Getting Home Long Distance in the Event of An EMP/Solar Flare- Part 2, by B.M.

A recent trip 900 miles from home got me to thinking about what I’d face if the EMP/Solar Flare hit while I was that far away. As a result, I began making plans and thinking through the details of getting back home when that far from home and alone. I’ve gone over the scenario and also how to travel without a vehicle, by bicycle or walking. Now, let’s get into some more details.


What clothing is needed will be unique to your locale. In my case, I traveled in convertible cargo shorts/pants, Merrill hiking shoes, good sturdy socks, underwear that helps prevent chafing, and a wick dry t-shirt that was oversized and black to break up print of my concealed weapon. I also keep an extra pair of cargo shorts in my bag. Your local environment will dictate your attire. My entire trip, the temperature was never lower than 85 degrees during the day and 75 at night.


Try to secure maps of the areas that you’ll have to travel through. The more detailed the map the better chance for rapid movement through the area. Maps will provide a guideline for your travels through areas; however, nothing replaces your eyes, ears, and other senses when you are traveling.


Let me start by saying that if you are walking you will not be able to carry enough food for the trip. If you eat two times per day and you are walking for 42 days (six weeks), that is 84 meals of some sort. Now, if you can reasonably carry that amount of food on you in addition to all your other permanent gear, manage to average walking 20-25 miles per day, and maintain that pace every single day, then God bless you. However, for us mere mortals, we have to have some plan in place to find sustenance along the way and use the food in our packs to supplement us.

Lightweight Foods

Reasonable lightweight foods can be found on multiple websites, but you must pack intelligently. Store bought foods can also supply a multitude of lightweight food options, but it’ll not be enough to carry you through.

Fishing and Small Game

Fishing and small game should be your primary source of food in the beginning. However, as the collapse advances, game will become very scarce and finding safe fishing places will be difficult. In my situation, remaining close to the coast will alleviate this difficulty somewhat, but it will bring challenges.

Water, Water, and More Water

Fortunately for me, on my unique trip, water is abundant. There are many streams, lakes, and ponds. They are easily accessible and on what appeared to be open land. However, water is an absolute essential. You cannot survive more than three days without it under ideal conditions. But traveling in southern summer heat, you have about 24 hours before you are incapacitated. Finding maps of waterways or at least printing them from the Internet (preplanning) before you leave would be extremely beneficial. Knowing that you can find a water source on your primary and alternate routes will cut down on the chances of a catastrophic mistake.

Picking Up Work Along the Way

I have heard it mentioned that the you could possibly pick up work along the way as you make your way back home. In my humble opinion, this is a long shot. The chances of a farmer/rancher allowing a complete stranger onto his property, much less hiring one, in the opening stages of a TEOTWAWKI are very slim. The risk to his family is too great for minimal return. Now that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t try. However, if you are staking your survival on this option, you are taking a huge risk.

Beginning Your Trek

So, you’ve decided that the time to depart has arrived. You are loaded down with all the gear you can reasonably carry and you step off. Your pace is quick and light. In the beginning, there will be confusion. Use this to your advantage. Take this time to observe people. Observe who are travelers and who are local commuters. This might be the time to find anybody with an old car and offer to pay them to take you as far along as they can. It’s not ideal but possible. Being able to read people, spotting potential allies and avoiding trouble will be one of your greatest skills.

Use This Time Wisely

Most people will be confused. You will need to use this time to gain your bearings, set your course, and make haste your departure. You’ll have about 24 hours before the situation begins to rapidly deteriorate. Use this time wisely. Your preplanning will be extremely useful. Knowing where you are walking and what you are walking into will save you from walking into an area where you are the only one who speaks English or you look very different than everyone else. I know these are ugly and distasteful topics to some, but they are realities in a TEOTWAWKI. Outsiders will be viewed as a threat or a target.

Be Observant

Being observant is a no brainer when it comes to your security but picking up other pieces of information could go a long way toward helping you get through smaller towns. Most places will be in an information black out. Note whether a town is managing, if it is dangerous, if there are road blocks, or if there is a large military presence. If you encounter people in these areas, they’ll have a multitude of questions. They’ll know you are not from their area, and if you can provide them with even a small amount of news from a town over or what’s going on in the “Big City”, it could help smooth your passage through their town and it might even get you a meal. Don’t lie, fabricate news, or over embellish, but even the smallest amount of info is important to people when they are in an information black hole.

