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Preparedness While Traveling

September 5, 2011 by  

Preparedness While Traveling

We’re going to a football game on the weekend of the 10-year anniversary of the 9/11 attacks. One side of my brain says there’s no extra danger. The other side of my brain says terrorists love anniversaries. In any case, we’re going to go see some football. Am I going to have some stuff in the car in case something happens? Of course I will; I always do.

Some people get to a 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. We made a conscious decision that we wouldn’t become prisoners of our preparations. As a result, we travel together whenever we can. That, combined with business travel, means we spend a lot of time with only the items we have on our backs or in our vehicle.

I have traveled a few times a month for business for several years and make four to eight trips a year to Washington, D.C. My list of equipment has constantly evolved.

Due to new airline luggage restrictions, I have pared down my travel gear considerably. I now have the challenge of fitting everything I check into one bag that weighs less than 50 pounds, including my sidearm (when not in Washington), clothes, toiletries, work items and preparedness items.

Here’s what I carry, broken down into the four major survival categories:

Food: It depends on the trip, but I usually carry a few packages of jerky, five to 10 CLIF bars, Hammer Gel, instant oatmeal, breakfast-shake powder, meal-replacement bars or whatever is decently healthy that I can buy in bulk at Costco.

I also carry fiber capsules and meal-replacement capsules. The combination will allow me to function at about 85 percent to 90 percent capacity for a few days without food and without feeling hungry. Best of all, they take up almost no space and weigh very little.

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 keep a few fire-starting tricks with me, including two from the Adventure Medical Kits (AMK) mini survival kit, which fits into my cargo-pocket sized REI first aid kit. (You can get both from REI.)

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 three 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 1,400 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 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 and 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 bottle so I have something to put the water into besides a tiny hotel glass.

Shelter: My shelter options are very limited due to size and weight restrictions. I 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 or create shelter if necessary.

Medical: I carry a simple REI day pack first aid kit along with Super Glue®, electrolyte replenisher, an extra triangle bandage and some beefed up blister gear. I don’t carry any CPR gear and, frankly, I 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 and trauma kit on strangers. I would use it on family; but if I’m working on strangers, I’ll use what they have and/or cut and rip off parts of their clothing rather than use the limited supplies I have.

I also carry a bottle of prescription pain medications. 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. (Because I don’t take them and I carry the exact same pills for months and even years at a time, 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 a 4.8-inch partially serrated Gerber LMF II that I have abused enough in the woods and around the house to know I can trust it.
  • A few zip ties of various lengths.
  • A multi-tool.
  • Two lights: a Surefire Backup and a Petzl Zipka.
  • Backup batteries
  • Two pepper sprays: a traditional “jogger” Saber spray and a Kimber Guardian Angel.
  • Pocket/neck knives to the extent that they’re legal where I’m traveling.
  • A belt, boots, a bandana and 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

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 the Transportation Security Administration. I’ve read about several incidents in which people did have problems with TSA, but my personal experience has been different.

There are times for me, though, when carrying a firearm is not an option: on a plane, on Amtrak, in Washington, D.C., 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. It’s what 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.

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.

Dr. David Eifrig Jr.

is the editor of two of Stansberry's best advisory services. One of his advisories, Retirement Millionaire, is a monthly letter showing readers how to live a millionaire lifestyle on less than you'd imagine possible. He travels around the U.S. looking for bargains, deals and great investment ideas. Already his average reader has saved $2,793 since 2008 (documented in each Retirement Millionaire issue). He also writes Retirement Trader, a bi-monthly advisory that explains simple techniques to make large, but very safe, gains in the stock and bond markets. This is a pure finance play and the reason Porter Stansberry loves having "Doc" on the team. Doc holds an MBA from Kellogg and has worked in arbitrage and trading groups with major Wall Street investment banks (Goldman Sachs). In 1995, he retired from the "Street," went to UNC-Chapel Hill for medical school and became an ophthalmologist. Now, in his latest "retirement," he joined Stansberry & Associates full-time to share with readers his experiences and ideas.

