Thursday, April 12, 2018

Travel Kit/Problem Solving

h/t Total Survivalist

Ryan gets it about as near to perfect as it's possible to get.

And, as both he and Commander Zero have noted, a wad of cash and a credit card with a high limit solve most regional disaster problems too.
(Hurricane? Brushfires? Earthquake? Will you take plastic, or cash, for that hotel room a county or two away? Bigger disaster? How much for enough gas to GTFO of Dodge to another state? Let Visa and Mr. Greenback solve that problem.)
And it also works for ordinary travel. Like when the 60-IQ @$$holes at one bank cleverly decide that when you travelled, you stole your own card, which was why you bought the tickets in your own name and used your own PIN number with it, and they put a lock on it, and it's midnight Friday ten states away when you find out, and no one answers their Customer Disservice Line until Monday morning. But everyone takes crisp new $100 bills, and the card from your other bank account (which you got for just this sort of jackassery), from sea to shining sea. Ask me how I know.

My 2¢:

But he left out the towel from Hitchhiker's Guide To The Galaxy!

Seriously, those are the absolute Minimalist Five that will solve almost every problem.

A variation on the backpacker's Ten Essentials is also a good idea.

A water bottle with a base-nested metal drinking cup solves several problems at once: water supply, canteen, drinking cup, cooking pot.
So does including water purification tabs or iodine crystals (Polar-Pur) in that first aid kit.
You should always have a power bar or granola bar handy, and probably something like jerky too, and a packet of cup-a-soup, plus tea/coffee/sugar/cocoa.
I've gotten through marathon flights halfway around the world and cross-country bus journeys on a bag of banana chips, and a bag of peanut M&Ms.
A flop hat/wool beanie combo and emergency rain poncho take up little space.
Neither do a sleep mask and ear plugs.
Sunglasses, sunscreen, bug juice, and lip balm will stop a lot of misery in 24 time zones.
And I've never heard of anyone getting stopped for carrying a map (get a large-scale one on waterproof plasticized vinyl rather than paper, if possible -- if not, put Stormproof on a paper map)of where they're going, and a compass. Most all of that fits in jacket, shirt, and pants pockets, if you wear cargo pants, or else into a chest- or fanny-pack go-bag.

Also, you can carry scissors: just make them the blunt ones, in the also-carried tiny pocket sewing kit, with a couple of needles, a card of assorted thread, and a few buttons.

And check destination and carrier regs, but you can usually even carry a Swiss Army Champion most places, if you grind off the 2 actual knife blades, which still gets you the other 15 handy tools.
And you should have already replaced the laces on your footwear with paracord. (Yes, even your dress shoes. If necessary, get the smaller gauge cords, which are still stronger, handier, and last longer than the OEM laces.)

Also, one SF secret out of the bag is their mini-survival kit sandwiched between their uniform's US flag and the Velcro attaching layer. You can fit some worthwhile things in a Velcro-backed patch on your gear that isn't a US flag (For a less terrorist-target choice, try a patch of the destination country instead - as long as it isn't Israel), and that won't set off any metal detectors. And you should.

For the dedicated, a decompression needle will fit inside the case of a gutted Epi-pen. (Ask me how I know.) Due diligence, but as both are medical gear, not weapons, you might want to give it a shot.
Viator cave.

An assortment of zip ties can turn that rain poncho into a shelter, umbrella, or what-have-you, and solve other problems as well. Or putting tamper-proof closures on your luggage zippers while your out of the hotel.
Obviously, a big pair of the #175 pounders gets you non-metallic handcuffs, or a bombproof gear lashing. Like clipping something important to a car. Or a liferaft. Or closing the handle on a broken piece of luggage.
Two small ones and a bit of a stick will make an ad hoc toggle closure for clothes, bags, etc.
Let your mind wander for 200 other uses.

And you can add one or more of the small o-ring sealed metal screw top pill bottles to your key chain without anyone taking much notice, to carry personal meds, and the usual tylenol/ibuprofen/immodium/benadryl/dramamine sorts of things that should go with you everywhere. I've had as many as four hooked on with my everyday keys, and no one, from airports to courthouses, ever checks them.
Ditto for the 1½" $5 housekey knife blade on the same ring. Coast to coast, dozens of security checkpoints, never even noticed.

