Putting Together A Get Back Home Kit For When Your Vehicle Breaks Down

Things have a way of going wrong at the most inopportune time, and there’s no way you can be 100 percent prepared for every emergency situation. However, you can drastically increase your chances of survival by planning in advance. Today we will look at what you should do to head out on foot when your vehicle breaks down.

Emergency preparedness has some common basic planning requirements that will help you survive pretty much any crisis you can think of, but even so, your mindset and skillset are two attributes that will often dictate the outcome of the crisis.

The need to travel on foot

Most folks already have a vehicle kit that will help them survive until help arrives or perhaps make their vehicle operational again. What happens when you can’t fix your car or when help doesn’t arrive? Well, you should be prepared for traveling on foot.

Think of it like this; if your commute to work is an hour or more drive from where you live, it will take several days to weeks to walk home, depending on the situation you find yourself in. The time you need to reach your home will depend greatly on your personal biorhythm and the resources you have on hand.

There’s also the problem of being able to travel on foot for long distances that you need to figure out. In fact, your ability to walk over long distances is influenced by the shape you’re in, the footwear you have on, the toughness of your feet, the terrain, the weather, and the crisis scenario. All these variables will influence how far you can move on foot per day.

the need to travel on foot

In general, you should be able to cover five to ten miles a day and keep in mind that rough terrain and avoiding people and obstacles will slow you down considerably. However, it’s better to go slowly and be careful than rushing full-speed ahead, especially if the factor that caused the emergency remains unknown.

You will also need to think about the fastest route from your home to your destination you travel each day, regardless of whether it’s for work, appointments, or shopping. Let’s say your driving route from home to work is 30 miles, and let’s assume you are able to travel 10 miles per day on foot with your backpack on even terrain. This means that you will need 3 days to make it home, and you should have three days of food and water with you at any given time.

But if that’s not the farthest distance, and let’s say you have days in which your appointments add some extra 10 or 20 miles to your regular commute, that means you have to plan for those extra miles as well. You never know when a crisis may hit, and you should be prepared to cover on foot the furthest distance at all times.

And these are just, let’s say, best-case scenarios in which you don’t need to take an alternate route to avoid obstacles and/or people. In cases when you need to stay out of sight, the distance you need to cover could be much longer.

The constant need to adapt to a changing scenario

Every emergency situation can be highly fluid, and the unknown factor plays an important role in the outcome of the scenario. Things may not always go your way, and you need to be able to refocus and adapt to the emerging scenario.

Lacking the ability to refocus and change your course of action will lead to delays, and you will run into problems. We need to always remember that everyone’s situation is different, and they need to plan for it accordingly, thus being able to cover as many scenarios as possible depending on the variables we’ve mentioned before.

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There’s a generic packing list of items that anyone can keep in their vehicles for an unknown future survival scenario. You have the option to add or take away from this list of items depending on the time of the year, the terrain in your living area, and the known worst-case scenario.

Get Back Home Kit packing list

get back home kit packing list

Food: You should have in your vehicle enough extended shelf-life meals that can give you 2,000 to 5,000 calories per day times the number of days you will need to travel on foot for the maximum distance. Keep in mind that the weather and exertion will increase your calories intake, so plan for this accordingly. Even so, 5,000 calories per day should be more than enough to keep you in good shape.

Water: As a general rule, you should have in your car 1 to 2 gallons of water per day times the number of days you will need to travel on foot for the maximum distance. The problem here is that water is bulky and heavy, and in case you’re not able to carry enough water in your backpack; you should also keep a personal water filtration device.

Shelter: Get a small, sturdy tent and keep it in your vehicle at all times. It will provide you with shelter if you are forced to leave your vehicle behind and travel on foot. It’s a good idea to get a brightly colored one so that it’s easily spotted by rescue personnel. Also, make sure you add a sleeping bag or a wool blanket to your get back home kit.

And if you want to stay under the radar, you can also pack a poncho and a poncho liner. Not only will it provide you with shelter and warmth, but it can also help you camouflage your tent and gear if need be.

Clothing and footwear: Your clothing and footwear should be seasonal, and you have to bring along a spare change of clothes and walking shoes. Footwear plays an important role in your ability to reach your destination in due time, and you should consider getting some walking shoes/boots, especially if you’re used to wearing “work shoes.” Also, think about adding one or two pairs of socks to your kit.

Firecraft: You will need to start a fire at some point, so make sure you have the tools to do so. Even a simple Bic lighter would be enough, but in certain cases, you may also need some solid fuel tabs or other commercials (or homemade) incendiaries. Once again, the things you decide to bring along to help you start a fire depend on your skillset and your experience in using those items.

Security: If you are trained to use a firearm, and you are legally allowed to carry one, by all means, do so. You should have in your get back home kit at least one tool to help you protect yourself. The type of tool you decide to use for self-defense it’s strictly a personal preference and choice, but you can’t go wrong with a firearm. On the other hand, you should be trained to properly use the firearm because once you fire that first bullet, there’s no taking it back, and you should be prepared to face the consequences.

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Communication: In terms of communication, you can get an AM/FM and weather emergency radio (a hand-cranked one would be ideal) in order to stay up to date with the news and monitor the frequencies for emergency alert guidance.

A CB radio will help you get in touch with a trucker or any person monitoring your frequency, and you can transmit your distress signal to authorities or anyone listening. However, if you have only a cell phone, you should be ready to deal with its inconveniencies when voice calls don’t work. You could send text messages since these use different frequencies, and they usually require less bandwidth. Learn to preserve the battery of your cell phone by lowering the screen light, by turning on Bluetooth and Wi-Fi networks, and by keeping it in battery save mode.

Health: Every survival kit, regardless of whether it’s a get back home, e vehicle kit, or a bug-out bag, should include a fully stocked first aid kit. You can buy a personal first aid kit, or you can make your own and equip it with everything that you think will be needed if you are forced to walk for a few days. Make sure you know how to use the items you add to your kit, and consider adding a first aid manual as well.

Navigation: If you are traveling through a sparsely populated area or if you have to face the wilderness, you need to make sure you are able to find your way. Consider adding a GPS, a compass, and a map to your get back home kit and also learn a few field-expedient direction-finding techniques.

How about vehicle preparedness?

Before you take on the road and put your get back home kit to the test, you should try to fix your car as best as you can. Every vehicle needs to have a repair kit, and vehicle preparedness is something all folks should consider in today’s volatile world.

Here at prepper’s will, we’ve often talked about vehicle preparedness, and if you want to learn more about this topic, we recommend reading the following articles:

Other means of travel

other means of travel

Without a doubt, most Americans do their day-to-day travel using their personal vehicle or via public transportation, and not everyone is used to walking over long distances. There are, however, alternative means such as bicycles, scooters, and various other transportation platforms.

Thanks to the advances in battery technology in the last decade, you can now purchase various electrically-propelled or electrically-assisted vehicles that can be recharged using the power of the sun. And the good part is that many of such vehicles are foldable, and they can easily fit in the trunk of the average car.

For those that are out of shape and cannot cover those 10 miles per day we mentioned before, a good contingency plan would be to keep a folding electrical bike or scooter in their vehicle. In case your car becomes inoperable, you can use such a transportation platform to cover most of the distance to reach home.

If you have the option to travel on the road, it pays to have something with wheels as opposed to walking, especially when time and fatigue are factors working against you.


The best way to make sure your next road trip doesn’t make the news and to avoid being one of the people stranded in the middle of nowhere that make the statistics each year is to prepare in advance and put the time into building a get back home kit. Preparing yourself and your vehicle for emergencies becomes mandatory if you travel through remote and low-populated areas.

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