How To Disappear Without A Trace: The Great Vanishing Act

By Will Brendza | Updated: 04/08/2023

How To Disappear CompletelyToday, I have something really important to share…

An Complete Guide On Vanishing Without A Trace.

Now, I’m NOT here to question the reasons why you want to disappear.

Everyone’s interest in disappearing is complicated, diverse, and very personal.

  • Maybe you’re in over your head and want to start over…
  • Maybe you owe the mob and they might break your legs & feed you to the sharks.
  • Or perhaps you’re preparing to do something so dastardly…

Whatever your motivation (be it for good or evil) this guide will help you vanish off the map.

TOPICS IN THIS GUIDE…     ↓(click to jump)

Do YOU Live In A 'Danger Zone' County? Find out NOW with my Danger Zone County Special Report - It's 100% FREE... Click here now for Access!

Disappearing IS A Big Deal

It’s an action not to be taken lightly.

It scares people and raises a lot of attention among authorities.

In some special cases where your life is in danger, government agencies and professional services can help you legally obtain a new identity.

However, if circumstances require it, and you must take matters into your own hands, then this guide is for you.

It’s a last desperate measure, but if you are really getting ready for the Great Vanishing Act, all on your own, then I wish you Good Luck.

You’re going to need it.

↓ How To Disappear – Former CIA Agent

Preparation Is Key

Disappearing takes time.

If you were hoping to split town as soon as you are done reading this guide, get ready to be disappointed.

There are multiple steps involved with disappearing, and the more time spent preparing, the better your chances.

But, sometimes, the choice to disappear is forced upon us in a rush, for which case this section has been broken up into two parts.

Prepper Checklist eBook Cover - with gas mask on a SHTF scenery background

Want a free 78 item prepper checklist?

Click here to instantly download this Complete Checklist PDF. No purchase necessary.

Long Road

The Long Game – Creating Your Master Plan

First off, start distancing yourself from others.

You need to start cutting ties to your old life slowly.

This means seeing friends and family less and less over time.

Continue this process slowly until you don’t see each other at all.

They won’t have any reason to expect to hear from you at that point.

This process will require you to lie a lot.

Get used to it.

Making excuses and weaseling from family plans will seem like child’s play once you start lying about your character.

This venture requires you to constantly fib, deflect, and mislead for the rest of your life until the lie becomes your new reality.

You’re not ready to disappear if you aren’t prepared for that.

Start withdrawing all your money.

Your days of Visa, PayPal, and Venmo are over.

You are a cash or crypto-only person now and must get all your money out of the banks.

Become unbanked or convert everything to cryptocurrencies.

Do this slowly so as not to raise any eyebrows.

Over several months, convert your fiat to cryptocurrencies and withdraw varying amounts of cash from all accounts under your name.

Do this until they are all completely drained.

Oh, and you’re done using credit cards.

When done, you should have a fat stack of crypto on a hardware wallet and cash tucked away in a diversion safe, some closet, or crawlspace.

Having no money to your name makes the disappearing process much more challenging.

So if you’re truly broke, start saving now.

You’ll want to save as much money as possible between now and the vanishing day.

Kill your social media accounts.

Deleting these accounts won’t truly erase your information.

They have databases of your past information that authorities can obtain.

However, it’s still a smart way to start detaching yourself from the information grid as best you can.

So say goodbye to Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Tinder, and even email accounts – it is wise to delete everything.

↓ How To Remove Your Personal Data From The Internet | Tutorial

Once again, do this SLOWLY; otherwise, people will take notice.

Provide an excuse to your closest friends like “I’m addicted and need a break” or “I just don’t have the time or energy to keep up with it anymore.”

The excuse doesn’t even need to be that good as long as you have one.

Do you have any pets?

You’ll probably need to take them to a shelter.

Or allow a friend or neighbor to adopt them under some other pretext.

Pets cannot come with you on your disappearing adventure.

