Being prepared has been a part of my life for a long time. Stocking up on supplies, learning how to be self-reliant, and ensuring both my family and I are able to protect and defend our home no matter what are fundamental traits I consider part of what makes me, "me."
But these last few months I've found myself travelling for work more and more. Conferences in other cities, meeting clients across the country, and even a few international trips.
Unfortunately, when you're travelling for work you're also putting yourself at risk, because it puts you far from both your support networks, and the ready stock of supplies sitting in your home. When I see disaster after disaster on the news, I feel far more concerned with every trip I take, but you often can't say no.
So what do you do?
Even when your preps aren't within arm's reach and you're on the other side of the country, there are a few essentials to bring so you're giving yourself the best chances to survive should anything happen on your next business trip.
Here's what you need to prepare so you're not left helpless once the SHTF.
Getting the basics sorted
First, you need to realize that what you can actually bring will differ considerably depending on the trip you're going on. I can pack much more into the trunk of my car than what's possible on a flight, and being only a couple of hours from my home is far different to flying abroad.
I normally sit down and think through a few key items. What facilities will be available in my destination, along with any friends that may happen to live locally there. Consider any alternative options for getting home should I find the airports closed, and make a rough estimate of how long it'd take to walk, just in case. You never know when a full-scale SHTF event is going to turn a city or a state into chaos.
What you need to pack
When you're travelling for work the standard bug-out-bag isn't going to work. You have to resign to the fact you'll be leaving much of your gear behind, but you can bring a few key items that will help keep you safe.
Now the majority of these items can't be carried onto the plane, so what I do is simply check my bags. Of course the naysayers are going to tell you that you're not going to be prepared should the airline lose your bags, but you're also not going to get a firearm or a decent knife into your carry-on either. I'd rather check my bags and be a tad more prepared, than not at all.
- A decent knife that can fold down.
- A multi-tool with a variety of different options.
- A strikelight, as it's both a source of light and a means to defend yourself.
- A bandana to protect from the sun or be used as a makeshift bandage.
- A cheap bic lighter, inside a half-full cigarette pack that I can use as firestarting fuel.
- A firearm, as it's rather straightforward to follow the rules the airlines set and bring your own.
- A backpack that you can put all your gear in once you land.
- A decent water bottle and filter combination so you can stay hydrated.
- A powerbank to keep your devices charged and ready to go.
- A second credit card and some backup cash, just in case your go-to one doesn't work.
- A couple of granola bars to keep my energy levels up if I can't find any food.
- A second ID that I keep in a concealed compartment in my backpack, in case my wallet gets stolen.
What you need to wear
One thing that always makes me laugh is the clothes people wear on their flights. If you get stranded or land without your luggage, those heels and short-shorts aren't going to do you any favors, so be smart about what you wear.
My shoes are a nice pair of casual leather walking shoes that are comfortable to stomp around in all day, and are somewhat waterproof. I always wear a pair of zip-off hiking pants, a simple t-shirt and can't forget my cap and sunglasses. I'll also throw a few extra pieces in my carry-on, just in case, including a light rain jacket, a long-sleeved button up shirt, and a change of underwear. If it's a little cold where I'm headed I'll throw in a fleece too, and trade my hat for a woolen beanie.
Keep someone in the loop
For me this is always going to be my wife, but if you're still single make it a point to tell someone where you're going before you leave. They should know when you're planning on checking in, how to reach you in case of an emergency, and what to do if you're not responding. I's also recommend making sure your family knows enough of your plans that they can survive on their own until you can make it home, and stay safe as well.
Make a plan for the worst
Now all the gear in the world isn't going to do you any good if you've got no idea how to get home. Before I go anywhere I make sure to download offline versions of local maps onto my phone, and have a general idea of the direction to head if I do need to walk it, or the alternative buses or trains you could take to get home. In a SHTF event you may need to get creative to evacuate fast.
Ultimately, it's up to you to keep your head on straight and to stay safe when you're travelling. If anything feels off, or there are signs that something is going wrong, don't be afraid to leave. Quietly make your leave and get out of the meetings or sales calls, and start making your way home before the masses clog up all of your options. You won't do your family any favors if you find yourself stuck in an airport riding out a storm, or parked in a sea of cars on the highway hundreds of miles away. Be smart, and with the right gear and planning you'll make it home in one piece.