How to Always Be Prepared, No Matter Where You Are

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always be preparedWhen you get right down to it, prepping is all about planning ahead, right? We stock up on food, water, and other supplies so we have them at the ready, come what may. All that, though, is the easy part of being prepared. The hard part is to always be prepared, no matter where you happen to find yourself.

To a large degree, preppers go about this stuff in a rather casual manner. You pick up a few extra cans of veggies when they’re on sale, no big deal. Today, though, we’re going to talk about prepping while on the move and anticipating needs in a more active and immediate manner.

How do you make sure you’re prepared for any number of survival needs when you’re away from home?

Never leave home without the basics

First, make sure you have a well-equipped emergency kit in your vehicle and in a small bag or backpack that you always have with you. These could be a few Everyday Carry (EDC) items, a Bug Out Bag, or just an extra cosmetic bag in your purse filled with a few items like a Swiss army knife, small roll of duct tape, pocket water purifier, and a LED flashlight.

These supplies will form the core of your survival, no matter where you are. Here’s a handy list to get you started.

Look around for resources and basic survival supplies

Here’s an example of how this works. When taking a break while hiking, look around for natural forms of tinder, such as seed pods, dry grass, and such. Put a handful of it into a plastic bag (you DID remember to put a few empty bags in your kit, right?) and stash that in your pocket. Odds are you won’t need it for building a fire later, but if you do, you’ll have it with you. When you make it home safely, just take it out of the plastic bag and toss it on the compost pile.

Make a mental note of other resources you come across as well. If you happen across a stream or spring that might end up being a source of emergency water, try and remember its location relative to your travel going forward. Assuming you’ve learned a thing or two already about wild edibles, keep an eye out for those, too, in case you need a night’s meal. You might even go so far as to pick a few plump blackberries to munch on later.

While you’re at it, make an effort to check your compass (real or an app) on a regular basis and keep track of your direction of travel. Do this often enough and you’ll get to the point where you develop an internal compass and you’ll just know which way is north. That probably won’t happen your first time out, of course, but spend enough time outdoors and it’ll come. The point is to be in a position where you’ll be able to retrace your steps, to one degree or another, in case you stray from the path and make a wrong turn.

When Should You Do This?

This isn’t something limited to wilderness excursions. Get in the habit of anticipating survival needs everywhere you go. When you go to a movie or out to eat, take note of where all the emergency exits are located, in case there’s a fire or another reason to evacuate. Keep an eye out for easy to remember landmarks when driving in an unfamiliar area. They can help you backtrack, if you make a left when you should have jogged right.

Getting lost while driving might not seem like a true survival situation but, take it from someone who does an awful lot of city driving, it can be quite easy to suddenly find yourself in a very sketchy part of town. If that happens, you want to be able to exit stage right posthaste.

At first, you’ll need to keep all of this at the forefront of your mind, actively thinking about how you’ll meet potential survival needs. But, as time goes on and you do it more and more, you’ll find it becomes second nature and you’ll do it unconsciously.

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Jim Cobb is a disaster preparedness consultant and author. His books include Prepper's Home Defense, The Prepper's Complete Book of Disaster Readiness, and Prepper's Long-Term Survival Guide.

5 thoughts on “How to Always Be Prepared, No Matter Where You Are”

  1. This hits home for me, because I started a new job where I can no longer carry my very large purse and the things that went in it. I’m also limited now to what can even be carried in my car, and I’m having a hard time paring things down. If push comes to shove, I’m going to be dependent on what I can find in my surroundings, so I’m trying to be more observant.

  2. I, too, am hamstrung to what I can carry with me in my vehicle: I’m a rural mail carrier, and I either use my normal vehicle, or another ’79 old postal jeep. Neither of which can carry my mail AND any form of BOB or EDC bag, when I’m using them for work. There isn’t any place I can take them to work and store, either, so 5 days a week, I’m pretty much toast if anything happens during that time. I do normally have a smallish backpack that I use for a purse ( IHATE purses!), but it won’t really hold all that much so I need to get strict about paring down and taking only the very basics! I have an LED light on my keychain, and a nice small knife in a pocket. I have a huge first aid kit in my normal vehicle that goes everywhere with me,(trust me, this is an extensive one, it includes a surgical kit and military field emergency medical book) but have no room in my jeep for it.
    Protein bar,Liferstraw, emergency blanket, and a basic first aid kit are what I have chosen to carry in my small backpack purse so far.
    That covers food, water, warmth/shelter and injury.That is four tiny items that will fit well… Any suggestions for other stuff?
    Good basic article.
    Thanks.

  3. I have a lunch bag from Walmart (lots of those to choose from with all the back-to-school sales!). I’ve filled it with some basics–filter straw, lighters, Vaseline-soaked cotton balls, duct tape (rolled around a 3″section of TPtube), knife, small multi tool, first aid items (mini pads for dressings, tape, band aids, antibiotic ointment, sunscreen, insect repellant, hand sanitizer, Benadryl, Ibuprofen, acetaminophen, steristrips–I’m sure I’m forgetting something), water bottle, emergency poncho and shelter/blanket (those little packet kinds), fishing kit in a small plastic bag, para cord, energy bars, bandana. This is portable and can be taken with me. Everything is in it’s own plastic bag. I also have a car kit with more sophisticated items, but I grab this kit when I have to carpool for work, and I keep a similar kit in my desk at work. Nobody thinks much about it–after all, it looks like a lunch! Hand sanitizer can double as backup fire starter. The para cord is in a lanyard that I’ve wrapped and attached around the outside. The lunchbag I have has an external zipper or hook/loop pocket, and the main compartment has a hard plastic removable liner with a moveable divider. Hope this helps with some ideas!

  4. What I like to do when I have time is to take roads that I haven’t been on before just to see where they go incase there is a wreak and the road is closed. You find lots of ways home if you need them.

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