They will raise your attention and make you more recognizable.

However much you love your animals, they’ve got to go, and it is more humane to put them up for adoption/give them away than it is to abandon them entirely.

It is one of the many harsh realities of the Great Vanishing Act, but you must accept it.

Quit your job or request time off.

Before your big breakaway, you’ll need time to make last-minute preparations.

You’ll also want a head start before anybody begins questioning your absence.

If you don’t quit ahead of time, your current employer will be the first to notice your missing.

So make certain your employer thinks you quit or you’re on a nice long, much-needed vacation.

Be as thorough as possible.

Try to avoid a lease on your residence if you rent so landlords don’t come looking.

Or start paying a couple of months in advance to buy time when you do leave.

You’ll want to do this well ahead of time to get them used to you paying several months at a time.

Tell your neighbors you’ll be on vacation for a while (also perhaps even give them a false lead as to where).

Tie up any and all loose ends you can think of to give yourself more time to travel and escape before the search is on.

Measuring Ruler

The Short Game – Final Steps

Compile all of your identification.

Get every school ID, driver’s license, birth certificate, social security card, and bank statement.

Collect anything with your name and definitely your picture, all in one place.

There are different theories as to what you should do with these documents once they’re collected:

  • Some sources say you should keep them.
  • Some say you should get rid of them.

Whatever you choose to do with your IDs and personal documents is up to you, but once again, be thorough.

Don’t leave anything behind, whether you take it all with you or burn it in a bonfire: leave no trace.

Destroy your pictures and avoid new ones.

It sounds drastic, but photos of you will be your own worst enemy.

Family members may start going door to door and store to store carrying a recent photo of you from the life you’re trying to flee.

The process of eliminating photos and avoiding getting your picture taken also makes it clear to family and authorities that you want to disappear.

That this was a conscious decision.

You weren’t murdered or kidnapped – you chose to vanish.

It may seem counterintuitive but trust me; it will work in your favor.

If the cops think you disappeared from some malicious or accidental incident, they will search harder for you.

If they get the sense that you left on purpose and went to great lengths to plan it, they won’t search as hard.

Cancel your mobile phone plan.

It’s of no use to you now.

You are more like a fugitive, not a social participant.

However, if you really need one, buy a cheap burner phone (like this one) under an assumed name.

Just don’t hesitate to break it in two and ditch it if someone starts catching on.

Ditch your car.

You probably had some good times together, but few things are more traceable and recognizable than a person’s car.

Sell it for cash.

And if it’s not worth much, leave it running, unlocked, in a bad part of town, with the deed in the glove box, and let some thief do all the work for you.

Once your old car is gone, it’s time to buy a used car with cash.

This car shouldn’t be flashy or unique.

Find something in a neutral color, a few years old, with some dings and dents.

You want it to be boring but reliable.

PowerTech 8k Vehicle Jumper

Speaking of reliability, the last thing you can afford is a dead battery while on the move.

So make sure to get this one critical piece of “disappearing gear,” like a portable jump starter.

It’s small, powerful, and worth every penny to prevent getting stuck on the side of the road.

Just toss something like a Powertech 8k in your bug-out bag, and you can thank me later…

Bug Out Bag Checklist eBook Cover - a man walking away wearing a military style backpack

Want a free 104 item bug out bag checklist?

Click here to instantly download this Complete Checklist PDF. No purchase necessary.


More Tips & Tricks On Disappearing

In the book, “How To Disappear Completely and Never Be Found” by Doug Richmond, he suggests the following…

Search for babies who died the day you were born and contact the government requesting their birth certificate.

He emphasizes that this is normal because people always lose birth certificates.

Now use that document to acquire a social security number, driver’s license, and other personal documentation.

With that, move to a busy city, rent a small apartment, and spend several months developing a short employment history.

Mainly with temp jobs or construction gigs.

Then once that is established, walk out the door and never return.