Those With Good Info Usually Command Most Respect

During my time in the Corp, the officers who were “in the know” or passed on “good info” usually commanded the most respect. When they were straight forward, honest, courteous, and respectful, they got the most cooperation. Letting people know the reality in a respectful and positive way will prevent people from becoming defensive and hostile.

Finding a Travel Companion

Most here are reasonably intelligent, so spotting a freeloader, a predator, or just a worthless eater is pretty easy. You must be cautious, but you also must look for like-minded individuals who are heading in the same direction as you. Numbers are invaluable, as they allow you to travel with a little more safety than if you were alone. Observe the license plates on cars. Observe the bumper stickers. Observe how people are dressed. Listen to accents. Little things like this can tell you a lot about people. Remember to promote common goals, like getting home alive and getting back to your family. You must be very cautious of people but getting home from a distance this great alone will test you to your limits. Finding a like-minded individual will increase the odds in your favor.

Lengthening Your Route

Sometimes you must lengthen your route to avoid areas that you know are hostile. Remember adding a few more days to your trek can pay dividends, if it keeps you safe.

Crossing Water and Bridges

This is a complicated situation. In the case of bays and lakes, I recommend going around if feasible, but rivers you have to cross. Be alert for ambushes. Forward recon the bridge, observe it for some time, watching for any activity. Look for signs of recent activity. Look for burned or stripped cars. Look for corpses on or around the bridge. When crossing, do it swiftly and with purpose. If traveling in numbers, do a bounding over watch. Don’t linger.

Crossing Extensive Bridges

In the southern states, particularly near the coastal areas, there are these very long bridges. (There is one outside of New Orleans that extends almost 24 miles continuously over water.) In my opinion, these are choke points and death traps. Walk around. It is the best and only advice I’ll give on these long bridges. If there is no other way, just be highly alert the entire time and maybe do it at night. The ambush scenario is obvious.

Tomorrow, we will continue by wrapping up the final part of this article series. I will continue by covering the daily grind, dealing with violence, charity, and also go over items in my get home bag.

See Also:

SurvivalBlog Writing Contest

This has been part two of a three part entry for Round 77 of the SurvivalBlog non-fiction writing contest. The nearly $11,000 worth of prizes for this round include:

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Round 77 ends on July 31st, so get busy writing and e-mail us your entry. Remember that there is a 1,500-word minimum, and that articles on practical “how to” skills for survival have an advantage in the judging.


  1. There are some good quality compact bicycles that fold up into a small package available. They will easily fit into the trunk or cargo area of smaller vehicles along with luggage. You can search on Amazon for folding bikes to see different models available. The better ones cost $500 -$600 but there are some for well under $300 if you are on a tight budget. That 800 mile trip home could easily be cut down to about 2-3 weeks weeks on a bike assuming decent conditions. Yes you are going to burn calories but I can carry a two week high calorie food supply (although I’ll still be very hungry!). There are a few manufacturers that also make light weight folding trailers usable for these bikes. Anyway if you are a frequent road traveler and concerned about a grid down national emergency it might be a good option to have one of these to keep in your trunk on longer trips. Quality of components on the bike is key as is setting it up to ride comfortably with a quality seat, tires and perhaps upgrading a few items.

    I am under no illusions about how difficult it would be to make it home under such circumstances but I also assign a very low risk factor to an EMP or solar event strong enough to disable autos.

    I don’t make these comments lightly. Until last year I traveled frequently and for several years often lived up to 2,000 miles from home or traveled overseas. I’m the guy that was sometimes asked “why do you have an extra suitcase when we’ll only be onsite for a few days?”. I did a lot of contingency planning and slept sounder for it, knowing I at least had a good shot of getting home to my wife and four kids.

  2. Bridges to check before roads could be the railway bridges. Most of the time when I travel, I check out the tracks and would probably follow them before a road if they are available.

  3. On bikes, remember bikes are “dog magnets ”
    In a post apocalyptic world dogs will be roaming around looking for food and they love to chase wheels also. Get a handgun and learn to use it!
    One vet told me that if the balloon went up that domestic animals would be a big threat to deal with, large packs of dogs would form to pull down cows. They would do the same to humans, these are the dogs we have next to us right now. When we run out of food , they have already been let out to find their food. You.