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  • David B Charles

    You might conbsider a cane from Canemasters . The airport security people do not seem to reconise it as a weapon. It is completely metal free and thus does not bother airport security. Security and law inforcement are reluctent to take a cane away from a ealderly man. It even will generaly be alowed in the pasinger cabin. It is even allowed in your seat on amtrack.

  • sean murrey ILLInio

    I am not scared of the bastards.

    • Old Henry


      Which bastards? The TSA? The police? The gang bangers?

  • mark

    Preparation is all useless. According to the crazy article and site today by Bob Livingston, the U.S. government either carried out or helped carry out the 9/11 attacks. So forget about it! The fix is in! There are no foreign terrorists. Our own government is behind all of the attacks. Talk about libertarianism gone mad! Personal Liberty Digest is getting way, way, WAY too crazy for me.

    • Dr. smith

      hey mark, don’t read the stories, go back to sticking your head up ur ass like 90% of America, be a slave, be a drone, heh, get a job with the fed, pay is good, benifits out the wazo…. etc.

    • Dennis48e

      If it is to crazy for you why are you still here mark?

    • Old Henry


      Bob merely brought up some questions to make you think, but maybe that is beyond your relm.

      Bob’s point is to never trust government, or what they say. Do not take any of it at face value per his article last week.

      Or, as Dr. Smith said you can continue on thru life with your head firmly ensconced in your rectal socket.

      I lived thru the JFK cover-up and will never trust / belive the government again.

      • Gordon in Texas

        Old Henry, ditto on the JFK cover-up. I was young when JFK was assassinated. As I got older I did a lot of research on the facts; not what the media and government put out to the American people…and the world. None of the facts matched the hype we received from the media; especially the magic bullet that changed trajectory in mid-flight. Of course, those who dispute the Warren Commission report are crazy.

        Mark, don’t ever take things at face value. Bob brought up many good points regarding 9/11; especially the Thermite and Building 7. No luggage or bodies were found in PA or at the Pentagon. That’s strange, because every other passenger airline crash has debris everywhere; even if the craft itself is fully consumed by a fire. Most 9/11 eyewitnesses who provided accounts regarding the windowless aircraft, the explosions in the basement (janitor gave very good descriptions of the explosions), and other events that conflicted with the “accepted” story were, and still are, hushed up. Look at the billions of dollars that were made on the Iraq and Afghanistan wars by US contractors. Nothing to gain? There was plenty to gain and, just like Pearl Harbor, where thousands were needlessly killed (we knew we were about to be attacked), a few thousand American lives seemed like a small price to pay to those about to profit from a catastrophic event. Never, and I mean never, underestimate those who covert power and wealth.

  • eddie47d

    There are some contradictory stories on PL Mark and we have to sift out the chaff from the wheat. These survival stories can be useful with out without the fear of terrorist attacks and I enjoy most of them.

  • eddie47d

    I have a question for David Morris. Some articles on PL stresses having enormous amounts of food stored up and maybe that is wise for extreme circumstances. Yet I’m curious about those fiber capsules and meal replacement capsules. What is their shelf life and since they sound very efficient with small amounts of food wouldn’t they also be wiser for home survival. Rather than having large quantities of food stored? Does the nutritional value of these capsules last if you keep taking them or does their effectiveness wear off after a few days?

    • independant thinker

      David or someone else will have to answer for sure but I think the
      fiber capsules and meal replacement capsules are only designed for supplimental or short term use not full nutritional needs over weeks or months. As a result your primary food stockpile would necessarily need to contain bulkier items.

    • Old Henry


      An excellent question! I can tell you have been hanging around here for a while – it’s beginning to wear off on you!

    • David Morris (Survival Dave)


      I am not sure that fiber (Metamucil) has a shelf life…it’s main function in this application is to act as filler and a decoy to trick my body. Meal replacement capsules tend to have 2-10 year shelf lives.

      It’s feasable that you COULD stock your home with these instead of food for an extended disaster, but I see many serious drawbacks to doing so and no significant benefits. In my course, I go over how to have a variety of “normal” foods that will provide 2 people with 1500 calories per day for 40 days for under $200 AND how to put it in place in a single 30 minute trip to the store. Everything fits into 3 medium sized plastic bins. This takes care of the time, money, AND space obstacles to having emergency food on hand.

