Emergency Backpack – Be Prepared!

Hello all!

This write up is going to be more about being pre-cautious and making sure to be prepared for things that could go wrong. Being able to survive major events can come down to some clean water, a first aid kit, and/or charging your phone to get a hold of help. Self defense becomes very important at the same time. Some type of emergency kit or bug-out bag could make all the difference! Some of my friends have asked me “Do you really need to spend the money on a what-if?” My response is always the same: It’s better to be safe than sorry!

This isn’t about being negative; it’s about being ready. For us, the chances are increased due to the fact that we are on the road and traveling; we would hate to be stuck on the side of the road in a foreign country with no cellphone reception, battery, first aid, food or water, for an indefinite period of time.

When we decided to start our adventure this year, I made a list and decided on what we needed to put in our emergency bag. Now keep in mind, your bag may differ because you might need something more or less for your family or pets, so please adjust as needed.

I’m going to run you through our bag setup and give you guys a breakdown of how we thought this through:

First, in a major disaster, people WILL go crazy. It’s just human nature. Everyone throws logic and consideration out the window and it really becomes a free for all. “Survival of the fittest”. Unfortunately, this is how it is. The best thing to do is stay inside. Food and water become the number one priority to staying alive. A few clean bottles of water, water purification tablets, or a life straw can help provide you with clean water. Plug your bathtubs, and fill them up because you don’t know how long you will have running water. Save your energy but make sure you have some canned food and dry food bars (MREs); this can help you get past those first couple of days till you figure out your next steps.

Second, if there is an accident or natural disaster, chances are you or someone you’re with be hurt. A solid, UNUSED, first aid kit is crucial. This First-Aid kit needs to be a different one than the one you already have in your house. Plenty of bandages, alcohol swabs, a tube of antibiotic cream, like Neosporin, and some basic pain and allergy meds go a LONG way. We threw in a mini sewing kit in case anything or anyone needs to be stitched up.

Third, chances are that there will be NO POWER! No power=no phone. We went to a camping store and bought a hand crank radio and a solar panel charger. This can charge batteries, cell phones, provide light with a small LED light, and the radio can let us know whats going on around us.

Fourth, take the weather into consideration. Getting sick from being too cold causes a lot of problems. Have a way to keep warm with extra socks, emergency blankets, lighters and matches with some kindling to build a fire.

Last but definitely NOT least, some sort of self defense. Decide what form of self defense article works best for you and your family, and of course, BE SMART ABOUT IT. On the road, we have a couple of knives in our emergency pack. It’s also important to leave nothing visible in the car and a steering wheel club on wherever you park your car.

So let’s get into our bag and see what we’ve got. See pictures below with some detail and scroll down farther to see an itemized list.

The most important items are described below:

Water. On top of 3 liters of bottled water (which we change regularly), we have some water purification tablets. The bottles are solid too, and can be reused to store water later.

Also, we have this awesome device called a life straw. This can clean up to 100,000 gallons of water! It comes with a plastic storage bag & straw.

Let’s move on to food. Here are some dry food packs, otherwise known as MREs, or Meals, Ready-to-Eat. Each package is 3 days of food per person. We packed three because these have a better shelf life than dog food for our dogs.

We also packed a couple of cans of chicken breast and a mixed seasoning jar. Don’t forget utensils and a can opener!

First aid kit. This is a basic box from Target, but we added several things that were needed, like Neosporin, Tylenol, Benadryl, sewing kit, extra different size bandages, extra alcohol wipes and more.

Hand crank emergency radio and a solar panel charger to juice up batteries or other accessories if need be.

For keeping warm and clean, we packed some underwear, socks,  and gloves.

2 emergency blankets.

Water proof matches and lighters to start a fire.

Hygiene pack; we put together some basics to keep clean. This fanny pack keeps it all together.

Here we have a 10X10 tarp and some paracord. The tarp and paracord can make a tent, create a dry surface, among many other things. Paracord can be used for hundreds of things; check out this link for some ideas.

It’s always a good idea to have a few flashlights on hand with some batteries. A couple of glow sticks don’t hurt.