      1. When I was in Bosnia in the 90s, the packs of dogs were so large that they were eating game, wild boar, bears, people, and cadavers. A slow onslaught of disaster puts pets into the food category, as in Venezuela. A fast onslaught of disaster allows dogs an advantage to ‘pack-up’ and become dangerous. The US Army eventually poisoned several large dog packs. Don’t underestimate a large pack of sizeable and hungry dogs, they have already eliminated the weaker and more docile animals in their pack, and the remaining dogs retain good hunting and attacking instincts.

  4. I’ve spent a good bit of time rucking for the .mil and backpacking for fun, and the idea of hiking for 900 miles without reliable resupply seems dubious at best. It seems like your best option is to make a “B-line” for the nearest Walmart etc and buy a bike and a few tubes etc. Beg/barter/etc. So having a good bit of cash on you seems very important. There’s almost nothing I wouldn’t give for a bike in that situation since that is honestly the only thing that would give you a (semi) reasonable chance.

    1. Thank-you Jay for your post. With those miles ahead of you, you best have resupply by four wheeler or other OR best be a good scrounger to keep the calories coming in. A good gun to have in this scenario to fend off or harvest a few curs(dogs) would be a decent .22. Save the better ammo for the two legged curmudgeons.

  5. I’m going to say some things that might offend some people, but then again, I have never been known to be politically correct. I have much respect for the VC (Viet Cong)… they could travel for weeks with a few pounds of rice! No that wasn’t all they ate but is was the “staple” they would add what ever was available in the way of protein, insects, snakes, lizards, Oh what a delight if they found a dog!! From the scenario presented in this piece I do not think dogs will in wild packs chasing down humans for food withing a few weeks. The first thing they are going to eat are the weaker of their species and all the other domestic animals that will be running loose. Little Phee Phee, the pet cat, or rabbit are in BIG trouble, not only from dogs but humans as well.

  6. Peddle Bikes…. I lost my love affair with bicycles in the early 90’s when i rode one 300 miles to quit smoking. At the end of my miserable 2 week ride to Boise Idaho i thru the whole lot in a dumpster and took a bus back home. I swore off smoking, bicycles and changing inner tubes in tires.

  7. Couple of clothing items you’re going to want that you didn’t mention: Poncho or similar rain gear, hat (you’re really going to need one if you’re out in the sun all day). Something to insulate you from ground at night, even a cheap yoga mat is needed, or you’ll lose heat to the ground and risk hypothermia. You can’t count on finding cardboard, like a homeless guy. You don’t mention a water filter, and nothing will stop your trip faster than uncontrolled runs.

  8. I traveled a lot over the USA and other countries. Getting home was always on my mind.
    Most domestic dogs will starve to death. The ones that survive will breed to create a Feral dog that will survive in greater numbers. They are the ones to watch out for. They are going back to being Coy dogs that are shy and probably not a problem to humans to being like wolves that will be a problem. This is going to take a few years for the dogs to go Feral. Its a future post SHTF problem. If you are north of your destination you might be able to go by rivers. The bigger rivers like the Illinois, Ohio and Mississippi, if you were in the middle of the river at night navigating by the stars and moonlight you would probably be hard to see in a grid down scenario, especially after ninety percent of the population was dead. These rivers are wider than you realize and seeing something floating down it at night is going to be hard to do. If you had a big enough pontoon boat, you could probably take your food, water supplies, horse, pull cart, and a bike. Its going to be a long float trip. A motor of some sort would be nice to use when absolutely necessary. You might be able to speed things up a bit with a small sail as long as it could not be seen, even at night. This is a one way trip until you can build a steam engine or a wood gas powered engine, so be sure this is the direction you want to go. Going back from where you started is by other means of locomotion. Like I said before, I would not want to make a trip like this until I knew that most of the population was dead. A lot of rivers go past major metropolitan areas.

  9. I used to do a few fundraising charity rides each year. One is a American Cancer Society ride that is 65 miles.
    The other is an MS society ride that is 100 miles.
    I never rode at all during the year and borrowed a bike each time. I was in good shape from running – but did zero biking during the year.
    We carried about 3 liters of water, and a bunch of snacks to last the day – did both rides easily on mostly flat terrain. I’m hear to tell you that if you are in reasonable shape – that is you can run 5 miles at a 9-10 minute per mile pace – you can most certainly ride 100 miles in a day on mostly flat terrain. I was sore – but not overly so. Doing back to back days will be hard – but in an extreme emergency – it certainly can be done.
    JWR likes to say, “panic now and avoid the rush”.
    I’m hear to tell you – go run/jog as far as you can without getting hurt. Then do it again 2 days later. Keep it up.

  10. I like your idea to recruit a traveling companion; two would be better. I have read accounts of concentration camp survivors who report that teams of three were most successful. One would rest for eight hours while one would work to get food for eight hours, while one would guard the sleeper, the worker, and the accumulated supplies for eight hours. This breaks down nicely into three eight hour shifts in a 24 hour day. It would seem to me that the best time and place to select traveling companions would be from the traffic jam around you within about an hour or maybe two. This might be the window of opportunity when people are beginning to realize what happened, are considering their options, but just before most begin to panic and go crazy! At some point there might be an opportunity to avoid all or part of a difficult and dangerous 45 day hike. Antique vehicles, older farm tractors with wagons, some lawn mowers, various motorcycles and off road vehicles will still be operational. You might even find helpful volunteers or entrepreneurs willing to give rides. I’m guessing that some silver and gold coins or gold jewelry would help a lot. During World War II gold coins were included in pilot’s and air crew’s survival kits; lives were saved by a little bit of gold!

  11. I used to eat, sleep, and dream how I would get out of southern California in a grid down WROL situation. Fat chance. I decided to move to the American Redoubt instead. That was a good move.

    However, I still fly to SoCal to visit family who have refused/are unable to leave. 1,200 miles is a Loooonnngg walk back, so I have just decided to leave it up to God on those two trips per year.

    But for shorter local trips of 100 miles, I always have my get home day pack in the car. Walking shoes/boots/YakTrax ice cleats appropriate to the season, coat/hat/gloves/socks appropriate to the season, gallon of water, Glock and ammo, .mil sleeping bag, foil emergency blanket type sleeping bag for liner, booney hat, cotton kerchief, folding knife, pro bars and bison jerky, life straw water purifier, compass, detailed road and trail maps, bug spray, bear spray, flashlight, LED headlamp. In the absence of a major snow storm, and carrying only about 20 lbs., I can cover 25 miles/day.

    I recently read a book called Going Home by A. American. One major flaw in the book, I felt, was how long it took him to get going. The presumed EMP hit in the afternoon and he waited in the car until the following day to begin his walk home. Then he spent quite a while in a convenience store off the interstate buying pretzels and candy bars and visiting with folks in the parking lot. It basically took him 24 hours to really get on his way. In my opinion, if you can’t get your act together to book it toward home within about a half hour, you have just lost a huge advantage. Rapid assessment of the situation, make your plan, implement asap, is critical to get ahead of the horde.

  12. Even though you are a water world guy and I’m a desert rat, this is a superb article. A couple of comments if I may:

    Maps are certainly useful for providing a high level understanding, but even USGS and BLM maps don’t tell you much (if anything) about trails. An alternative is to pre-store satellite images of your route on your smart phone or GPS unit. No map will tell you where there are buildings, but a satellite image will reveal whether that building is occupied or abandoned. Similarly, maps may reveal the location of a well, but you have no idea whether it is dry. A satellite image may show that there is a small pond where cattle go for water.

    My principal travel activities involve multiple 150 mile round trips to a city several times a week, so I am not preparing for a 900 mile get home expedition. Nevertheless, I do know where I can get water and the areas that I need to avoid on my route home. My GHB is always stocked with sufficient emergency food to suffice for several days. In the SW desert, water is always going to be the primary issue.

  13. I’m not sure I’d attempt the trip. 900 miles? Two hundred, maybe, depends. If I found myself on vacation with friends and the wife in Florida, and it went south immediately, I’d likely just hunker down there. The odds of dieing on the trip are very high. I picture myself and the wife making a huge decision…sit tight in this controlled environment, using initial time to shape things up. Or, starting that trip on foot or bike given the risks so high, becomes a non starter for me.

    I’d like to be with the kids and all, but, I’d be fine seeing em in the here after, once it all shakes out. Got a big big family, many of you here are in it. God bless

    Been enjoying the comments greatly on all three posts, as well as the posts.

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