A bigger key ring pill bottle will hold USD $8.25 in new quarters, which is also about $100 if they're "junk" 90% silver, and over $11,000 worth if you stuffed it with 1/4oz gold eagles instead.

(It also works as something to give you a healthier closed-fist punch, while not getting you felony levels of brass knuckles trouble. Just saying.)

They'll also hold matches; fishing hooks, weights and line; or Vaseline-impregnated cotton balls, and you can get multiple colors that make them look like zipper pulls on carry-ons and such.
If I could get someone to make one only about 1/4" taller, you could get 10-20 US-sized currency bills in one. As it is, if I fold the bills a bit, I can still get 5 bills into one without much trouble.

Jellied alcohol hand sanitizer does that (which is a must for airline trips - passenger jets are mega-nasty, and seldom cleaned properly), and it's also a wonderful emergency fire starter.

But for just five things, he pretty well nailed it.

The secret to a happy life is comfortable shoes.


loren said...

I travel all over the world - well I do try to avoid shitholes but still manage a few.
All your suggestions have merit. I'd also include;
A bright LED metal flashligt. Obvious uses on dark streets and a whole lot better than a roll of quarters (seriously?).
A tach pen. I take it everywhere and TSA doesn't care.
A sarong. An amazing piece of cloth used everywhere other than the US. I used one in December on a Cambodian island for a night blanket and then all day to get around in.
Doxycycline. Take as a prophylactic. Prevents most belly problems, even STD's if you worry about that.
Take @20 and $100's. Some places will not accept hundred dollar bills. Make sure each and every one is brand new as even a slight tear will get it rejected.
If you go to places where you think thousands might be needed to get out then take a Rolex, not gold. They know what that is and it's easy to check if it's real. All gold is fake untill assayed.
What not to take;
Expensive stuff that marks you as a dipshit American.

Aesop said...

Agree on the flashlight, and the tac pen, but don't discount quarters.
Not all travel is foreign, and they come in handy for use - as quarters.

And the sarong isn't bad. But that's exactly why Arthur Dent carried a towel.

The gold was more by way of making the point that it's a very compact store of a lot of value, and relatively easily concealed
Not that I would myself - nor would expect any average Joe to - trot around with $11K in gold Eagles in their pocket. Just making the point of what you can do, if necessary.
And a not surprising number of countries have people who assay on the spot and buy gold, in exchange for paper bills.
Gold leaf has been a medium of exchange throughout Asia for about 10,000 years.

FWIW, I'd assume a Rolex was fake too.
The difference being the gold would be out of sight, whilst the Rolex would invite a mugging.

Anonymous said...

I've got over 3/4 million air miles of civilian travel, mostly domestically, some internationally.

Now I mostly travel with my family, so my needs have changed.

Carry on bag- should be a backpack/bookbag style to leave your hands free. If you don't like a backpack, it should be a messenger style with a sturdy shoulder strap, that you can wear cross body. Should NOT be tacticool or have molle. Old Targus computer bags are super heavy duty, have tons of pockets, are cheap, and are not tactical looking. I spot and zero in on the 5.11 bags from across the airport and I'm not malicious...

I carry my full 'blow out kit' from my range bag. No needle, but trauma shears are allowed by TSA. It's in a small Samsonite toiletries bag. I also carry my 'everyday survival kit' Altoids tin in its 'air travel' version. Bandaids, hand wipe, salt packet, credit card magnifier, super glue, pencil (with already threaded needle and heavy black thread wrapped around it), couple sticks of caffeinated gum, couple matches (half a book), couple alcohol wipes, sliver tweezers, (and when not traveling by air, leatherman micra, and tiny gerber leaf.) The blow out kit stays in the bag, the altoids tin goes in a pocket when boarding.

Spare flashlight in bag, Pelican 1920 penlight in pocket. Could make a decent striking tool or improvised TQ.

The bag gets a spare tshirt, underwear and collared shirt rolled into a "PackIt" half cube, with one day of meds. Also a rolled up microfiber towel which is big enough to use as a blanket for the kid, or a sunshade, or a towel if it comes to that. It's about the size of a soda can with 2 rubber bands holding it rolled.

