Author Topic: How a Special Agent Travels Safely  (Read 3354 times)

Offline FreeLancer

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How a Special Agent Travels Safely
« on: July 14, 2011, 08:13:36 PM »
This video clip shows how a former special agent with the US Diplomatic Security Service preps for travel.

Seems a bit skimpy on gear, but international travel precludes taking a lot of things we'd carry in the US.  I'd be interested to hear what you think he got right, and what could be improved.

Offline Nate

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Re: How a Special Agent Travels Safely
« Reply #1 on: July 14, 2011, 08:38:18 PM »
Nice info.  Seemed at the basic level for me.  I laughed when he mentioned rappelling out the hotel window with p-cord.  I wouldn't do that with p-cord!

I liked the hotel stuff about walking the emergency exit route and checking the locks.  I changed rooms once at a hotel in Niagara Falls because the locks were funny.  The room was also at the end of the hall near the back door.

Knife and flashlight were good.  When I travel by air it is a no go on the knife.  Scissors are also questionable if you travel outside the USA.  I have had micro sized ones confiscated in Hong Kong several times.  Checked baggage OK for knives.  I keep my EDC lock blade at home and carry a good SAK instead when I travel.  SAK's seem less intimidating to most folks than my folder.  I EDC a fenix E01 light and for most tasks this is great.  It is on my keys  and its small.  10 lumens is probably not good for self defense though.  As backup I also pack a petzl headlamp.  This is usually in my carry on.

Good info on not flashing cash.  I keep small bills easily accessible when I travel internationally for street food purchases.  Larger bills are hidden away on my person.  I go somewhere out of sight to get 1 or 2 large bills out to use later.  I use cash 99.99999% of the time when traveling internationally.  I HATE those damn international credit card transaction fees.

Something also to think about is your appearance.  If you look like a rich tourist than you could be a target.  When I travel internationally, I dress very very casual.  T-shirt and shorts most of the time.  I pack a pair of jeans and polo's for dinners out of if I am going to a slightly more formal locale.  Pack one nice outfit for these situations and keep the rest low profile.  No one knows you anyway.

Good info though for the beginner!


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Re: How a Special Agent Travels Safely
« Reply #2 on: July 14, 2011, 09:03:54 PM »
Definitely more than most folks carry, but a lot less than I carry when I travel.  I like the dummy wallet.

Here's a few things I do before a trip:

Google maps the location of local hospitals, fire stations, and if international, embassy or consulate office and print them off
Photocopy all the contents of your wallet, front and back, as well as your passport and keep that secure in your hotel safe
Print phone list for all important contacts and any local contacts
Call my credit card and cell phone carrier and let them know I'll be traveling, particularly if international
Have someone trusted know my full itinerary and all my contact information for family and others that may be of assistance

This is my travel kit in three sections:

Toiletries, Charger for my ipod and cell phone (with it's own lithium battery for a full charge without plugging it in), spare ear buds, small med kit for carry on, playing cards,

Travel emergencies kit-2 1 liter water bags, 50 water purification tablets, AA headlamp, squeeze light, pocket survival kit, fire starters, tea lights, duct tape, repair wire, fixed blade knife, safety pins, space blanket, paracord, AA 200 lumen flashlight (just noticed two items missing for some reason- disposable poncho and mouse trap)

First aid kit- this is actually where this all started after numerous minor travel emergencies and has gradually filled up and now spilleth over.  2" cloth tape, sewing kit, leatherman, prescription and over-the-counter meds, wine bottle opener, IOStat (potassium iodine tablets), safety pins, razor, matches, flashlight, tweezers, steri-strips, moleskin, chapstick, nitryl gloves, bandaids, dressings, condoms & lube, neosporin, toilet paper, and arnica montana.

A smoke hood is also a very good idea, but I only have one and it's at work most of the time.  I have brought it when I travel, but I really should make more of a habit of it.  In a hotel fire with a smoke filled stairwell, it could save your life.

This is in addition to my EDC of my Droid 2 global phone, my i-pod touch, H&K folding knife, Photon II, pepper spray, and a few other items I'd rather not disclose.

Oh, and completely agree with Nate on the rappelling with paracord.  Obviously this guy has never rappelled, because even if it was safe, it would be nearly impossible because of the thickness.  OUCH!