He calls this Pseudocide – or faking your own death.

↓ How To Fake Your Own Death – EPIC HOW TO

Remember that government controls are on the rise; now, more than ever, they’re using electronic surveillance and looking for terrorists.

↓ America’s Surveillance State: The Surveillance Machine

They will take notice of anyone who is trying to falsify identities and get into the country to wreak havoc.

This book was written in 1995 – a lot has changed in the last two decades.

Requesting personal documentation under a false identity from the federal government is highly illegal.

This behavior will have some immense repercussions today, should you get caught.

Instead of disappearing on your own terms, masked special forces might blast through your window late some night, bag you, tag you, and ship you off to Guantanamo.

That’s called disappearing on their terms.

Not good.

 Jump Over River

Getting The Hell Out Of Dodge

You thought the preparation was complicated?

Well, to do this right, you need a good bug-out bag when you make your break.

Limit what’s in your “go bag” to the bare necessities.

Such items include:

This post is a checklist of 104 go items.

Read it carefully, then decide what to take and what to leave.

Bug Out Bag Checklist eBook Cover - a man walking away wearing a military style backpack

Want a free 104 item bug out bag checklist?

Click here to instantly download this Complete Checklist PDF. No purchase necessary.

Changing your appearance.

As much as you treasure that favorite t-shirt and jeans combo, ditch them.

Go to a cheap clothing store and buy several outfits that you would NEVER normally choose.

Dye your hair, but don’t pick a crazy color.

If you’re a natural blonde, go brunette, and vice versa.

Wear a new hat – hats are great for concealing faces.

Fedora Hat

Fedora Hat

Choose a hat that you’d never be caught wearing in your old life; maybe for you, that’s a Fedora.

Also, practice using new mannerisms and try to mask your old mannerisms as best as possible.

Likely, people will already look for you – and someone might recognize you anyway.

You need to make a stranger of yourself.

But don’t make yourself strange; you must blend into a crowd and mask your identity.

This means you can’t stick out or be remembered.

Be the background. Stick to the shadows.

Act absolutely normal.

Travel on your own terms.

Covering distances on foot or by bicycle is your best option.

These transport forms cannot be easily tracked and do not require licenses or IDs to use.

Public transportation (i.e., buses, trains, subways, etc.) is acceptable; remember, many of these are under constant video surveillance.

And under no circumstances do you take a cab or hitchhike.

When you get into a car with someone else at the wheel, you have just put your entire situation in their hands.

They may recognize you and contact the authorities, or crash the car and get the police or EMTs involved.

Travel on your own terms; never let someone else manage your great vanishing act.

↓ How to travel the world with almost no money


The further, the safer – the more isolated, the better.

Head for the border or get way out of town.

If you are in the US, your best bet is the South.

And I’m not talking about Mexico.

While it may be a developing country, and it may even be “easy” to get to without an ID, Mexico is a lousy safe haven and is currently rather tumultuous.

Keep moving. Go to Central or South America.

There are plenty of ideal towns, cities, and villages you can access down there.

If crossing the border is out of the question or outside the realm of possibility, travel as far as possible

Many isolated or busy locations do not require a passport to get to.

Just be warned:

It is usually easier to find someone on the run if they haven’t left their home country.

But whether you flee the country or hide amongst us, you must go somewhere people will not expect.

If you’ve always dreamed of visiting Jamaica, do not hide there.

If your family is from South Africa, that’s off-limits to you.

Find someplace unpredictable.

It doesn’t have to be a place you’ll be unhappy or uncomfortable; it just has to be a place you’ve never spoken to anyone about before.

This is a good point to lay some false leads.

When you leave home, place clues like road atlas maps or do extensive internet research that leads investigators in the completely wrong direction.

If your destination is Nome, Alaska, leave books, maps, and research for Los Buzos, Panama, all over your house when you split.

False leads will buy you time.

Another important decision is a big busy city or a tiny isolated town.