A fixed blade knife with matches and a compass in the handle.

A swiss army knife can come in handy.

Small bungee cords and carabiner clips to tie things down or hook things on.

Don’t forget some duct tape and zip ties.

A pocket saw helps to cut some wood or anything that might come up.

An emergency whistle with water proof matches and a signal mirror.

In case of some gases or dirty air, these 3M N95 face masks are great!

Bandanas are a great a addition too; so many uses for bandanas here.

A multitool I got as a gift that found a perfect home in this bag.

We also packed a bag of cotton balls to help clean cuts or use as kindling to start a fire, as well as a few trash bags, zip lock bags, and some foil because these hardly take space and you never know if you need it.

Lastly, we put a note book and some pencils and sharpies aside so we can write down important things or take notes on something if need be. Don’t forget a pack of cards to help fight off boredom in case you are stuck somewhere waiting for help!

So thats pretty much it! Keep in mind a lot of these things are small and easy to pack. We packed this all into one big backpack; like those framed military bags. We picked it up from Big 5 Sporting Goods for $50.

This was definitely an investment (approx $550 for everything), and it took a few weeks to put it all together. We hope we NEVER have to use this emergency bag, but we sure do feel somewhat at ease knowing that we have this while we are on the road traveling through new places. We hope this helps you put together your emergency bag and we hope you also never have to use it, but as we always say “JUST IN CASE”. Consider it an insurance policy that doesn’t expire (except for the medicines and food that need to be changed every 2-3 years).

See below for an itemized list of what’s in the bag

  • 1 – 10X10 Tarp
  • 4 – Pairs of underwear
  • 6 – Pairs of long thick socks
  • 1 – solar panel charger w/rechargeable batteries and LED light ($90)
  • 1 – 25ft Paracord
  • 2 – 2pk glow lights
  • 1 – Red Cross crank radio ($60)
  • 1 – Large leather work gloves
  • 1 – head lamp light
  • 2 – flash lights
  • 2 – pocket lights
  • 1 – fixed blade knife ($20)
  • 1 – swiss army knife ($90)
  • 20 – AAA batteries
  • 4 – Carabiner clips
  • 4 – Small bungee cords
  • 1 – pocket saw
  • 1 – note book
  • 10 – pencils
  • 1 – pencil sharpener
  • 2 – sharpies
  • 1 – pack of playing cards
  • 1 – spice jar
  • 2 – N95 face mask
  • 2 – Bandanas
  • 1 – pack of cotton balls
  • 1 – pack mixed trash bags, zip locks, foil
  • 1 – Gorilla duct tape
  • 4 – packs of water proof matches
  • 2 – lighters
  • 1 – multitool
  • 1 – bottle of water purification tablets
  • 1 – emergency whistle
  • 2 – emergency blankets
  • 1 – Sawyer life straw water purification ($20)
  • 2 – cans of chicken breast
  • 2 – spoon/fork
  • 3 – Emergency dry food, 3 day supply each ($25)
  • 1 – first aid kit with extras ($20 + $20)
  • 1 – water canteen ($10)
  • 1 – Hygiene fanny pack containing:
    • 2 – toothbrush
    • 1 – razor
    • 1 – bar soap
    • 1 – chapstick
    • 1 – toothpaste
    • 1 – hand sanitizer
    • 1 – pack Clorox wipes
    • 1 – pack hand wipes
    • 1 – assortment female hygiene products
    • 1 – shampoo
    • 1 – conditioner
    • 1 – body wash
    • 1 – lotion
    • 1 – sewing kit
    • 1 – small flash light

We’ve been nominated for a Liebster Award!

We’ve been nominated for a Liebster Award!

The Liebster Award exists only on the internet, and is given to new bloggers by bloggers to show appreciation to one another. It acts as a chain which allows for discovering new and upcoming blogs. “Liebster” is a German word meaning “dearest, sweetest, kindest, nicest”… so being nominated for this award really makes us feel special!  Thank you to Caren and Cazzie from Always a Foreigner who nominated us! Check out their blog and instagram; they met in India while volunteering and have been traveling together ever since!

