event that the air goes off while on the tarmac, which happened once. I never use a shoulder-strap bag anymore, always a backpack.

  3. I have been one of the blessed. I did not have to fly. I did take some trips, neither strict pleasure nor work.
    We were blessed to be in a private home, with supports. We did get caught by a hurricane, incoming.We took extra food/snacks and bought bottled water and took extra flashlights and batteries. . There was a difference in checked and carry on “acceptable” items…scissors, letter openers, duct tape, paper clips, push pins, could be on checked./for instance.
    We took as many supplies as possible/and purchased more for the 2 week stay- to stretch our hosts supplies/ have for emergency backups.( Important when a household goes from 4 members to 24.)….and have for “off schedule” snacks/.We delivered those things intended for our host, to them just after arrival. They were free to use as needed for meal planning for the group., or to reserve for their use later.. was entirely up to them.
    Since i do not swim could have been an extended stay…My Ears do not tolerate pressure changes and the last trip on top of everything else my eardrum burst.(I had used sinus meds /allergy and decongestants for several days prior..and used pressure relieving methods)…
    ..The rules and the scrutiny /groping changed drastically for last trip, I/WE will no longer fly unless it is a life /death Emergency.
    .Only Americans are treated so badly by authorities in our airports.. Just our experience.

    1. Yes, I agree about the airport groping. I get chosen just about every time I fly and this time was no exception…got selected before boarding out of Buffalo.

      I do not pack much of use in my checked baggage because it seems to go astray frequently and important stuff can disappear. I always carry water or cranberry juice, but I have to buy it at the airport after screening so it costs 3 times the normal price. They never question the protein bars in my carry on. Always carry a map in the carryon.

      We have provided our siblings with sufficient pantry stores that I feel comfortable staying for an extended period, but would feel better knowing they know how to utilize everything they have and can locate the items quickly. Not sure they have organized themselves very well.

      On my next trip down by car, I am leaving an extra safety bag for me in my sister’s care so I have a full kit when I fly down for emergencies. Won’t help me at the layover site, but better than nothing.

  4. I always keep a list of relatives or friends who live the nearest to my destination. It would be much easier to reach home with support locations along the way back if needed. I also wear appropriate clothing if I need to hoof it on foot and blend in with the locals. No flip flops, slip on dress shoes, restrictive clothing, etc.

  5. Let’s just Pray that the a real SHTF never happens, because if you are out of state or country without your goods and guns, you’re toast.

    1. This is one of the reasons i don’t fly anymore, that’s because it’s so dam hard to take any type of firearm, or ammo with you. Now a days i use my truck to travel out of state, and most of my neighboring states respect my CCW permit.

      Plus my truck is set up with enough extra fuel, food, water, medicine and camping gear to support not only me, but my wife too, for at least a week away from home, longer if we ration our supply’s.

      One thing i do make a point of carrying when i travel, are up to date PAPER ROAD MAPS covering my entire route, plus i try to have topo, and US forest service maps with me too, just in case i need to use back roads to get home. Remember in a SHTF event, your GPS just might not be working, so what are you going to do then?

    2. bluecatmatt just nailed it. I bring prayer. … Well and lots of cash, several flashlights with power banks too. But essentially Matt got it right; you’re toast. About the only positive is I tend to travel mostly outside the US these days; to lands just a bit less, uhh, ‘diverse’. The population is generally well-behaved and not prone to outbursts of random violence and bad behavior. I suppose my biggest concern would be what is waiting for me, if/when I get back to America.

  6. The first time I went overseas I purchased a safety orange floating water proof flashlight just in case we had to ditch in the ocean. hahaha like we would have made it. Always have some healthy snacks with carbs and proteins, water also. Oh and clean underwear. You can stand a whole lot if you have clean underwear and something to wipe your face, hands and other places! Toothbrush applies as well.

  7. Precautions for your cash. Take a lint roller, pull off sticky tape, take apart if in two molded pieces. Usually it will be hollow , stick your cash roll inside. Not too many thieves will be interested in a lint roller.

