[Update] This post was updated on
“Disappearing” completely or going off the grid is no easy feat.
If you want to disappear completely from your current life and create a new life, you’ve got to plan accordingly. It’s not something to mess around with and there are a lot of steps you have to take.
Whether you plan to disappear for a short period of time or intend to stay off the grid forever, you have to get some things in order.
Maybe you’re looking for a brand new lifestyle. Maybe you just want to leave your old life behind. Maybe you’re in trouble and don’t want government interference. Maybe you worried about “big brother” watching over your every move. Perhaps you’re in fear for your life. (If you think your life is in danger, there are government services, such as the witness protection program, that can assist). Maybe you’re way past that point and you’re ready to disappear today.
Whatever your reasons are, we’ve put together a complete guide on how to disappear completely.
1. Create Your Escape Plan
If you want to vanish without a trace, you need a smart plan of action. This means doing your research, crossing your t’s, and dotting your i’s. You have to think of everything and you can’t forget anything.
And just in case your plans go awry, have a plan B on standby.
2. Begin (Slowly) Distancing Yourself From Others
You can’t disappear overnight. People will become suspicious and you’ll be found before you know it. The key to disappearing without anyone noticing is to start distancing yourself from people in a slow manner.
Stop going to social events. Stop checking in with friends. The more distance you put between yourself and others, the easier it will be to slip into thin air.
Once you’re off the grid, stay off.
Don’t contact family members. Don’t get in touch with friends. It may be difficult not to reach out to loved ones, but you have to resist the urge. You must keep to yourself.
3. Become “Unbanked”
Withdraw money from every account you have in a slow and methodical manner. If you clear out every account all at once, it could cause alarm.
Once you are unbanked, keep your cash in a safe place, and don’t use any bank accounts, debit cards or credit cards that require a traceable form of ID. Look for unique items, such as a wall clock that doubles as a hidden safe, where you can safely stash your funds.
4. Erase Your Online Presence
You’ll need to delete all your blogs, email accounts, and social media profiles. If you’re not already active online, don’t become active now. The less of an online presence you have, the easier it will be to slip away without anyone noticing.
It may be impossible to wipe away every trace of yourself on the internet, but you can delete your own accounts.
5. Plan to Leave Your Pets Behind
This may be the most difficult thing to do when going off the grid. If you have a pet, give it up for adoption to a local shelter. You could also give it to a close friend, but you’ll need a good excuse to do so. You don’t want to alert anyone to the fact that you’re about to vanish into thin air.
Whatever you do, DO NOT leave your pet alone in your current home or apartment. First and foremost, it’s cruel. But in addition to that, it could lead whoever finds your pet to believe that something is wrong. And if someone starts to think that something isn’t as it should be, they might start searching for you.
6. Quit Your Job
Don’t take an extended vacation. Don’t miss work on a day that they’re expecting you. Quit and make it final so that no one expects you to ever return.
Do yourself a favor and save your last few paychecks for your escape. It will be hard to plan in advance what your next source of income will be, so make sure you’ve got as much cash on hand as possible. The more you’ve got saved, the safer you’ll be.
7. Align Your Vanish Date With the End Of Your Lease
The key to a successful disappearing act is not to draw attention to yourself.
If you abandon your apartment and leave your belongings behind, alarm bells will go off. By leaving your furniture and personal items behind, it will look like you just up and went.
Trash everything or sell your stuff for extra cash and travel only with the essentials that can fit into your bug out bag.
8. Collect All Your Legal Documents
You are going to need to leave your old identity behind. Gather your birth certificate, social security card, driver’s license, and other documents and decide if you’re going to keep them or destroy them. If you do keep them, make sure you have a great hiding spot.
9. Decide Where to Go
You need a have a destination in mind before you leave. Go as far south as you can and look for small towns where you’re not likely to be found. For Americans, look at somewhere in Central America, like Mexico, or in South America as a starting point.
Keep in mind that the smaller the town the harder it may be to find work there.
10. Get Rid of Your Phone and Car
Whether you sell it or junk it, you’ll have to get rid of your car. Cancel your cell phone plan, trash your smartphone, and communicate only with burner phones that can’t be traced back to you. It may be tempting to give out your phone number to old family and friends, but this can ruin your vanishing act.
Should you decide to buy a new vehicle, make sure it’s not too flashy. An older car with a few dings is likely to blend in more. The last thing you want to do is stand out.
Additional Tips for Getting Off the Grid:
- Develop a short-term employment history. Find a low-key job in construction or find employment as a waiter. You’ll need a job that doesn’t require a ton of documentation.
- Change your appearance. Dye your hair, shave your beard, change your clothing style, or do whatever you have to do to make yourself unrecognizable.
- Create your backstory. At some point, you’ll come into contact with people who will ask where you’re from. Have a simple and rehearsed story in mind and stick to it. Make it believable and don’t give too many details. You need to be a whole new person, so act like you’ve lived an entire life in that new person’s shoes.
- Don’t fall into old habits. Make sure you stay on guard at all times. You’re not trying to be the same person you were before – so don’t act like it.
- Attempt to obtain a whole new identity. WARNING: Creating or obtaining a fake identity is totally illegal and punishable by law. If this is the route you decide to take, consider yourself warned and proceed with caution.
Once your plan is in place, set a date for departure.
In order for it to work, you have to commit and go all in. Review your plan and make sure you still want to go through with it. If you think you’re ready, take the plunge and never look back. Good luck.
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