Offline FreeLancer

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Re: How a Special Agent Travels Safely
« Reply #3 on: July 16, 2011, 03:27:04 AM »
....This is in addition to my EDC of my Droid 2 global phone, my i-pod touch, H&K folding knife, Photon II, pepper spray, and a few other items I'd rather not disclose.....

Be careful with pepper spray and air travel! 

I flew to Calgary and inadvertently left bear spray in my checked luggage.  Customs was not amused to find it and made a big deal about it.  Fortunately they couldn't figure out the paperwork required to file a report, so they decided since it was labeled Bear Deterrent, instead of Mace or Pepper Spray, they would let it slide.

Offline PAGUY

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Re: How a Special Agent Travels Safely
« Reply #4 on: July 16, 2011, 08:30:09 PM »
This was a good basic video for a basic traveler.  Starting out with the items that he carries appear to be a basic set that can be customized for each individual person and their "taste" in use of items.  Starting out with the light which is a good basic item that as he states and I agree has multiple purposes and is carried by many as part of their EDC.  I have carried many similar lights through airports and through customs at many locations over the past 20 years and have never had an issue with it. 
     The knife is another item that is indispensable to have with you while traveling and once again is an item that many of us carry as part of our EDC.  Now is the downside of having it on your person or with your carry on.  This will cause you all kind of heartache with TSA and any other agency that you run into at a mass transport facility.  While traveling around inside of a country having this type of item is usually not an issue at all.  Think about what can be used as an alternate for this item when policies and guidelines do not allow for this item.  This item is primarily used as a cutting and or stabbing tool so what can be used to accomplish these tasks?  I have never had any problem with any agency in this country or any other having the item that Edward Bulwer-Lytton reccomends......"The pen is mightier than the sword".  A basic 10 for a dollar bic pen can be used as a stabbing tool.  Just ask anyone that has worked in corrections and they will enlighten you to just how dangerous it can be.  As far as a cutting tool you will have to use your imagination and use another item in your carry on or luggage for that.  This I will leave to your own imagination. 
     Next up is the invaluable 550 cord.  In many circles the saying "If 90 MPH tape and 550 cord can not fix it, it can't be fixed" is a commonly used phrase and is very true.  550 cord has many uses that I can type in all night but the moderators will only laugh at the 1000 plus item list that I can make before my fingers go numb.  As Nate said I would not want to use 550 cord to rappel from a balcony or any other place if I did not have to but, it has been done before.  By the slightly insane man that is typing this response.  1/2" Kernmantle Spectra line would be first choice but, if push came to shove(and yes it has come to that in the past) 550 cord could be used for this purpose.  I do not recommend it but it is possible under the right circumstances. 
    Another item that I would recommend is a handkerchief to be used as an improvised mask, as a signaling tool, or a bandage.  There are other items that you can carry but, it is up to each individual person to brainstorm items that fit their needs. 

Offline cdhm22

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Re: How a Special Agent Travels Safely
« Reply #5 on: July 16, 2011, 10:34:46 PM »
Cool video, thanks for the post. I like the idea of the throwdown wallet. I travel a lot on the job and think I will look into that for my next trip. Also hadn't seen the survival bracelet before and will definitely look into that. Personally I never leave the house without a knife.

Offline Bennington1776

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Re: How a Special Agent Travels Safely
« Reply #6 on: July 17, 2011, 12:28:17 AM »
This was great beginner information.  I do not do a lot of air travel but had not thought a lot about what I should bring when I do.  One of the most important things Mr. Burton said was to be knowledgeable of the area and location you will be traveling to.  Endurance has it right when he said to map out the hospitals, fire stations ect ahead of time, photo copy the contents of your wallet and keep a paper copy of your contact list.  I also liked his recommendation to make sure someone from home has a copy of your itinerary.  A lot of survival and safety starts with common sense.  We know this from being part of this blog.  Most people so not have a large quantity of common sense.  Thanks for posting the link and to everyone else that has contributed.  I always learn something new when I visit this blog.

Offline VeggieDog

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Re: How a Special Agent Travels Safely
« Reply #7 on: July 17, 2011, 04:00:07 PM »
I like the idea of a throw-down wallet, also. 

Offline TexDaddy

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Re: How a Special Agent Travels Safely
« Reply #8 on: July 17, 2011, 04:52:47 PM »
Just in case you missed it, we have a thread dedicated to the decoy wallet: