Note: This is an updated rewrite of an article I wrote back in 2016.
Many survival strategies involve hunkering down in place, homesteading, rural retreats and survival communities, or at least "bugging out" to a pre-arranged location where you can do those things while riding out any future disaster. These plans involve, at least on paper, large stockpiles food, medicine, guns and ammo, and other supplies, along with food production (gardening, fruit trees, raising chickens, sheep and other livestock), and off-grid water, power, communications, and sanitation systems.
I do think this is a good plan, one which I am building towards myself. But I've also long been intrigued by another possibility, which I call Gypsy Survival.
Gypsy Survival, as I conceive it, is a strategy that is very 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.
Please understand I am NOT telling you to become a gypsy. You couldn't even if you wanted to, as these groups do not accept outsiders. Rather, I am suggesting that you consider their lifestyle and learn from their ways, taking the best and rejecting the worst. "Chew the meat and spit out the bones," as Pastor Joe Fox (aka VikingPreparedness) often says.
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 and tribe. 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, or tribe, of their fellow gypsies. And these nomadic people definitely have very strong communities.
Survival Advantage: Because there is nothing to hold them to a particular place, such as property they own 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 relatively few possessions, can immediately leave one location and set up home in a new location, without any reluctance to leave or any "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 "come out of her my people" because they are already mostly out of the worldly system, although they can and do still use the worldly system when convenient for them. But they don't need the worldly system nearly as much as the rest of us do.
Survival Advantage: By being less dependent on the worldly system, gypsies have a considerable amount of flexibility in responding to threats and danger. Or opportunities, for that matter. 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. Consider these three:
1) Lack of property means that they typically cannot produce much of their own food. Instead, they must depend on what they can hunt, fish, and gather, as well as buy or trade for with outsiders. (However, I have seen a few documentaries where the gypsies would plant small gardens, and have chickens, rabbits, and even a few goats in some cases. Apparently, some food production is possible.)
2) The gypsy refusal to assimilate into the outside world, and to conform with outside societal norms, means that they are typically the object of great suspicion and distrust. This often leads to official discrimination, persecution, and even attempts at genocide against them.
3) How would modern gypsies deal with the current and developing situations of travel restrictions, medical passports,15-minute cities, and Surveillance State tracking technologies, not to mention the looming cashless, digital economy and social credit scores? Of course, it is an open question for how us regular folks are going to deal with such things, too.
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 legally*? 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.
* And this "over a million" figure is from before the open borders lunacy of the last few years. How many new gypsies have come in illegally since then?
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 even a particular 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 their actual names and other bits of personal information, and never give specifics about the larger gypsy community.
I will be posting a second article on Gypsy Survival in the near future, so please check back soon!