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Introduction: A True Story Of International Escape
In 1941, my English Grandfather was living in Italy with his Italian wife and their 2 small daughters. Although the war had already begun, he continued his work as an accountant for a business in Milan – and life was somewhat normal… until it wasn’t. One day, very suddenly, he was arrested by the military police and taken to concentration camp. The rest of the family were also removed from their home and disposessed. All the family’s assets were seized by the government – leaving them with nothing.
It all happened in the blink of an eye…
Grandfather, having been living in Italy for several years, spoke perfectly fluent Italian – and this turned out to be extremely valuable: Being able to converse fluently with the guards made it naturally difficult for them to regard him as an “enemy” and discriminate against him, and we understand that he was not maltreated; however concentration camp is still concentration camp… and despite being a civilian, he found himself one day an accountant, the next day a prisoner of war.
My Grandmother and her children, being Italian and female, were not seen as a threat by the Italian authorities, however it was clear that after their despicable treatment and given Grandfather’s status as a British national, they had no future in Italy. Getting out of the country required some finesse and some assistance. They were able to be repatriated by the British Red Cross through some clever paperwork and fictitious travel plans: They undertook a risky sea voyage where they literally had to jump ships under cover of darkness. The boats were not “supposed” to meet but sailed up alongside each other. A ladder was placed between the two and they switched, together with a handful of other Brits being secretly pulled out of Italy. And so in January 1942 they ran the gauntlet of an ocean patrolled by U-boats, arriving in the UK barely able to speak a word of English, penniless, in an alien land in winter, with no idea when or if they would see Grandfather again.
Through a fortunate family connection, Grandmother was able to arrange accomodation. The children, being Roman Catholic, were accepted into a convent boarding school, where a few of the nuns spoke Italian. And so they began the process of starting all over again. Italy capitulated to the Allied forces in 1943, grandfather was finally released and reunited with the family in England in 1944.
Same As It Ever Was?
Although this true story happened some 80 years ago, there is so much that we can learn from it. The times are different, but recent events have caused many to ask themselves whether they really feel safe and free in their own country, and whether they might be better off somewhere else. Most of us have now experienced lockdowns, where (for better or for worse) our freedoms were simply removed, overnight. We’ve also seen the terrifyingly excessive, draconian responses of some authorities and certain previously free countries seem to have turned into dictatorships. It feels as though we could be “one variant away” from the same totalitarian treatment. Oh, they’ll always have an excuse, but to determine whether something was truly done in your best interests, ask yourself if your life is better or worse since their intervention.
Looking at the way things are in the world, I feel a growing sense of urgency. I’m fairly positive by nature – but it feels as though things are gradually sliding towards more troubles ahead. I don’t like it. We have financial problems, supply chain problems, totalitarian problems… what else?
Here’s Your Ten-Step International Bug Out Plan:
Quite a few survivalists have a “bug out plan”… but nothing beats having an international bug out plan and being able to simply leave the country at the drop of a hat, should the need arise.
International bug out is a completely different game, with different requirements, to what you might call “traditional survivalism”. By all means work on traditional survival skills too, but for this play you most likely will be traveling light and more “high tech”, with greater emphasis on travel, “financial fortress” strategies and geographical / logistical research.
Here are 10 steps you might take in order to get your international bug out plans lined up. Getting this handled puts you one step ahead of the vast majority, who either don’t think about it, don’t know what to do about it, or never take decisive action until it’s too late. Think these steps over carefully. Anything you can do is better than nothing – and the best plans have benefits no matter what the eventual outcome turns out to be. This is not financial advice.
1. Learn To Recognize The “Early Warning Signs” That Things Might Be Going Bad
There’s an old saying that “bankruptcy happens gradually, then suddenly”. The same could be said of numerous other bad situations. In my Grandfather’s situation, things had already started to go bad (war breaking out) over a year before the hammer fell on him – and then when it fell, it fell in a flash.
There are always warning signs ahead of time, although it can be hard to separate the signal from the noise, especially now in the age of exaggerated news and social media hype. You are going to need good intel and an ability to separate the wheat from the chaff.
Don’t delay. The time to make an exit plan is not when it’s panic stations. It’s before that! When events are escalating, you might only have a very small window of time to get out – if that. In other words, as with every form of preparedness, you have to prepare before it happens, rather than waiting for things to turn critical before attempting to get things in order.
2. Don’t Be Stuck Anywhere
In times of disaster, conflict, or other undesirable scenarios, one thing that can be said with absolute certainty is that Location Is Everything.
In 2021, South Africa experienced very serious and rapidly escalating rioting, with dozens killed. Imagine being stuck in a city where it’s all kicking off… with no emergency exit plan and no realistic logistics to get out of there.
On the other hand, if you happened to be somewhere on the other side of the world – you might be blissfully unaware that these events had even taken place, unless you happened to catch wind of it on the news or social media.
For every place that is going through hell, there’s another location where the sun is shining and birds are singing merrily.
Sometimes, it’s the luck of the draw: You simply don’t know where it’s going to go down. But wherever you happen to be, mobility rules! The cold reality is that if you are “stuck” in any one location, you are at the mercy of whatever scenarios happen there; whether it be lockdowns, civil unrest or any other unpleasant / disaster scenario.
Whereas if you have a solid exit strategy worked out and planned in advance, you have the option to hit the eject button before the hammer falls – and get out of Dodge to a place where all is well.
