Bug-Out Gear for Travelers
I travel a great deal in my work as a survival instructor. For much of my that time, I can easily pack up my truck and have enough gear to take care of my needs on the road for a week. At other times, I fly throughout the US or abroad and all of my well-laid plans for a bug-out bag modified drastically to comply with various federal and international restrictions.
I think this is the case for many travelers who are preparedness-minded. You have well-thought plans for handling a grid-down crisis at home or evacuating your city during an urban disaster complete with bug-out gear, a well-stocked vehicle, and contingency plans if the routes out of Dodge are congested. However, when you fly with restriction on your gear, you are thrust into an unfamiliar world where the location of medical resources, water, power supply capabilities, and major highways are vague or unknown altogether.
Having a few critical items and plans in place prior to boarding a plane or heading to another state can provide you with peace of mind and enable you to handle a crisis away from home.
A Carry-On Bug-Out Bag
I like having a small US Palm or 5.11 daypack with me on trips. These are built for rough use and are in the 2500-3000 cubic inch range allowing them to store snugly under my seat. In this daypack, I carry my laptop, shemagh, rain jacket along with extra food and clothes. These items are kept apart from the small bug-out bag that follows.
Within this daypack I have a small Eagle Creek Guide Trek Shoulder Bag that contains the critical bug-out gear. I have also used Pelican and Otter boxes and BDU Wallets but find the shoulder bag to be very compact and unobtrusive. There are also shoulder bags designed for tablets that are ideal. Remember that in a true disaster, you may be donning your gear for several days so purchase something that works for your body type and comfort level.
The diminutive Eagle Creek bag is kept within reach at the top of my pack. When I am out and about in the city or any time I am away from my hotel, it’s with me— no exceptions. This is in addition to the previously mentioned Everyday Carry Gear in my pockets. This gear will at least allow you to deal minor emergencies in the event of a grid-down scenario where you are stuck on the couch for several days in Terminal Two.
The following is what I carry in my kit. A detailed description of each item and the reasoning behind it follows the list. I am already assuming you will have your cellphone, cash, passport, etc…on you.
Potable Aqua Chlorine Dioxide Water Purification Tablets
2 N95 Dust Masks
Adventure Medical Kits Heatsheet Space Blanket
Mini-Roll of Duct Tape
3 Myoplex Meal Replacement Bars
Spare Prescription Glasses or Contact Lenses
Universal Power Adapter
1-Person First-Aid Kit by Adventure Medical Kits
Obviously a knife is left off this list as the regulations vary tremendously from state to state as well as with international travel. You will need to check with TSA or Amtrak on their specific regulations and then for the given state or country you will be visiting. When I travel to Latin America I often come back with several machetes in my checked luggage and have never had a problem, even after an inspection. This is in addition to the Mora knife, Spyderco Endura and Leatherman that accompany me in my checked luggage. Any blades are secured in their sheath with a zip-tie or duct tape to prevent an accidental opening during baggage handling.
Additional Gear to Purchase after Arrival
When you disembark a plane or train, you already have a bug-out kit that will take care of a portion of your survival priorities. You need to make a quick stop at a big-box or grocery store to cover the rest of your needs.
Depending on the length of your trip, time of year and geographic location, you may want to flesh this list out far more than what I have here but this is a place to start for augmenting your existing gear.
Three 1-liter bottles is a good place to start. In addition to staying hydrated, you have a simple means of purifying water using the Sodis Method. Visit their site and see for yourself how this low-tech method works using clear plastic bottles and UV rays. It’s an excellent technique to file away between your ears.
A small tube, rather than a spray bottle. According to the latest research, SPF 30 is all that’s needed.
Enough said! One of anything critical is a weak set-up so I pick up two lighters and then leave them behind when I fly home.
Three Days of No-Cook Foods
Purchase some packets of tuna, jerky or freeze-dried meals. I also add in bouillon cubes which are a great additive to hot water for making a quick broth on cold days and it helps with replacing lost sodium. If you are a fan of MREs then, by all means, bring some along. From past experience, there is no way I am going to get that “food” down my gullet and my menu reflects that. If you have rations in your kit, then try it out long before you plan on using it. Some of the items on the market are comparable to chalk and will be hard to gag down in a true crisis.
You want to strive for roughly 2000 calories a day. Yes, you can live on survival rations averaging 1000 calories a day, as the packages indicate, but that’s a road to mental anarchy. Survival is hard enough so don’t skimp on quality food when assembling a bug-out bag.
My usual menu is to purchase one packet each of tuna, jerky and a freeze-dried meal per day. Even when I am traveling throughout the U.S in my truck I have three days’ worth of this chow in my rig.
Preparedness Gear to Have in Your Rental Vehicle
When I need to rent a vehicle during a trip, I purchase the following items (*) prior to leaving the city near the airport. The remaining items are brought with me from home and placed in my checked luggage.
2+ gallons of water depending on location and time of year*
Can of Fix-a-Flat* Tire Repair Sealant
18 ounce Coleman Stainless Steel Mug for heating water, melting snow, and more.