If you like what you see here, like me on facebook and follow me on twitter for more tips and to follow what is going on at the Home Front!

Being Prepared While Traveling for Work

A post by Stephanie Dayle and Co-written with Max Velocity

“What would become of me if I were traveling and something big happened?”

I am a thirty something woman.  I travel for work alone which generally always takes me to the other side of the country thousands of miles from home.  Now as a general rule of thumb, our company won’t send people to any part of the country or world that is under threat of a severe weather event or is experiencing current civil unrest, but I don’t always get a warning that something is going to happen.

So I am addressing unexpected events, like a terrorist attack, or a flu epidemic, or even an EMP attack.  Basically, any incident that would shut down mass transit and leave me stranded.  I have read One Second After and I have watched Revolution and Jericho, so these questions got me thinking.  Regardless of how likely or unlikely these things are portrayed to be, I wanted a plan.  The details can change, but having a plan will put me miles ahead of most people as it will for you as well.

The first thing I learned from other experienced preppers is: don’t be afraid – be prepared.  However, this is more tricky than it sounds for anyone who travels for work.  First, I have to keep in mind that I am representing my company and therefore my wardrobe is somewhat predetermined along with some of my luggage.  There are somethings I will be reimbursed for – other things I won’t be.  My company pays for my travel expenses which include one regular weight ‘checked’ bag, my plane ticket, a certain amount of meals, parking, a rental car, and my hotel.  If I want an extra bag I pay for it myself, if I want to ship extra supplies to myself, then I also pay for that – and since this is not in my budget I must work within my company’s travel reimbursement parameters.

For more advice on this matter I reached out to the American Preppers Network Forum and tapped into the experience and expertise of others there.  I got a good start, a basic packing list down and a lot of really interesting ideas of what to do, but I wanted more.  I still felt lost, if a disaster happens and I am sitting in my hotel room, I wanted to answer the “what do I do now?” question.  That question needed a big detailed answer, so through my contacts on the APN Forum I sought the advice of Max at Max Velocity Tactical.  Through Max’s work and his contributions to the APN forum, I felt confident he could help address my travel concerns.  Not only did he address my  preparedness concerns, but he agreed to collaborate with me on this article to help others be prepared as well.  Please note, while his information is applicable for either sex he wrote it with me in mind – here is his advice:
The key thing about this scenario is that it takes you completely away from any preps you have made, and also your family.
It is very much akin to a classic survival scenario, with the exception that it is not simply you that has crashed in a plane in the wilderness, but that society has collapsed around you.  You will only have your wits, what you have with you, and what you can acquire, in order to survive.
So, let’s look at that.  The assumption here is that you have some sort of family or group back home and you ultimately want to get back to your base and your preps in order to be able to survive long-term with them.  If you don’t have such a base, then really it is about surviving in the location you find yourself, without the need to get back anywhere.  You will in effect be a little different from the other non-preppers in that city and you will have to go from there with your survival plans.
In terms of your wits, mental preparation is the key to your survival.  If you find yourself hundreds or thousands of miles away from your home base in a strange city, you will have minimum equipment.  You will have to rely on your will to win and survive and any skills and training that you have been able to work on now.  Tied in closely with mental preparation is physical preparation.  It is paramount to be as physically well-conditioned as you can be.  If you hit a disaster situation, the fitter you are, the more endurance you have, the better able you will be to survive.  The fitter you are, the less mentally tired you will get, and thus you will be able to remain alert and make better decisions for longer, under the stress of the situation.
Another key factor is the type of disaster that you encounter.  These include:  Mass Transit failure, Local vehicular travel (fuel permitting), Full power grid shutdown, Quarantine (forced localization), and even an EMP event.

Equipment is important and requires forethought and planning.

