Let’s explore the concept of wandering. If you’ve been involved in the world of preparedness for any length of time, you’re familiar with terms like “Bug-Out Location” (BOL) and “Bugging-In”, and you have probably read or participated in discussions about ways to go about securing your house/neighborhood/compound/town. Humans as a species tend to be social animals, and gathering in fixed locations in large groups has always had many advantages, including security, stable relationships, sharing of labor, farming, et cetera. But there have always been individuals and small groups who prefer (or are forced) to minimize their interactions with “society” and not be tied to any specific location.
These have traditionally been called wanderers, travelers, gypsies, nomads, et cetera. While these types of itinerant peoples have existed in one form or another for centuries, the pressures of modern society and the desire of governments to exercise an ever-increasing degree of control over people’s lives has made such an existence extremely difficult. However, in a post-TEOTWAWKI world, those factors would all but disappear, making such a lifestyle much more possible and potentially necessary for some people. This article is meant as a thought exercise in exploring a wandering lifestyle in such a scenario.
The first thing to consider is why you would want to adopt such a lifestyle. Maybe you’ve always been a loner or a wanderer and prefer not to put down any permanent roots. Perhaps the group you were part of (or planning to be part of) didn’t make it through the SHTF event, or most of them succumbed to some type of subsequent disaster. Maybe weather patterns have changed and you can no longer sustain yourself in your current location. Keep in mind that an itinerant lifestyle isn’t necessarily just for individuals; it may involve a small group of people moving around for various reasons. Take a look at the gypsies in Europe and the nomads in middle-eastern deserts, for some examples. In a post-SHTF world, a wandering lifestyle may provide both advantages and disadvantages:
Interactions- While wandering, you’ll most likely encounter and interact with a wide range of people and groups that you never would have if you remained in one place.
Schedule Flexibility – Without fixed houses, farms, gardens, livestock, et cetera to care for, you can pretty much set any schedule you want.
Strategic Awareness – If you’re moving around a large area on a regular basis, you’ll probably have a much better understanding of what’s happening across the entire area than you would if you stayed in one location.
Tactical Flexibility– If you encounter some form of danger, like a group of marauders, you can disengage and evacuate the area and not have to worry about fighting a fixed defense to protect your property. It’s also potentially easier to avoid contact in the first place.
Resources – If resources become scarce in one area, you can move someplace else.
Security – If you’re by yourself or in a small group, it will be harder to maintain security and defend yourself. For example, maintaining a guard watch at night would be tough with a group of only two people.
Mental Health – Lack of regular human interaction can negatively impact some people’s minds. When you start naming the trees in the woods and having conversations with them, it’s probably time to interact with some other people. Even small contained groups of people will start to get on each other’s nerves after awhile.
Support – You may not have the resources or expertise to handle emergency situations. For example, if you’re by yourself and get injured, you’ll have to provide your own treatment, assuming you can.
Resources – You or your group will have to be able to carry all of the tools and supplies you’ll need on a daily basis. You’ll also need to be able to hunt, fish, forage, et cetera in order to get food.
Wandering implies the ability to move from point A to point B; so, you’re going to need some method of getting around.
The simplest method would be walking, assuming you or your group is in reasonable physical shape. The biggest advantages to walking are that you can maintain good situational awareness. You can also move silently and you’ll have lots of options for where you can go and how you get there. The biggest downsides are that you’re limited to what you can carry and how far you can travel in a given amount of time. Plus, you’re more impacted by environmental conditions. You can somewhat alleviate the former by using something like a ***game cart***.amazon.com/Summit-Treestands-85236-Game-Cart/dp/B00JOV1TB0/ref that you can pull along behind you to carry extra supplies.
Physically-Powered Mechanical Transport
An alternative to walking would be the use of physically-powered mechanical transport, like a bicycle. You can potentially cover ground a lot faster than you could walking. However, you’re going to be more limited in where you can go and how much you can carry, although you could add saddlebags to increase your load. As with walking, you could also attach a small trailer to haul additional supplies.
The next step up on the transportation ladder would be using an animal, like a horse, to get around. They’re relatively easy to feed and maintain (depending on your environment), and you can cover ground a lot faster and carry a lot more supplies than you could walking. As with bicycles, you can use a horse to pull a cart or wagon, which could greatly increase your carrying capacity. Horses can also make good sentries, as they can usually sense danger better than most people. The biggest problem would be finding a decent horse, along with the necessary tack, in a post-SHTF world. Riding a horse is also not the best skill to try to pick up on the fly when your life may depend on it.
