I travel for work. For months at a time, I could be anywhere between 50 and 1500 miles from home. There are many different situations that I could face on a day to day basis while traveling through or working in an unknown area. Obviously the situation changes from place to place and because of this, there are several things I carry that most people probably wouldn’t include in a typical emergency bag. My “get home bags” are a bit bulky and some would say illogical. There are preparations that I have in place to get me home, or through any foreseeable situation. Of course, there are too many possible scenarios to name here, but I wanted to share a few specific things for others who travel frequently to consider.
I guess I should say, I don’t necessarily try to prepare for every scenario that could possibly happen on the road or while I’m away from home because that would be near impossible. I plan for three or four scenarios that somewhat overlap to cover multiple needs and possible events. I try to stay prepared for any area-specific crime issues. The possibility of having to wait out a storm or disaster type situation while in a strange place for an unknown period of time with limited resources. And also the possibility of having to get home to my family from halfway across the country, with or without motorized travel.
Understanding Crime On the Road
Let’s first explore the area-specific crime issues. First off, as Machiavelli said, “before all else, be armed”. And as we all know, different states have different gun laws, so be aware of them. But always be armed with something. One of the best things I think you can do is look up crime statistics for the area you will be working or staying in. This should give you an idea of the most likely things to look out for. And obviously, situational awareness becomes so much more important when in a place you’ve never been before.
There are several good resources online for checking statistics, but as I’ve heard Todd talk about on the podcast, all crime isn’t always reported to certain agencies. It’s a good idea to check more than one place for crime stats and specific threats. I know that this can seem like a simple thing to be prepared for, but from experience, the southern border of Texas presents different risks to personal safety than Kansas City, Chicago or places on the East Coast and vice versa. It’s usually a good idea to know what to expect before you arrive. And I personally add region-specific preps to my bags before leaving home.
How to Check Your Vehicle for “Markers”
Again from experience, before getting into my vehicle anywhere, I walk around it and check things like tires and lug nuts to ensure that someone hasn’t removed a few lug nuts or loosened them so I end up on the side of the road in a less populated area that is potentially better suited for a robbery. I check to make sure that my vehicle hasn’t been visibly marked somehow that could be an indicator as to which white Chevy pickup or blue minivan to break into later or carjack at the next red light. A seemingly random spot wiped clean on the tailgate or trunk, or maybe a piece of tape on a taillight or headlight could indicate a vehicle with valuables inside. Or it could mark a “soft target”, a person disabled or otherwise unlikely to put up much fight. It could be marking the specific red ford car that has a mother and two children who are being targeted by human traffickers. Things like this are why it’s important to be as unpredictable with your schedule as possible while in unfamiliar places or even in your hometown. But just do a quick check frequently enough to notice something out of place. I could go on with these types of scenarios all day, but for the sake of the length of this article, I will move on to number two.
Emergency Carry When You Need to Hunker Down On the Road
The second thing I wanted to share ideas for is having to hunker down for an extended period of time in a motel room or a vehicle. I travel and room alone, therefore I rent a single bed hotel room. Upon check-in, I ask where the single rooms are located within the facility and request the room with the best tactical advantage ( closest to exits, the best view of the surrounding area, etc.) I also park where I can see the window to my room from my vehicle because then I can obviously see my vehicle from inside my room. I carry a Water Bob bladder in my clothing bag, which for those who don’t know, is a collapsible 75 or 100-gallon plastic container similar to a water bed bladder that goes in a bathtub to hold water. In the event of a power outage or when a big, bad storm is incoming and “bugging out” for home is either not possible or not yet necessary, I fill the water bob as soon as I can to ensure I have an ample supply of water. This next one is pretty simple, I always keep several dollars in quarters for vending machines, provided the electricity remains on while taking shelter at my hotel. Plenty of books and entertainment that doesn’t require a power source is always a good idea. In my opinion, the actual plans and preparations aren’t anywhere close to as important as the mindset of “I’m on my own and willing to do what I have to in order to survive whatever comes”.
Emergency Carry When You Need to Get Back Home
The third thing I plan for is, as I said, having to get home from a great distance. Obviously, if vehicles are working, fuel supply and trucking aren’t interrupted and roads are passable, then this wouldn’t be too big of a problem. But take one or all of those off the table and things get complicated.
I have a 100-gallon auxiliary fuel tank in the back of my pickup. It will take me a long distance without worrying about fuel. The pump that is mounted in the tank to pump fuel from the tank to the vehicle has a hose and nozzle like a typical fuel pump at a gas station, and will also suck fuel from something else and into the tank with a simple reversal of the wires on the battery. I also carry another way to siphon fuel and a small inline fuel pump that clips to a car battery. I print area-specific maps of my location and route home as soon as I get to my destination.
Carry Various Emergency Carry Bags
As I said, I carry more than one emergency bag. I have a large bag that is your basic bug out type setup, except it has more volume of the normal items. A small tent and several types of water gathering/purification devices are also included along with a case of emergency water that I do not drink from.
I carry a bag containing a medical kit that I have assembled to fit my needs. It will give any paramedic response bag a run for its money. Not only do I work in very remote locations far away from home where cell service can be rare, but I have also encountered numerous car wrecks and other emergency situations in traveling between jobs or traveling to and from home. It also has road flares, light sticks and a fire rescue hood that all have multiple uses. There are several smoke grenades needed for wind direction and signaling when a medevac helicopter is inbound. A neck brace, folding stretcher, large burn gel pads and lots of other items.
Then there is the gun bag. I usually carry two pistols of varying concealability in the bag (and of course one on my person). A bolt action. 308, and an AR-15. I keep a couple of hundred rounds of ammo for each and plenty of extra mags with me too.
Now you might be thinking, “why does this goofball carry so much stuff, there’s no way one or even two people could carry all of that over 500+ miles if needed”.
Emergency Carry When There is No Vehicle
I carry with all of the other stuff, a modified, folding jogging stroller. This is the kind that has three large all-terrain type wheels similar to bicycle wheels. It has been modified to carry most of my stuff. And in the event that I have to walk home, the items I deem unnecessary for the specific type of emergency I encounter, I plan to either trade-off or I will leave behind. Walmart also sells a couple of different variations of folding wagons and carts for a relatively low price.
With the back seat of my pickup folded up, my two bags, gun case, folding cart and case of emergency water all stack and fit neatly into an area that covers a bit less than half the floor space on the back passenger side. This leaves plenty of room for bags containing all of my clothing and other luggage. In the back of my pickup is the auxiliary fuel tank, a large toolbox and a large cooler containing other drinks and more water. I carry a variety of tools and different items.
While this volume of stuff may not be an option for everyone, hopefully, I have at least given someone a few things to think about. I am under no illusions that potentially packing my equipment hundreds of miles in a modified jogging stroller will be easy. My plans aren’t perfect, but for my specific needs and career in the pipeline industry, where the only thing that’s for sure is that nothing is for sure, this works for me. My preparations, whether while traveling or my stockpiles at home are ever-changing. It’s an ongoing process of stocking and restocking and figuring out ways to better prepare myself, my family and those around me. The world around us is dynamic, our preparations, as well as our mindset should be too!
However you prepare, don’t become so rigid in it that you can’t redirect and move in another direction if needed.
This is a guest post by Derek Hayes.