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Travel Survival Guide

Kits, Tips and a Checklist

Posted by JT Hats

This article is primarily intended for plane travel. For auto survival tips, see evacuation preparation and the accompanying car survival kit checklist.

Photo by puuikibeach

Current travel regulations prohibit many sensible survival tools aboard planes, but some specialty items can still ride in pockets or carry-on luggage and be at hand in emergency situations. An LED pocket flashlight good enough for signaling or lighting your path doesn't take up much room, and although tactical pens might raise some questions any stainless steel ball point pen offers the same basic functions of writing or poking.

Inexpensive mylar reflective blankets or pocket sleeping bags provide emergency warmth if you're stranded in an airport or huddled near a crash site. Although they aren't very durable and never fold up into the same neat package you started with, these foil shields reflect body heat back to you and protect you from wind, rain and drafty winter airport terminals.

If you want to truly increase your chances of surviving a crash or flight emergency like an on-board fire, consider packing a breathing hood in your carry-on bag. The simplest type comes in a packet small enough to tuck in a purse or briefcase. A clear plastic hood fits over the head and neck and keeps blinding smoke out of your eyes, and a filter mask built into the hood gives about 15 to 20 minutes of clean air. Versions made with reflective hoods offer some fire protection, and better filters remove carbon monoxide fumes or biological contaminants like anthrax spores, as well as smoke particles. Since the carbon filter masks have a limited lifetime, the hoods come in sealed packages and can't be used for practice runs without using up the filtration time.

Most of the items you can't take into the passenger compartment can be checked in lugguage, so leave the pocket knife or multi-tool in the suitcase instead of at home. Either pack a permanent match with the knife or pick up a good lighter on the way out of the airport. A compass and detailed map of your destination helps no matter if you're headed for a foreign city or a wilderness trek. GPS users can purchase downloadable maps for most parts of the world, but a hiker's GPS typically contains only maps for the geographical region of sale. North American GPS units won't include on-board maps of Europe. Download new maps at home if you intend to navigate with a personal GPS while on vacation overseas.

Practical Travel Items

  • LED pocket flashlight
  • Stainless steel ball point pen or tactical pen
  • Mylar reflective blanket
  • Personal breathing hood

Other Items (not for carry-on luggage):

  • Pocket knife or multi-tool such as the Victorinox Swiss Army Rescue Tool, with many useful blades and tools in one compact package.
  • Permanent match or lighter
  • Map and Compass, or GPS programmed with local maps

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