Editors Note: An article from Dave Henly to The Prepper Journal. Reality if you really want to get off the grid. As always, if you have information for Preppers that you would like to share then enter into the Prepper Writing Contest with a chance to win one of three Amazon Gift Cards with the top prize being a $300 card to purchase your own prepping supplies!
“The Next Three Days” is a nail-biting movie. It is one of the only movies that I have had to pause and take a break before the end of the film. It was so intense. In it, Russell Crowe is rescuing his wife (Elizabeth Banks) from wrongful imprisonment. I doubt that I would ever have the guts to fight for my family in this manner.
But it does make me think: “Am I too trusting? What would I need to do if (fill in the blank) happened and my family and I needed to run?”
I already practice my survivalist skills on a regular basis. My friends and I often do survival hunts where we hike into the woods and live for 2-3 days off of roots and the creatures we kill. There are few groups (outside of military men) as prepared as my friends and I when it comes to wilderness training. Being able to “go on the run” from an invading country or a personal threat needs some forethought.
Recently, I’ve been prepping my go-to-ground strategy. How could I stay off the grid and go “dark.” I won’t share everything, but here are a few thoughts that I am working through.
Erasing My Online Footprint
This one is the hardest for me. I use the internet to keep track of my friend’s and families’ lives. Granted, the cynic will say “the government already knows everything about me.” But the truth is, they haven’t carefully organized that information until you become a person of interest. Deleting your entire footprints such as images your friends put up, old photos you stored on Picasa (which has been purchased by Google and now they know everything) or Amazon Photos and your old blogs, takes a lot of dedication.
There are no guarantees that it will help, but if there is no digital footprint, you will be harder to trace. It makes it harder for them to find you. If you own a home, it will be difficult to hide your address and be removed from every online database. However, if you are persistent in your removal requests — and you don’t opt-in to email addresses and and other requests for information you will create less to be deleted should the need arise.
Create a Fake Online Persona
Creating a fake online persona is getting easier to do. The first thing is to get a prepaid cell phone number so that you can sign up for email and social media accounts if needed. Then, you can tag photos of your face with this fake name — or hire a photographer on Upwork to take pictures of a model for you. These custom photos won’t flag as being “stock images” and will serve as the persona for your account.
Finally, you need an address. A fake address from fakenamegenerator.com will work. Enter this name and address in as many sweepstakes as you can find. Applying for sweepstakes will help establish your phony persona in Lexis Nexis as a “real” entity. There is nothing illegal about using a pseudonym and fake address for an added layer of anonymity.
Ditch The Smart Phone
Smartphones track everything. We’re pretty sure they listen to everything as well. The smartphone, smart TV and any other “smart” device need to be unceremoniously removed from the house. Ditching the smart devices will help to hide your daily routine and keep you “off the grid.”
Mask Your IP
Your phone is traceable. Your car with the tire pressure sensors? Yeah, those use Bluetooth. They also communicate with the signboards around your town that tell you how far it is to the next road. (You know what I am talking about? The signs that give you travel estimates?) You’ll need to ditch the car.
The challenging thing is that most of our numbers, credit cards and way of life requires digital access. Pay attention to your life and consider what it would take to function without that technology. And then, starting now, you want to begin eliminating everything digital that you can: your laptop, your social media, your smartphone.
Right now, you are leaving a footprint that could be used years later. Little hints, like the sites you frequent and how frequently you go to them. All of those things are being logged in case they need that information in the future. Kept under the guise of “tailoring the user experience”, increasing Google Analytics by more targeted advertising based on a users preferences.
Minimize that Footprint. Go Amish.
You will likely still need internet access, so using something like a TOR browser and a VPN can help you create layers between you and the rest of the world. Many websites — such as CNN and Facebook — track your IP. Once your IP has been identified, your natural browsing habits can be used to unmask your other, cloaked, “identities”.
Keeping a low profile is key. There is little to be gained by pontificating online about politics or our favorite survival secrets. Remember that the things we share online today are likely being recorded and will still be accessible 50 years into the future as part of our digital record.