  8. I won’t fly again. Last time was about 20 years ago, flew to Wyoming w/ my husband. Our last trip there, or anywhere else, was in the RV.

    Knowing that my presence on airport property removes my Constitutional rights had left a rather negative effect on me…

  9. I worked for the largest commuter airline in the world for 5 years, 3 computer programing, and 2 in the engine repair/overhaul shop.

    First 3 years was part of my job to fly to every location we had ‘Code Shares’ with and set up the Computer Systems. Meaning I was in the air 4 out of 5 working days. Plus I had an ID90 meaning I/wife could fly anywhere in the world for the cost of the Tax. Needless to say we went everywhere, literally.

    Last 2 years in the Engine Shop taught me exactly what these Airplanes go through. I have been on an Airplane exactly 2 times since the second day I started there seeing the shape these and ALL Planes are in mechanically.

    Granted it’s 100’s of times safer to Fly that to Drive the same distance….. Ya AIN’T going to get me on one of those death traps.

    Hell even the very last I HAD to fly, the Dumb Azz Pilot overshot the 1/2 mile runway at DEN. Really???? That runway was 1/2 mile long and you can hit it???!!

    Anyways, back to the article. When I did fly a LOT, I would always ship via FedEx a package for myself, it would get there the same day as I would, then I would ship to the next location, the Airline though I was shipping Computer Stuff……. Little did they need to know what was really in that 2-foot cube box.

    Anyways, always make plans for being away for 6 months if you’re going away for a week. Find several “Safe-Houses” to expect you if you go the same places often, have a trusted local contact to find if TSHTF and you need to hunker down, PS; offer the same to them.

    Honestly tis no difference if you drive 200 miles away from home…. Have A Plan.

    1. My BIL was a commercial pilot for years, and a military pilot before that. Once he retired, he refused to get on a commercial airliner again. He has never given reason, won’t talk about it. And now you tell us your story. sheesh. No wonder my head would tell me everything was safe, but my gut always was telling me otherwise. ignorance is bliss?????
      Now I drive everywhere for work. Not exactly the safest thing to do, but at least I have some control over what happens. Either way, flying or driving 1000 miles from home, you do have to have a plan. Each time I go out, I prep a little better each time. I don’t think I will ever be prepared enough to feel good about being away.

  10. DW fly’s some for business. Always takes cash, protein bars, etc. Needless to say, since 9/11 every time she does I’m in prayer until she returns. Worst trip was to Argentina last summer for a week, right before their latest economic collapse/election. She said that the country was ” a mess”, with super poor people and that the “Rich” were super RICH. Typical for a socialist run country.
    She leaves for Dallas TX tomorrow for 2 days, so I’ll be speaking with my Savior on a regular basis until she returns.

  11. We used to do lots of tropical travel back in the last century when flying was fun. We always carried extra socks,toiletries, tee shirt ,windbreaker, shorts,small first aid kit, hat & cash. We wanted to have things to get us through a lost luggage scenario for a few days, that was our concern. We had occasions to arrive without luggage and we usually did fine with what we had in our carry on bag.
    We have not flown for about 15 years. I will not put up with the B.S.that is required with flying today.

  12. I don’t fly, so I don’t have any suggestions. I have flown a couple times in a single prop, but not commercial. Being confined with numerous, unknown people gives me the willies. Kinda like being in a submarine, but under water….
    When my parents were in Florida and mom was bad, my cousin called me and said she booked me on a flight. I politely said no thanks, I’m driving…
    That’s almost a 24hr trip!
    I’ll make it in 22.
    The drawback was, the soon to be ex had the vehicle that could make the trip… vehicle….not so much.
    But I had all the essentials.
    Food, water, adequate clothing….and protection…..

    the bang, bang, not the ex.

  13. Never have liked flying much, but spent a career mostly abroad. So what ya gonna do?

    Almost always had change of clothes, toiletries, first aid, antibiotics for the usual suspects, food like jar of peanut butter and pack of crackers, candy, dried fruit, couple of beverages bought at exorbitant price after going through security, wipes, couple books, deck of cards, in wheeled carry-on. One time I didn’t, I managed to get food poisoning on a long flight out of South Asia. That was no fun.

