Category Archives for Articles – Week 4

Don’t Fly Without These 20 TSA-Approved Items in Your Prepper’s Carry-on Bag

What is a more uncomfortable feeling than relinquishing all of the items that are normally part of your EDC kit?

Here’s one: relinquishing those items and boarding a plane to fly across the country.

For many preppers, a worst-case scenario for us would be if the SHTF while we were traveling.  If your journey is by car, you can be fairly well-prepared. However, if you are flying, the TSA has basically neutered our ability to care for ourselves in the event of a disaster situation, you know, “for the safety and security of the traveling public,” to use their own words. Didn’t these rulemakers see the movie Cast Away or the series Lost? If your plane crashed and you were stranded on a deserted island, how on earth are you supposed to open a coconut with what you’re allowed to bring along?

Remember, what you pack in your checked luggage may not be available in the event of a disaster. You can only count on what you have on your person, and that makes the contents of your carry-on bag particularly vital.

Since there’s little possibility of being able to sneak items onto a plane, you have to do the next best thing: you must work within the rules to create a bag that could see you through a variety of unexpected situations.  Despite my strong personal feelings about the unconstitutional air travel checkpoints, if I want to get on that plane, I can’t carry my normal EDC kit, which reads a lot like the TSA’s current list of banned items.

How to Pack a Prepper’s Carry-on Bag

Here are 20 items you can bring onto a plane (without getting tackled to the ground by 3 TSA goons while sirens blare ,lights flash, and the PA system announces that you are a terrorist who was planning to hijack the nearest 747.) To make the list, the items must be able to pass through a security checkpoint, they must be small and light, since your space and weights are limited for carry-on bags, and they must be practical in a variety of situations. (At the time of publication, this list was accurate and in compliance with the current rules, but they change frequently – always check the website to ensure that the items you brought with you will be allowed on the plane.)

