While living or traveling in the 3rd world If you look out your window and see this you better grab your Expat E&E Bag and get the hell out of dodge
This is a supplemental article for: URBAN SURVIVAL: Do You Really Need a Bug Out Bag? Part – 2; Yes Some People do Need a BOB, But Not Everyone (if you have not read it please do before you read this article).
NOTE: I have changed the title of this article to “The Expat E&E Bag” because I feel that that better represents what it is used for. E&E = Escape and Evasion
For those of us who travel, live or work in the 3rd world having an Expat E&E Bag is a necessity. In the 3rd world things like nationwide civil unrest, famine inducing food shortages and civil war are regular occurrences.
I personally spend a good amount of my off-time living in a country that has had a dozen natural disasters, a major regime change, nationwide famine, several small civil wars and weekly occurrences of civil unrest – all this just in the past 10 years.
And when I am working it is always in some tin-pot 3rd world country on the verge of civil or all out regional war. The few 3rd world countries where I don’t need an AK-47 just to take a dump are still ass-backwards shit-holes.
They may not have IED’s going off every 10 minutes but if I accidentally bump into a lady at the local gaudy shopping mall I could end up in jail getting man-raped by my cellmate Ali Abdul. Even in paradises like Thailand where I used to go fishing on R&R they seem to be on the verge of a coup every other week.
If you need a visual example of how most of the 3rd world is, just watch the movie “Soylent Green” – that’s pretty much the way it is in all large 3rd world cities.
Considering the unique circumstances of having to bug out in the 3rd world the standard “Swedish fire-tool and ammo” list isn’t appropriate. So below I have listed out the items and miscellaneous stuff that any Expat should have in their Expat E&E Bag.
To avoid people noticing your Expat E&E Bag you should go with whatever types of bags the locals regularly use. Backpacks are out because of problems with theft, one trick robbers use in the 3rd world is to slice your backpack with a razor and ether discreetly take stuff out or have a 'piñata free for all' as your shit dumps onto the sidewalk.
For the Middle East (non hostile regions) I use a black courier bag like the local students use. In Southeast Asia I use a medium sized fake Louis Vuitton backpack (worn in the front).
Military style bags with PALS webbing and moral patches are obviously not good choices. You can use a Maxpedition versipack if you toss a towel or sweatshirt over it. But whatever bag you choose get one with extremely sturdy straps (so someone cant tear it off), have it triple sewn at a local tailor if needed.
Considering the complete lack of sanitation in the 3rd world the chances of you becoming ill wile bugging out is high if not practically guaranteed. If you combine stress, poor nutrition and hygiene with running around in the 3rd world = The Shits.
Even if you can eat rare pork kabobs from a street vendor in Cambodia like I can, adding extreme stress to the equation will turn your steel stomach into Jello.
In addition to medicine you will need the minimal basics that one would have in a FAK (first aid kit) just in-case you get injured.
- Loperamide - (commonly known as Imodium) in liquid form - Ciprofloxacin – One nice thing about the 3rd world is you can usually buy Cipro over the counter. Start taking as soon as you go in the run. - Powdered Headache Medicine – something like BC Powder, this stuff will knock out a headache or other pain in 10 minutes. Tastes like shit.
- Syringes – yes, they still reuse syringes in some countries. - QuikClot or any brand of Antihemorrhagic – in case you have a bleeding wound, depending on the injury it should help you hold out until you are able to leave the country or get to the embassy. - Israeli bandage – or any other type of sealed military bandage - Alcohol wipes – the individually wrapped ones. - Hand Sanitizer – Not a mini bottle, get a medium sized one because everyone will ask for a squirt. - Eye Drops – Like visine - Medical tape – one roll
- Energy Bars – This will be the heaviest thing you carry, you will need 9. and don’t get the energy bars that they sell in the grocery store, get the high calorie and high protein ones from GNC. Also tastes like shit.
It is doubtful that you will use the below stuff, even with rioters on the streets you can buy bottles of water. So pack all this stuff into the Nalgene bottle and stuff it in the bottom of your Expat E&E Bag.
