Sunday, March 3, 2013

Preparations for Bugging Out of the Country

Hey Fernando,
I have been a viewer of your YouTube channel for a while and finally
had the chance to read your book. I just have a few questions about my
particular situation that I am hoping you could give me some answers
I am a young expat teacher living and working in Thailand. I am
Australian by nationality. Whilst I have a desire to be well prepared,
I know that if things get truly bad in Thailand (which I feel is far
more likely than things going wrong in Australia) I would leave,
rather than sticking it out. 

As such I have a much more limited set of supplies, as I don’t
foresee them needing to last long – if a situation that has me
living off supplies arises I will be on a plane within the month. I
know that in a collapse situation that as a foreigner I may attract
unwanted attention or not receive assistance from local authorities.
I have the following things in place to ensure my survival should
things go downhill here, and I would like your comments on them, as
well as any additions.

• I live within walking distance of a top quality hospital, a local
police station and have comprehensive, international health insurance.
I can speak enough Thai to speak with the police or emergency services
if needed. The airport is 20-30 mins away if there is heavy traffic.
•My home is on a no-through road in a middle class neighborhood and
has security bars, motion lights etc and have established friendly
relations with my neighbors.
•While I am unable to carry a firearm here, I do have knives
available for everyday carry and home protection. I was trained with
the basics of how to use these when I was in the Australian military.
Iam young (under 30) and relatively fit. I have had some (basic!)
martial arts training.
• I have food, water, lighting and cooking supplies available in my
house to last for 2-3 weeks. I live alone, but have made provisions to
accommodate certain friends who are also expats if required. (I know
in your book you are not fond of charity, but I feel doing this is
well within my means).
• I keep some money in local currency and US dollars physically in
my home, as well as some small pieces of gold jewelry. In my bank
account I keep enough to cover my monthly expenses – the rest is
sent to my savings accounts in Australia (obviously here I have enough
to fund an airline ticket)
• I monitor the local news and try to keep abreast of any political
or economic events that may cause problems (there have been mass
protests in the past, terrorist attacks etc).
• Anything that will not fit into airline baggage limits I am
prepared to abandon. I am also aware of routes to land border
crossings with nearby countries should air travel not be an option.
Now these preparations seem quite rudimentary compared with the depth
you go into in your book and in your videos and I am worried that I
may have missed something. Bearing in mind that I will only look to
bear a collapse situation for a month before abandoning the country,
what are your thoughts on my preparations?
I know this is long – if you made it this far I really appreciate
Kind regards,

Hi Eric, thanks for your email. Just for the record, I’m of course not against charity. I simply recommend people not to do it from their front door. In a country ravaged by poverty and misery the word does get around and you’ll find a line of people waiting for your help every day. What I did myself was find organizations such as churches or an orphan home close to where I used to live and helped there, anonymously, rather than from home.

About your email, it sounds as if you are well prepared. As you notice there’s a few differences between what is typically considered Bugging Out, which often means evacuating within short or medium distances, and bugging out of the country (BOTC) which in spite of some similarities calls for different planning.
BOTC means that something severe has happened or is about to occur and the entire country, maybe even the entire region across several countries have been compromised and you are now at risk. This could be anything from natural disasters to war and pandemics.
There’s three main keys here at play:

1)Resources: You need to actually have the means to get out of there. This means money to buy a plane ticket out of there, a boat waiting for you on the marina or a car with gas ready to roll with a plan ready to go. You will also need a small basic Bug Out Bag (check my video on BOBs) and most important, passports to make it across customs and into your country of destination.  You will need enough money to get around and a pre-selected country where you can bug out to. For BOTC you’re generally looking at flying out of there. Trying to cover mayor distances by land will take longer and will certainly be dangerous, so it should fall on the plan B category for BOTC scenarios. Road blocks, riots and control posts may be set up in a matter of hours, and slowly moving by land means there’s more time for this to happen and borders getting closed depending on the given event.

2)Intelligence: You need to stay up to date on what’s happening all around you. The media in most parts of the world is well within the control of the local government, sometimes its even worse on developed nations than in the poor ones where you are used to more improvised sources of information. Within that mess you seem to be more likely to get real info rather than the sanitized version you get fed in more civilized parts of the world. Its important to keep track of events, everything ranging from weather forecasts to the political and economic landscape. During tough times my advice is to at least check a couple sources at least three times a day, morning, noon and before going to bed.

3)Timing: Gathering information and having the habit of checking often is crucial because it gives you the advantage of time, and timing may be the difference between catching the last flight to safety and finding that the borders closed or airports shut down and you’re either going for a much more risky plan B alternative to get out or you’ll have to ride out the disaster as best as you can without leaving. An hour, even a minute too late makes all the difference in the world during these sort of events, so its important to stay informed. At the same time, you cant jump on a plane every time something goes down in the country. Especially during these troubled current times there’s lots of red flags going up and you can BOTC every week or month. What you are looking for is significant events such as significant military action involving your location, verified widespread pandemics or severe political events. You want to watch out for “I cant believe this is really happening” events. Instead of staring like a deer caught in the headlight, get moving!


DougFromOz said...

It's interesting that the OP lives in Thailand. I travel there once a year to visit a friend who lives there permanently. He's always telling me I should move there myself, but I've always felt there is a nasty undercurrent to the whole "Land Of Smiles" image, and that one day it will all blow up in the face of anyone who isn't a Thai. Yes, there is more genuine friendliness away from the cities, but I have always felt that edge to the place from my first trip. Of course, people who love the place can't see that at all.

Don Williams said...

