Disaster can strike at any time, and the goal of being a prepper is to be prepared for both the expected and the unexpected. That's why preppers create a specific survival kit that is commonly known as a "get home bag."

A survival/preparedness kit stocked with the essentials might be the very thing that can guarantee your safe return home if you find yourself stranded with no way to get quick help.

Purpose of Your Get Home Bag

A get-home bag is a short-term emergency bag that you whip out in the case of any mishap you may encounter when away from home. The goal of this bag is to get you and your family home safely if you get stuck away from home or to satiate you until you can make it back home.

If watching Dora the Explorer with the kids has taught us anything, it is that having a trusty bag filled with essentials and a paper map can prove invaluable during emergencies.

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Picking The Right Bag

The bag you're picking out for your get-home kit doesn't have to be heavy duty or super fancy. You probably have a capable bag just lying around the house that would be perfect.

Ideally, a get-home bag should be portable and generic looking, as to not draw any unnecessary attention to you, but it should be big enough to hold the essentials that work for your family size.

~Small To Medium Backpack

~The ideal size for a get-home bag is anywhere between small to medium. Keeping your get home bag small and plain will make it easy to carry and wont paint a target on your back. However, it should still be big enough to carry preparedness supplies for you and the members of your family that are unable to carry one of their own.

~Laptop Bag

~You know that laptop bag that you keep around the house for ‘just in case’ my other laptop bag breaks, or because it doesn’t have the ‘coolest’ features? Well, it might be exactly what you're looking for in a get-home bag. Laptop bags tend to have many pockets which can make accessibility easier. Now a days laptops bag come in a messenger style bag, fancy purse, or a backpack. Depending on the type you use, they might not be the most comfortable to carry for long periods of time.

~Purse/Fanny Pack

~Believe it or not, a purse-like bag can also make for the perfect get-home bag. Both purses and fanny packs can easily be concealed on your person and many of them are roomy enough to contain the essentials. However, as convenient a purse may be, the kind that sits on one shoulder or at the elbow could be tedious to carry when traveling on foot. A fanny pack, however, allows for it to be strapped around your waist or across the body, like the kids do these days.

~Messenger Bag

~Like a laptop bag, a messenger back is plenty big and conspicuous enough to use as your get home bag. The messenger bag is very convenient way to carry your survival items crossbody style. This can also be a disadvantage if you would rather carry your bag on both shoulders to distribute the weight more evenly.

~Small Duffle/Gym Bag

~Has your gym bag has been sitting in the closet for ages? Consider repurposing it as your get-home kit. While providing ample space for essential supplies a duffel bags can have the same disadvantages as messenger bags; they can be a chore to carry over time. They can also make you more of a target; as a duffle bag is often large, hard to conceal, and looks out of place when traveling on foot.

~Hydration Pack

~Hydration packs are very versatile. Not only can you store a reservoir of water, but you also have some room for your Swiss army knife, foil blanket, and some food items. Depending on the size of the hydration pack, storage space could be an issue. Additionally, with its relatively small size no one will think you are carrying any important supplies.

~Ensure that when you pick out a bag you don't choose one that will be a chore to carry around. Stay away from luggage or other large-sized bags. Remember this bag is to help you in times of unexpected short-lived emergencies.

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Packing List for Your Get Home Bag

A get home bag is not ideal for long term survival, so don’t expect to have months’ worth of supplies packed into a single small backpack. Your get-home bag is an emergency kit for unexpected disasters. As such, it is imperative to include the most critical survival tools that fit your situation.

Here is a list of some of the most essential items you could need:

  • Lighter or waterproof match(es)
  • Cash or prepaid credit card
  • Portable Packaged Food
  • Hygiene kit
  • First aid kit; with bandages, pain relief, etc.
  • Knife / Multi-Tool
  • Compass
  • Flashlight/headlamp
  • Change of clothes: like socks, warm coat, etc.
  • Water filter
  • Whistle
  • Water pouches/bottles
  • Survival Blanket / Lightweight tarp
  • Waterproof Work gloves
  • Rain poncho
  • Insect repellent
  • Wet wipes
  • Notepad and a pencil
  • Rope
  • A Power bank
  • Physical Map
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Determine Your Survival Time

Whether you live in sunny Florida, rainy Washington or Snowy Colorado unexpected events can occur. Unexpected events can stun some people, it is best practice to be prepared. Generally speaking, the average time to get home in a SHTF (Sh*t Hit the Fan) moment is between 3 hours to 72 Hours. With each passing hour survival can get harder and harder, especially if kids, elderly, or pets come into play.

~3 Hours

~A 3-hour survival pack is for situations like when your vehicle breaks down. This kit should be small enough to fit into your EDC bag or be kept in your vehicle. It should contain only the essentials like a first aid kit, water, energy bar, etc.

~12 Hours

~A 12-hour survival kit is a little bit bigger and it's best for situations where help is just a day away. Examples include getting caught in a storm or having to shelter in place away from home.  You should have a flashlight, a first-aid kit, a Swiss army knife, water, food, etc.

~24 Hours

~This is for situations where help could be more than a day away like in the case of an earthquake or other natural disasters. Pack the essentials as well as items you'll need to help you get comfortable at night. Depending on the weather, you'll need a tarp as well as a small sleeping bag or bivvy, and maybe a hygiene kit.

~48 Hours

~This survival kit is best kept in recreational vehicles, cars or in your travel luggage. Use cases include lost travelers and major disaster survivors. It can contain enough materials for the entire family. Meaning it should be stocked with enough provisions to go around.

~72 Hours

~This is the biggest preparedness kit and should be organized periodically to compensate for the changing weather. Although this might be in the case of dire situations, it's crucial to remain calm and focus on getting home or getting help.

~If you're someone who's always on the move, you must familiarize yourself with how to pack your preparedness kit accordingly. Survival time is a major factor that will determine the items you should pack. For example, if you don’t normally travel more than a few hours away from home then you will likely benefit from a 3-hour GHB or if you are an avid hiker maybe a 12-48 hour kit should fit you in case you get lost or an unfortunate access occurs.

Where to Store Your Get Home Bag

A get-home bag can only work when it’s in a place you can easily access when away from home. Of course, this doesn't mean you should have it on your person all day, that is what an EDC bag is for. That's why choosing where to store your GHB matters.

~Cars

~The first obvious place would be your vehicle. You can stash it in the trunk of your car so that you can have access to it on the go. However, storing your get-home bag in your vehicle for the long-term isn't always recommended. For example, food products and water bottles do not do well in a hot car. You can mitigate this by rotating the items out at your desired interval.

~Boats

~Do you enjoy setting sail? Weather taking trips to the sea or lake, keeping a GHB on your boat is a good idea. You could get stuck at sea, capsize in the lake, or damage your gear in a river. Having a dedicated get home bag onboard is imperative. Of course, you'd want to adapt this get-home kit to the environment by opting for a bag with more water-resistant material.

~Office

~Most people work five days a week, many in an office, meaning the workplace is likely where you spend most of your time when away from your home. Depending on your location, keeping a GHB at your office could be the most feasible. Working in a walkable city means you likely use your car very little, in which case, your office building could be the second most accessible place to you, outside of your home.

~Suitcase (when traveling)

~Travelers in a new land are notorious for getting lost and missing planes. Packing your get home back in your luggage could be a life saver. Although your pocketknife might be a problem at customs, the rest of your get-home bag should pass right through. Remember to be mindful of the liquid limits and other security features when packing a traveling GHB.

~Use Your EDC Backpack (if you ride a bus or bike daily)

~If you ride the bus or a bike as your regular mode of transportation, then your Every Day Carry (EDC) bag should double as your get home back. Selecting an easy-to-carry backpack as your get-home bag is always a safe bet.

Survival Scenarios

Living the Prepper Life is all about being prepared. This includes being prepared for expected disasters, such as a hurricane or tornado, or for unexpected events like those listed below:

~Car Breaks Down

~For this, you'll need the items that can either get you home or get you to a place you can call for help. Assuming you are not on a road trip you are likely at max 3-6 hours away from home or a safe location where you can find help. Keeping a small GHB in your trunk can make the trek home a lot easier.

~Boat Breaks Down, Sinking, or Getting Damaged

~Frequent boaters may find it easier to keep a GHB onboard to ensure there is always a survival kit on-ship. With a properly backed get home bag, you should have the tools to get home, signal for help, or last until help finds you. Knowing the locations you normally frequent will help determine the survival time you should consider when packing your supplies.

~Gridlock Traffic (from bridge Closure, Snowstorm, Etc.)

~Bridge closures, snowstorms, flooding, and downed grids are all examples of disasters that can cause gridlock traffic. This get home kit should be packed in consideration of the weather e.g a winter jacket vs a raincoat, items to shelter in your car, or make the trek on foot home until your car can be rescued.

~Flights Cancelled

~Sometimes flights get canceled or rescheduled and you might find yourself stranded in an unfamiliar location. If hotels in the areas are booked due to mass flight cancellations, holiday, or an in-town convention, your travelers GHB can sustain you and your family until you can get a flight back home.

Maintaining Your Get Home Bag

Regular maintenance of your get home bag is needed to make sure all the items still work or are not expired. Do a routine check on your get home kit at an interval that makes sense for you. Many recommend monthly or bi-monthly.

Check the equipment that needs charging, that tools are not rusted, and that your food and water reserves have not expired. Better yet, rotating out any perishable items and battery packs is always recommended to ensure you GHB is in working order. A well-maintained get home bag is the key here.