- Nalgene Bottle – these have wide mouths so you can draw water from just about any source. - Cheesecloth – for filtering the big chunks out, just a small 2 foot by 2 foot piece. - Water purification tablets – you will need 15 - Water purification pump or UV water purifier – up to you witch one you use, I use the UV water purifier but it really doesn’t make any difference.
- SIM Cards – During an emergency the cell networks will be over capacity, but some providers will work better than others. Grab a SIM from the 5 major cell providers, activate them, add 100 bucks on each and check them every month to ensure they are still active.
- Tissue pack – the small packs of Kleenex, pack 3 in case you have to do a #2 (no TP in most bathrooms in the 3rd world) - Baby Wipes – The pocket packs with a resealable opening - Hotel Shampoo Bottle and soap bar – if you end up in the Embassy or a staging center they won’t have any soap of shampoo. It may not seem like a big deal but after being on the run for 3 days there isn’t anything better than getting clean. - Toothbrush and Toothpaste – I use the ones you can get for free at a hotel or in an airplane bathroom. - Toothpicks – the individually wrapped ones. It is not a life threatening thing but having something stuck in your tooth wile bugging out is extremely annoying. - Cigarette Lighter – even if you don’t smoke, the torch style is the best - Cigarettes – Don’t buy the locally produced brands, buy the expensive imported ones (that have an import stamp). Everyone smokes in the 3rd world, the import smokes have a higher perceived value. - Folding Knife – any brand will do, don’t buy anything too expensive because you will have to dump it once you get on a plane or to the embassy. Get 2 so you can give one away as a gift to cops or security guards. - Copies of your ID documents – if you cant prove your ID good luck getting on the last chopper out. Also scan all of your ID’s and email them to yourself just in case you show up at the embassy buck ass naked (this has happened to people overseas). - Underwear – have an extra pair of skivvies for when you reach safety, you will thank me for that advice - Small Flashlight – only get one that uses common batteries like AA - Flip-Flops – the heavy duty beach kind, in case someone snags your kicks
The most important item
- Cash – you could literally leave your Expat BOB at home if you have a pocket full of USD’s. 5K should be the minimum amount in your Expat E&E Bag, no matter how bad things are in the 3rd world you can buy whatever you need. Also pack a hidden wallet that holds the cash in your crotch area.
The last time they had an all-out government change (not voluntary) in Indonesia most expats and wealthy locals bought seats on military aircraft to get out. The same thing happened in Lebanon last year, if you had the bread you could get out.
This one is entirely up to you, I can’t make that decision for you because of the serious consequences of being caught with an unlicensed weapon in the 3rd world.
If you can legally purchase weapons then I would say yes – after you have received proper training. If the only way to get a weapon is to buy on the black market, well, that’s on you dude. But if you end up shooting a local there will be a reckoning like you wont believe if you get caught.
Pepper spray is probably the best choice, it won’t kill someone and getting caught with it (if it is illegal in that country) won’t be a life sentence.
But the whole weapon thing in the 3rd world is a “Hmmmm…?” thing. No “real” answer exists on the subject of packing weapons (especially guns) in the 3rd world.
One thing you should take into consideration, the majority of westerners who have Bugged Out from a 3rd world country during a crisis in the past did it unarmed.
The Expat BOB is meant to be used wile literally running through riots full of thousands of people, during armed civil war on the streets, after a devastating natural disaster or if the local cops are looking for you. This is a “true” Bug Out/E&E Bag, meaning this will be the only thing you will have on your person besides the clothes on your back.
The item list may appear like I have forgotten things that would normally be in a E&E Bag – I have not. Things like a tourniquet are just dead weight because if you are injured that bad in hellholeastan you won’t make it to the local hospital that just upgraded to 1903 medical standards in time anyway.
This bag is only meant for someone to use for 3 days max, which is usually the amount of time it would take a person to reach the embassy, bribe their way onto a plane or boat or reach a friend who lives in a guarded expat enclave.
~James G Founder - Editor in Chief
James G is a Veteran Civilian Contractor who has worked in the Middle East and Southeast Asia for way too long. He spends his off time in Indonesia and Virginia getting drunk, shooting guns, writing poorly written articles and eating the Energy Bars in his BOB.