Travel And Survival

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As I write this, we are in Europe. As you might imagine, we’re on the road a lot. As such, we have developed a basic strategy for staying safe and healthy during our travels. You might be surprised to know that this strategy pertains a lot to preparedness.

In a survival scenario, you may find yourself on the road and in unfamiliar surroundings. Others may want to take what you have.  When traveling, you will often come across pickpockets and other thieves with similar goals.  In both circumstances, you might be exposed to the risk of physical harm. If you pay attention to some simple advice, you’ll have safe travels in good times OR bad.

Here are some basic tips on travel survival that have helped us stay under the radar and away from trouble:

Be the Gray Man: The “Gray Man” is a  person who can blend in anywhere without attracting attention; someone you would pass on the street and not remember.  This is a highly useful quality to have in a survival setting, and helpful when you’re on the road in an unfamiliar city. You’ll be approached less by street vendors, pickpockets, and other ne’er-do-wells.

In Europe, Black is the New Black

In Europe, this means wearing black.  Black is “the New Black”, as they say in fashion circles.  Hawaiian shirts, shorts, and flip-flops = Tourist (which equals “target”).  When in Rome, do as the Romans do. If you want to know what they’re doing, use technology if it exists.  Webcams are a great way to reconnoiter the surroundings.  Click below for a view of the streets of Rome, Italy.

Be aware, not scared: Be aware of travel alerts that indicate certain areas might not be safe at night.  This is pertinent for survival scenarios also. You wouldn’t travel into raider territory without taking precautions. The same goes for dark alleyways. Situational awareness is the key to staying safe on the road and in times of trouble. Know where you’re going, and appear confident as you go there.

Prepare for the environment:  In travel, whether while bugging-out, on wilderness outings, or to another country, you must be ready to function in the environment you’re entering.  If you haven’t taken the environment into account, you have truly made it your enemy.  If you’re underdressed, you’ll expose yourself to hypothermia.  If overdressed, you may overheat.  Check out expected weather conditions before you head out.

Wear the right shoes for the terrain and make sure they’re broken in, so you can avoid blisters. If you can’t trust the water in a survival setting, have water sterilization tablets available.  If you’re traveling on vacation, you might consider bottled water.

Nurse Amy likes her well-worn hiking boots

Pack light, but pack the right stuff:  If you going to be doing a lot of walking, whether it’s foraging for food in an apocalyptic wasteland or visiting museums, you don’t want to carry too much weight. I can tell you something about travel that is different from survival:  In leisure travel, you will overpack. Period.  You probably need half of what you put in your suitcase.  We have traveled for a month in other countries with nothing but a carry-on bag, and you could too. In survival, you’ll need everything you’ve packed at one point or another.

Still, you want to have what’s necessary.  You’ll want to carry enough clothes for the weather, but not so much that it’s a burden to carry.  You’ll want to have access to food and water and have planned out considerations for shelter, whether it’s in a cave or a Holiday Inn. First aid items come in as handy in travel settings as they would in survival settings.  Expect an article in the near future by Amy Alton, A.R.N.P., aka Nurse Amy, on exactly what that kit should contain.

Start off healthy:  As I often mention, one of the keys to survival in a disaster is to be in the best medical shape possible BEFORE the event. While traveling, you’ll do a lot of walking and it makes sense to get in decent physical condition before you embark on your journey. Take regular walks and build your stamina.

Know how to deal with simple medical issues: If you’re a regular visitor to this website, you’ll have learned quite a bit about dealing with medical problems when advanced care is unavailable. In other countries, you will benefit from not just having medications and supplies on hand, but knowing how to use them.

A prepared family should not be afraid of traveling. Simple planning can assure that there’ll be clear sailing even in stormy weather.

Do you have some travel tips that might be preparedness-oriented?  Share those pearls of wisdom!

Joe Alton, M.D., aka Dr. Bones

Joe Alton, M.D. 

Hey, don’t forget to check out our entire line of quality medical kits and individual supplies at Also, our Book Excellence Award-winning 700-page SURVIVAL MEDICINE HANDBOOK: THE ESSENTIAL GUIDE FOR WHEN HELP IS NOT ON THE WAY is now available in black and white on Amazon and in color and color spiral-bound versions at

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