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.
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."