This guest post is by By Mike S and entry in our non-fiction writing contest .
The following is just a scenario, mostly hypothetical based on some real-life experiences to inspire some thought for those that travel regularly.
At home, you have done all that you can to prepare for the worst conditions if and when a disaster would occur. You have a reasonable supply of food, water, layered clothing, comfort items, methods to stay warm and dry, security and all your stores; and you have an emergency bag packed and ready to go if you must evacuate your home, aka your Bug-Out Bag or BOB. You have duplicated items stored away from your home just in case your home was lost as a result of the disaster.
Your next step is to put together a daypack, aka your “Get-Home Bag, or GHB with concise items that will allow you to rendezvous with the rest of your family at your home location or alternate location in a reasonable time. It will have some items to secure water, shelter you from the immediate environmental changes that could occur in the few hours to couple of days it may take to get yourself home.
You go down your checklist and everything is in its right place, packed neatly away where you can get to it as quickly as possible. Everything is “Good to go!” You and yours are as prepared as you can be; maybe not…
Now consider you are on a business trip by yourself or a vacation thousands of miles away with your family; if you are with your family, at least you are all together and that is important regardless the supplies you may or may not have. With flight restrictions in place today, you certainly cannot carry-on your GHB, or at least not all of its contents, so you will need to check your luggage for some of those ‘restricted’ items.
Then you have to consider the destination of your trip; some foreign countries will not allow you to import of such items even in checked luggage, like a sheath knife with a blade longer than three inches (7.5 centimeters), a folding knife also with the same length limitation as a fixed blade, and definitely not a gun. I use a Straight Razor to shave with, which has been questioned and one time confiscated even with the paddle-strop and barber’s hone as accoutrements (glad I do not bring one of my best). At least if you travel within the country, you do not have to be subjected to closer scrutiny as you pass through customs; going to your destination and returning.
Now that you have contemplated the destination of your trip and feasibility of what ‘supplies’ you can or should bring, you also have to consider the added weight of your GHB contents to what you will normally need for your trip. Checked bags usually have an added cost, even more so if considered heavy or over the weight limitations. Traveling with family allows for additional space in checked baggage and easier to distribute some of the more crucial items in a compacted BOB. Sure, you can buy some of your items to replace what you could not bring once you arrive, but then you have to worry about getting them back home, packing them in luggage, shipping via mail, give away, or just do without… rough it.
Language brings up another item to consider. If you are not fluent in the local language, relying on an interpreter or an application on your smart phone that poorly translates and is barely adequate, you could be in serious trouble if a global disaster occurs or a regional disaster back home, or where you currently are visiting. Electricity is down, you can’t use an ATM to get local currency, and you can’t place a call back home to let others know you are okay; others from home may not be able to contact you and panic starts to increase due to ‘unknown’ circumstances. Being from a military family, I like the mindset of “No news is good news;” at least that way panic is somewhat reduced.
Did I mention an ATM for local currency… oh yes, the almighty dollar, euro, peso, yen, real, or whatever the local currency may be will become more important for any adventures while at your destination let alone efforts to get back home. It is probably a good idea to obtain some of the currency for where you will be traveling at your local bank foreign currency exchange or pre-order from your bank prior to leaving for your destination.
I would recommend approximately $500 worth per week at a minimum. Exchanging currency once at your destination may be more costly with increased exchange rates at the airport simply because they have you over a barrel, so to speak. Using an ATM can also be dangerous as you can easily become a victim of fraud and easily lose hundreds if not thousands of dollars within 24 hours; so you should make sure the account your ATM card is associated with has limited funds, like access to checking only and no access to savings.
That can be a painful lesson to learn and once learned you typically won’t have to become reeducated. You can also carry-on a few small pieces of gold (about 5 to 10 grams each), which would pretty much have an equal global value and sell as needed to obtain local cash; again being an ‘outsider’ may present an opportunity to be taken advantage of if local or global conditions warrant local discretions.
Now to getting back home… while I thankfully have never been caught under these circumstances of an extended regional or global disaster occurring while away, so this situation and scenario is academic at best; but, I have been stranded out of country, without money, credit cards, wallet, identification, or passport and that by itself is difficult to deal with.
If you are “in country,” problems will be less of an issue than if you are abroad. Make sure you have at least three to five photocopies of your passport and driver’s license; I usually have a copy in each piece of luggage and packs. If you are traveling in an area were theft is more common or prevalent, you may want to make one of your first stops to the closest Embassy so you can register your passport, with the visa that allowed you into the country in the event of a theft, this makes getting a replacement so much easier to get back home through normal methods; they just make a copy and you have to provide contact information both in country and back home… make sure you have that information already on paper since smart phones with cameras are not allowed inside.
I would certainly hate to have to walk back home from thousands of miles away, crossing international borders with a valid passport, and without a passport would be even worse. If you have to cross large bodies of water, good luck and I hope you brought more than a few small pieces of gold; “Sure Out of Luck” is one interpretation of the acronym S.O.L. If you are only a few hundred miles away from home when the SHTF, then you are much better-off than being thousands of miles away, at least if you were on the same continent it would be better than needing to cross an ocean.
In summary, if you must travel and are concerned about getting back home if a long term regional or global event occurs while you are away, in addition to a few small items in a daypack closely resembling a BOB or GHB, a number of small pieces of gold may be your best resource to carry, especially if you are traveling abroad; they are somewhat easy to conceal and have a fairly equal trade value based on local currency.
This contest will end on December 16 2012 – prizes include:
- First Place winner will receive a Go Berkey Kit water filter valued at $150 and a copy of my book “31 Days to Survival: A Complete Plan for Emergency Preparedness ” and a copy of “Dirt Cheap Survival Retreat“.
- Second Place: $150 gift certificate for Magtech Ammo.
- Third Place: $50 Cash.