Friday, July 29, 2011

Go-bags and escape routes: your master plan when the shit hits the fan.

One of my best friends, let's call him Li Po (李白),  once had a pretty serious run-in with the federal government. It's a good story, involving Africa and anarchy, but I can't tell it to you.

I will tell you that the other night at 1:30 AM he got a knock at his door, and he grabbed the go-bag.

The knock was from a cute drunk stranger girl who rapidly became Po's friend. The go-bag is the portable toolkit for escaping this life and making another. In Po's case there is no physical bag, but he does have a well-considered escape plan, and several useful items for When The Shit Hits the Fan.

So fast forward. It's 1:30 AM last night, and I'm doing wine and machetes with Sgt. Matt Locke. Matt, too, has had some uncomfortable encounters the powers. Not least of which when he arrived to his army base having been AWOL for weeks, wearing Buddhist monk robes and refusing to re-deploy. I was telling Matt about Li Po, and Matt mentioned that he had a go-bag too. I started studying up.

Types of go-bags

There are apparently two types of go-bags. There is the "get me to a non-extradite country or a or one that doesn't care" go-bag, and there's the "I just need a tent in Montana and the open sky, screw civilization" go-bag.

I like civilization. Even prisons have conjugal visits. But I'm told that if you want to stock a bag for the most-days escape of humanity, some things to have are:

  • A fixed blade
  • A multi-tool
  • A waterproof sack
  • Baby wipes
  • Flashlights
  • A compass
  • A high-scale area map
  • Cord and rope
  • Duct tape
  • Rappelling rope and gear
  • Refillable water bottles
  • Socks
  • Baby powder
  • A collapsing pan
  • Magnesium fire starter with flint strike edge
  • Guns and ammunition. Tons of ammunition.

The ex patria go-bag is different. Here's what I've found in those:

  • Cash
  • A GoPhone and GoPhone charge cards, paid for in cash
  • A birth certificate bearing the name of a stranger (Read Paper Trip)
  • A passport
  • The Thomas Cook Overseas Timetable
  • Clothes that you would never normally wear (if you're a businessman, think skater punk)

While I'm new to the go-bag game. I do have some suggestions. I realize that I'm compromising my own plan by talking about this, but I figure no one's probably coming after me, and I'm not enough of a high-level target for the government to assign people to see if I mention anything compromising my plan in old blog posts. (Ok, I'm also planning on deleting this article after it's had its run.)

The ingredients I would add to the aforementioned tool kits are these little known facts:

  • The Pasporta Servo is a service run by Esperanto speakers all over the world who house and feed each other when travelling for free. Esperantists are bizarre, free people, who do not blindly love their countries.
  • There is a ferry in the town of Los Ebanos, Texas which serves as a little-trafficked official border crossing to Mexico. The ferry is pulled by ropes which are pulled by strong Mexicans. Document checks for people going into Mexico are non-electronic.
  • The World Citizen Passport is a junk passport, available to anyone, which was invented by a peace activist. It has somehow managed to obtain legal recognition in Ecuador. Ecuador is awesome.
  • There are many routes to EU citizenship for Americans of Irish or Italian descent. Italian citizenship is the easiest: if you have an Italian last name, you're basically in. The process takes a year or two, and is something that should be affected before TSHTF, but an EU-flavored passport will let you live and work in any one of the union's 27 countries.
  • Andorra has no extradition treaty with the US, and has a freakishly high standard of living.

Go-bag plans, like zombie apocalypse plans, do something cathartic for me, perhaps because they allow me to imagine the inhumanities of my present life being washed away. For other people, they're serious business.
Do you have a go-bag? I'd love to hear about it.


  1. I had a go bag December 31st 1999. Only it wasn't a bag, it was a mercury mountaineer SUV. And it was filled to the brim with vacuum packed bulk foods, water, booze (I don't drink, this was for trading), a generator, gasoline, a variety of guns and knives, thousands of rounds of ammo, and several actual go-bags full of stuff like flashlights and batteries, medical supplies and compasses, GPS, etc.

    I listened to the radio as midnight came and went and life went on. It was a big relief, since I had spent the better part of the year fearing the worst was a possibility that could not be ruled out.

    I think I just ate the last of the vacuum packed rice last year.

  2. What's your source for Andorra not having an extradition treaty?

    It'd be nice to know if there are others. Though wouldn't it only apply to Andorran citizens?

  3. I always wondered what kind of people drove Mercury SUV's when identical Ford's exist and are thousand's of dollars cheaper. Your post is quite telling...

  4. If you plan on using a vehicle to get anywhere as part of your TSHTF plan, especially for "get me to another country", make sure it doesn't have OnStar or an equivalent service in it.

    Also, the "Go live in a tent" bag should probably include some way of purifying water without boiling it, so that you don't have to go thirsty or risk getting sick if you can't start a fire, because, say, all the fuel is soaked. Other useful things to have would include:

    Steel wool and a battery (A 9 volt or other type with both prongs close together and facing the same direction.) - This makes a good backup fire-starter.

    A GPS - Nice for making sure of where something is. See below.

    Notebooks and pencils. A pencil sharpener is nice, but you can use a knife for that if you need to - Useful for, well, making notes on things. For example "Patch of blackberries at GPS coordinates (Insert coordinates here)"

    A lot of salt - People need it, and it can be used to preserve food.

    Vitamins - Just to be on the safe side, these are a good thing to take. It's not like they're exactly heavy.

    Field guides for a wide range of areas - It's good to know what plants are poisonous and what aren't, and whether that's a coral or king snake.