      Remember that your muscles need proper blood glucose levels to function and your BRAIN needs proper glucose levels to function. If you get into a survival situation where you don’t have to exert yourself for very long, you’ll probably do fine with the capsule plan. But if you NEED your brain or your muscles, you want to have calories also.

      I’ve gone a few days only taking meal replacement capsules, fiber, and water…but I’ve also fasted without any problems. The biggest difference, for me, between fasting and taking capsules is that I don’t have to deal with hunger as much, my brain isn’t preoccupied with food, and I’m able to function at a much higher level, albeit probably 80-90% of normal.

      I hope that helps.


      • eddie47d

        Thanks for the heads up David Morris.

  • jackalope12

    To say :”There are no Terrorists” and The U.S. Gov’t caused our 9-11 disaster is not only Ludicrous, it is irresponsible and without Merit. Insanity is what we have to fear, that so many people are gullible enough to believe Insane & Unfounded comments.

  • J. T. Stevens

    Dear Sir:

    Your mention that the Sawyer 2-liter water purifier filters our virus is not borne out by the factory’s website/product specifications. The article mentioned it was one of the few mechanical filters that do filter virus–would you please send me information which units/devices you meant? I would certainly like to find a portable system that has that capability so I could pass along the information.
    Perhaps you include the chemical products mentioned in your article to treat the water prior or after filtration? That would certainly be helpful in the water treatment process.
    Thank you.
    J. T. Stevens

    • David Morris (Survival Dave)

      On the Sawyers…There are Sawyer FILTERS and Sawyer PURIFIERS. Technically speaking, there are Sawyer .1 micron systems and Sawyer .02 micron systems.

      The one I carry is the 2 liter version of this:

      They are GREAT systems and I’m VERY confident in them. I own several (both .1 and .02) and have bought them for my family. I’ve got an engineering background and have spent a good amount of time on the phone with their engineers going over their design process, testing methodology, and their internal stress tests that they’ve performed.

      I hope that helps :)


  • Alexis

    As part of my business, I advise wealthy clients on security and safety measures. Bottom line: You cannot prepare against everything. No man or family is an island. Eventually people have to work together to get through natural disasters, riots, etc. While it is wise to make some preparations for likely disasters, depending on where one lives, it is impossible to take into consideration all serious, long-term threats. The only way to mediate the effects of a major societal breakdown is actual physical relocation to a another place that offer less potential for problems. More than likely, for urban residents, this would require a private aircraft and provisions set in place prior to the event. You can adequately provision for a time, but long-term is doubtful. Taking a bag full of questionable stuff that you have little or no experience with you on a trip is wasteful. In case of a genuine disaster, you have to deal with what is available. Make yourself a minimal target and assist others whenever possible. Create groups of allies to protect each other as this will deter thugs and crime. A baseball bat is actually a better choice than a firearm as it can be legally carried and does not require to be reloaded. As a former police officer, given a choice of only a single weapon, I would prefer my nightstick anytime. There’s safety in numbers of like-minded people. Alone, you are a sitting duck. In terms of terrorism in the US, I put that on a very low probability level. Governments love to stir paranoia. They like to offer solutions to problems they created in the first place. Be aware, be vigilant, but don’t buy into their scare tactics. Their goal is to acheive control rather than solutions. Examine the Katrina debacle. That is a snapshot of how effective government truly is in a crisis, a complete and total mess. Could the US government do anything with a nation-wide crisis? Absolutely not!
    As citizens, we have the responsibility to take care of ourselves, our families and fellows. I’ve found that very few things in live go to the worst case scenario. Make preparations for the reasonable, live and be as happy as one can. Make yourself a smaller target. Drive ordinary cars. Don’t stand out. Keep your preparations quiet. Instruct your family. Prepare, but don’t overdo it! All the billions this idiot government spend on “equipment” after 9-11 will no doubt deteriorate with age and become useless, much like the civil defense preparations of the Cold War. Serious civil protection measures have never been undertaken by this country’s government, so don’t depend upon them for anything. They will help themselves to anything you have in place if you allow them to do so. Keep things quiet, but reasonable.

