Living life on foreign assignment is no ordinary task. It takes planning—lots of planning! So much so that it ultimately takes priority over many facets of my life. The more I plan, the better I am prepared for the unknown.
In 2009, I traveled to 17 countries within twelve months. 279 days of my life was spent traveling. In total, I circumvented the globe 4 times. A few readers have asked several times how I do it. How do I jump from one country to another and stay safe, healthy, and organized? Today, I reveal to you how I prepare for each and every assignment—and how I manage to adapt to the many facets that shape my life, and my career.
The War Room:
Tucked deep in my unfinished basement is an area where I call “The War Room.”
I know it sounds cliché, but believe me, I approach a lot of my scenarios the same way a soldier would in the field. Maybe it’s because I’ve been trained by the military—or maybe it’s simply the fact that I have a lot of respect for the men and women that defend our nation. It’s both. They know how to get things done—and they’re good at it!
Organization is key. After spending hours of research about a country or geography, I’d make a mental note of what I need to bring, how I’m going to survive, and what challenges I might face. Then, I head downstairs to the war room. In it, is a collection of gear that I’ve purchased in bulk and kept in stock for quick access and replenishing. From clothing to first-aid, personal care items to knives, toothbrushes to flashlights, I have everything labeled and neatly categorized. Sometimes, my assignments are back-to-back with only quick pit-stops at home before heading out again to another country—so being organized and well stocked with supplies saves me time from having to go shopping and allows me to rest in between assignments. For instance, I never have to worry if I’ve got enough toothpaste or power bars in between my assignments from India to Haiti. I’d rather rest and get my bearings in the 48 hours I have before heading out again.
Hot and Cold
On the right side of the room is Cold Gear. On the left is Hot Gear. Doing this allows me to quickly identify what clothing and equipment I need--depending on the destination I am going to and the temperatures I’ll be facing. Socks and underwear, base layers, mids, and outer shells are all separated for specific weather conditions. Footwear, rain gear, sleeping bags, tents and even cooking supplies are all taken into consideration with weather. It’s an important element that I constantly keep in mind.
For those that know me, know that I am one of those guys who buy fours of everything I own. Sometimes even five or six of everything. This allows me to pre-pack before going on assignments back-to-back.
Sometimes, I’d have three to four backpacks fully stuffed and ready to go before leaving for my first destination. When I return for my pit stop, I simply grab the next backpack in line and take off again.
I spend a lot of time making sure my first aid kit is always up to date. I’m a big fan of assembling my own first aid kit and avoid buying pre-packed kits. Most of the kits you see on the camping store shelf is designed to look like you’re getting a lot for your money, when in actuality, most of the things in there will never be used. My kit is basic and kept simple for 1 reason: In an emergency situation, I need to know where everything is and what it’s used for.
When preparing for any foreign assignment, I put together two kits: 1 for trauma and 1 for basic cuts and bruises that I carry with me at all times. The kits include the following:
2x C-A-T Combat Application Tourniquets (For arterial bleeds)
2x Latex Gloves
2x QuickClot Gauze and Hemostatic Bandage
2x Emergency Trauma Dressing (4inch).
1x Roll of medical tape
Planning Makes Perfect
Again, I can’t reiterate enough about the importance of planning in what I do. If you intend to do this type of work/travel for a living, learn to keep yourself organized and stay ontop of your game by being prepared.
If you have any specific questions, please feel free to email me or message me on Facebook.