Friday, October 7, 2016

Gypsy Survival - A Different Prepper Strategy

Many survival strategies involve hunkering down in place, homesteading, rural retreats and survival communities, or "bugging out" to those locations, where, through a combination of self-reliance and stockpiles of food & supplies, any future hard times can be survived. But I've long been intrigued by another possibility, which I call Gypsy Survival.

Gypsy Survival is a strategy that is loosely based on current and historical groups of highly nomadic peoples often referred to as "gypsies." This includes the Romani people, the Sinti, Irish Travellers, Scottish Tinkers, and Indigenous Norwegian Travellers, as well as other groups. In addition to these real-life examples, the concept of gypsies has been heavily fictionalized over the years. The Gypsy Survival Strategy I present here is a conglomeration of lessons and ideas from all these groups, as well as some of my own thoughts. My use of the term "gypsy" throughout this article refers to this conglomeration of ideas, not any one particular group, and is intended in a completely non-pejorative way.

Three Distinctive Features

I see three distinctive features of the gypsy lifestyle that could be adapted into a very successful survival strategy.

1) Gypsies lead a highly nomadic, very mobile lifestyle. Gypsies don't set down roots in any specific location. Home is not a place, but rather is being with family.  Where the "being with" actually takes place is irrelevant. Community, too, isn't a particular place, such as a neighborhood or town, but rather is the larger group of fellow gypsies.

Survival Advantage: Because there is nothing to hold them to a particular place, such as property owned or personal ties to local people, gypsies have the ability to quickly pack up and flee from danger. Or to quickly move to where there is more opportunity. This ability is more than just bugging out. Gypsies, because they have no roots and few possessions, can immediately leave one location and set up home in a new location, without any reluctance to leave or "stuff" holding them back.

2) Gypsies are NOT part of the worldly system, and have no desire to "fit in" or conform to the standards of modern society.  Rather than being swayed by the world around them, and the opinions of others, gypsies hold firm to their own language, culture, beliefs, and traditions. They have no need to "Get Out of Babylon," because they are already mostly out of the worldly system.

Survival Advantage: By being less dependent on the worldly system, gypsies have a considerable amount of flexibility in responding to threats and danger. They are not dependent on government or the established social order. Nor are they dependent on their employers or careers. They also make less compromises in maintaining their way of life, including religious beliefs, traditions, and other aspects of their culture that are very important to them.

3) Gypsies are loyal to the family/clan/tribe, NOT to a place (country, state, community), a government, or even to a company, career, or job. Privacy is of high importance. What happens within the gypsy community stays within their community. Disputes are handled internally, without bringing in any outside authorities. The preservation of their way of life, culture, beliefs, and traditions is of utmost importance.

Survival Advantage: Loyalty within families, and even within the larger gypsy community, means that they are there for each other. Gypsies help and protect their own. They are also better able to maintain their way of life and culture without compromising with the outside world. 

Possible Disadvantages

There are, of course, disadvantages to the gypsy lifestyle. Lack of property means that they typically cannot produce their own food. Instead, they must depend on what they can hunt, gather, and buy or trade for with outsiders. 

The gypsy refusal to assimilate into the outside world, and to conform with outside societal norms, means that they are typically the object of suspicion and distrust. This often leads to official discrimination, persecution, and even attempts at genocide against them. 

Other Hallmarks of the Gypsy Survival Strategy

Gypsies have developed the ability to vanish into the background. Did you know that there are over a million gypsies estimated to be living in the United States? Chances are that there are some living near you, and you don't even know it. This ability to go unnoticed, and to quickly vanish in the face of trouble, serves them quite well.

Gypsies prefer to avoid trouble rather than face it head on. As the saying goes, the surest way to survive a fight is to not get in a fight in the first place. They flee first, and only fight when it is unavoidable. Yes, gypsies will defend themselves when necessary, but they prefer to avoid danger if at all possible.

Gypsies typically don't own real estate. The days of living in their horse-drawn wagons (called vardos by some) are long gone, of course. Today most gypsies live in campers, trailers, or mobile homes. Occasionally, some my rent or lease apartments or houses, but even this is uncommon. This means that leaving an area is relatively a simple, and quick, driving away, with little packing up required. 

