Taking control of your own life is something that everyone wants to do but there are several ways that you can do it and several things to think about before you do. Disappearing completely is one way to take absolute control of your life, but it’s important to know that the life you live once you’ve succeeded is definitely not going to be easy. It’s going to be hard work and it’s going to take a lot of dedication.
So make sure you’re ready for the full-time, life-long commitment (and your family is to) before you take these steps into oblivion by figuring out how to disappear completely.
What to consider
Before you decide to disappear you need to think about potential consequences. If you have any type of criminal or civil charges, owe debt or for any reason could be seen to be avoiding your responsibilities if you disappear, you could face some serious charges if you’re ever found.
If your family sends out a search party and gets the police or others involved you could be responsible for the costs of that search party as well. That’s why it’s important to consider what you’re leaving behind and make sure you’ve made arrangements for anything you may owe and definitely for yourself so everyone will know not to come looking for you.
The best chance of disappearing entirely is if you go alone. That doesn’t mean you have to, but you need to remember that the more people go with you the harder it’s going to be to actually accomplish this task. Children make it even more difficult than another adult does so think long and hard before you decide to take children into this type of lifestyle.
You’ll also want to make sure that you can’t be charged with kidnapping if you do take a child with you and that the lifestyle you’re going to provide them with isn’t going to get you charged with child endangerment either.
The first thing to do is get rid of as much stuff as you possibly can. You want to get away from the rest of the world, remember, so that means you need to look at everything you own and think about which things you absolutely need and which ones you just want. Pictures and other mementoes need to go. It’s a sad experience, but the best thing you can do is burn all the pictures, letters and other items that you own.
You’ll also want to get rid of your car so that no one follows it. Leave it somewhere in a bad neighborhood and stick the title right inside and you won’t have to worry about it sitting around for long. Someone will take care of that loose end for you pretty quickly. And make sure you don’t take anything that ties you to your old life. All you need are some clothes and some hygiene items from that old life and of course your survival supplies.
Your next step needs to be disconnecting from anything and everything you can. If you’re online with profiles on social media start taking them down. It’s going to take some time to accomplish because simply deleting those profiles is going to be suspicious to most people. Instead, you want to slowly ease out of them so no one really notices once the profile is gone. You’re also going to want to slip out of the house when no one else is going to notice or be suspicious about it.
If your neighbors are watching and you can make it seem like you’re just heading out to the gym that’s fine. But if they’re going to think there’s something weird you need to wait for a better time when no one will see.
You’re going to want plenty of cash to take with you. That means visiting the bank several times during the preceding months to pull out cash, cash in checks, savings bonds or other accounts and make sure you’re storing the cash somewhere safe.
Credit cards and checks can be tracked and whenever you try to cash in any kind of government bond that has to be reported. That’s why you want to do it over a long period of time, so no one notices that you’re taking everything. The last thing you want to do is walk in the day before you leave and cash out everything you own.
The best ways you can travel are ways that are going to take your cash and not ask for any information. Your own two feet, your bike, a train or a bus are going to help you but remember that any form of public transportation is going to cause some level of danger since someone could see you. It’s also possible that they have security cameras on board so make sure you use these methods of transportation only sparingly.
Create the story
You’re going to have to tell everyone something. Chances are pretty good if you just walk out of the house one day and vanish without a trace it’s going to make people wonder and they’re going to look for you. That’s where all that time and money comes in because if the police get involved there’s a higher chance of them finding you and there’s a much higher chance of you having to pay a lot of money for a search you didn’t even want in the first place.
Spend a lot of time on your cover story and make sure that you’re working through all the loopholes. Consider the questions that people will ask and have an answer ready. The more prepared you are the better you’re going to be when it comes down to the wire and you have to let the news out.
Your story could be about a new job, a big vacation of a lifetime, anything you want. Make sure you’re telling as few people as you need to in order to make the story stick because the more people you tell the more likely it is that some of the details will be different and you don’t want anyone comparing notes.
The best thing you can do to disappear is cut all ties, but if you’re not quite prepared for that you’ll need a prepaid phone or a dummy email account that you can use from a public computer. Let your friends know the information about the account but don’t tell them anything different from what you told anyone else. They still won’t be able to find you even though they can get in contact with you. But if you need them or you want to come back out of hiding you’ll be able to find them.
Create an identity
If you have a lot of money you can create your own corporation that will funnel money (your own money) through a system to you. It should be made very carefully so that it’s difficult to track to your name at all and even if someone does connect it they won’t really be able to find out that the money is coming from you, only that some is getting to you. You’re not going to want actual fake identification however because this could cause you some serious problems if you don’t know who they actually belong to.
You’re going to have to recreate your entire self. That means making sure you change the way you look and the way you act. It’s difficult to do but it’s going to keep people from recognizing you on the off chance one of your old high school friends happens to fly into the neighborhood you’ve created yourself in or someone starts looking for you and gives the police information about your habits.