Official Rules

If you have been nominated for the Liebster Award and choose to accept it, write a blog post in which you:

  • Thank the person who nominated you, and post a link to their blog.
  • Create a post on your blog, displaying the Liebster Award logo.
  • Nominate 5 blogs that you feel deserve the award, who have a less than 3000 followers.
  • Come up with 10 questions for your nominees.
  • List these rules in your post (you can copy and paste from here).
  • Inform the people/blogs that you have nominated them for the Liebster Award!

Our answers to Always a Foreigner‘s questions

How do you stay organized while traveling? Everything has its own suitcase/box. A suitcase of clothing for each of us, a box for the dogs’ things, a box for kitchen supplies, an emergency bag (detailed blog post about this coming soon!), and our cameras.

What’s your favorite method of travel (overland, flying, trains, etc) and why? We are enjoying our travels by car. This gives us freedom with timing, what we pack, and makes it easy to bring our dogs. We are also able to map out our journey with stops along the way, so we don’t miss out on all the cool sights while traveling from A to B.

What is your favorite place you’ve been for food? DEFINITELY Lebanon. The food there is out of this world! Not just the Lebanese food, but also their sushi and seafood, French cuisine, and even their hamburgers are to die for.

Do you prefer tours or traveling on your own? Tell us about your favorite tour you’ve ever been on. We prefer traveling on our own. We enjoy doing our own research and being able to go to specific places. Being part of a group tour is not our thing.

Winter or summer? Spring!

Where was the first place you traveled to and when? Maldives back in November of 2013.

Is there anywhere you’ve been that you refuse to go back to for any reason? There is no where that we refuse to go back to. We leave a little part of us in every stop. Each and every place we have traveled to has molded us into who we are today.

On the flip side, what’s the one place you’re dying to get back to? Mykonos, Greece.

What do you do when you’re bored while traveling? Natalie: Reading and watching movies. And of course, reruns of Friends. Sam: I like to listen to music while playing Tetris.

What are your favorite MUST HAVE travel items? Natalie: iPhone (and charger!), hand sanitizer, chocolate stash, and the world’s most comfortable clothing article: LuluLemon high wasted yoga pants. Sam: Drone, gimbal, and iPhone. And my sunglasses!

Our Nominations

Questions for our nominees

  1. What’s been your scariest moment?
  2. What’s the best piece of travel advice you’ve received?
  3. What’s the worst piece of travel advice you’ve received?
  4. How does your family feel about your trips?
  5. What’s the most interesting thing you’ve learnt?
  6. Do you send postcards?
  7. What destination have you found to be overrated?
  8. Does the change in diet make you feel better or worse?
  9. Is there anything you wish you had done before you left home?
  10. Do you think you’ll stay friends with the people you’ve met?


Thanks for reading!! We hope you enjoyed this special post! Don’t forget to check out our nominees’ blogs to see their answers to our questions.

-Nat & Sam


We THOUGHT we were prepared…

While planning our trip, we went to the consulate office in Santa Ana, California, to get the information needed to legally travel and live in Mexico. We needed to make sure that we had proper paperwork, including visas, permits, etc. This was easy enough for Nat, since she’s already a Mexican citizen. Different for me though, since I have never lived anywhere except for California.

I made my way to the consulate and let them know our plan. They gave me a list of paperwork I needed to come back with in order to start the visa process. This included things like a birth certificate, marriage certificate, passport, and more. I went home to put all these together and come back another time.

A few days later, we headed back to the consulate office to get things rolling. Our representative looked through the papers quickly, then let us know that we could visit a local immigration office in La Paz instead, if we choose to. She said we can get visa paperwork in motion there and also begin the process of importing our car. This sounded perfect! We were going crazy, running around, packing, selling our things, contacting our banks, and planning our trip. Not needing to take care of immigration paperwork right away definitely relieved us a little. We decided to take everything with us and take care of it in La Paz with better focus.

