Emergency KitDo digital nomads, remote employees and location independent workers need an emergency kit? More people are living and working in areas outside their country, staying in hotels or renting space in private homes. If an unexpected emergency, such as a natural disaster or civil unrest, takes place will they be prepared to survive those first few days of chaos and uncertainty?

Boosted by the pandemic, the number of digital nomads has jumped significantly. Today there are 35 million location-independent workers worldwide. In the U.S., the number of digital nomads has doubled since 2018 to more than 11 million in 2021. The most popular destinations among digital nomads include Bali, Mexico, Thailand, Vietnam, Colombia, Turkey and Hungary. Many areas do not have the emergency infrastructure or rescue resources common in western industrialized nations.

Without those resources, digital nomads – who, by circumstance, travel light – will need to rely on what they have at hand to survive an emergency as best as possible. That’s when they need an emergency kit. In some situations, it would be a Go Bag but under other circumstances, it’s a Shelter-In-Place case. Having both is ideal because you cannot pre-determine what specific kind of emergency you may encounter.

An emergency kit is something you typically keep where you live, can be easily accessed at a moment’s notice and contains the supplies you would need in the event of an emergency where you have to shelter in place or evacuate. It could include a change of clothes, energy bars, a water purification method, first aid items, cash and a passport.

The components of a digital nomad’s emergency kit will differ based on their destination, activity and the potential risk they may face. It will include items that serve key needs: food and water, communications, navigation, first aid, hygiene and shelter. When conditions are at their worst, you will still be able to eat, treat an injury, signal for help, and stay out of danger until the emergency passes. An emergency kit is intended to meet only basic needs, you may not be comfortable, but you’ll be alive.

An emergency kit container or bag should be compact, lightweight, preferably waterproof or water-resistant and portable. The contents are dictated by your destination, activity and the season. Some items make sense in nearly all conditions. Here’s a breakdown of the tools, equipment and other items you might need when preparing an emergency kit.

Food and Water

Water is essential. Ideally, you have a gallon a day per person for a few days. Be certain to include water treatment supplies to purify and filter water from external sources. An aluminium cup can be used to drink or cook food. Non-perishable food for several days. High-calorie food like energy bars, bouillon cubes and jerky are lightweight and provide needed sustenance. A multi-tool that has a knife, fork, spoon, can opener or bottle opener is handy.

Personal Hygiene

Pack a change of clothes matched to the season. You cannot depend on sewer and water utilities functioning during an emergency so include moist towelettes, toilet paper, garbage bags and plastic ties for personal sanitation and hygiene.


You probably have a cell phone but service could easily be down in an emergency. Consider including a two-way satellite communication device as well as signalling devices like a mirror and a whistle.  A flashlight is essential and can also be used for signalling. A headlamp is lightweight and leaves your hands free.


Navigation tools including a GPS unit, a local map and a compass are essential. Include a flashlight.

First Aid

A stripped-down first aid kit is imperative. Make certain it includes a Sam splint, Ace bandages, gauze pads, a tourniquet, a compression device, duct tape, and a supply of your prescription medicines plus some over-the-counter pain relievers and antacids. Toss in a few N95 masks to prevent inhalation of dust, ash or any other particulate matter caused by the emergency event.


A shelter protects from rain, cold, sun, wind, bugs, dust and more. Plastic sheeting, a tarp and duct tape along with an emergency blanket each combine to provide improved shelter outside and, if necessary, inside. Include 50 feet of Paracord and a multi-tool that includes a knife blade, pliers, and a saw, and you’ll have the essentials to create an emergency shelter.

Mistakes to Avoid

There is no such thing as a “one-size-fits-all” comprehensive emergency kit. If you try to prepare for every possible circumstance then your kit will be too big and too heavy. Remember money and identification. In an emergency, monetary transaction machines for ATMs, gas and groceries will likely be down. Keep some small bills and a spare credit card in your kit. Make digital and hardcopies of your passport, vaccination card, medical prescriptions, and driver’s license and store them, too.

If your emergency kit is well equipped then your ability to get through a difficult emergency situation will be more successful.

Written by: Harding Bush is a former Navy SEAL and manager of security operations for Global Rescue, the world’s leading provider of medical, security, evacuation and travel risk management services.