If you have little quirks or strange habits you’ll need to make some dramatic changes right away and stop them cold. You’ll also want to change your look with a new haircut, new color, new style. The more you change the harder it’s going to be to recognize you later.
If you’re going to disappear and live entirely off the land you want to take your survival gear. You need things like a tent, sleeping bag, map, hiking boots, ropes, tools, anything you would need to live off the land. You’re also going to need plenty of warm clothes so gathering all of these items may take a lot of time. Unless your plan is to let everyone know you’re going off on a hiking and camping tour of Europe for a few months you’re not going to get away with buying all those supplies and hiding them away right close to the last minute. Here’s our useful article on the ultimate bug out bag for survival, read it before you leave on that trip.
If you’re planning to take all your hard-earned money and live on an exotic island for the next fifty years then you’re going to want cash and some clothes but you won’t need the survival gear. You’re going to have a much more relaxing remainder of your life. Just make sure you’re not taking anything personal as it could be easily tracked to you. That’s definitely not something you want because it’s going to ruin that permanent vacation. Since you’re traveling alone, get protected. Check out our piece on the best pepper spray for self-defense – you’re going to need it.
You need to get away somewhere that no one is going to know you and no one is going to recognize you even by happenstance. If you’re well known that means you’re going to need to travel a lot further or take greater pains to change your appearance. For the average person this process won’t be difficult as your friends and family are probably pretty centrally located and any other average person wouldn’t recognize you from twenty other people. That’s the best way to go.
You want to know where you’re heading from the start. The plan shouldn’t be traveling forever. You want to find a place where you can settle down and start your new life. It will take some work but you’ll be able to accomplish a whole lot more that way and that’s important. Make sure you pay attention to any papers you may need to get there, whether it’s somewhere domestic or somewhere international. You may even want to purchase tickets using those credit cards one last time so people will think you’ve went to one part of the world when you’re really going somewhere different. That will help throw them off the trail. This may be a good time to read our popular piece on how to be successful living off grid in Alaska, check it out.
Throwing people off
You should try to keep anyone from ever finding out too much about you. You’ll be the loner everywhere you go from now on. You won’t have friends or create a family. You won’t start at a new company. You’ll need to be able to be entirely self-sufficient somehow and that’s definitely not easy. It’s best for those who have wealth of their own or for those who are going to primarily live off the land. You’ll have to figure out how you fit into that scenario and what you’re going to do about getting money to live on.
When you do talk to people (because occasionally you’ll have to) try to be a little vague about personal information. You have to make them think you’re telling them a lot and opening up without actually revealing anything. Create personal stories on the spot (but only if you know you’re not going to see them again) or ‘reveal’ things about yourself that aren’t actually true. Maybe with that waitress who just wants to chat a little too much or the guy you run into on the elevator.
If you are traveling entirely you’ll want to make sure you have cash for everywhere you go. Never use a credit card or a check for anything. You should always use cash because it’s entirely untraceable. They can’t find out where it came from or get any information because too many people touch a bill in a single day and definitely in several days. There’s no way to get information about it (even though they do sometimes on TV shows).
Disappearing with children
If you have to take your children with you know that it’s going to be a lot more difficult. You need to maintain a specific standard of life for children and that includes stable housing, meals and schooling when they get old enough. If you’re not providing those things and you are found it could result in serious legal trouble including jail time and even having your children taken away from you. Make sure you’re aware of this before you pull your children into the situation.
If your children have another parent that is not going with you understand that you could face kidnapping charges. Even though the child is yours as well you have no right to deny the other parent visitation (unless the court has already revoked visitation and their rights). If they have any kind of parental rights to the child however that will result in you being charged with kidnapping or at the very least denying their legal rights and this could also result in jail or loss of your own parental rights. You need to understand these possibilities before you go.
Disappearing with children is going to take a lot more work as well. It’s harder to get your children to give up everything they’ve ever known and even harder to keep them from trying to connect with old friends and other family (especially the older they are when you leave).
You’ll also have a harder time getting them not to talk to people or share information about your past life, the one you’re trying to get away from and forget entirely. So make sure you talk with them and work with them as much as possible to help them understand how important it is to keep those facts secret and try to avoid opportunities where they could talk to others as much as possible.
Staying with your children at all times is going to be essential to making your plan work. If you’re not with them you don’t know what they could be doing and it’s going to be only too easy for your disappearance to suddenly turn into a rediscovery. You don’t want to spend all that time, effort and money organizing your plan and your disappearance only to have your child make one seemingly innocent comment that throws everything off and ruins it all.
If you plan to disappear completely you need to make sure you’re thinking it through from the start and putting in as much effort and time as possible. You’re going to need to work hard at this. It’s not something you can decide to do and execute in a week.
So think it through. Take a year if you can to plan everything, create your story, make yourself entirely liquid and definitely get rid of as much as you possibly can. If you can keep people away from your house you can even start selling a lot of your possessions to get even more cash. Because the more cash you have the better off you’ll be in figuring out how to disappear completely.