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30 Items Every Prepper Should Carry When Traveling

Avatar for Gaye Levy Gaye Levy  |  Updated: December 16, 2020
30 Items Every Prepper Should Carry When Traveling

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This is the time of year when families travel to visit friends and relatives near and far.  When taking a road trip, it is easy to throw a bug-out-bag and extra food and clothing into the trunk of your car but what if you are traveling by air?  Not only do you have those pesky baggage weight limits to deal with, but you also have the scrutiny and probing eyes (and sometimes hands) of the TSA to avoid.

Can you imagine what might happen if you showed up at the airport with a fully stocked survival kit?  I am being just a wee bit facetious but these days, you can never be too sure what will happen if someone decides to label you as a prepper.

30 Items Every Prepper Should Carry When Traveling - Backdoor Survival

TSA notwithstanding, today I would like to share a reminder that no matter where you go, you should include some basic preps in your carry-on or in your check-through luggage so that no matter what, you will be prepared to deal with bumps along your journey.

Here in list form, and in no particular order, is a list of 30 items every prepper should carry when traveling.

Survival Items You Should Carry When Traveling

1. A wise traveler not only carries a passport, but also a photocopy of the passport and a scanned version on a laptop, CD, or flash drive.

2. Your health insurance or Medicare card.

3. Your driver’s license, proof of car insurance, and the 24 hour claims number for your insurance company.

4. Two credits cards housed in two different places (in case one gets lost or is stolen) along with the customer service numbers for the credit card companies written down and stored someplace other than your wallet.  You might want to consider RFID sleeves for your credit cards.

5. A list of emergency contacts, including telephone numbers and email addresses.

6. A prepaid long distance card for making calls when there is no cell phone service or when the calls will be too expensive due to roaming charges.

7. A few blank checks or traveler’s checks plus some funds in the local currency (if you are traveling out of the country).

8. Prescription medications with at least 3 days over and above the number of days you plan to be gone.

9. An emergency first aid kit including bandages, pain medication, instant hot/cold packs, antibiotic ointment, lavender essential oil, an anti-diarrheal, allergy medication, heartburn medication, and anything else that you commonly use.

10. Insect repellent or essential oil alternative.

11. Sunscreen.

12. Protein or snack bars.

13. Travel tissues and a travel sized roll of TP (you would be surprised at how often this “essential” will come in handy.)

14. Baby wipes or my favorite, No Rinse Bathing Wipes.  You can wash up pretty well with these in the event you can’t take an actual shower.

15. Hand sanitizer plus sanitizer wipes (Those tray tables on planes are horrifyingly filthy – this article says they very frequently are the home for fecal matter.)

16. A mini, LED flashlight and possibly an LED headlamp as well.

17. Pocket knife or Swiss Army-style knife. (This will have to go in your checked luggage)

18. Chemical light sticks.

19. An emergency whistle. This Windstorm Safety Whistle is my favorite,.

20. Paracord in bracelet, keychain, or lanyard form for portability.

21. Water purification tabs for ensuring safe, drinkable water if supplies at your destination are compromised.

22. A portable water filter and pouch, like this Sawyer Mini kit.  The pouch takes up very little space when empty but would give you a clean container for your filtered drinking water in an emergency.

23. A small roll of duct tape and some tie wraps (also called cable wraps).

24. Mylar emergency blankets.

25. A pocket poncho for every member of your group.

26. Protective masks to wear when seated near obviously sick people (coughing and sneezing) while using public transportation.

27. Batteries (or rechargeables plus a battery charger).

28. Your cell phone charger or a USB cable to use as a charging cable.

29. Key passwords to access email accounts and online financial data.

30. Pre-printed labels with your home address, home phone number, and email address. Include one or more of these labels in each checked bag.

Extra Credit Bonus Items for the Traveler

As a proponent of essential oils, I travel with a small pouch containing my most important oils including Shield (a thieves like protective blend), lavender, and melaleuca (tea tree).  I also carry some DIY Cold and Flu Bomb and DIY Anti-Viral Sanitizing Spray.

Something else I carry with me is a tin containing a portable survival kit.  This portable kit contains a number of the items I would normally have in my travel kit but has the added advantage of allowing me to throw it in my pack or handbag while I am out and about at my destination.  You can put your own emergency kit in a tin together.  You will find some ideas in the article 8 Essential Items: The Perfect Portable Survival Kit.

Another bonus item is solar lighting. I throw both a solar lantern and my SunJack LightStick in my bag. They are not as small and portable as a flashlight, but they operate without batteries and can be used in a variety of situations to provide an abundance of light as well as emergency signaling.