Gypsies live simple lifestyles, with relatively few possessions. This saves them time, space, and money. It also enables them to pack up and flee quickly when necessary. Unlike possessions, knowledge and skills cannot be lost, stolen, or broken

Gypsies work for themselves. Sometimes this means being self-employed (examples: artisans, craftsmen, animal trainers, entertainers, etc.)  Sometimes this means hiring themselves out to do part-time or temporary work. Gypsies can and do work in almost every career field imaginable. The point is that they don't tie themselves down to a particular company or career field.

Privacy is of utmost importance. What happens within the gypsy community stays within the gypsy community. Disputes are handled internally. They hold their language, rules, customs, and traditions closely, rarely sharing them with outsiders. Outsiders are rarely, if ever, brought into the gypsy community, and marriages with outsiders are highly discouraged. When dealing with outsiders, gypsies are notoriously vague in giving names and other bits of personal information, and never give specifics about the larger gypsy community. 

Check out the follow-up to this article, "Typical Prepper versus Gypsy Survivalist...  What the Gypsy Survival Strategy Might Actually Look Like."


  1. I love this approach that I've heard no where else.
    In survival mobility is paramount.
    Thanks for the great article.

    1. yep mobility is key in battle as well.

    2. how do gypsies deal with death and remaining unobserved?

    3. Good question. From what I've read, Gypsy funerals tend to be large, lavish affairs, often with hundreds in attendance. Safety in numbers?

      This would seem, of course, to expose them at least for the duration of the funeral. How that would hamper their ability to vanish after the funeral, I don't know.

      Nor do I know how they would handle a death/funeral during an especially dangerous time, when they otherwise would flee an area.

    4. Here is a description of a 1994 Gypsy funeral from the Baltimore Sun Not exactly an invisible affair...

  2. Traveling uninvited into someone else's territory when circumstances are stressed, and resources slim and guarded seems like a recipe to be run off at gunpoint or shot. I am a rancher and small time farmer, and uninvited people are not welcome, son.

    1. Not just during stressful times. Gypsies tend to be unwelcome most places they go, and often are chased away by hostile locals. Still, the gypsy way of life has been successfully practiced for 1000+ years...

  3. I've been intrigued by the Romany Life for many years but my knowledge of those folks has been limited.
    Thanks very much for the tutorial!

  4. Excellent article!

    We live there already, with the Sea Gypsy community... thousands of ocean-bourne ad-hoc mobile utopias traveling anyplace our interests take us. Living free and eating healthy from the bounty of the sea and shore.

    Rough weather? Move!
    Rioters? Pull anchor, meet-up at such-and-such coordinates!
    Meddlesome bureaucrats? Move!
    Love potential? Go for it!

    Remember that part of the Second Amendment:
    "...necessary to a free state..."

    Read more at SAILING THE FARM, and SEAGYPSYPHILOSOPHER. You'll thank me later.

  5. always said I was a GYPSY AT HEART, now I know I am.....Thanks for the article.....

  6. The key is not necessarily to BE a gypsy but to adopt the beneficial skills and principals of nomadic gypsy lifestyle. being able to go doesn't mean you can't stay. the ability to be mobile relatively quickly, keeping your business to yourself, having a broad spectrum skill set and being independent of the outside world are all strong tenets of survival. there will of course be hostility but there will also be acceptance. no man is an island and there is strength in numbers in many ways.
    regardless of your approach you WILL find like minded people and you can pool resources for mutual gain.
    Oh yeah, by the way I live full time in an RV. traveling the country and picking up work along the way.

  7. I posted to the other article on GypsyPrepper life, but will add it here too.

    I think it's a misunderstanding to say that the wanderer life is "not part of the worldly system." They are just as dependent but in a different way. They depend on the worldly system to buy food from, pay them for temporary jobs, etc. They're bees living off the flowers, but in an SHTF environment, there's likely to not be any flowers to live off of.

    Recognizing that the woldly system's ability to supply (food, water, safety) could be gone, is why stationary preppers stockpile. A GypsyPrepper is then coutning on living off of stationary preppers' stockpiles too.