How to Think About a Digital Bug Out Bag

A digital bug out bag is like an insurance policy for natural disasters & political violence. Maintain digital continuity with premade plan.

I was speaking with a reader about the logic behind a digital bug out bag. About having an actionable plan that a normal everyday person can execute if they need to leave in a hurry. For example, what do you do if your country and its government become violent against you. The type of scenario that would make you want to leave town quickly and not return for a long time.

The premise of the conversation: you may not actively want to “exit”, to pick up and leave your life behind, but you’re interested in being prepared just in case. Like a mini insurance policy. What types of things could you do to make a drop everything and flee scenario easier?

This conversation made me think about a modern day holocaust. What if you knew the SS were coming to your house in a few hours and you only had time to grab essentials and run? What would you want packed and ready in order to take as much of your life with you as possible? A “bug out bag” for the modern times and not necessarily an apocalypse scenario.

Perhaps the holocaust example is too extreme to relate to?

There are many modern examples of political violence that could necessitate a person leaving their home quickly. Like when the Belarusian opposition leader fled her country because of credible death threats. Or when the Belarusian government forced a plane to land in order to arrest a journalist.

But forget about political violence.

What if you’re trying to run from a pandemic and the imminent lockdown measures your government is likely to implement? Like in March of 2020, when video emerged of the Italian train station panicked rush after announcement that a lockdown would be implemented.

The point of this article is to explore the modern realities of bugging out. Not an apocalyptical bug out, something more modern, more digital. Needing to escape at a moments notice and for an undefined period of time.

What are the digital considerations you need to make that should be included in your preparations?

Bug Out Bag – In Simple Terms

I particularly like this article about bugging out from The Prepared. An early quote summarizes the general concept well. “The verb “bug out” essentially means leaving your home for a safer place. Not “run to the store,” but rather “run for your life.”

The general idea is that you’ve prepared for a scenario where you need to leave your home quickly. And you don’t have time to plan, organize, and execute a thoughtful departure. Instead, you need to grab your pre-prepared bag and leave immediately.

Domestic vs International Prep

Depending on the situation, you may only be traveling a short distance. For example: your house is on fire.

In other scenarios, you may need to travel over a longer distance domestically. Like when a rare and extreme cold weather event knocked out infrastructure across Texas. Or like in our original scenarios, you need to leave the country, move abroad, and likely are to spend a long term away from home.

Depending on the scenario, your strategies and preparation may vary significantly. Regardless of the scenario, it makes sense to prepare as if the worst case scenario is likely. A conservative and better safe than sorry approach.

That means needing to leave the country.

Packing Basic Necessities

We can take many of the necessities from the playbooks of both the digital nomad and nomad capitalist perspective. People that don’t want to relocate on a whim but are purposeful with what they pack for extended travels. In many cases, digital nomads and nomad capitalists have families and aim to settle down in one location.

But just because settle down in one location doesn’t mean they compromise on their ability to exercise their ability to use a tech enabled exit should they need to.

And this highlights a major premise of the digital age and an essential part of the digital bug out bag. That is the ability to conduct remote work and have multiple sources of location-independent income. It’s much more challenging to pick up and leave a traditional corporate job behind versus a remote oriented income arrangement. Having income that can be generated from anywhere in the world empowers your ability to leave quickly.

Aside from remote income, here are some of the basic modern prep necessities:

  • Fiat Cash – the world may be increasingly digital but analog value is essential to privacy and ease of movement – consider having foreign currencies on hand so you need to stop for one less thing
  • Documents & copies of documents – insurance paperwork, IDs, medical records, children’s school records, digital photos, and any ownership records you don’t want to lose
    • additional copies can be stored electronically on cloud based drives but you want paper copies
  • Backup prepaid phones, prepaid debit cards – it’s hard to know what the exact scenario will look like but fully charged backup phones are handy as is the ability to carry a cash equivalent
  • Crypto Hardware wallets – the beauty of the modern age is that you can now be your own bank – if you need to leave your country in a hurry there is no reason you need to do so with no money to your name
  • Predesigned Exit plans – local, domestic, international
    • Where are you heading to, how will you get there, where will you stay, and how long will you rely on these plans before needing to adjust for the future?