Since everyone’s needs are different, you might find some additional ideas for your travel kit in the article Don’t Fly Without These 20 TSA-Approved Items in Your Prepper’s Carry-on Bag.

Here some some air travel tips from Daisy Luther, the author of that article:

Pay attention to the flight attendant. Aren’t you going to feel kind of stupid if the plane crashes and you have no idea where the nearest exit is? Take 2 minutes out of your life to listen when the flight attendant goes over the safety information.

Dress appropriately. Whenever I see fellow passengers wearing flip-flops, high heels, or other inappropriate footwear, I cringe. You should always wear shoes that are sturdy and comfortable enough for a long distance hike. As well, clothing items made from natural fibers are less flammable and more breathable. Cover as much of your exposed skin as possible by wearing long pants and sleeves.

Wear your carry-on bag. That well-packed carry-on bag isn’t going to do you much good if you don’t have it with you.  To keep your hands free for other tasks, I recommend a backpack or cross-body bag for your most important survival items.

Bring snacks.  I always pack things like Clif bars, nuts, and dried fruit.  The more snacks you have, the longer you can wait before eating your fellow passengers, Andes-soccer-team style.

The Final Word

There is nothing remarkable about this list and, as a matter of fact, it is fairly mundane and undoubtedly includes things you routinely pack along as a matter of course.  Still, if there is just one item you have overlooked – and you need that item – you will be happy to have it along to help you out of a jam or to make your journey more secure.

And just for the record?  I pack all of these items and a whole lot more when I travel.  I can get by with just a couple of pairs of shoes but not without my preps. You just never know.

Enjoy your next adventure through common sense and thoughtful preparation!

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 Below you will find the items mentioned in this article.

No Rinse Cleansing & Deodorizing Bathing Wipes:  One wipe is more than enough for a complete “bath”.  These are a good backup when traditional showers are not available such as the week or weeks following a disaster.  Also good for the sick room as well as camping, boating, hiking and such.

Kershaw OSO Sweet Knife: This “oh so sweet” knife is solidly built, stainless steel knife that comes razor sharp right out of the package. It will pretty much cut through anything the price is amazing.  (Newcomers to my website take heed:  I love this knife!)

Windstorm Safety Whistle: This particular whistle can be heard a long distance away and above howling wind and other competing sounds.  I love my cheapie whistles but this is the one I would depend on for wilderness survival.

3M N95 Particulate & Respirator Mask: This is an inexpensive mask that can be used in a variety of emergency situations. They come in a box of 20 and are NIOSH-certified. The molded cone design is fluid and splash resistant and will greatly reduces your exposure to airborne particles.

Sawyer Products Mini Water Filtration System:  Fans of the Sawyer water filtration systems are evangelistic in their praise.  Did you know they only weight 2 ounces and fit in the palm of your hand?   Be sure to also check out the Family Color Coded Gift Pack.

Travelon RFID Blocker

Travelon RFID Blocking Purse Organizer: If you are like me and move things around from pack to pack and purse to purse, you are going to love this organizer.  The outer sides of the organizer will block RFIDs, protecting the entire contents.  I have had mine for over a year and love it!

Emergency Mylar Thermal Blankets:  These come in compressed packets small enough to fit in a pocket or wallet.  You will be surprised at how warm these will keep you.

4 Pack Emergency Poncho:  You may also find these at your local Dollar Store.

Solar Powered LED Inflatable Air Lantern:  These are fantastic!  I own two and want to get more.  They just work!  For more information, read: Review: Inflatable Solar Air Lantern for Emergencies.

Blocklite Ultra Bright 9V LED Flashlight: One of my readers (James) claimed that these work great. So I bought one. Then I bought another.  All told, I have 8 of these spread out in drawers, in my emergency kits, the car, everywhere.

Lavender Essential Oil:  This is the Swiss army knife of essential oils. My favorite lavender oil is from Spark Naturals.  Enjoy a 10% discount with code BACKDOORSURVIVAL.

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34 Responses to “30 Items Every Prepper Should Carry When Traveling”

  1. A bandana is an essential emergency item. I have a few in my everyday carry bag. Today it came in handy when I forgot my hat. I dampened it and wore it on my head to cool down. I’ve used it as a headband, a washcloth, to hold ice for a bruise, as a towel (I hate hand dryers), to carry stuff (hobo style), as a puppet to entertain kids… It’s a very useful item.

    My husband insists on everyone bringing a hooded jacket and a water bottle along if we are headed out of the house for more than a couple of hours. If nothing else, the jacket can be used as a pillow to take a nap.

