How to Escape a Foreign Country

How to Escape a Foreign Country

by James Walton

One day, you are on the beach in some exotic locale, the waves lapping at white sand, with a field of amazonite ocean stretched between you and the horizon. It’s paradise. 

Twenty-four hours later, you are being evacuated from your resort and trying to cobble together some kind of emergency exit back to the U.S. You are scouring the internet–lucky to even have a signal to browse for flights, drivers, and cruise lines to assist in an emergency evacuation

With this situation in mind , we are going to talk about how to avoid this whole mess so that you have a plan should things go south. Paradise, after all, can turn into hell real quick if you are a tourist trapped in a third world nation that is going through some form of existential crisis. This could be a major disaster, a financial collapse, or even a political revolution! 

Table of Contents

  • 01

    Research Your AO

  • 02

    Establish Ground Transportation Early

  • 03

    Stay Informed

  • 04

    Become the Grayman

  • 05

    How the State Department Might Help

  • 06

    Final Thoughts on Escaping a Foreign Nation

  • 07

    Frequently Asked Questions

Research Your AO


Take time and research your destination (image courtesy of Tracking Happiness)

You might be surprised to find that the majority of preparations for escaping a foreign country happen long before you arrive. Getting to know your AO, or area of operation, at the given destination is critical.

There are several topics to research, and your findings will give you most of what you need to create an evacuation plan. Without a doubt, your trip is gonna be way better the more you know. How are you gonna find that hole in the wall eatery if you don’t do a little research? 

Don’t know where to start? Consult the following list of areas to research:

🔶 Travel restrictions/alerts
🔶 Primary and secondary languages of locale
🔶 Currency and transactions
🔶 Vaccinations
🔶 Visa requirements
🔶 Safeness of tap water for drinking
🔶 Cultural customs and etiquette
🔶 Travel and transport services and locations
🔶 Embassy locations
🔶 Adjacent nations that are U.S.-friendly


While this may look like a hefty checklist, these are all travel essentials if you want to get out of a country in a bad situation. As such, the full extent of the research might take up one Sunday afternoon. Remember: if a wildfire spreads into your area, it will be time well spent. 

Lastly, don’t forget your child’s needs while you are planning

Establish Ground Transportation Early


Apps like Uber can help with ground transportation. (Image courtesy of Uber)

The speed at which your emergency evacuation happens will make all the difference. Hoofing it to the border, on foot, is the least ideal way of getting to safety. You need wheels, and you might need wings. 

From independent transport services to larger scale public transport, you should have knowledge, contact numbers, and even reservations with establishments like these. Should a crisis be on the horizon or unfolding, you want several options for emergency evacuation. 

A gas mask could help if ash and smoke are chasing you out of the country from something like a volcano. If you can drive through an affected area because of your gas mask, this could also save you important time. The priority is to put distance between you and the reason for your emergency exit.

The priority is transport out of the country. A flight might not be the best option, because waiting around might not be an option. If you can get off an island by boat in a few hours or out of a nation by train, then take the quickest option. The flight back to the states or back to your city can happen next. 

Staying Informed


Tune into local news each night to stay up to date. (Image courtesy of iStock)

Would you even know if there was a disaster or emergency while you were in a foreign nation? Many resorts are tucked away from the harsh realities of life on islands like Jamaica and the Dominican Republic. These resorts are designed to give you the time of your life while shielding you from what's really happening just down the road. 

Bear in mind that the U.S. State Department asks that you enroll in the STEP program if you are traveling abroad. This STEP program will keep you informed–and also help the U.S. Embassy in your respective nation contact you in a disaster. This is a free service, and one that all Americans traveling abroad should be signed up to. 

Become a Grayman


Blending in requires an understanding of the people and place you are visiting. (Image courtesy of Natural News)

There was a time when this tactic was so popular that it seemed to be the ONE SURVIVAL STRATEGY TO RULE THEM ALL. What is it really all about? Well, you wanna look less like a tourist and more like someone who knows the area. That’s because it makes you less of a target in a bad situation. 

Your gray man ninja skill set will be important when traveling off site accommodations to a safer area or a different country altogether. If you look like a tourist then you will be treated as such–and maybe targeted. 

By contrast, if you know your route, are dressed like a local, and have the demeanor and speed of life that is common in the area, then you won't attract attention. 

How the State Department Might Help


Be prepared to escape with our without the aid of the State Department. (Image courtesy of Signature Bail)

It’s never a good idea to assume your government will come to the rescue. That said, there are some things that you can do to help the State Department find you and possibly send resources your way. 

Enrolling in the STEP program, mentioned above, is the best way to be easily identified and contacted by the embassy. These are the channels that help will come through.

Bear in mind that the State Department is not going to send money to get you out of a nation. There are also a whole host of things they have to consider before taking action. These variables will determine the State Department's best course of action. 

Since you can never know what they will do, it is best to have your own plans in place and take the help from the government should it come and should it be necessary. Remember: resources not used to get you out will be used to get other Americans out. 

Final Thoughts on Escaping a Foreign Nation


Do the work upfront to avoid being trapped. (Image courtesy of Leave no Trace)

The work you do before your trip will really determine the success of your emergency evacuation. Planning and research are not just for creating the SHTF plan to escape a foreign country. The more you learn about where you are going the better your stay is going to be, too! 

If we had to choose one thing to establish when traveling, it would be the ground transportation element. Having a reliable Uber driver or service that will come to you in a moment's notice is so valuable in emergencies big and small. 

And hey, don’t forget to enjoy yourself. The state of affairs around the world and at home are enough to drive anyone insane. If you are planning a trip, then you should at least be willing to set all the chaos aside and enjoy life. If you have done the work up front, it makes this part a lot easier. 

Frequently Asked Questions

Can you cross into another nation without a passport?
When should I evacuate a foreign nation?