When traveling on business, people like to go with a carry-on to get through the airport faster and avoid baggage fees.  With airport security rules, knife-type items must be in checked baggage.  For those traveling in business suits with a carry-on bag, I suggest checking a bag, preferably a rucksack or an item of luggage that can be turned into a rucksack even if it has wheels.  You can still look ‘business’ and non-prepper by doing this, just have a smart-looking bag with some zip-away ruck straps.
In that baggage, pack smart.  In addition to your business stuff, pack a set of clothing and boots appropriate to the location and environment.  Pack a light sleeping bag and tarp.  Put in a multi-tool and knife, water purification equipment and tablets, fire lighting equipment, spare socks and rain gear, first aid supplies; you get where I am going with this.  For the purposes of the TSA, it should to be a backpacking load, nothing that will set off red flags.  Remember how the TSA sees preppers!  So pack a sensible rucksack in addition to your business carry-on, that will give you an outfit and rucksack to make the transition from your business suit if the hammer does fall when you are in that strange city.  For all they know, you plan a couple of days hiking at the end of the business trip. 
Remember that it is not to hard to fly with a handgun correctly cased, so you can do this if you want.  Just ensure that you carry it correctly with any licenses and laws in the state you are visiting.  You may have to purchase ammunition locally.  But even if you do nothing with the handgun but leave it locked in the case in your luggage at the hotel, you have it in case of an emergency.
Another item to throw in your pack as well as the maps of the cities you are visiting, would be a road atlas of North America, if you can get out of the city you may be able to transit areas of very little population density, such as crossing the mid-west.  You may be able to make decisions based on the map.  Perhaps you can procure a bicycle and move on smaller roads staying away from danger points.  Again, a female (or male), alone faces dangers and you have to consider this.  Don’t be too trusting and make sure you are alert to your intuition.
You should also carry some cash and/or barter items as part of your survival gear. Depending on the situation, your banks and ATM machines could be down and you will have no method of accessing your money in order to pay for your rental car, ammunition, or other necessities.  How much currency you carry will depend on what you are comfortable with, and knowing the risks of carrying large amounts of money.  The more obvious risks are robbery and accidental loss.  However, one little known risk that many are unaware of, is law enforcement seizure also known as ‘asset forfeiture’ or ‘confiscation’.  Even if you have not committed a crime and the officer has no evidence that you have committed a crime, law enforcement may seize your cash.   Ensure that you review the laws in the state you will be traveling to and carry the proper paperwork in order to prove that your currency was legitimately earned.  Also make sure you carry it either in a money belt or on your person in order to maintain constant control.