Motor Powered Mechanical Transportation
The final option would be powered mechanical transportation, such as motorcycles, cars, truck, et cetera. This approach may provide you with the best speed, range, and carrying capacity, but it does have some potentially big disadvantages. First, you’ll be more limited in where you can travel, especially with larger vehicles, and there probably won’t be any Public Works departments to fix potholes, broken bridges, et cetera (so no real change there). Next would be maintenance. You’ll need to be able to fix anything that breaks as well as have a large stock of replacement parts. Your situational awareness will be impacted due to speed, isolation, and noise, and the noise your vehicle makes will also let other people know you’re coming.
Finally, you’ll need to have ready access to a fuel source to keep the vehicle running. While there may be tons of gas left lying around in various tanks and containers after SHTF, most of it will probably go bad after a couple of years. Depending on how the technology improves, electric vehicles may provide a viable alternative, since you could carry solar panels to recharge them and they’re a lot quieter. Keep in mind that using current technology, the batteries will eventually wear out and have to be replaced.
Another approach would be to combine your transport options. If you had a vehicle but were worried about its longevity, you could use it to carry supplies and establish caches around the area in preparation for the day it died and you couldn’t fix it.
Living a wandering lifestyle will require a unique skill set that’s markedly different than the one required for living in a fixed location. Some of the required skills will include:
If you’re going to be moving around over a large area, having a good idea of where you are and how to get to a specific location would be useful. This will be particularly important if you maintain caches (discussed later).
Wandering in a post-SHTF world probably won’t be without its risks. There will always be people that will want to hurt you or yours, or take what you have. The ability to move quietly and discretely through terrain and remain hidden while sleeping could make the difference between life and death. Since humans have a good sense of smell, this includes cooking discipline and good hygiene.
The ability to recall where you saw an important trade item in your wanderings, or where a rock slide has closed off a trail, can have a big impact on your life. You’ll need to either develop a good memory or get good at writing things down.
In a post-SHTF world, there will be bad people who wish to harm you and yours, and you may not always be able to avoid them. Knowing how to use your weapons, how to fight, and how to break contact could make the difference between living and dying. This is a different skill set than fighting to defend fixed positions like a home.
Unless you plan on avoiding people entirely, you’ll need to be able to effectively interact with anyone you meet in your travels. This includes not only how you communicate with them through words and body language but how well you can interpret what they’re saying and doing. You’ll need to be able to make a quick “friend or foe” assessment whenever you meet someone new.
Tomorrow, I’ll continue with considerations for wanderers.
- Wandering in the New World- Part 2, by JMD (active on 10/8/17)
SurvivalBlog Writing Contest
This has been part one of a two part entry for Round 73 of the SurvivalBlog non-fiction writing contest. The nearly $11,000 worth of prizes for this round include:
- A $3000 gift certificate towards a Sol-Ark Solar Generator from Veteran owned Portable Solar LLC. The only EMP Hardened Solar Generator System available to the public.
- A Gunsite Academy Three Day Course Certificate. This can be used for any one, two, or three day course (a $1,095 value),
- A course certificate from onPoint Tactical for the prize winner’s choice of three-day civilian courses, excluding those restricted for military or government teams. Three day onPoint courses normally cost $795,
- DRD Tactical is providing a 5.56 NATO QD Billet upper. These have hammer forged, chrome-lined barrels and a hard case, to go with your own AR lower. It will allow any standard AR-type rifle to have a quick change barrel. This can be assembled in less than one minute without the use of any tools. It also provides a compact carry capability in a hard case or in 3-day pack (an $1,100 value),
- An infrared sensor/imaging camouflage shelter from Snakebite Tactical in Eureka, Montana (A $350+ value),
- Two cases of Mountain House freeze-dried assorted entrees in #10 cans, courtesy of Ready Made Resources (a $350 value),
- A $250 gift certificate good for any product from Sunflower Ammo,
- Two cases of Meals, Ready to Eat (MREs), courtesy of CampingSurvival.com (a $180 value).
- A Model 175 Series Solar Generator provided by Quantum Harvest LLC (a $439 value),
- A Glock form factor SIRT laser training pistol and a SIRT AR-15/M4 Laser Training Bolt, courtesy of Next Level Training, which have a combined retail value of $589,
- A gift certificate for any two or three-day class from Max Velocity Tactical (a $600 value),
- A transferable certificate for a two-day Ultimate Bug Out Course from Florida Firearms Training (a $400 value),
- A Trekker IV™ Four-Person Emergency Kit from Emergency Essentials (a $250 value),
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- American Gunsmithing Institute (AGI) is providing a $300 certificate good towards any of their DVD training courses.
- A Royal Berkey water filter, courtesy of Directive 21 (a $275 value),
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- A large handmade clothes drying rack, a washboard, and a Homesteading for Beginners DVD, all courtesy of The Homestead Store, with a combined value of $206,
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- Mayflower Trading is donating a $200 gift certificate for homesteading appliances,
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Round 73 ends on November 30th, 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.