  1. Scissors: Because you sew, duh.  The TSA says, “metal with pointed tips and blades shorter than 4 inches are allowed, but blades longer than 4 inches are prohibited.” I like this pair because the brand is reliable and there are no plastic parts on it, which would just break if you tried to use them to puncture a coconut. The metal components would stand up far better if these were called upon to cut something other than thread or fabric. Consider sticking a ball of yarn in your bag, too, just to help justify the scissors.
  2. First Aid Kit:  Put together a small kit with OTC medications for minor ailments, products for treating open wounds, and items to help you stabilize a fracture or sprain.
  3. 550 Paracord: This paracord comes in about a kabillion different colors.  Ensure that you purchase sturdy 550 test weight cord. This multipurpose prep can be used in countless ways.
  4. Water Purification Tablets: In the event you end up some place where the water is compromised, this teeny little bottle of pills could save your life. The pills are proven to be effective against potentially deadly waterborne contaminants such as viruses, bacteria, Giardia, and Cryptosporidium.
  5. Water filter: My favorite travel filter is the Sawyer Mini. Weighing in at only 2 ounces, it will filter over 100,000 gallons of water. Just in case you’re on that deserted island for a very long time.
  6. Collapsible Water Bottle: The more containers you have on hand, the better. This one collapses and can be rolled up when it’s empty. Throw a couple of these in your bag. In the event you have to hike out on foot, you’ll want to take advantage of water sources when you find them. Each bottle holds 24 ounces.
  7. Extra socksRemember how I mentioned hiking? If you end up with blisters or wet feet, you’ll be very glad you have high quality, cushioned hiking socks on hand.
  8. BIC Disposable Lighter: You’re only allowed to take the little flimsy disposable lighters on a plane.  Invest the extra buck or so and get a Bic instead of the cheapo dollar store kind. I’ve gotten some duds, so be sure to test it before you put it in your bag. Fire is often a vital element of survival.
  9. Ferro Rod : I always like to have more than one way to start a fire. In the event that your lighter gives up the ghost, a Ferro rod fire starter will always work.
  10. Cash: Sometimes the best prep you can have on hand is cold hard cash. This can be especially useful if you are going to another country. Whether it’s a bribe or you use it to purchase a necessary supply, having cash on hand is important when traveling.  Check the laws of your destination; sometimes cash has to be declared, and if you don’t, it could be seized.
  11. Silver coins: I like to carry some silver with me when traveling too. For discretion, old silver dimes could go in their own little pocket of your wallet, where they will breeze right through most scrutiny. If for some reason cash does not work, precious metals might.
  12. N95 MasksIf the person beside you on an airplane suddenly falls to the floor bleeding out of every orifice, you’re going to want to have an N95 mask on hand. Not only are they useful in the event of contagious disease, but during a disaster, many times harmful particles are put into the air. Use your mask to avoid inhaling smoke, shards of glass, insulation, construction components, dust, and  other particles.
  13. Hand SanitizerI’m not a huge fan of  hand sanitizer in day-to-day life, but traveling is extraordinarily germy business. Use hand sanitizer before eating or after touching things that 20 billion other travelers have touched, like bathroom surfaces. Bonus use: it’s highly flammable and can aid you in starting a fire.
  14. Bleach WipesThe same deal as hand sanitizer: I don’t think it’s healthy to bleach the heck out of your everyday living environment, but when on a plane, give a wipe-down to armrests and that tray table that has heaven-knows-what on it from the last passenger. (On my last flight I watched a woman change a poopy baby diaper on one…just sayin’.)
  15. SAS Survival GuideThis tiny book packs a gigantic punch. Slightly bigger than the palm of your hand, it has 625 pages of clear, concise instructions for a vast variety or survival situations in a wide array of environments. If you can only have one how-to guide with you, this is the one you want.
  16. Sunblock:  You know, it’s bad enough you were in a plane crash or other disaster that has left you stranded. Do you really want a sunburn on top of that? Particularly if you are in a locale with an equatorial or desert climate, it’s vital to protect yourself from the sun’s rays.
  17. Space BlanketThese high-quality Mylar blankets fold up into a teeny-tiny little square. Not only will the keep you warm or shelter you from the elements, the shiny side will reflect light and help to alert search planes. Don’t go cheapo on these – the dollar store version is likely to rip the first time you use it.
  18. Compass: If you find yourself in the middle of nowhere, it can be easy to walk around in circles. A compass is a simple, non-tech way to navigate to somewhere – at the very least, it’ll help you keep going in a straight line.
  19. Mini Cree Led Flashlight Torch Adjustable Focus Light Lamp: Pretty much any bad situation will seem worse in pitch black darkness. This tiny little flashlight is exceptionally bright, and will shed long-lasting light to see you through the night.
  20. Listerine: In a pinch, original Listerine can be used as a topical antiseptic. This size is TSA-approved. Meanwhile, you’ll also have fresh breath.

Air Travel Tips

Because of the stringent TSA regulations, you are very limited in what you may take with you on a plane. To stack the odds in your favor in the event of some kind of disaster, remember these practical tips:

  • Pay attention to the flight attendant. Aren’t you going to feel kind of stupid if the plane crashes and you have no idea where the nearest exit is? Take 2 minutes out of your life to listen when the flight attendant goes over the safety information.
  • Dress appropriately. Whenever I see fellow passengers wearing flip-flops, high heels, or other inappropriate footwear, I cringe. You should always wear shoes that are sturdy and comfortable enough for a long distance hike. As well, clothing items made from natural fibers are less flammable and more breathable. Cover as much of your exposed skin as possible by wearing long pants and sleeves.
  • Wear your carry-on bag. That well-packed carry-on bag isn’t going to do you much good if you don’t have it with you.  To keep your hands free for other tasks, I recommend a backpack or cross-body bag for your most important survival items.
  • Bring snacks.  I always pack things like Clif bars, nuts, and dried fruit.  The more snacks you have, the longer you can wait before eating your fellow passengers, Andes-soccer-team style.

Do you travel frequently by air? What tips do you have for flying prepared? Please share them in the comments section below.

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Dorm Room Preppers: The Next Generation of Survivalism

It’s an exciting time, preparing for your child to leave the nest.  Your young adult is enthusiastically anticipating the independence that is so near, but you, as a parent, are most likely running scenarios in your head of all of the mishaps that could befall your son or daughter.

