Anonymous camping trips


There are some memes going around about helping people who find themselves needing to quietly get to another state friendly to camping. Here are some thoughts about what I might do if I found myself in need of such a trip, and I lived in a state that banned camping, or perhaps even offered bounties against people who went camping or helped people go camping.

There are no 100% solutions in such a scenario. The best I could do is *reduce* my risks.

I’d use Tor Browser to protect any web browsing I did when planning the trip. This prevents my search engine from seeing that my account or IP address is searching for “camping sites near the border”, and my ISP from seeing that I’m visiting a camping reservation web site, and likewise my state from learning about my activities by wiretapping or court ordering my search engine or ISP.

It’d probably be a good idea to have a camping buddy drive me on this trip. It’s probably a good idea anyway for emotional and physical support on such a trip (camping can be scary and exhausting!), but also the state might not be watching them as closely if they aren’t someone who would normally go camping. In cases where we can’t avoid being tracked (see below), it’s probably better that they’re tracked than that I am.

I’d use the Signal app, which uses end-to-end encryption, to communicate with this person privately.

I’d try to avoid toll roads, especially that use tracked digital systems for payment. Our car might be tracked anyway (speed cameras; security cameras; …?), so better to use my camping buddy’s car. Even better if it’s possible to anonymously take a bus or train. (I wasn’t able to quickly find whether that’s feasible in the U.S., but again it’s something I’d use Tor Browser to research.)

I’d take a decent amount of cash and avoid using credit cards if possible. If we must use a credit card, again probably better to use my camping buddy’s.

Ideally my camping buddy and I would remove the SIM cards from our phones to make sure we never connect to the cell network, which would let our cell providers see our location. Wi-fi is less dangerous, and can be further protected with Tor Browser, Orbot (a Tor VPN app), and Signal. In case we really need to get on a cell network, it’d probably be a good idea to bring along a pre-paid SIM card, purchased with cash. Next option would be my camping buddy’s SIM card.

In case the entrance to the camp site itself is likely to be observed, maybe by anti-camping protesters, it’d probably be a good idea for us to wear something non-distinctive and cover our faces at the entrance.

Again, this is all risk *reduction*. The state might find out anyway by subpoenaing the camp site, or some other way I haven’t thought of.

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