If extreme emergency situation occurs when you are away, you will need to take care of your immediate survival needs.
You will likely be in a hotel or need to get back to it to get your gear.  You need to lay low while any civil disorder rages outside.  If you can get out of the city initially before the chaos sets in after the shock, then do so.  Rent a car and drive if you can, before any gridlock sets in.  If it looks like you will be trapped in the city, then you are a female alone and any kind of trustworthy allies you can make will be good.  They may only be temporary.  You may know work colleagues, or you may be able to link up with someone who appears trustworthy.  It will be best to look to females, or you may be able to get with a couple, group, or family if they are willing to help you.  The key thing is to seek safety in some sort of numbers if you can, and stay with them so long as they are acting rationally and are helping you further youragenda to survive.
Security is, therefore, essential.  Try to find somewhere to hold up until an escape from the city is feasible.  Either hunker down alone, or with a group.  Remember to trust your intuition, and do not suppress any ‘red flags’ you have due to societal norms of politeness etc.
If you find yourself in a self-defense situation, then prior training will be priceless.  A full coverage of self-defense techniques is outside of the scope of this article.  Just be prepared to defend yourself by any means if necessary. Depending on the situation, you may consider using ruses to make yourself less of a target and avoid the predators.  For instance you should wear loose-fitting clothes in order to conceal your femininity.  If you have long hair wear it up and under a cap, this will serve to help conceal your femininity and can be a safety/survival mode…i.e. hair getting caught etc.  Perhaps smear mud in your hair and face, even blood or whatever.  Use your initiative.  Your best tactic is always to remain grey and unnoticed; if this is not an option you can try to reduce attention by altering your appearance and  perhaps a ruse such as mental instability.  Be cautious with this tactic as ‘acting crazy’ can in some instances dissuade male attention but can also be seen as a sign of weakness.  Use your judgment.  If you are walking out of a city, and it is hot and humid, you still need to be wearing long hiking pants and a shirt.
If you intend to try to get out of a city in a pro-longed grid down situation, then the normal routes may well be gridlocked and/or too much of a threat.  This is where prior planning and reconnaissance will come in to play.  The more you visit a city and do ‘sightseeing’, the more you will be familiar with it and potential routes.  Buy maps of the city and study them, as well as resources such as Google Earth.  Look for routes to and from your hotel and consider how you may have to walk, perhaps along less-traveled routes such as storm drains.  But remember, you may come across unsavory characters out there also, so be prepared to defend yourself, with the handgun you brought or a weapon you picked up. 
In all this, you must have realistic goals.
You may be facing extreme situations such as grid down and mass civil unrest, with thousands of miles to go to get home.  It may take a large amount of time, planning, good fortune and risk-taking.  You may have to walk long distances.  Make quality alliances with others, going the same way, for mutual protection.  Follow your intuition, or any red flags, and ‘barter’ in order to survive.  The motivation of a mother trying to get back to her children is immense and unstoppable.  Keep your goal in mind, and work towards it.
Your driving force is coming home.  If you are doing all you can to survive and get back to your family, you have to make sure that they are mentally and physically equipped to survive the time it takes for you to return.  Also, consider having a system of ‘dead letter drops’ setup, so you can get in touch with them if they are unable to stay home.  This can be very simple, just a system where they can leave you a message of their destination and intent.  When you get home you will be able to follow the message.  Have a strong home base so they will be able to survive and have the faith that you are doing all you can to get back to them, however long it takes.
The first instinct will be to get home by any means necessary.  This may be a great motivator in the early stages and have the effect of breaking you from the freeze one might experience, getting you moving in the right direction.  However, the more extreme the disaster, the less likely it will be that you will be able to make a straight shot home, in, for example, a rental car.  The more serious the disaster, the more challenges will be in your path.  Hunker down, approach each situation properly, and set realistic goals.  It might take time, but your goal is worth it!
I would avoid the temptation, in this kind of disaster situation, of approaching the authorities for help. FEMA and other agencies will likely be overwhelmed, with a possible state of emergency or martial law.  If you present yourself as an out-of-state refugee you will likely be put in a ‘camp’ and your return home will be delayed.  If you want to continue a move over long distances, you will have to travel unnoticed, under the radar so to speak.
To conclude, if you are caught out on a business trip, then your greatest asset is your mind, your training and your physical ability.  These are all within you.  You will be limited in equipment that you can carry to a basic backpacking ruck and perhaps some tools and maybe even a handgun.  The situations that you may find yourself in, both in a strange city or on any trip cross-country, are too numerous to count.  You best asset is your  strength of will to fight to get back to those you love.
Based on advice from Max, I have altered the way that I travel so that I am not just along for the ride, but traveling smarter so to speak.  Prior to work trips, 15 minutes of pre-trip planning on Google Earth provides me with several free maps showing different routes I can take out of the city.  I pack smarter using a plain-looking backpack as a carry-on that looks just like any other laptop backpack but has an extra-large capacity, hip belt and a variety of straps for expansion and add-ons.  I also have a short list of gear that I add to my checked luggage.  Based on Max’s advice, my gear is very similar to the gear I would take hiking so as not to draw undue attention to myself.  I have also recommitted myself to furthering my self-defense training.  In future articles, I will go into more detail on the supplies I picked to take with me and why.  The most important thing I have now is a plan.  It is my hope, that you will also be able to use this information to help formulate your own plan.

Max Velocity is an author, and trainer providing tactical instruction and advice for those preparing for disaster survival and high threat, as well as protection and combat operations.  He is a lifelong soldier with extensive military experience.  He has served in both the British and US Armies.  Max passed both Parachute Regiment selection and also UK Special Forces Aptitude Selection during his career.  

He retired from the British Army in 2003.  Following his retirement, he spent five years serving as a security contractor in both Iraq and Afghanistan.  This included working on contract for the US Government in Iraq, a year of which was based out of Fallujah, and other places in Iraq.  He also spent two years working for the British Government in Afghanistan.
Max Velocity Tactical provides tactical training and consultancy services.

Max Velocity is the author of two tactical survival manuals: Contact! A Tactical Manual for Post Collapse Survival  &  Rapid Fire! Tactics for High Threat, Protection and Combat Operations.  And coming soon “Patriot Dawn” – a tactical fiction book.

You can follow Max Velocity at this blog here: http://maxvelocitytactical.blogspot.com/ 

No comments:

Post a Comment

Comments that serve only to advertise someones blog or website (aka: SPAM) will be deleted. Comments attacking others or the author will also be deleted. Repeat offenders will be blocked.

Most Popular Posts