Emergency Travel Safe Havens

Rarely does catastrophe strikes or a threat emerge at an opportune time. This means you may be away from your home, or bug out location when it becomes necessary for you to take shelter or hold up somewhere till it blows over, the threat dissipates or you find a way to deal with it.

Safe houses are pre established clandestine facilities usually setup in relatively public or easily accessible areas. The public owner records are usually done in a way to not give away the true owner of the property to allow for more privacy and security. There is usually a high financial bar to clear to set this up and will not be an option for most people but are an example of the best possible option. These are designed for both emergency and planned stop off scenarios usually with a cache of emergency supplies.

Now some options for the average person are…

Embassies(when traveling over seas): in most cases embassies are a haven for the embassy’s citizens from the reach of the host territory in extreme instances. The grounds of the embassies are considered the soil of the embassy’s country where the host nation has no jurisdiction. They are also usually afforded a decent security detail with reinforcements not too far away if needed in case of unrest or host country collapse. Now as we have seen in an ever growing list of incidents however your home country coming to the rescue is not a guarantee and you should always expect to have to self rescue and have a plan to get out on your own.

Places of business or civil service buildings that are open to the general public as self service spaces, are minimally staffed or require little interaction with them to be present. This can range from libraries, internet cafes and churches to homeless shelters, or train/bus stations, airports, and in some short term cases hotel lobbies.

Vehicles are most effective for active evasion. They serve as transportation and temporary shelters. This can be your car or a rental car or bug out vehicle but can also be

airplanes, buses, boats, trains and so on. Each of which may have different privacy and security considerations you will need to consider.

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How to Secure Your Valuables at the Beach

Enjoy the view her friends are stealing your shit.

At very crowded beaches it is not unusual to see a beautiful women walking along the beach, distracting the beach goers(usually men just saying)

What most people do not see is the the small crew following slightly behind her and off to the side snatching what they can from anyone who is side tracked by the beautiful view. This is a petty theft version of the honey pot which is a tactic that is used in almost every aspect of society. Ranging from business sales to criminal activities to espionage, it boils down to the age old adage, “Sex Sells”

Now whether orchestrated as a honey pot or not the majority of thefts when traveling are going to happen at the beach even if the beach is in your home town. Average beach goers are often distracted by one thing or another or leaving their valuables unattended to take a dip in the ocean.

Swim wear is not usually good for carrying an EDC or any other items more than maybe a set of keys and there is little to no way to truly secure belongings, however there is things you can do to better your odds.

Personally I have never been big on the whole go to the beach to sit around thing so I recommend getting off the beach and exploring more whether thats the urban areas or the wild areas is up to your. No for the people that “Have” to go to the beach, Most consultants advise only taking to the beach that which you are willing to loose, I agree to a point, but as I have covered before I am not a fan of leaving your stuff unattended in your room either especially if that is your passport or other important documents.

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Urban GHB

Being crisis “proof” is a misnomer, crisis resistant is a more accurate description. Regardless becoming that way is more about your mind set, your skills, and your ability to handle stress.

Generally I recommend splitting the gear into what you carry on you and what you carry in your GHB (get home bag) In my case in the colder seasons I pull some stuff out of my GHB and put in my jacket as well. We covered EDC in a past post to this one will revovle around your GHB

GHB/GO BAG

I use a Mystery Ranch 3day assault pack right now for my GHB. It is not too out side the base line for areas in my usual life while getting the size, organization and durability that I Look for in a pack.

Water: A titanium/steel non-vacume bottle is best because you can use it to boil water if needed.

24hrs of calories: Power bars, Freeze dried food, MRE etc. For the average person would range between 2200-2500 calories. In an emergency situation or if your stuck in the elements you’ll want 3000-3500.

All black shemagh: Shemaghs offer a number of uses beyond being a scarf. In urban environments they typically stand out however and the all black pattern finds a balance to my satisfaction. I still keep it in by pack and out of site unless being used.

Backup lighter and fuel: A zippo lighter in a pyrovault with an additional capsule of fuel.