This goes without saying, but cash is about the only thing you can use that is untraceable. Or, mostly untraceable. It wouldn’t hurt to get a side-hustle, now, that pays in cash. That way you can get used to working in cash-only.
You can keep your day job for now, but you’ll have the skill on how to find and retain cash-generating jobs down the road, which will be essential if you end up in a post-apocalyptic scenario.
Prep Alternate Transport
If the crap hits the fan (SHTF) and the country gets overrun by commies or something, you’ll likely want a vehicle — any vehicle — that can get you south of the border. Running is one of my favorite sports. I get up, put my shoes on, and take off running. Every morning. Like clockwork. It’s the one way that I can guarantee myself a baseline of fitness.
At a minimum, you should be able to run 3 miles non-stop. Walking 4 miles per hour is another excellent skill to practice as a long-distance strategy. Now, if someone did not know about my running habit, I could move pretty quickly in that first 5 miles or so. This gives me a major head-start on getting out of an area, even if I have been reduced to moving by foot. The next level of escape might be a bicycle. I only ride about once a week, but I find that my cardiovascular conditioning translates well into cycling.
Leaving a cheap bike chained up at work or a nearby apartment complex can be a great way to create an “escape” route, should the car no longer be a feasible option. Mountain bikes — while slower in the urban environment — are an excellent choice for their robust off-road handling. You can get cheap bikes from pawn shops or buy something online from a store like Dave’s Cheap Bikes.
This creates a scenario where I could outrun my aggressors to one of several bikes inside my 2-mile “escape radius”. From there, I can grab one of my bikes, and pick up my escape pace.
This is a major step in my escape plan. Remember to not bring along any cellular devices when hiding your cache (no trace!). My caches are cash-rich and well-hidden, deep in the wilderness. You’d need a GPS and exact coordinates to find them.
You might add disguises and some power bars in your cache. 6,000 calories would be the minimum I’d put in there. Backup cell phones and bad weather gear are also essential. I also keep some backup inner tubes and CO2 inflators in case my bike has experienced a flat.
There are two caches within a 10-mile radius of my place. These are smaller, and designed to assist me should I be escaping by bike. Then, there are larger caches at the 50, 200, 350 and 500-mile distances from my location.
This creates a logical path for me to “leap-frog” out of town. Ideally, I would be able to purchase a car for my getaway (or hitchhike), but, even if forced to pedal, I could theoretically get from one cache to the next within about 20 hours. Bicycles are powerful escape vehicles. Even when out of shape, it is fairly easy to maintain 8-10 miles per hour. In a week’s time, that could move you 2-3 states away from the folks that want your capture.
Cameras are everywhere, and Amazon is selling facial recognition technology to the cops, which makes it almost impossible to hide in the urban environment. Living rural is hard. You can’t dumpster dive for what you need, and you risk everyone learning your name. It requires some solid survivalist skills. However, rural hideouts have a good track record. Folks have had success hiding on the Appalachian trail and in communes.
Finding an abandoned farm that you can squat in that isn’t too far from a McDonald’s or Panera’s dumpster that you can dive in would be an ideal plan. Or integrating with a religious sect that is fearful of outsiders. Once you gain their trust, it can give autonomy and community. Heading out west where you can work the crops with the other illegal immigrants and migrant workers can provide you with a source of cash as well as some camaraderie.
Prepare To Be Lonely
If it is just you escaping you can say goodbye to your wife, your kids and anyone you love for at least the next seven years. Ideally, you will want them to declare you to be dead. The authorities — including a scenario of invading authorities — know that heartstrings are the hardest thing to cut. They will be watching those channels for you to surface. You’ve got to let your trail stay cold if you want your freedom.
Hope To Never Need Your Escape Plan
As you prep your escape plan, it is easy to see all of the holes. Ideally, you will never be in a scenario where you need it. But if things ever do go south, a robust plan gives you the ability to take off at a run, and scale yourself into a defensible position that gives you a fighting chance.
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