    Once was stuck on a grounded plane in a storm middle of the night north of the Arctic Circle. Supplies came in very handy for me and seat-mate.

    PPE is hard to manage these days, but those hard plastic peanut butter jar lids break nicely into shards.

  14. This is my nightmare. We have been flying frequently, like every other month, to go visit our grandbabies. I really struggle with flying. Hate it. But LOVE those grand babies!!! I am not a fan of the whole body scan, or being touched and patted down by strangers in the airport either. After the holidays I told everyone I’m THROUGH flying for awhile. They can all come here to visit. Told DH we have had too many unfinished projects for too long and I am not leaving again until we get them done. If he doesn’t believe me on this I’ll burn my luggage. That should get the point across, eh?

  15. Haven’t flown in more than 20 years. No rights, no flights. Later this year when Real ID will be required to fly, I will be banned from it anyway. Don’t have all the paperwork required, and yes I am a legal citizen, born in this country as were my parents and grandparents.

  16. I travel 25-30 weeks per year. This is down from a high of 42 weeks which required lots of OCONUS travel. I am primarily CONUS now so it is with less stress. I’ve been doing this over the past 15 years. I have slept in many airports and learned a few times things.

    Always carry cash and more than enough to get home. This means renting a car when none are available and staying in a hotel. Plan on at least $700 as it will take a minimum of $250 to bribe the rental car person in the event of a major emergency and I can say that for something as small as an ice storm in Pensacola. The rest of the $ is for food and lodging to get home.

    Carry CHANGE. When the power goes out due to a storm you can generally pull some foo donut of hate vending machines if have correct change.

    Carry lots of food and water. I conservatively have 3 days of snack in my bag at all times. I may have to stretch but I can eat snickers, peanuts and beef jerky for that long.

    Always carry a change of underwear , socks and a t shirt in your carry on. When they lose you luggage in Europe or a country that you don’t speak the language may be stuck for awhile.

    Have a map of where you are going and how to get home. GPS may be an issue and you have to rely on low tech called reading to get where you want to be. Also great for finding alternative routes if needed.

    Carry a small handheld radio in a RFM bag with batteries. same for a flashlight. Cheap insurance if all other forms of communication are down. Seriously try flying into a country that just had a volcano eruption and see you will see how over loaded their cell systems are.

    Have a list of what to grab at a local store in the event you are driving home in your bribed rental vehicle. Their first 2 items on my list are a case of water and 5 gas cans that I will fill up at the first opportunity. I can use them at the house if they are not needed. This also explains why I carry cash. If there are issues with the electrical power you may be unable to pay or pump

    I carry an extensive backpack with all the radio, batteries, flashlight, clothes, wet wipes, maps and food so I can adapt to most situations. Fire starter on my key ring.

    After that I have on my list to procure if I expect an extended time to get home which may include being on foot, although I prefer to commandeer a bicycle.
    Weapon of some sort. Bat , garden hoe whatever I can find
    Hose to siphon
    Blanket and what I may need clothing wise and keep the weight below 25 lbs in my backpack.
    I keep this list on both phones and in a hand written note in my bag.

    Being an Eagle Scout has its advantages.

  17. I flew on a plane once. Down to Calif. and back. Scared the crap out of me. That was enough for me. God gave me two feet, and they were meant to walk on the ground.

    1. Rwt:
      Dont get me wrong BUTT why in the HELL would anyone jump from a perfectly good Airplane?
      Even if the military is paying me to do so…..
      Insanity has left the building.

      1. NRP
        That what I always asked ACDH, he said it came with the job description…lol

        1. – NRP,

          If the Air Farce is flying them, they aren’t perfectly good airplanes. You do realize they pay the flight crew more to stay in them? LOLOLOL

          Just FWIW, Rwt, exactly!

          – Papa S.

      2. I’m with Rwt. I only did it once, but what a thrill. I wanted to go again, but the winds came up and they said NO!

        I landed on the concrete runway, mistake. We had practiced the landing/roll/technique. Thank god for that. I did the technique as well as I could do it. Didn’t want a redo. Still it was a hard landing. I wouldn’t do it now. I’d break something for sure. Oh to be young again!!!!!

  18. I have traveled all my life and traveling now is a freaking nightmare. A large purse or nap sack carry on containing OTC meds, antibiotics and prescriptions, a metal water bottle, a shelf stable microwave meal, power bars for 36-hrs, extra phone battery chargers, prepaid phone card, small battery radio (rechargeable batteries & charger), ear buds, P3 can opener, para-cord bracelet, lighter, ziplock bags, change of under ware, socks and tee shirt, baby wipes, small first aid kit with disposable gloves, emergency blanket, fold up rain coat with hood, watch cap, sun glasses, ear plus or sound cancelling, eye covers, inflatable neck pillow and usual personal hygiene items and a really good book. Yes, all in your carry on.

    Flight from hell was a one-hour direct flight to get home. Got to our destination only to fly into a thunderstorm, got roughed up in the air, hit by lightning, two people vomited all over and one man had a heart attack. Plane was diverted to another airport in another state. After off-loading the heart attack and two violently ill people, we sat on the plane for two hours, then the flight crew exceeded their air time and the flight was canceled. We sat in the terminal for two more hours before being rerouted to other flights; I arrived at destination 12 hours after starting. All luggage was lost for three days. Told my boss I would never get on an airplane again and that includes my personal travel. If I can’t drive it, I don’t go.

    1. farmmom
      Not laughing at you, only WITH you.
      I don’t deal well with a few things and someone vomiting is another one of those things,
      and medical complications.
      Thus, the reason, I don’t fly.
      As BigBadCat,
      These boots were made for walking,
      so to speak.


      And I ain’t jumping from a plane you ain’t getting me on

  19. Lots of good points already.

    Another good idea is having the phone numbers (websites can help, too) of a few rental car places, taxis, and hotels with you. The cars at the airport will go immediately, as will nearby hotels. If you have the numbers of rental places elsewhere in town, you may be able to reserve a car. Some airports have a bus or a train that goes to the terminal–you may be able to get to a different rental place or to a hotel that way. Know what the options are before you leave home, and have them written down or in your phone. You can start calling immediately, while other people are still trying to find the numbers.

    Yes, Ken, you can carry a water bottle on the plane. It just needs to be empty when you go through security, but you can fill it once you do.

  20. I start off with minimal luggage, less to loose.
    Always have some stuff with me that would help, depending on the situation.

    But good sturdy clothing, heavy sweater/coat on.
    One water bottle.
    Last flight to Washington I did get a knife on the flight, it had a 1″ blade.
    A tiny lock blade knife.
    It was seen when they inspected my key chain.
    No issue with the mini mag flashlight I had on me at the time.
    Be prepared to trash anything questionable they don’t want you to have on
    said flight.
    Look ahead, know about your destination before you go like a bit about the
    geography, local threats like gangs likely seasonal weather patterns.
    General things you SHOULD know.

    The first flight ever I went up in a Cessna, I was not on it when it landed.
    My first flight ever I went skydiving.

  21. Stopped flying after my last ride on a prop plane(Hugh’s Airlines). Will take a vehicle to where we need to travel, other wise we stay home.

  22. 1. Backpack – always essential.
    2. Dried snack/food packs.
    3. Water Bottle and Mini-Sawyer Water Purifier.
    4. Cash – several Hundred – 10s & 20s.
    5. Hiking Footwear.
    6. Hiking Clothing.
    All can be packed into a carry-on Backpack.
    Note: The 1st essential to acquire: Knife.

  23. Forgot to add this, have learned not to forget: Sanitary Hand Wipes.
    You’ll be thankful you have them.

  24. Bring some coins. Never know when might need to use a pay phone, coin op (snack) machines.

  25. The worst part is when you fly to a non ccw state like California. I very often will take my cc gun in checked luggage and so far no problems. Unfortunately I have to fly every month. The first thing I do when I land is stop at a grocery store for a case of water and Atkins bars. Not sure I can do much else.

  26. I don’t like to fly, but until AOC gets her Green New Deal passed and we get the train to Europe I don’t have any choice, lol.
    I have a fused back. I have a card that I give to TSA that says there is hardware in my body. Always,always have to be patted down. Grrrr.
    My hubby works for large aerospace company. He delivers planes all over the world and has to go to countries like TMcguyver. He is in Japan at the moment.
    I worry about him when he has to go to the middle east and malasia and Africa. He thinks I’m a nervous Nelly, but I know he just wAnts to put my mind at ease.
    He always has a backpack for Carry on with snacks and water bottle and I finally got him to take a water filter ( Sawyer mini) with him. Extra clothes and electronics with GPS. When he flies back home it is commercial and has lost more luggage than Carter has pills. Lol.
    After Japan he will going to Chile to trouble shoot a problem with one of their planes. Then hopefully he will be home for a couple weeks, but who knows.
    Can’t wait until he retires, but one nice perk is we have literally 2+ million frequent flyer miles and when we travel for pleasure it is free.😃
    Still would trade them for him to be home!

  27. One of the scariest tales I heard from the 9/11 stories was a person who was hunting caribou around the Arctic Circle. This was an air drop off camp where the plane drops you off and the plane picks you up a week later.

    The guide service was grounded the day of 9/11 and could not fly for several days. Then there was the usual weather delay. ( happens a lot in the Far North..). Finally, the guide service was able to obtain permission to fly from FAA combined with a window in the weather. All the hunters were scooped up and brought back to the airport and civilization within that 24 hours of clear weather.

    there were no refunds for those whose trips were shortened. The most popular guy in camp was the guy with a multi band radio.

  28. – Used to fly frequently (2-6 times per month) for Uncle when I was stationed in Europe. Typically had a briefcase for a carry on, could access the inside for whatever I needed to. Carried a change of underwear, socks, and a tee-shirt in a zip-lock bag and a very basic shaving kit the same way. Tried to keep either a dress shirt or uniform shirt, depending on which I was wearing.

    Tried to keep about $100 tucked in the back of my wallet and not touch it unless it was an emergency (didn’t always know I was leaving). I usually carried a couple of Snickers bars and a 1/2 liter water bottle picked up at the last moment. Also had a freshly filled Zippo lighter in my pocket. Last was important in case you had to destroy the stuff you were carrying.

    I did have a little bit easier time with a couple of things. When you have a 1911A1 under your left arm and seventeen rounds in the weapon and under your right, and are sitting next to a Sky Marshall, they are not too excited about your Swiss Army Knife.

    – Papa S.

  29. This is a topic near and dear to my heart as I am often on travel, whether within the US or overseas. My last trip was to Belize, in Central America, last week.

    The way I look at it is: what will it take to get me home?

    Top of the list: US Dollars cash. Not just $100, either. At least $1,000, which can be broken into different parts and secreted. Never flash the entire wad. Figure enough to get you onto a boat or train (worst case scenario) to get stateside, or bribe someone to let you pass. And from there onward home. Potentially, by far the most expensive for a gringo is the stage of the journey that gets you at least close to the US Border. In a worst case scenario just assume the US Embassy in a foreign country will not be in a position to help you, although they are a resource (as in make a beeline for the US Embassy in case of an “event”).

    As far as “stuff” goes, first of all on Ken’s list I would add several items: A backpack, to carry all the needfuls, several long sleeve t-shirts, and long sleeve pants of the “grey” innocuous type (like jeans). A hat (baseball cap, no logos). Spare socks, good ones. Decent shoes or hiking boots for walking. An inexpensive mosquito mesh for your head (Wal Mart). Gloves, even in hot weather. If you have to sleep in the open, at least you can cover most of your body against disease-causing bugs if not the sun. Maps of the areas between where you are and where you need to be, a water filter, mebbe some snacks. A whistle. A rubber wedge to put under a door to at least slow down an attacker (Dollar Store item). In checked bags a folding knife of some sort, preferably innocuous like a swiss army knife – which can be used to make a sturdy – defensive – “walking stick”, as well as other duties.


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