It’s CRAZY early in the morning, the stars are still out, and you’re driving. You are driving because you decided to spend your last night of a long weekend with friends instead of leaving for home.
You hit a little rain, a little more, then the skies open up — big time. You keep on driving until Mother Nature says otherwise and pushes a flash flood over the only highway home.
It’s certain you’ll be late to work, but are you screwed?
Depends on the answer to this question.
Do you have a Go-bag?
The opening story isn’t a joke. It happened mid-January on my way back from Houston to Austin. Heavy rains put Highway 21 underwater and I was in hot water until I looked in my back seat where my Go-bag was good to go. Called the station, said I was stranded in Bastrop, and went to work until a photog arrived.
The G0-bag is a journalist’s best friend. It is a key to great stories, better opportunities, and a chance to put yourself ahead of a constantly competitive pack. If we had a dollar for every time we wished for something in the field we’d all be rich, and then retire from news.
Seeing as none of us are, here are my Go-bag essentials journo’s should ALWAYS carry.
It starts with a durable, accessible, transportable bag.
Then you fill it up:
- permanent marker
- cell phone charger
- tape (duct,electrical – scotch only works on paper)
- safety pins
- pain reliever (tylenol, advil, etc.)
- roll of TUMS (for the roadside food stand you just visited)
- bleach pen (for the food you just spilled)
- few cough drops
- travel hairspray/gel
- travel deodorant
- base makeup
- travel umbrella/rain poncho
- spare IFB (for TV)
- business cards
- written list of contact #’s (when your cell phone dies, which shouldn’t happen)
- penlight (to read the list of #’s)
- flashdrive (at least 1GB)
- gum (makes more friends than you think)
Before you question any of it, know that every item has been used at least half a dozen times over the past few years. As a journalist, there is simply not enough to be said for following the Boy Scout motto. Some network correspondents go so far as to have a fully packed suitcase in their office containing the above and 3 days change of clothes. Extreme — maybe, but do you want to miss breaking news because you’re lazy?
On top of those items, here are a few items I always keep in my car:
- Rain boots
- Rain jacket
- pair of jeans
- clean undershirt
- ballcap (preferably station related)
They don’t take up much space and when you’re driving back home in your pajamas, it pays to have something to change into before doing your first of many live hits throughout the day. Items you hopefully have nearby include laptop or camera, but a smart phone can get a stranded journalist far these days.
Let me know what else you carry in the comment box below.