Sunday, October 23, 2016

Typical Prepper versus Gypsy Survivalist...

What the Gypsy Survival Strategy Might Actually Look Like

In my recent article, Gypsy Survival - A Different Prepper Strategy, I introduced an idea I've been thinking about for a number of years. It is a prepper strategy based on disconnecting from the system and extreme mobility, rather than stockpiling or homesteading. In  this article, I want to consider what the Gypsy Survival Strategy might actually look like by comparing it to typical prepper ideas on several points. 

Typical Prepper: Home is your physical address. Perhaps an apartment or house. Maybe a homestead or farm. Probably have a mortgage and property taxes. Costs money, time, and effort to maintain. Still, it is yours (at least until the government or bank decides otherwise). Requires furniture and other stuff, which costs money/time/effort to buy and maintain.

Gypsy Survivalist: Home is wherever you are with family and friends. Not a physical address, which would only be temporary anyway. Most likely sleep in a tent, camper, trailer, RV, or mobile home of some sort. All your stuff fits inside your vehicle and/or mobile home. Little, probably no, furniture or large other items.

Typical Prepper: Bugging-in at your current location, or bugging-out to a prearranged location, such as a retreat that would then likely become your permanent location if you could not return to the original location. 

Gypsy Survivalist: No permanent location or home. Constantly moving away from danger or towards opportunity as conditions warrant. 

Typical Prepper: Probably have "roots" where you live. Friends & family that permanently live nearby. A particular church you attend. A job/career/employer for which you feel some loyalty or responsibility. Organizations that you are a part of... Things that may make you reluctant/slow to leave a location if things suddendly go bad. 

Gypsy Survivalist: No roots in the local community, thus nothing holding you back. Your roots are with the community of like-minded family & friends you travel with... (Interestingly, Roma and other "gypsies" never marry, date, or even have strong friendships with non-Roma; all that is done within the larger Roma/Gypsy community.)

Typical Prepper: Unless they are making money homesteading, farming, or from their own small business, most preppers have regular jobs/careers working for someone else. Could be anything from blue collar workers to professionals. The need for such employment is a limiting factor for many preppers (including me).

Gypsy Survivalist: Typically self-employed or take temporary/part-time work for which they feel no loyalty towards employer. Easy to just leave whenever. Traditionally, gypsies tend to be entertainers of some sort (singers, musicians, actors, storytellers, fortune tellers, etc.). Think vaudeville. This seems to hold true today, although to a somewhat lesser extent. Other common gypsy employment is as animal trainers, artisans, craftsmen, tinkers, handymen, and similar professions. Gypsies can be professionals, and some are, but their lifestyle often makes for a difficult career path in terms of advancement, though their is always some need for temporary nurses, accountants, etc.

Typical Prepper: Stockpiling food, water,  and supplies in quantity. Lots of redundancy. This requires space to store, money to buy, time to organize/maintain. Decreases mobility.

Gypsy Survivalist: Goods and other stuff kept on-hand would have to be minimal. A few days to a couple of weeks worth of food & supplies at most. Emphasis would have to be on collecting & providing as needed, rather than storing. Example: Instead of storing lots of water in jugs or tanks, the Gypsy Survivalist would depend on their ability to collect/treat water using tools like the Lifestraw Family Water Filter or Lifestraw Go Bottles. Food is obtained by buying or trading with locals, by hunting, fishing, & collecting wild edibles, and possibly by having small gardens when camped at a suitable location for a period of time. I've also heard tale of some gypsies traveling with a few goats or chickens.

Typical Prepper: Lots of tools and other gear. Lots of redundancy. Requires money to buy, room to store, time/effort to maintain. Probably lots of big tools, especially if homesteading is part of the plan. Again, cost & need for room to store are factors.

Gypsy Survivalist: Minimal tools and gear with little redundancy. Would have to emphasize quality, usefulness, and practicality, over quantity. Would require a certain amount of ingenuity and creative thinking. Get the most "bang for your buck," so to speak. No need to have yard or garden tools (other than maybe a shovel). No need for power tools (maybe a gas-powered chain saw?). Would have at least a good set of basic tools and skill to use them, and a few tools of the trade for tinkers/metalworkers, handymen types.

Typical Prepper: Large library of books on prepping, homesteading, gardening, country skills, survival medicine, and a variety of other potentially useful topics. I've seen preppers/survivalists brag about their libraries of thousands of books. My own is in the hundreds. Again, cost and room to store are issues. Besides, in reality most of those books will go unread.

Gypsy Survivalist: No room for a large library. Maybe one or two 3-foot shelves worth of books. Will force you to be choosy about what books you keep on-hand. Only the most important, useful, and often-used will make the cut. Again, quality over quantity. 


  1. "Gypsies" or the Roma, are NOT decent people in the vast majority of the areas in which they travel. I am nothing like them at all, I have a moral compass and use it. Always have and always will, therefore, I cannot ever be Roma (gypsy), thankfully. Not a good analogy for preppers to engage in,

    1. Wow. What a stunningly ignorant statement. I also notice you are a COWARD, making such a VILE comment while hiding your identity & posting as Anonymous.

      Roma are like any other group of people - a mixture of good and bad. As the Bible says "For ALL have sinned..." And that includes you.

  2. Since the mid-1970s, I worked as a traveling Physical Therapist. I specialize in geriatrics, so I can easily follow the snowbirds and the weather.

    Between contracts, I enjoy nature, often rendezvousing with other travelers deep in some forest. We tend to congregate around hot-springs and great views.

    And, much too often, we run into elderly or disabled campers toting an oxygen tank or other medical device, and inevitability, they always say "I wish I did this sixty-years ago!"

    My advice: instead of following the well-trod path of college (debt) and house (debt) and car and furniture and televisionprogramming (debt, debt, die), explore.

    I'm Large Marge in Baja for the winter, and I approve of this message.

  3. The gypsy style works for them for several reasons, but the most important reason it will not work for most preppers is the lack of community. Gypsies have the group they travel with, as well as other gypsies wherever they are going. For opsec reasons, a prepper will not announce who they are, nor will other preppers in the area they travel to, so there is no way to find them when you get there. For anyone other than an actual gyspy, this would be more of a hobo existence. There is nothing wrong with that, but lone wolf is the least secure plan for prepping. Just something to consider.

    1. I agree. This would work best within the context of a larger community of fellow travelers, which doesn't (yet) exist. Actual gypsy groups have the advantage of being around for 1000+ years and a relatively large community (The Roma, for example, have a worldwide population of close to 20 million by some estimates).

      I am thinking about a future article on this topic, so please check back from time to time.

  4. Okay, over a year late to this article, but you posted a link. :-) One of the downsides I see to the gypsy style is that it is subtly dependent on 'regular' society continuing to function.

    They buy their food wherever they are instead of stockpiling. What if the SHTF event shuts down supply lines? Where does the GypsyPrepper buy his food? They work odd jobs wherever they are. In a collapsed economy people with thin resources themselves, will be less likely to hire outsiders -- especially for "luxury" things like being entertained. Even if as a GypsyPrepper, you're an itinerant gunsmith or midwife -- what if no one needs (or wants to pay) for gun work, or there are no babies to deliver?

    The Roma life depends on the Non-Roma society still functiong well.

    -- Mic