I’ve received several emails from readers since the Japan earthquake and subsequent tsunamis about what I carry when I travel.
Some people get to the point in their preparations where they never want to leave the comfort and safety of home. There’s nothing wrong with this if it works for you, but my wife and I are adventurers and made a conscious decision that we wouldn’t become a prisoner of our preparations. As a result, we travel whenever we can together. That, combined with business travel means that we spend a lot of time with only the items that we’ve got on our back or in our vehicle.
I have traveled a few times a month for business for several years (with 4-8 trips a year to DC) and this has been a constantly evolving list of equipment.
With the new airline luggage restrictions, I’ve pared my travel gear down considerably. I’ve now got the challenge of fitting everything I check into one bag that weighs under 50 pounds, including my sidearm (when not in DC), clothes, toiletries, work items, and preparedness items.
Here’s what I carry, broken down into the 4 major survival categories:
Food: It depends on the trip, but I usually carry a few packages of jerky, 5-10 Cliff bars, hammer gel, instant oatmeal, breakfast shake powder, survival/meal replacement bars, or whatever is decently healthy that I can buy in bulk at Costco.
I also carry two other items that are somewhat unique…fiber capsules and meal replacement capsules. The combination will allow me to function at about 85-90% for a few days without food and without feeling hungry. Best of all, they take up almost no space and weigh almost nothing.
When I combine a little bit of food with the fiber/meal replacement combo, it’s possible for me to carry a week or more of food in a VERY compact form.
Fire: I’ve got a few fire starting tricks with me, including two from the AMK mini survival kit, which fits into my cargo pocket sized first aid kit.
The two fire starters that are included in this kit are a Fresnel lens and a tiny orange stick with a “spark wheel” like you’d find on a lighter. Most importantly, they include 3 pieces of braided cotton to use as tinder.
I also carry a blastmatch. The blastmatch is a one-handed fire starter that uses a combination of 4 metals to create 1400 degree sparks. From a pure survival standpoint, it’s not necessary. The little orange “spark wheel” does just as well with the proper tinder, but I honestly just enjoy using the blastmatch.
Two items that I carry that double as accelerants for making fires are chapstick and fish oil capsules. Adding either to tinder makes starting fire so much easier that it is almost like cheating.
The laws on matches and lighters in checked/carry-on baggage seem to change so often that I don’t even bother with them.
Water: I carry a Sawyer 2 liter water purifier. It is guaranteed to purify 1 million gallons and is one of the VERY few mechanical filters that will filter out viruses. It’s truly an impressive purifier. I also carry the Katadyn carbon cartridge to filter the chlorine out of hotel water.
If needed, I can use my bandana or a cotton shirt as a pre-filter.
I also carry a Nalgene type bottle so that I have something to put the water into besides a tiny hotel glass.
Shelter: My shelter options are very limited due to size/weight restrictions, and so, while I do carry a mylar blanket from the AMK kit, a poncho, and a couple of contractor garbage bags, my primary strategy is to pack layered clothes and acquire/create shelter if necessary.
Medical: I carry a simple REI Day Pack first aid kit along with superglue, electrolyte replenisher, an extra triangle bandage, and some beefed up blister gear. I don’t carry any CPR gear, and frankly, don’t intend to do CPR on anyone other than immediate family while traveling. This kit is to fix myself. If I have to fix anyone else, I’ll use their supplies or supplies that I acquire.
That last point is VERY important. If I find myself in a mass casualty incident, I’m not going to be using my little pocket first aid & trauma kit on strangers. I’d use it on family, but if I’m working on strangers, I’ll use what they’ve got and/or cut and rip off parts of their clothing rather than use all of the limited supplies I have.
I also carry a bottle of prescription pain meds. I’ve learned the hard way that I have to jam-pack the bottle with cotton balls to keep the pills from dissolving from vibration. (I don’t take them and carry the exact same pills for months/years at a time, so the vibration of airline travel adds up)
Security/Tools: Some of the other items that I have with me are:
-A fixed blade knife. I carry an 4.8” partially serrated Gerber LMF II that I have abused enough in the woods & around the house to know I can trust it. To read more about this great knife, you can read the article I wrote about it here and see where to buy it.
- A few zip ties of various lengths.
- 2 lights…a Surefire Backup and a Petzl Zipka.
- backup batteries
- 2 pepper sprays. (both a traditional “jogger” Saber spray and a Kimber Guardian Angel)
- pocket/neck knives to the extent that they’re legal where I’m traveling.
- Belt, boots, a bandana & a few cotton T-shirts.
- A roll of black electrical tape.
- LOTS of paracord.
- Magnetic intrusion alarms.
- A lock pick set.
- Urban Survival Playing Cards from http://www.UrbanSurvivalPlayingCards.com.
I’ll usually throw in a couple of new things to test out each trip, but that’s the core of it. The best part about this setup is that, other than my knife, it’s all SMALL, light, and very usable.
I normally fly with a firearm a few times a month and have never had a problem with TSA. I’ve read several incidents of where people DID have problems with TSA, but my personal experience has been different.
There are times for me, though, where carrying a firearm is not an option. On a plane. On Amtrak. In DC, California, and other locales that don’t allow concealed or open carry. Even at amusement parks. During those times, I’m quite happy that I have solid empty hands fighting skills…specifically the skills that I’ve learned from Tim Larkin and Target Focus Training over the last 16 (almost 17) years. It’s the system that makes me comfortable and confident in situations where I can’t carry effective self-defense tools and may have to fight to be able to acquire an improvised weapon.
It’s not about striking someone with your fist that contains 27 tiny fragile bones. It’s about learning how to “flip the switch” and take a violent attacker to a non-functional state as quickly and effortlessly as possible…regardless of your size, age, or fitness level. And the training truly delivers like none other that I’ve seen or gone through. Tim’s instructors cover the physics, psychology, and physiology behind winning lethal force encounters.
If you haven’t checked it out yet, I want to encourage you to do so by clicking here…
Let me know what preparedness items you carry with you when you travel. How do you deal with the fact that you’re basically choosing to be unprepared hours or days away from your home, family, and supplies? What systems do you have in place should a disaster hit your family while you’re gone? As you get more and more prepared, do you tend to spend more time at home or have you figured out how to feel comfortable leaving everything behind?
Tell me by commenting below….