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Travel Tips: How to Pack a Perfect Go Bag


Hurricane Sandy and the snowstorm that followed took many of us on the East Coast unawares. Some scrambled to evacuate or find alternate housing with nothing but the clothes on their back. So with the dead of winter before us, we thought we’d take a second to take stock of the things we wished we’d had in our Sandy go bags and what we’ll surely have in there from now on. Because while we can’t control the weather, we can be prepared.

The Basics

You probably are already familiar with these survival basics, but just to refresh, always store the following in your Go Bag:

1. Fresh Water

2. Extra Change of Clothes: Opt for layers when possible, and look for synthetic materials that will help keep cold out, especially if your clothes get wet. And please, don’t forget underwear.

3. Candles and Matches: Scented or unscented, it is up to you. Just don’t forget the matches, those are important.

4. Oh, also a flash light. You can’t do everything by candle light.

4. Non-Perishable Food: To keep from gaining the Sandy Five (curse you, Halloween candy!) opt for high-protein items like: canned tuna packed in olive oil, canned salmon or chicken, beans, peanut butter (all-natural is preferable but some require refrigeration), whole grain crackers, and healthy protein or granola bars (we like Think Thin, KIND, and Larabars).

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Now, add to that…

1. Instant Coffee: The day after Sandy hit, coffee was the Holy Grail. People in Lower Manhattan were trekking across the power line (34th street) to find a mere cup of that liquid gold. Avoid caffeine withdrawal by keeping a stock of instant coffee packs in your Go Bag. Try Starbucks Via Packs—they include many of the flavors you wait in line for in convenient, just-add-water form.

2. Pack-Away Battery-Powered Lantern: Let there be portable, 12 hour, battery-powered light! Consider a heavy duty lantern by Coleman, which packs into itself to take up minimal space, if you feel you may be gone for a while. Note that you’ll need to pack spare D batteries as well.

3. Battery-Powered Travel Radio: A question for you interweb-loving digital nomads: What doesn’t go out when cable does? Radio! So it would be so wise to buy one of these retro portable radios in your Go Bag now so that you’ll have easy, battery-powered access to AM, FM, and everything in between (like news of what’s going on outside).

4. Battery-Powered iPhone Charger: If you can get a line out, a phone can be truly essential to check up on family and friends, as well as for calling emergency services. So imagine your horror to find that finally (!) you’ve got a line out and…your battery goes dead. Avoid that. With this.

5. Entertainment: Riding out a hurricane is not all that exciting. All sorts of classic games from Bananagrams to Family Business, we’d take a slow stroll through the board game aisle before considering our Go Bag fully packed.

Photo credit: Survival kit via Shutterstock

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