Even better than money, however, is friends. Business contacts often feel a sense of responsibility for visitors to their country. I am often impressed by the hospitality of people I don't even know. In an emergency some people will leave their neighbors to fend for themselves, thinking, "They should have prepared better." Yet these same people might help a foreigner, believing "How unlucky they should be here when this happened!"
My philosophy when appropriate is to move beyond formal business relationships to personal friendship. As a human and as a Christian, I try to develop genuine relationships with the people I meet. I enjoy my travels, and part of that enjoyment comes from trying to understand other ways of living. It's fascinating how things that are familiar to me--family, commuting, entertainment, or communication, for example--become unfamiliar when expressed in a foreign culture. If given a chance, I prefer staying with a host family over staying in a hotel, and trying new foods over sticking with what's familiar. One result is I have friends scattered all over various parts of the world; if caught up in an emergency near those cities, there are people I know who I am sure would take me as they are able. (And they are welcome at my home on those occasions when they show up.)
Perhaps it is this sense of my own vulnerability and my experiences of sacrificial hospitality that have led me as I make my own preparations at home to prepare to help strangers. Just because I can't help everybody, just because the help I can provide is not without limits, does not mean I should plan on helping nobody to any extent at all.
Reflecting on how useful I consider my friends and contacts in foreign cities, I'm thinking it could be an excellent idea to develop similar contacts along the likely routes to my "bug-out location," the place I'm planning to travel to in the event our home becomes unsuitable. Under normal conditions this trip takes about 8 hours by car; it is not hard to imagine scenarios where damaged bridges or overpasses could lengthen the trip to days (or even weeks if by foot). I have a couple of friends or relatives along those routes already, but there are some pretty big gaps.
I'm not interested in "tricking" people into helping me when I'm in trouble, or "using" people just to meet my needs, but in developing genuine relationships built on mutual benefit and respect. So how would you go about making good enough friends that they might want to lend you a hand if they are able, with someone who lives 4-6 hours away? Let me know your thoughts.