I will make a few suggestions --although Eric probably has already thought of some of them.

a) First, I suggest Eric make use of the Australian Embassy in Bangkok -- if he registers with them that will help the Embassy contact him in an emergency so that the Embassy can help Eric return to Australia (that is one of the Embassy's jobs.) See

b) The Embassy probably has several officers in Australia's intelligence service who monitor what is going on in the country. I suggest Eric check the Australian Embassy's web site periodically to see what warnings they have about conditions in Thailand. See

Note, for example, that they are currently warning Australians to not travel in the Yala, Pattani, Narathiwat and Songkhla provinces of Thailand.
Click on the tabs for other sets of info.

Note that Eric can also arrange to receive email warnings from the Embassy when he registers.

c) If Eric is in Bangkok, he might even visit the Embassy during its public receptions and over time make acquaintance with the staff so they will recognize him as a friend if he calls for help, advice or information.

d) He might also investigate the Australian expatriate community in Thailand to see if there are other people it would be useful to know. Buying a journalist some drinks in a bar might establish a useful contact. Or playing tennis with a young corporate
employee. And it is not a one-way street -- those guys might find Eric a useful source.

In his book, Ferfal talks about the importance of knowing a network of people in different
professions -- that applies even more if you are living outside your native country.

Eric might check out Internations for contacts:

Although Internations can be a liability -- Eric might not want his name and address known to some dependent people who will constantly come asking for help/charity.

Don Williams said...

e) The US State Department also has country news and travel alerts for travelers online--
intended for US citizens but anyone can read it. See

Note that the US State Department warns about the same provinces in
Thailand that the Australian Embassy warned about.

f) I also suggest that Eric establish several , highly dependable escape routes
to Australia --e.g, investigate sea-going options.

If lethal avian flu crops up in
Thailand, then Australia may blockade air flights from Thailand with the exception
of those air charters approved by the Embassy or flights executed by
the Australian military. Eric should probably also keep a bigger stash of money in Thailand to cover the costs of leaving -- banking communications may go down in some emergencies.

g) I suggest he also examine all the disasters that could strike and see if he has to adapt the escape plans for different disasters.

h) I suggest Eric also make a xerox copy of his passport (in case it is stolen) and take
other measures to handle lesser emergencies. See US State Department evacuation info and travel safety info at : and

The Australian Embassy probably has similar info for its personnel that it would share with Australian nationals.

Note that US Embassies use "Wardens" -- Americans in the expatriate community who keep in touch/inform an assigned subgroup of the community if the telephone system goes down. I don't know if the Australian Embassy has wardens but if it does, Eric should probably get in touch with one.

Don Williams said...

On this subject, I have a question for Ferfal:

a) It occurred to me that if you are bugging out from one country to another then you may need to travel through several intermediate countries and you will also need a few months to get established in your new country.

b) It also seems that it would be dangerous to carry your life savings with you on that trip --since they could very well be stolen -- or confiscated by crooked customs officials.

c) So it seems that you need a global bank account --i.e,
a bank account that you can access from most places in the world using only your passport for id and password codes.

d) The advantage of that being that it puts you in a much better
negotiating position in dealing with foreign officials -- they
can't confiscate your wealth (indeed, they can't even find it).
So if they want you to bring it into their country and invest it/pay taxes they have to treat you fairly --else you can simply leave. A big advantage over trying to carry gold coins and currency across borders.

e) I'm sorry if I am stating the obvious --most Americans are not
used to thinking in these terms. Not because we arrogantly think the USA is the best place to be -- but because we have always been separated from other nations by two large oceans and great distances (the reason also why many of us don't speak a
second language.) Even Mexico and Canada are distant from many places in the USA.

f) If one did decide to set up a global bank account, what would
be the good banks and how would one choose? Safety seems
one requirement -- and this site has a list of allegedly safety banks from a financial magazine -- although it notes that some allegedly safe US banks on the list in 2007 crashed and burned in 2008.

g) Another desirable feature would be a bank that has many branches
around the world. I have wired money from my US bank to a random
British bank while traveling in the UK but it was a relatively small sum and used my VISA card for collateral. It seems to me that in a financial crisis that might be harder to manage than simply accessing your account from a foreign branch of the same bank that you used in your home country.

Of the global banks, the UK's huge HSBC bank was ranked highly by this
site for consumer banking and I know it has many branches in the USA as well. Would it be a reasonable choice?

It is also ranked as reasonably safe (number 23 on the list in (f) above. However, several Canadian banks and Australian banks are also highly rated for safety (probably because their natural resources are in high demand by

h) Other than management fees, are there other criteria to choosing a global bank -- and are there better alternatives to such bank accounts?

One concern I have is that global banks are often established in the USA as USA subsidaries -- and it may not be possible to access the money in a US subsidary (HSBC USA account) from a foreign HSBC branch in a crisis. Similar to the capital controls that Argentina has imposed.

On the other hand, I hear that many foreign banks will no longer set up accounts for US citizens because they don't want to deal with the US Internal Revenue Service and Patriot Act regulations.

i) Much of the information available in the USA on this subject is tailored for people
wanting to illegally hide money from US tax collectors and divorce attorneys. I am not interested in that -- just in how to make my money safe and available to me worldwide even if US banks are closed or subject to strict withdrawal limits as in Argentina.


Maldek said...

Eric, you are below 30. You have no wife. You have no kids. The only fear you may have is your own personal safety.

You have been in the military. You know how to handle a knife. You have money and food.
From the "more likely" to the "not-so-likely" events that come to mind, there is nothing you are not prepared for.

If you afraid you missed something with a 1: 100 000 chance, you will never be prepared.

Eric, you are very well prepared already.
The only weakness I spot is at the same time your greatest strength - You are alone.