I’ll just say it now:
I hate the TSA.
Not the individual workers, per se. But the whole concept, notion, implementation and execution fly in the face of individual liberty.
Skip the rant and see the List
I don’t believe we should sacrifice liberty for security. And I don’t believe the TSA provides real security against many terrorist threats either. I’m not saying they do NOTHING to keep us safe. But they don’t do anything an airline’s or airport’s private security wouldn’t be able to do with less indignity and better customer service. And they have a poor record when it comes to our individual liberties.
That being said, until we can change the laws through the democratic process and get congress to eliminate or at least limit the TSA’s tyranny, we have to comply with the regulations. If my job didn’t require me to travel, I probably wouldn’t fly. I would drive and maintain my liberties. But the government requires me to go from here-to-there at times within scheduling windows that don’t allow me to drive.
As a self-admitted prepper/survivalist/nut-job/whatever-negative-goofball-label-you-wanna-call-me, I feel it’s still within my ability to be prepared with necessary items and comply with TSA regulations.
Why would I need a survival kit in my carry on? Wouldn’t I be more likely to just die in a crash? A recent study showed that 90% of passengers in airline crashes survive. Granted, most of those crashes take place within the immediate vicinity of an airport. You’ll be back in the terminal in 15 minutes or less. You won’t need to build a shelter out of a space-blanket and 550-cord, or build a fire.
But for those few “Alive” situations where your plane should lose altitude, the pilot is incredibly talented, and everybody on board is incredibly “lucky”(?), and you end up stuck in the mountains in inclement weather, days away from rescue, what will you do?
Maybe this is paranoid thinking, since your chances of this happening are less than those of being struck by lightning. Twice. They’re less than the odds of winning the lottery. Of all the flights, how many crash? Of all those that crash, how many do so in remote areas? Of all those that crash in remote areas, how many have survivors?
I don’t care. I’ll carry 2 pounds of gear in the bottom of my bag to be sure that if it happens, I’m the guy who lives.
But more realistically speaking, what if I get to my destination and my checked luggage is lost? And the hotel water is putrid. Or my reservation is cancelled and my credit card is declined and I have to crash on a buddy’s floor, or in someone’s back yard? And my only provisions are a bottle of beer (without a twist-off cap) and a can of Chef Boyardee (without the pull-tab opener).
These are feasible options if I have a minimum of equipment. I’ll take it along. Because, truth be told, these things have all happened to me or my friends at some point or another. With my little pouch of “possibles”, I can now pitch that expedient tent with a space blanket and 550-cord in a friends’ backyard or an empty lot. I can build a little fire, open my can of ravioli, heat it up, and then crack open that warm, but oh-so-refreshing beer. I can drink that “stank” water through a filter straw and avoid the tummy troubles.
TSA Survival Kit Packing List
Having thoroughly reviewed the TSA’s website, their very un-cute and un-funny blog, and having successfully passed through four different airports with this stuff in my carry-on, here’s the breakdown of my TSA Safe Mini Survival Kit.
With noted exceptions, all of this is packed inside a SealLine MAC Sack Waterproof Dry Bag
and stuffed in the bottom of my carry-on daypack.
-Laminated City& Statemaps
-Flashlight w/Extra Batteries
-AMK Heatsheets Emergency Bivvy
-Compact Duct Tape Rolls
-100 feet of 550-cord
-Aquamira Frontier Emergency Water Filter Straw
-Pocket SAS Survival Guide
-Foreign language pocket guide (for nearest border country)
-(2) Power Bars
-(2) Green 12-hour ChemLights (glow-sticks)
-MSR Sweet Water Purifier Solution [pack in Ziploc with hygiene liquids!]
-Hand Sanitizer [pack in Ziploc with hygiene liquids!]
-ResQMe Car Escape Tool (will pass through nearly all TSA check-points, though a few people have had theirs confiscated. But at $10, that’s less than two airport lattes. Worth it.) Can be used to cut 550-cord or, of course, your seatbelt should it jam and you need to evacuate the plane.
–Wire Survival Saw With the keyrings removed and attached to a backpack this has a lower profile. Basically you now just have an 18-inch piece of braided wire that wraps up like a bracelet. The item is not sharp, nor is it listed as prohibited.
On my keychain I also have a Gerber Shard tooland a P-38 “John Wayne” Can Opener. These have never been questioned, though some travelers report their P-38s have been confiscated (dumb!).
Also note, non-sharp tools under 7 inches in length are also listed as allowed, along with scissors with blades under 4 inches.
Be advised, your mileage may vary. Your experiences may differ. TSOs (screening agents) are given wide latitude to determine whether they feel an item is unsafe or poses a threat. Your overall demeanor and cooperation may be the very thing that results in your passing through security with ease or being harassed.
The TSA is now employing Behavior Detection Officers. If you act nervous or suspicious or somehow imagine in your mind that you’re being “tactical” or “clandestine”, your body language may alert them. If you are anything less than basically mute, bored or disinterested, they may single you out.
Fighting for your liberties with a TSA officer will yield about the same results as hitting yourself in the head with a hammer.
Voting, writing your representatives, petitioning, protesting and organizing through social media are still the best way we can fight against the TSA. Stay safe. Live free.