Often we think of prepping from our own immediate sphere that we travel inside, the perspective of the relative safety of our homes and local area. We have all of our prepper gear around us or close at hand, nicely organized and stored away, waiting to be called into action to help us survive some disaster or to render aid in an emergency situation to one of our neighbors. When we commute to work or run errands around town, we have our EDC gear to fall back on or our bug out bags if they are stored in your vehicle. This works well if you are in close proximity to your home, but what about when you are traveling? Do you leave your preparedness at home or do you remain prepared at some level for situations that may arise?
I think many preppers are able to easily keep focus on some of the more tactical aspects of our lives when we are near home. We go to work and know immediately if something is out of the ordinary. When you pick up the kids, you know 3 different routes to take should one way be blocked. You know who your neighbors are and quickly identify anyone different walking down your street. Unless you are living in a major city, the odds of some terrorist attack are highly unlikely so your awareness of suspicious activity or movements is lower commensurate with the risk in your area.
But many of us leave both our survival mindset and a good amount of our critical preparedness gear at home when we travel. You are on a leisurely vacation at some beach, amusement park or in a foreign city hundreds or thousands of miles away from home. You aren’t checking your phone for news because you are “on vacation”. You aren’t aware of your environment as much because everyone around you is vacationing too. You don’t have all of your gear because you are in swimming shorts and wearing your big 5.11 tactical belt would just look silly. You are in the moment; enjoying yourself with friends or family and this is precisely the time that you could find yourself smack dab in the middle of a life or death scenario. If this happens will you be completely unprepared or are you a tactical traveler?
Adjusting your situational awareness to the situation
The term situational awareness simply means you are aware of your surroundings. How many times have you been walking down the street looking at email on your phone? Have you ever checked sports scores sitting at a red light? How many of you have been sitting in your car while your spouse runs into the store and start surfing the web, checking Facebook for updates?
All of these actions demonstrate an almost complete lack of situational awareness. When your attention is focused elsewhere, usually on that device you carry with you all the time, you could miss cues. While you are checking email, you might not see the group of kids walking towards you ready to try their hand at the knock-out game. When you check your sports scores at the red light you might miss that vehicle swerving over into your lane and become completely blindsided. While you might be up to date on the latest happenings in Facebook world, you could miss armed men running into the mall your wife and kids are currently inside.
If something were to happen in your local area, your training and resources might enable you to quickly react once you are actually aware of what is happening, but when traveling out-of-town, some of us shut off our situational awareness and relax. Situational Awareness is key to surviving any disaster because seconds could be all the time you need to move or react. When your attention is elsewhere, you are robbing yourself of those precious seconds.
I am not expecting anyone to be outfitted in full on tactical gear and clothing if you are at the beach, but you can still be focused on where you are. What are the people in your group doing? Where are they? Who is walking towards you? What is the weather doing? If you are at an amusement park, do you know where you parked? Do you have the keys where you can get to them quickly? Can you escape if you have to? Could you jump a fence if needed? Do you have a weapon if you need it? What around you could provide cover from bullets?
Traveling By Land
In addition to having a mindset that is aware of what is going on, there are ways you can bring an extra level of preparedness with you wherever you go. If at all possible, I am driving when I leave home because I can carry many of the supplies I need inside my vehicle. If we are on vacation I have options for food, shelter and security in my vehicle and on my person at all times.
When loading my vehicles, the luggage is the last thing I consider. I make sure my bug out bag is up to date with food, a water filtration system that can support my entire family and the other items I recommend for a good bug out bag. I always travel with at least one firearm, usually several. I do leave things like my bulletproof vest home and I am not carrying thousands of rounds of ammo, but enough to deal effectively with a whole mess of problems should we run into them on the road. Now, it should go without saying that if your vehicle has equipment like this inside, you should take extra care when you are away from it to ensure none of those supplies are stolen and wind up in the wrong hands.
When we are away from home, whatever vehicle you are in becomes your bug out vehicle by necessity if not by choice. Make sure the maintenance is up to date. Keep your tanks full and have alternate routes planned. A good road atlas can come in handy if you need to get out-of-town and take the back roads.
Traveling By Sea
Many people take cruises to get away, eat delicious food and travel to distant tropical ports, but traveling by sea brings along its own set of risks. I am not suggesting you pack your own life raft, but there are ways you can be more prepared when traveling by ship. Sideliner wrote an article earlier this year that documented the horrible conditions that people faced on a cruise ship and the preparations you can take with you to prevent some of those conditions.
But luxury cruise ships aren’t the only place your preps need to be with you. Ferries can capsize like the MV Sewol did early in the morning killing hundreds. Going back to situational awareness, if you are on a ship and it feels like it is going over, but they are telling you to stay safely in your cabin, what would you do? Sometimes being prepared is acting in the face of what sounds like bad advice. Use your gut and listen to it.
Traveling By Air
There isn’t much you can do or have on your person when traveling by air these days. Virtually all of my EDC gear and certainly my knife and firearms when flying are located where I can’t get to them. But assuming you land safely, your luggage can bring preparedness with you wherever you travel. Yes, checking a bag seems like a hassle to some of you. You do have to wait for it at baggage claim and there is a risk of lost luggage but I am not sacrificing my preparedness for convenience.
When I fly I bring survival gear with me so that I have a knife, headlamp, firearms (to most locations) and a host of other survival gear that most traveling on business leave at home. So far my luggage has only been “lost” one time and they brought it out to me the next day. Even if my gear is limited, my survival mindset can’t be taken from me. Customs can’t prevent me from entering with it and I can rely on it to help me view things from a different perspective.
This perspective can save your life and shouldn’t be left at home when you travel.