3. Have Some Cash On Hand
Cash is still the most liquid asset and there’s a lot to be said for having it in your hand, rather than having to rely on a global electronic network where “the machine” (and its various factors outside of your control) ultimately decides whether you get your cash. That would be a single point of failure. Imagine all you have is your debit / credit cards. That’s nice – but if there is a panic situation and numerous people are trying to withdraw cash urgently? You might be S.O.L. Not only do most banks only hold a small percentage of deposits in cash, but ATMs often run out of banknotes in the case of unexpected demand. If there is a significant power blackout? ATMs and card transactions might be non-op. Same goes with an internet failure. Interest rates might be on the rise since the great money-printing fiasco, but they are still low, historically speaking. Having some cash on hand is not going to be your only investment strategy, but it’s a very useful card to have up your sleeve.
4. Have Some Diversified Liquid Assets
Having all your assets inside the financial structure of one country is a point of weakness. Holding only one currency is a point of weakness. It makes sense to have multiple accounts with diverse currencies and assets, and that’s entirely doable now. For an easy start – you could set up an account such as the Wise Borderless Account, which gives you the ability to convert, transfer, hold, send and receive in numerous currencies. Their fees are MUCH lower than typical bank transfer fees too! There are now also numerous crypto debit cards, for example BitPay, Nexo and Crypto.com – which enable you to preload your account with crypto and use the card to shop in the typical manner, as well as withdraw cash from ATMs in some cases. A highly useful additional asset to add some protection against interruptions to banking services and again, easy to open. Nexo pays very good interest rates on crypto holdings too! Another option is physical gold in offshore storage. Think again about my Grandfather’s situation: All of their assets were in Italy and ended up being confiscated by the government through no crime or fault of their own whatsoever. If they had had the foresight to move some funds into an offshore account, for example into a UK bank account, the Italian authorities would not have been able to get their paws on it. Note that depending on your country of residence you may have to declare offshore bank accounts when you file taxes, so it’s advisable to get competent tax advice so as to know where you stand.
5. Get Your Papers In Order
First things first – make sure you have your passport and know where it is. The same goes for your drivers’ license.
That’s just the beginning, though.
A second passport gives highly valuable additional freedoms when it comes to being able to bounce to another country, especially in time where travel restrictions are in place for some, but not for others – as is often the way. There are various ways to obtain second passports, not all of which require ancestry or even residence in the country concerned. Some nations are very welcoming to those who want to set up business or park assets in their country. This is a complex topic and would take more than a short tutorial – however there are some real experts on hand who can help. Two that I consider extremely good are Simon Black (sovereignman.com) and Andrew Henderson (nomadcapitalist.com). They are far more expert than me in this department; just dive into their materials as they provide a ton of valuable free stuff in addition to highly regarded professional services.
6. Have At Least One Form Of Income That Is Not Tied To One Location – And Up Your Game
Until very recently, the reality for the vast majority of people was that they were simply not free to just “up sticks” and start a new life in another country. Their place of work was in one location, and so they were required to live nearby. However the boom in internet based business / online services has essentially offered the opportunity to pretty much everyone to start generating some form of income online. The advantages are obvious: If you can earn an income “from your laptop”, you can essentially exist anywhere that has an internet connection.
The other thing to note, although it’s not terribly fashionable to say it, is that money equals freedom. It really does. Admit it: The biggest factor preventing you from living an expanded life with more options and greater freedom of movement is financial constraint. And (be honest), you probably don’t work as hard as you could… so up your game! Work harder and more brilliantly. Earn more. Start one or more side hustles. Build up a reserve of capital: At the worst, you will have a greater reserve to weather the storm; and if all this blows over, you’ll have more funds to enjoy life and do new things.
7. Have More Than One Form Of Internet Access
Communications are always essential to the strategist. I have covered this in a full length post here: Off Grid Internet: 5+ Ways To Get Online When “Normal Internet” Is Not Available (Including SHTF Options).
8. Make An Actual Exit Plan
First, research and learn about various countries. Which ones are more stable / desirable / safe and less challenging logistically. What are the obstacles? Perhaps there are some places you have visited before that you could go back to.
Here is an invaluable resource that ranks countries according to their human rights treatment: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Democracy_Index It’s very revealing – as well as giving much insight into the most (and least) desirable locations worldwide.
Next, consider how you will travel. What modes of transport are available? Air, sea, road, rail? Best to have more than one option if possible.
9. Accomodation, Network and Contacts
When landing anywhere, it’s highly beneficial (and can even be a lifesaver) to have contacts. Highly desirable would be having some welcoming friends who can put you up for a few days while you get your bearings and get some accomodation sorted. Do you have some family or friends in other parts of the world? Time to make a list of those connections. Doing some preliminary outreach is a good idea; and even better might be to create or tap into a network of similar-minded folks who “look out for each other”.
Another interesting avenue of research: You can look up the country’s Airbnb options and even chat to some providers, in order to start laying foundations of some potential connections. Airbnb hosts are very often well connected in their locality and often provide local information for their guests; perhaps all the more so if you offered a little extra for this service. They could maybe even connect you to local guides. A good local guide – someone who knows the region through years of experience – is a vital contact and could be like gold if you find yourself having to land somewhere in a hurry.
10. Learn Another Language
Learning additional languages simply opens up more regions of the world to you. Many people feel uncomfortable visiting places where they don’t know a word of the language. Multi-lingual ability is a highly valuable survival skill that increases options and breaks down barriers around the world. For the survivalist, the best choices are going to be languages that are spoken in diverse regions: English, Chinese (Mandarin), Hindi, Spanish, and French are the most widespread languages in the world. 
Do You Have An International Bug Out Plan? Graphic © off-grid.info. Background image – Pixabay (PD)
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