    Most might not concider this to be an emergency item, but with 5 people in our family with multiple electronic items to charge, when we spend overnight in a hotel, I always bring a 6 outlet power strip. If I didn’t, then there would be an emergency, LOL.

    • Dawn, my wife and I travel with both a Belkin SurgePlus mini-strip and a 5 port USB charger that has 3 high power ports. The Belkin lets us plug into a wall outlet in the airport when everything is in use by asking if we can move someone’s AC adapter onto our mini-strip. So far nobody has objected to a few seconds of power interruption and we all end up with power. And the mini-strip also has two 1A USB ports, so for topping off a phone before a flight that’s all we need.

      And as to the OP, my carry on bag is stuffed with earphones, extra sunglasses, the electronic chargers, and enough food (protein bars, hard candies, etc.) for the wife and I for days, maybe a week if we had to stretch it. I always buy a large bottle of water once through security. Don’t want to risk having to throw away one of my Berkey Sport filter bottles if a TSA agent objects to the filter in the bottle….

  2. My wife and I are just back from 2 1/2 weeks in England and France, and several things on your list came in handy.

    I took a Maxpedition Mongo Versipack and used it on the planes, trains, and almost everyday. Our small first aid kit was in an auxiliary pouch attached with Molle straps.

    Stuff we used: Triple antibiotic cream, bandaids, paracord (only several inches for a key chain for the room key, but it was very handy for that), a disposable mylar blanket when we got caught on a hillside in a sudden downpour (a couple extras in our luggage), WetOnes (should have taken more as we used them frequently before eating meals), a Swiss Army knife for opening bottles and slicing food, a Coast HP1 LED 200 lumen flashlight which runs on a single AA battery ( I keep one in the bag and another clipped into my pants pocket, another in my wife’s purse. Extremely useful.), spare batteries, plus a charger.

    We also used cough drops.

    We found that some places could not process our US credit cards or ATM cards: The world has gone to embedded microchips instead of the magnetic strips our cards still use (this is changing) and at one point in rural England I was down to 15 British pounds with no ATMs or cash registers in a rural village which would accept our cards, and my brother was down to less than a pound.

    It is a very sobering feeling to put an ATM card into machine after machine and not be able to get any money, especially when far from home. ATMs in banks would take the cards, so we made a 20 mile round trip for cash, but it was reassuring to have several $100 bills tucked away in my wallet: I knew that if things got really bad we could change them.

    After that we carried more local currency than we thought we would need, and considered the re-conversion charges just a cost of peace of mind insurance.

    • PS: Prescription meds should stay in their original bottles as The Authorities can get quite ugly if they discover you have such without an obvious prescription. They are also useful for refills if you can’t take enough with you. Note that some prescriptions cannot be filled outside your home state: you need an in-state doctor’s prescription.

      First aid kit: I’d add moleskin and small scissors for trimming it. There are few things better for a blister or potential blister, few things worse than not having any when you need it. Also some lotion to lubricate between the toes if doing a lot of walking, and inner thighs as well- chafed thighs get very painful very quickly.

      Clothes: if doing a lot of walking, synthetic underwear is a big improvement over cotton as it doesn’t hold sweat, which leads to chafing. Men’s can be surprisingly expensive, but it is worth it. Also, it dries a lot faster after washing, so you can get by with three pair on a trip if you are willing to wash in the sink every night. That cuts down on luggage.

  3. So all those things will fit in a bag you can actually carry on a plane?and where do you put it? I have never flown before and am getting ready to so this is a very timely article ! Thanks Gaye:)

    • You are going to want to review the items on this site // before getting on the plane. TSA is strict about not allowing certain items so be conservative! These days I usually check almost everything; it makes the entire boarding process easier. That said, most of the items can be stowed in a carry-on bag. You are allowed one carry-on bag and one “personal” item such as a handbag, laptop bag, or backpack. It must fit under your seat, size-wise.

  4. This was very timely. I can see where I can muli-purpose some items. I would also bring a foldable hat. I won’t carry heavy boots, I rather go with moccasins for better movement and feel of the earth.
    Thanks so much for this article. I see a ‘travel kit’ which can be placed near my other ‘kits’ for ready to go times. 🙂

  5. Take a picture of everyone you are traveling with for emergency ID purposes. No, no to the sandels and never, never wear panty hose in which can cause horrible burns in an airplane emergency.

  6. I always wear some gold jewellery when I travel. That way I’m sure to have something I can barter with.

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