My last trip abroad took me to Turkey, and although it’s not the most dangerous place I’ve ever been, there is a threat there and it is severe. To prepare for my journey there, I took several steps, from packing my hand luggage to utilize in an emergency, to carrying out counter surveillance while at the airport. I’d suggest you follow these same simple tips I employed to ensure your next flight is a safe one, regardless of where you’re heading or who may be on board.

1. Lay off the sleeping pills and the booze

Whenever I travel now, I err on the side of caution. There have been too many incidents in the sky not to, as far as I’m concerned. Gone are the days of getting totally shit-faced or dumping sleeping pills and gonking all around the world. I want a fighting chance if the jihadis take me on. You may never encounter anything on your flight, but how pissed would you be if on the day of the biggest race of your life, you were asleep? Not this guy. I’m ready for it and I’m planning the next step the entire way until I’m safe again. It is sad that I should have to be like this, but it’s a reflection of the times.

I don’t sleep on flights if I’m on my own and it’s under five hours long. If it’s over that time and I’m with someone, we split the time. If I’m on my own, I’ll try to stay up, but if it’s over eight hours long, I’ll catnap 20 minutes here and there. I’ll take a lazy walk to the toilet every so often to see if everything’s OK, and sometimes I’ll just hover about around the back of the plane pretending to stretch my legs if I’m not happy.

2. Pack a bag of tricks

Forget hand luggage, my carry-on is a veritable grab sack full of everything I need to survive—everything that I can legally carry on a plane, anyway. My primary weapon is my Surefire torch/flashlight. There are 101 tricks I can pull with that handy tool. The rest includes a warming kit, comms gear, chargers, a small first aid kit, a compass, a whistle, a short length of rope or plastic cuffs (restraints), a magazine of good quality (for rolling into a solid club), and a military-issue tourniquet. The sack itself becomes a shield against blades or fists. Everything I carry I have trained with and know how to get the best use from. None of it is rocket science, just an awareness of how I can utilise everyday items in an emergency, inflict maximum pain for minimum effort, defend myself and others, and restrain anyone intent on causing harm.