  • Alexis

    By the way, what is the sense of carrying a bulky water filter around with you? Do you live near a river or stream? Seriously, the best solution is to know your territory so that you can access water department pumping stations that pump water directly from the aquifer.
    Know where water storage facilities are kept. They have sample valves, etc. Tanks work on gravity in most locales. If there were to be a nuclear attack, the best water would be that found underground or already in tanks with sealed tops. I can just picture a fellow with his backpack full of pills and protein bars sitting next to a city culvert with his water filter thinking he’s going to ride out the apocalypse on his own. If this image were not so sad, it would be laughable.

    • Paula

      This article is about travel preparedness not bunkering down where you live. It is wise to have a water filter when traveling. The same goes for the food. It is what David recommends when traveling for an emergency while on a trip.

  • http://NA Clairemarie


    Sound and helpful advice, and I appreciate your input. I agree that it is important to keep a low-key profile and to form groups of like-minded people for protection. It is also important to do what we can for others should an emergency arise. I appears, in studying what is happening in countries where civil unrest is occurring, it is realistic to deduce the real possibility of civil unrest and the dangers of same. It would be wise to have a plan in place to protect our families and friends from people who are desperate and/or looking for an excuse to use violence on others. A well thought out safety plan would give families a better chance of surviving any emergency and also a sense of group solidarity and protection. Thank you for your thoughtful input!

  • russell

    U cannot cover every problem we may face.
    But those who criticize U providing this info. are quite stupid!
    I am grateful for your input and I do all I can to prepare for as much as I can.
    Thank U for your hard work!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

    • Cotton

      U are correct all of us must stay informed and prepared. Foolish if we ignore great advice

  • Steven

    I have always carried and one thing I always have is dental floss, it is very strong and there is a lot of it in the pack. I used to carry 30 lb. test fishing line but the floss holds knots better!

  • Handle247

    THE number one tool the is far and above a gun or knife or filter, is
    a solid knife, with serated spine for sawing, in a para cord wrapped
    scabbard with sharpening stone.
    It never runs out of bullets, can be used to make water filtration devices
    as well as make multiple batons with which you can arm like minded
    allies. Obviously can be used to hunt and prepare food. There are even
    Many ways to tap obvious as well as unorthodox water supplies.

    God bless the righteous, and thank you Dick. I am sampling you survive in place news letter,
    and intend on getting the full plan when money allows.
    I just hope the spit don’ t hit the fan before I can afford it. Lol
    Thanks again Liberty Digest for the forum.

  • phantomm

    I also carry a survival kit when I travel anywhere. But a couple of things that are worth adding are: A small UHF or CB portable radio. The UHF 40 channel ones are small and light. They will work when cell phones don’t. For food apart from food bars I also carry a couple of tubes of condensed milk. Easy to suck a little out as you are running or walking. In the event that something may seperate me from my family we all have a “meeting point” that we can get to. If anything happens when I am at home I also keep my SUV fuelled and a few spare cans of fuel in the garage ready to throw in the back if I need to drive away. Unfortunately, here in Australia we cannot get small guns so our choices are long arms such as rifles or shotguns. I carry a 40 cal plus ammunition in the SUV. Also, in my pack I carry a big knife with a blade thats 14″ long. In the bush I tuck it under my trouser leg in its sheath. As far as directions go I don’t need compasses or GPS units and like David Morris I have learnt a few tricks with my hands from 20 years military experience. One other thing I carry is a couple of balls of sisal string. 100 feet in each roll good for lots of ideas including trip strings. Also if there is no dry tinder anywhere, sisal string can be unwound to form a fibrous tinder starter. I was not aware of fish oil tablets for accelerant so I will get some tomorrow. Probably less noticeable than paraffin blocks too. We all have to be ready and when the spit hits the fan the only person you can rely on will be yourself. I got lots of good mates but I will only let my family run with me. My mates know me well enough to make similar preparations and if we want to be together then it will be at the pre agreed point somewhere deep inland on top of a bushy hill where I can see 360 degrees.


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