Roll of quarters: when grasped in a fist this can offer some more umph to your punches as well as can be used for pay phones or vending machines if needed

2 locking carabiners with a length of either 8mm cord or climb spec tubular webbing: This can be used for a host of reasons including creating a harness and using for escape from multi story buildings in case of fire or other incidents.

Headlamp: Allows for hands free light if needed

GPS + paper map: 2 is one one is none, this GPS should use standard batteries that you can scavenge if need be and you wont rely on having to recharge like your watch. Always have a low tech way of navigation as well and know how to use it.

Full size lensatic compass

Back up communications: This can be a beartooth, gotenna, Ham radio, a DIY Lora device like meshtastic or a combination. I currently use beartooth with Iphone but am looking into a DIY device. I also recommend having an un activated burner phone on an alternate network than your primary phone with what ever minute cards etc required to activate them in a time of need.

Change of cloths +/- a hat: Make these clothes match the base line but be different colors or shades than what you are currently wearing. This gives you quick change capability. If you don’t wear a hat bring one to throw on if needed. Bonus points if you choose clothes that can also just be added as an additional layer if you get caught in bad weather. I also carry a small compressible rain layer.

Additional assorted small escape/bypass tools:

Fixed blade knife if not on your person (check local laws)

Battery pack/spare batteries and charging cords for all devices you carry. You can also find small solar panels for recharging if you are in a blackout or more rural scenario

Faraday bag(s) for any of the electronic device in your bag as well as for stashing your phone if needed.

Headphones: Hands free comms or in minor scenarios for podcasts or music when delayed. They can also be used to appear less threatening if you appear to be paying attention to them and not the world around you.

Deck of cards or some form of analog entertainment: If stranded or delayed when traveling and don’t want to or cant run down your batteries or maybe you want to play a friendly game of cards with the stranger at the cafe.

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Faraday bags

We are starting a series of posts covering surveillance/counter surveillance or offense and defense and the equipment used and thought of no better place to start than faraday bags.

Faraday bags are a very simple but important piece of defensive equipment that serves basically two purposes. Blocking signals from entering or escaping and device protection from outside EMFs.

They come in sizes ranging from small for your key fob for newer high end luxury cars to prevent cloning and car theft on up to full on back packs and suit cases for those needing to carry around lots of sensitive equipment. The most popular sizes though are for Phones, tablets, and laptops.

Faraday bags consist of a special fabric that blocks out 100% of wireless signals being either sent or received by what ever device you put in them. (or at least they should) you should always test your bags before you are needing to rely on them.

Some can also offer protection from EMP and other sources of EMFs that can damage your electronic devices if they are strong enough. This is where the protection category falls as well as they prevent anyone in the immediate area from connecting to your device, usually this is done over bluetooth.

They come in sizes ranging from small for your key fob for newer high end luxury cars to prevent cloning and car theft on up to full on back packs and suit cases for those needing to carry around lots of sensitive equipment. The most popular sizes though are for Phones, tablets, and laptops.

There are many reasons you will want to use a faraday bag/pouch. Ones of those cases would be….

Privacy. Placing your devices in a faraday bag cuts off and keeps anyone or thing from connecting to your device with out your knowledge. This applies if you want to avoid being GPS tracked by apps or having your phone or device wifi/blutooth hacked. Another privacy related reason is that cities are starting to place blu tooth tracking nodes through out the city to track “traffic patterns” or so they say. These nodes connect to any device that enters their range and logs the information. Even if this is for traffic patterns it would not surprise me if this is used to look up who was in an area at a certain time when law enforcement needs too. Or in relation to our previous post when a rouge employee wants to track their girlfriend

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When you go some where keep it to your self

The biggest home safety precaution you can take is to keep it to your self when your home will be unattended.

This means if your going on a trip don’t post it on social media until after your back. Especially don’t post specific dates or times prior to leaving and do not post pictures or anything about your trip until after you get back.

Making it known that you are gone is asking for something to happen to your house while you are.

Other precautions to take is not getting your Mail held or stopped but have some one you trust pick it up every day, especially if your mail box is at your house to keep up appearances and have them check on your house daily or better yet have them stay there and house sit but ONLY if you really trust them.