$1000 in cash, roughly 1 oz gold in quarters and tenths stays in the bag.

I usually also have a dual band ham radio (it's a hobby) and small cheap folding binos (which I've used on vacation more than once.)

There's an Adventure Medical GlacialGel burn and blister packet in the bag too.

Yes, I still have room for a Nintendo DS, a couple of tablets/ereaders, a lightweight but windproof jacket, a ball cap, and a PackIt half cube of chargers, cables, and a 6 foot extension cord (which saves the day routinely.)


nick flandrey

Anonymous said...

Bottles of water, meat bars, and power bars live in the exterior pouches of the bag.

The clothes you wear for travel should be natural fibers for your outer layer at least. Cotton is MUCH more fire resistant than poly. Look decent. Long pants, collared shirt. Blend. You want to look respectable to airline staff if you need help. Thank them and be polite. I've gotten a lot of unasked for help simply by stopping at the desk when there was no line and saying something like "hey, last time I was thru here you guys were slammed and you did a great job getting people taken care of. I just wanted to let you know that we appreciate your patience and hard work, thanks." And walk on. They might call you back and "check your flight" for you, or you might be back in their line later with a travel problem. Either way, and just out of respect for their humanity, say thanks...

When you board, take a look around. Look at your fellow travelers. Note where the exits are, and if your life vest is under your seat. While boarding note which overhead has the smoke hood, and the first aid kit. Here's the important part, KEEP YOUR MINIMUM KIT IN YOUR POCKETS. This means flashlight, wallet, phone, and for me, altoids tin. If you have to get off the plane in a hurry, you will be leaving everything not on your person behind. Don't put your phone and wallet in your bag.

Finally, TSA does care about tactical pens. I shop the TSA seizure store in Austin, and they have a bin full of them. Whether they are longer than the 7inch minimum, or qualify as a 'club or striking device', they care. Get a german or japanese mechanical pencil if you like. There are reviews online of which are the strongest.

And no, that folding credit card knife won't get by them if they are paying attention. There is a huge bin of them at the store... ditto for most ceramic knives.

Lastly, get to the airport early. TSA sometimes just F's with people, and you'll either be delayed as a consequence, or you might get the 'respect my authority' extra treatment. Either way, knowing you can just sit there calmly without missing a flight goes a long way toward rendering those games harmless...


0007 said...

Years ago a company made what it called a "titanium credit card". A flat credit-card sized piece of titanium sharpened on one edge. Fit in the wallet slot that held - what else - credit cards. And being titanium and thin it apparently didn't show on x-ray machines when your stuff went through them.

RandyGC said...

"You can fit some worthwhile things in a Velcro-backed patch "

I used a variation of this at SERE school in the 80's. Jerky and water purification tabs sewn under my name tapes and unit patches, with one side lightly stitched. Passed through the strip search. Didn't need the the tablets but the jerky was nice break for myself and fodder for the designated escape team.

"$5 housekey knife blade on the same ring."

I had one guard give it the eyeball when passing through a Federal court house to do business at the Social Security office. Ended up giving it back to me while holding my Swiss Army Knife (first time visiting the office and didn't realize you had to pass through the courts to get there).

Anonymous said...

The key ring knives show up at the TSA store too, but not in the same number as the credit card folders. The penalty for failure is tiny, $8 knife, so give it a try.

I have a handcuff key on every key ring too...


and I forgot that if you have any official or semi-official, or even just official looking ID you probably want to carry it in your bag. I've got my official CERT ID, which in TX is a real thing, and has your picture and the county EM office on it, ham license, and an ID from a 'friends of the police' volunteer group which LOOKS very much like an official ID, since it's the one we wear when we are working with them or on property. It's desperate times if I have to put on my lanyard and ask "is there any way you can help me get home? I've been called into work and I really need to report." But I'd rather have the option than not, and ID is small.

Anonymous said...

As to carrying cash, beware of the uniformed thugs wanting to seize it.
Also remember that most of it (97%, so they say) has traces of cocaine on it.
If at all possible get new bills. This might not really help, since I've heard they now have dogs trained to actually smell the bills.

Anonymous said...

Working in Vegas, we'd get our per diem cash from the cash room in the casino. You'd fan the bills and the smell of coke would fill the room....