Predesigned Exit Plans

You’re going to want simple strategies for where you’ll go and how you’ll travel to get there. These plans obviously change based on which scenario you’re working through.

The local scenario can rely on a simple plan. We will travel by car to the Sheraton Hotel down the street from our house.

In the domestic plan, more complexity. We will go by car immediately to the airport, travel to your uncles house in New York and evaluate next steps.

In the international scenario, the most complexity. We will use our carefully planned “call option” strategy and travel to a predetermined country where you have preset arrangements.

When designing these plans specificity matters. The more you can predetermine, the faster you can move when needed.

Bug Out Abroad – Call Option Strategy

When preparing to bug out abroad you can try to use a financial strategy called a call option. In this context, you’ll look to see if you have any ancestral lineage that allows you to apply for the Right of Return in any foreign countries. Simply put, the right of return is available in most countries as a way to gain citizenship quickly based on ancestral origins within the country. Do you have a grandparent from Europe? Chances are you can apply for and be granted citizenship in that country.

So what does this have to do with call options?

From Investopedia: “Call options are financial contracts that give the option buyer the right, but not the obligation, to buy an asset or instrument at a specified price within a specific time period.”

Now lets assume you want to prepare to leave your home country but don’t truly want to leave. You think there is a probability of political violence but would hope to stay put. Gaining citizenship abroad via policies like the right of return is an easy way to have the option but not the obligation to move elsewhere quickly.

So by applying for citizenship in your ancestral homelands, you are effectively purchasing an out of the money call option that could expire unused if it’s not needed.

In a best case scenario, you have ancestral citizenship rights to multiple countries and can build a portfolio of passports. This portfolio becomes a balanced insurance policy that you pay some up front premium for despite the reality that you may well never actually need it.

Call Options On Global Citizenship

If the law of return isn’t an option, this is where the cost of hedging against geopolitical risk starts to get prohibitively expensive for most. In most countries, you can pay your way to citizenship via investment. But this is out of the budget for most people.

The alternative is by following one countries naturalization process. Moving to the country, becoming a resident, and investing years of time committed to living in the country before they grant citizenship.

This is cost prohibitive for most people and defeats the general premise. Most people don’t actually want to move elsewhere, they want the feeling of security knowing they have an insurance policy to another option should shit hit the fan.

Is external citizenship really necessary?

Consider Edward Snowden. Remember when he was evading the US government abroad after publishing the governments controversial information acquisition policies? He found it difficult to remain in any location for long periods of time.

Further – it was challenging for him to find new countries willing to take him in. Why? Because the US government revoked his passport and he had no other citizenships available to him. Had he sought out citizenships in other countries prior to his whistleblowing, he may very well have had an easier time escaping the reach of the US.

Diversified Citizenship Portfolio

If you go the route of building a citizenship portfolio abroad, you should research your target locations to bug out to. The areas that have the modern necessities you know you’ll need. As an example, are you leaving New York City for El Salvador or London? The differences between a developed nation and developing nation can be extreme.

Is it a mostly cash based society or do they embrace credit? How are the schools, the crime, the graft? What’s the countries laws on remote oriented income, taxation, and cryptocurrency?

The point is that if you bug out to another country, it’s important to know what your in for before arriving.

Final Thoughts

Most people don’t need to worry about bugging out. But a Sovereign Individual knows that an ability to exercise the tech enabled exit can require leaving a country. And because of this, it makes sense to think through and explore your options for moving abroad. How might your life be impacted? What can you do to create insurance policies that ensure the continuity of your lifestyle? Most importantly, how can you ensure that as many of your families wants and needs are seen to?

Reorganizing your life to a remote oriented society requires a fundamentally different approach. If nothing else, it’s a healthy activity to think through.

I’m piecing together a new narrative that makes sense of society’s shift into the Digital Age. The goal: to give you the facts and tools necessary to successfully navigate an increasingly digital life. I cover topics and narratives you can’t fully appreciate because you’re in the thick of it. Subscribe for a weekly update.

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Photo by Muhammad Masood on Unsplash

2 thoughts on “How to Think About a Digital Bug Out Bag

  1. Bulgaria is not Belarus!

    1. You are right! Thanks for catching the mistake.

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