A house with mail or news paper piling up is a dead give away. Now if for what ever reason you don’t have any one you can trust it’s better to hold your mail than have it pile up. The only con is mail and newspaper staff have been caught giving their hold list to a criminal colleague to rob the house but it is a lesser occurring issue than a thief coming across a house with mail piling up.

Bailing out and GHBs

Could you drop everything leave your office/house/hotel room in less than a minute and still be operational or able to survive or conduct your everyday life if you had to?

Any skill takes practice, even escaping a situation. Have you ever tried to quickly pack the same day you needed to leave for a trip? Bailing out is the same concept just with an even shorter time frame.

The key is practice and some organization. Start by makeing sure that you keep your supplies or important items in a designated place when they are not in use so that you don’t have to search for them when you are in a hurry. Pre-stageing important equipment is also important and this is where what a lot of people call a go bag/get home bag comes in.

A go bag or Get home bag is a small bag that you have with you whether in the office or traveling(its contents can change depending on the situation but has enough to operate for about 24-48 hours) we will cover GHB use when traveling in a future post for some special considerations.

If something kicks off when you are in your away from home, in your office/on your drive home etc you can grab your bag and the majority of your necessities are covered to get you home. This frees up time to grab the loose items or additional items/equipment that you may need or that would be nice to have.

In your GHB/or Go bag we recommend some basic practices when ever possible and the more dangerous the area you’re in the more important these become. Keep in mind that your GHB is a supplement to your Every day carry which we will also cover in a separate post.

1 Use pouches, packing cubes and organizers to organize your bag internally so you only have to remove what you need and so your different equipment is easy to locate quickly.

2 only unpack what you need when you need it

Some recommendations for your GHB

The bag should be between roughly 10 liters and 27 liters with at least two separate compartments for organization and can be worn hands free.

The bag should not be brightly colored nor military patterned.

Now next time you have some free time put your self on 1min-30 sec clock and see if you can get what you need and get out the door before the alarm goes off

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Digital GoBag

With todays tech flash drives are an amazing and under utilized tool. You can use them to store an entire media library incase of emergency or install a whole operating system and carry a “computer” on your key ring. For those interested for more information on this look into linux live drives there is way better info out there than I could ever put out.

Live drives afford many possibilities when it comes to privacy and security especially when traveling, you’re in a situation where you can’t or don’t want to carry a computer or in extreme situations you need to have a secure/concealable system to store sensitive data.

This is often the case with politically persecuted people, people in countries that heavily censor their people. This also applies to investigative journalist that cover sensitive topics that could put a target on their back.

The main way I advocate using them for the every day person is using them to set up an emergency electronic #gobag of sorts.

Using an OS called TAILS you can set up an encrypted drive that you can store important documents such as passport images, birth certificates, visas and so forth within encrypted files as well as the flash drive being encrypted. You can also set up crypto currency wallets for emergency funds if you so desire.

Once this drive is set up properly you can carry or conceal it on your person and plug it into any computer if you need to and access the information you’ve stored, the internet, you’r crypto, what ever you need it for at the time.

The drives OS and anything you do will be isolated from the main system on the computer and leaves no trace of use as it wasn’t using the main systems memory (only its flash memory which wipes on shutdown)

This makes it so that anything you do, your passwords, your information and documents etc all are safe because no tracking software that may be on the main system or the next user can access your info or data because the.

To set this up in the manner that I mentioned above you will need to set up the drive with encrypted persistence.

To do so you will need two drives as you need one drive running TAILS to set up another with encrypted persistence.

SET UP INSTRUCTIONS

ENCRYPTED PERSISTENCE INFO

Once that is done your good to go. Just about everything you should need for a basic privacy set up is on there with the OS.