As a prepper, you want your child to also be prepared for any crisis that might occur when they are out on their own. When my lovely eldest daughter graduated from high school, we put together a dorm-room preparedness kit for her college apartment. Following, you can see the list of supplies that we have assembled.  Different climates will, of course, require different types of preparedness items.

Food and water

If there is a long-term power outage, you want to be sure that your student stays fed and hydrated until you can get them home.  Depending on the situation, they may have to shelter in place for a time.  Base the length of your supply on the distance from home.

  • 2 cases of water bottles
  • 2-3 five gallon jugs of water
  • 1 portable water filter
  • A 2-4 week supply of long-term storage food that doesn’t require power for preparation (Check the no-cook food printable)

Personal defense items

Be sure to check the rules of the dormitory and weigh the pros and cons of your solutions for this matter.  This will depend upon your student and his or her level of competence and responsibility, and only you can make the correct assessment of the situation.  The following recommendations will not be appropriate in all situations:

  • Mace
  • Pepper spray/dog spray/bear spray/wasp spray
  • Knives
  • A self-defense course (these are often offered on-campus)

First aid supplies

Your child should have a well-stocked first aid kit, including supplies for an illness like the flu.

  • Bandages
  • Antibiotic ointment
  • Alcohol pads
  • Steri-strips
  • Betadine
  • Diarrhea remedies
  • Tums or Pepto Bismol
  • Anti-nausea medication or ginger tablets
  • Cold medicine (daytime and nighttime)
  • Pain relief (Ibuprofen, Naproxen, and/or acetaminophen)
  • Hot water bottle
  • Reusable cold packs
  • Tensor bandages
  • Herbal teas like ginger, peppermint, and chamomile


During a power outage, particularly in a multi-story building, sanitation could become an issue. (Remember the high-rises in NYC during Hurricane Sandy?)  The following supplies can help to keep your student healthy:

  • Extreme heavy duty garbage bags, a bucket, and some kitty litter for a makeshift toilet
  • Antibacterial hand sanitizer
  • Antibacterial wipes
  • Additional stored water for cleaning
  • Lysol or another antiseptic spray
  • Extra towels to stuff under the door to keep out unpleasant smells
  • Baby wipes for personal hygiene
  • Paper plates, cups, and cutlery
  • Paper towels

Miscellaneous supplies

Be sure that your student has the following supplies on hand to deal with an emergency such as a power outage or other crisis:

  • Candles
  • Matches/Lighter
  • Bug-out bag
  • Compass
  • Maps with multiple routes home, including walking and driving routes
  • Cold-rated sleeping bag


It is vital to stress the importance of OPSEC (Operational Security), especially in a shared living environment.  Your young adult should be very careful about letting others know that he or she possesses self-defense items or preparedness supplies.  In a small space, it can be difficult to keep things hidden, but a great deal of food and water can be shoved under a bed.  Self-defense items can be stashed in a backpack.  Other supplies can be stored in the closet in luggage.

Prepper mentality

Of course, we all know that the most important prep is your mind. If your son or daughter understands the preparedness mindset, they will be head and shoulders above the rest in a crisis situation. Because my daughter has been raised in a household that values preparedness, she is well-aware of the things that can happen.  She understands the mob mentality that can arise during a disaster and she is well-versed in being adaptable, of thinking things through, and making a plan.  As well, she has learned many things that aren’t common for your average teenage girl today, like starting fires, cooking from scratch, and outdoor skills.

Some great courses for a teenager are:

  • First aid
  • CPR
  • Wilderness survival
  • Orienteering
  • Self defense
  • Water safety

As a family, you should have a plan for different types of emergencies.  Will your young adult try to make their way home to you in the event of a crisis or should they shelter in place and wait for you to get to them?  Are there special concerns in their particular area that should be planned for, like a nuclear power facility, an earthquake or tornado prone locale, or extreme climate conditions?  By having a plan in place before disaster strikes, everyone will be on the same page and the response to the crisis will be automatic, saving valuable time and energy, as well as providing some peace of mind.

Time to fly

As parents, it is our job to prepare our children for life outside the nest.  We have to let go so they can fly.  By providing them with a solid base of knowledge, supplies, and advice we can rest assured that they will thrive as the begin their lives as independent adults.

dorm room


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