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How to Prepare to Get Home When Travelling for Work (and Leisure)

Fortunately, I don’t travel for work (and I never really did) but I understand that many people do. In large part your preparations for travelling will depend on–and are certainly limited by–your mode of transportation, duration of travel, and distance from home that you travel.

We’ll quickly breakdown each of the aforementioned concerns; the biggest concern, however, is how to prepare to navigate modern society with limited resources and possible during a very chaotic time. Here are my thoughts about how someone should prepare themselves for doing so…

Mode of Transportation

While there are other possible methods of transportation for work-related activities, by far the most popular modes are via airplane and vehicle. Obviously, travelling by airplane is vastly more restrictive in the amount of preparations you can take versus a car. It also likely means you’re travelling further from home and, to some extent, are more reliant on that single method of transportation.

Therefore, travelling in your own vehicle (or even a company car) is definitely preferred. Having said that, if you can (or do) travel by car for work you should include your normal vehicle emergency kit for sure. If you have the space, I would also include a supplement of supplies, including additional clothing, comfortable shoes, personal supplies (e.g., glasses, contacts, hearing aid, Rx meds, etc). Basically anything that is more specific to you and your needs.

In fact, regardless of travelling by car or plane, I would definitely include a small “get home” bag–similar to the previously mentioned supplemental supplies–that you WILL keep with you at all times. This should be something that is fairly lightweight, easy to carry, low profile, etc. It should include extra clothes, shoes, Rx meds. I wouldn’t worry too much about extra food or water in this bag.

If travelling by airplane, this small “get home” bag should be your carry on and all of your work-related clothing and shoes can be placed in a checked bag. With this in mind, you’re not going to be able to pack supplies such as a pocket knife or handgun in your carry on. If you feel strongly about including these items as a part of your “get home” bag then you’re going to have to check them. Here’s a post from on Travelling With Firearms that may prove useful.

Duration of Travel

On the one hand, the longer amount of time you’ll be away from your home and your main cache of supplies the more stuff you’ll probably be bringing with you. On the other hand, the amount of preparations you will need to bring along probably won’t differ too much with the exception of very necessary supplies such as prescription medications.

If you find yourself travelling for long periods of time it’s very likely that the places you travel to are going to be frequented more than once. If you know for a fact that this is the case then it is a REALLY good idea to stash a small cache of supplies where you travel to. I’m not talking about a storage unit but something small such as a post office box. These can be had for cheap and (I would imagine) can store quite a bit if you pack carefully. Again, you’re not going to be storing a complete get home bag in one–although I you could try–but it’s really about the small necessary supplies.

Distance from Home

Needless to say, if your work travels only require you travel a few hours travel by car then you’re likely in better shape than someone who has to travel across the country.

For those who travel great distances, you need to think longer term in your “get home” strategy. Instead of thinking about getting you, I would suggest you’re better off thinking about “getting closer to home”. Doing so allows you to break down the task into smaller sub-tasks. As such, your plans should revolve around getting from one major stopping point to another.

It’s Really About Functioning in Modern Society

While the aforementioned concerns should be taken into consideration when preparing for work travel, in my opinion, the biggest aspect to consider is your ability to adequately navigate modern society if/when you must. Here’s what I would include/consider when doing so:

  • Always have multiple forms of payment, from credit cards to cash, even checks and coin. The better able you are to pay for goods and services the more likely you are to get what you need or want.
  • Definitely include cash, coins in small denominations. Unless a barter economy emerges instantaneously, cash will be king and is especially important when considering your ability to get “preferred” service from car rental agencies to bribing the bus driver. Keep money on you and in your get home bag.
  • Include all pertinent contact and emergency information with you at all times. An wallet card, such the one that can be created using the reThinkIt Preparedness Tools, is a must.
  • Include backup copies of your important identification (e.g., driver’s license, passport) and contact information (from the above bullet point) in your get home bag.
  • Have at least one prepaid phone card on your person and in your get home bag.
  • Include a cell phone charger and extra battery for your primary phone in your get home bag.
  • Consider a prepaid phone (and car charger) for your get home bag.
  • Contemplate developing a set of text messages that allow you to communicate with your loved ones because texts are more likely to get through than phone calls when things are in turmoil.
  • Keep contact information for all major car rental companies, hotels/motels, airlines, etc that are nearby your destination; the more the better. It couldn’t hurt to include some of this information for nearby cities (especially smaller towns) or major cities along your intended get home route.
  • Develop at least two alternative get home routes.
  • If you own one, use smart phone apps to your advantage. This may include anything from first aid information to FEMA alerts and Morse code, many of which are free.
  • Last, ensure others know your plans if/when they are ever needed. Your spouse is a must. Your primary emergency contacts should probably know as well.

The overriding point is to be ready and able to “work the system” while it’s up and functioning.

5 comments to How to Prepare to Get Home When Travelling for Work (and Leisure)

  • T.R.

    one tip I would like to pass on about flash drives , I found out the hard way that they can fail ! and everything you put on it is gone forever ! no software exists that can retrieve as of yet . One way to prevent this from happening is to partition it . A tiny partition will be enough , several IT guys told me partitioning creates a backdoor to retrieve files . Im not a techno nerd , but no problems after I started doing that .

    • I’ll have to research that. It would be good to know and do if it’s that easy. The other major way to prevent loss of data is redundancy. Use online services such as Google Docs for important files and have printed backups too.

  • T.R.

    If something happens when Im away on a job site , I’m screwed , most of the time its in another state and I do carry the basics for fire , shelter ( a german army poncho/shelter half ) etc. but getting back home for me may be difficult to impossible . I hope it doesnt happen lol .

    • Why would you be screwed? You’re already better prepared than (probably) everyone else on the job site because 1) you have some supplies and 2) you’re thinking about it. If you’ll consider some of my suggestions I would think you’re more prepared than nearly everyone else to get back home.

  • Mary

    My husband used to travel for work. He wasn’t prepared at all. Fortunately, nothing ever happened. I’ll keep these ideas handy in case he ever does again.