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Trusted Resources

Smells and Blending In

Now in most instances unless you are the same heritage as where you are traveling and you are actively living there you are not likely to be able to pull off people thinking you’re a native. However it is possible to get to a level where you look like you belong, and the details are key.
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One detail of blending in, whether in the bush or in the urban environment that most people over look is smell.
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Where in the woods any strong smell is a give away in the urban environment it can be more subtle. While a strong smell can give you a way the wrong smell can also give you away. This comes into account mostly when traveling abroad.
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In the field to much deodorant, or not enough, tobacco, perfume/cologne, and food aroma to name a few can all give you away because they tend to be much stronger than the natural environment and are not naturally present.
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In the urban environments especially when traveling over seas it becomes the wrong deodorant, the wrong perfume, etc. and it’s not necessarily wrong but it’s that it’s not available locally and there for is novel and stands out to people.
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In some cases just like in the woods, deodorant in itself can be a give away in general as deodorants are a very American thing and in a lot of countries it’s not a common product.
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The easiest way to over come this is to buy these products when you get there. Once you get their to buy any deodorants if available, tobacco products, mints etc.
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Eating the local cuisine will take care of the food aroma as well as helps you meet the locals and experience the culture your visiting. In addition body oder changes based off what you eat. Anyone who eats onions/garlic regularly knows this fact. So if you are in a country where deodorant is less prevalent, your funk will match the locals in theory

How to Use Public Restrooms

We assume you know how to use the restroom in the usual sense so were gonna cover how to use it in the tradecraft sense.

Public Restrooms offer you many opportunities in an operational environment to further your personal preparedness, security and situational awareness.

Check out S2 Underground and their videos on LBRY for more quick tradecraft tips.

After you are seated make a trip to the rest room. This gives you a reasonable explanation for walking around the restaurant and getting the lay of the land.

Along your way this allows you to scope the other people in the restaurant as well as the layout, alternate exits, blindspots etc. All while having a reasonable explanation for your actions if you are being watched.

In most cases the rest rooms are usually in the back near employee only locations. In restaurants this means back of the house like kitchens and so forth. By taking a peak in there on your way to the rest room you can get a glimpse of what the back of house staff uniforms look like which furthers your situational awareness.

You will know if someone coming out of there may or may not belong and whether you need to pay attention to them or not.

Another benefit to consider especially if you are being surveilled is that the rest rooms are usually one of the few places in a city that is not under cctv surveillance. Most people don’t think twice about someone changing clothes in the bathroom.

Wear Ambiguous Colors

Wear Ambiguous colors

The general pallet of colors that exist today is gigantic. Just go to your local hardware store and take a look at the paint isle to see how many different blues there are.

With that the average person will usually label colors with as little effort as possible usually lumping them together in either red blue green yellow etc. giving no mind to the shades in between unless they work in a profession that deals with colors to that degree. At most the average person may toss a dark, or light in front of it too narrow it down slightly.

To aide in blending in, or maybe a better way to describe this would be make you harder to identify, is rather easy in theory. Now in practices it is going to depend on where you are going to be operating/traveling and what the color pallet of the area is. No mater how ambiguous your gray shirt may be if everyone around you is wearing brown. It’s not going to work.

Start out by doing your research and see what the general look of the area is. Figure out the type of clothing first then play with the colors. Are they generally wearing jeans? Khakis? Gym shorts? Sports jerseys? T-shirts? what colors? Brands, Logos, and patterns will all play a part here as well.

Figure out the type/style of clothing and then play with the colors. If you’re in a business area you will likely see more suits, khakis and polos, and likely in blacks, grays, whites, and maybe some blues.

In this example you would likely want to wear a suit or at least business casual clothing and choose colors that can be mistaken for multiple others. In this instance lets say you need to wear a suit you would most likely find your self looking for something that is either black (if thats the dominate color) or a color some where in between gray and blue if there is more of a mix.

By doing this your either blending in with the crowd by wearing black or if their is more of a mix of colors your wearing a color that can be mistaken for another color by either the person identifying you to someone or the person who you are being identified to.

Say you are being followed by hostile surveillance and your tail is handing you off to another tail. If he describes you as wearing gray, but the new tail looks at you and thinks you are wearing blue he may pass you by or think someone near by wearing gray is his actual target.

That was a highly simplistic explanation of it but you get the idea (I hope). The more ambiguous the color, providing it blends in with the general pallet of the area, the higher likelihood that anyone describing you may confuse anyone they are talking to due to personal color bias of the describer and the listener.