On January 20th, 2017, we crossed the border and made a 3-day drive down to La Paz, Baja California Sur. It took us a few days before we made our way over to an immigration office there, otherwise known as an INM office.

(Side note: Laws in Baja (the peninsula of Mexico) are different than mainland Mexico so this kinda saved my butt!)

At the INM office, we let the representative know that we just drove down from San Diego and that we wanted to import our car and apply for my citizenship. He replied by saying “Great, let’s start with seeing your passport and your FMM form.” I had my passport handy but no FMM form… What’s an FMM form?? An FMM form is an immigration form that they provide you when you come into Mexico from a foreign country. You can get a hold of this form by A. taking a flight in, B. walking across the border, or C. visiting a INM office in the Frontera Zone (the Frontera Zone is the area in Mexico that hugs the US border). Currently, Mexico does not have a system in place to provide you this form if you drive in, and unless you KNOW to stop at the INM office on your way in, you don’t get this form. The lady at the consulate in Santa Ana DID NOT TELL US THIS LITTLE DETAIL!

When they asked me for my FMM form, I didn’t have one to show. I was immediately notified that I was an illegal alien in Mexico! Ironically, I border hopped in the opposite direction! Luckily, in Baja, it’s not such a big deal, but if I was in mainland Mexico without this form, I could be detained. Unfortunately, there is no way to get this form except in the Frontera Zone. The representative also let us know that you can only import the car at the Frontera zone!!! (Thanks for nothing, Santa Ana Consulate Lady).

I mean seriously! Come on! We went to the consulate twice and we were advised that we could do everything in La Paz. We drove 3 days, 1000 miles, and we were basically being told that we have to go back just to get 2 pieces of paper! You can imagine the frustration we were feeling, but as we walked out of the INM office we thought “Oh well, it’s Mexico!”.

It was time to figure out two things; can I get this form any other way and can we import the car without driving back to the border?

After contacting a couple of importation and insurance agents, we found out that unless we drive the car back to the border and get paperwork there, there is no way to import the car. We can drive our car in Mexico with our US plates for up to 6 months at a time with a permit from the Mexican Government. So long as the car exits to a foreign country and comes back, the permit can get reset for another 6 months. Great but, the 6 months starts and ends with the date on the FMM form that I DO NOT HAVE! So not only am I an illegal alien, but the Natmobile is also in Mexico illegally!

We didn’t want to drive back 1000 miles, and then another 1000 miles to go back to La Paz. Unwilling to accept this, we decided not to import the car. In regards to getting the FMM form, I decided to fly instead. I called Volaris Airlines and asked if I need to have this FMM form to fly back. They let me know that I would definitely need it for international flights to avoid problems, but for national flights, I only need a form of ID. So I bought a ticket from La Paz to Tijuana ($67 round trip). The Tijuana airport has a border express crossing bridge that allows you to get off your flight, pick up your baggage, and walk right into the US, all within 15 minutes (cost to use this bridge is $16).

A few days later, I said bye to Nat, I got on a plane in La Paz, flew 2 hours to Tijuana, used the bridge to cross into the US, then walked back into Mexico so that I can get this FMM form and sleep early with peace of mind, wake up the next day to fly back to my wife and dogs. And fish (yes Spidey the Beta is still alive and loving Mexico).

Well, I made it back to La Paz, safe and sound, FMM form in hand ready to start my process into becoming a Mexican Citizen! As for the car, we got a 6 month permit from Banjercito in La Paz ($400 deposit that will be returned when you take the car over international borders, and a $59 fee), and auto insurance as a tourist vehicle (approx $350 for 1 year, which is actually cheaper then getting insurance for a Mexican car), so we’re ok for now. Somewhere along our Wandering Road, we will have to drive the car across the border (maybe in Texas?) to restart the permit for another 6 months.

This is all a learning process and we are happy this happened without any serious complications. It’s going to take some time getting used to the Mexican ways, which are so different than what we know back home.

Thanks for reading this! We hope we were able to share some good info so if you decide to drive into Mexico on day, you will be better prepared and not have to go through any of this! Stay tuned as The Wandering Road continues…