There isn’t really an in-between option here.

The easiest place to disappear is either in the midst of a throng or the emptiness of the natural world.

Rent a small studio under an assumed name in a city of hundreds of thousands.

Or vanish into the woods and build a house on the outskirts of a tiny town.

Maybe you even go full Jeremiah Johnson and live off the fat of the land in the heart of the wilderness.

Whatever you decide, remember: this may be your home for a while, so choose wisely.

Man Standing At Cave Entrance

The New You & Your New Life

Disappearing is more than just running away and covering your tracks.

If you want to disappear forever and never be found, the implication is that you, your character, your mannerisms, your likes and dislikes, hobbies, and ideas ALL DISAPPEAR.

This is undoubtedly the most difficult and most important step of the process.

Be an actor.

Your identity must change to its core.

Create a character history.

You must learn to answer all the following questions naturally should anyone ask:

  • Where did you come from?
  • What did you do before?
  • Where is your family?
  • What kind of food do you like?
  • What is your favorite beverage?
  • Who’s your favorite author?
  • What is your favorite musician?
  • Favorite food?

Bottom line:

Recreate everything!

Of course, making new friends will eventually be necessary.

No matter where you end up, neighbors and locals will become a part of your life, and it isn’t wrong to make friends with them.

Just make sure to do so under your assumed identity.

Hell, having people who can confirm your name and backstory might even be helpful in this situation.

Especially should the relevant authorities come snooping in your new location.

So don’t be afraid to meet people, be afraid of revealing your true identity.

Becoming Comfortable and Falling Into Old Habits.

Don’t do it!

Stay on your guard at all times – paranoia can be both a curse and an invaluable tool.

Watch yourself, and do everything you can to avoid old habits.

Contacting people from your past.


I guarantee the urge will grip you at some point.

UNDER NO CIRCUMSTANCES are you to visit, call, write, email, IM, or otherwise contact your family or friends to let them know you’re okay.

They are not part of your life anymore. And any form of contact between you is a step towards discovery and ruin.

The lure of personal success.

I can understand the appetite for success.

Some people cannot stifle this hunger – to be better, have more, and be recognized.

It is something that man cannot bury, cannot completely suppress.

Maybe you went from being a successful stockbroker or businessman before your life on the run.

Or maybe you used to write books.

Whatever your draw, people are driven toward success, and avoiding it isn’t entirely necessary.

You can still be successful in your life on the run.

Your new identity can still find prosperity and recognition – just not for the same talents or reasons you had in your life.

Find new hobbies, interests, and skills you never knew you had, and exploit those.

Stay under the radar but don’t be confined by your exile.

Moving is OKAY.

Moving is even encouraged after a while.

If you can, change your name for the first few moves.

This should become easier in less developed countries, but travel by nickname if it is an issue.

Make following your trail as confusing as possible: are we looking for Juan? Or John? Or Peter?

The more you move, the harder it will be to find you.

Above all – stay safe, stay alert, and stay disappeared.

Next Steps

One article isn’t nearly enough information to prepare for an effort of this scale.

I’ll reiterate:

Disappearing is a big deal.

It has repercussions that reach beyond your own life.

Someone will eventually notice no matter how detached you may feel from the world around you.

Once they do, it’s a countdown to a pursuit.

The better prepared you are, and the more you have studied, the more time you will have to complete the Great Vanishing Act in its entirety.

Good luck, friend.

Will Brendza

Will Brendza

  • Bachelor of Arts, University of Colorado at Boulder
  • Member of The 10th Mountain Division Hut Association
  • Certifications: Avalanche 1, WFR (expired), CPR (expired)
  • 8+ Years Researching, Writing, About Survival and Preparedness
  • Awards from Society of Professional Journalists
  • Winner of Camp Cold’s “Happy Camper” award in 2020
  • P.s. Do You Live In A 'Danger Zone' County?

    Find out now using my Danger Zone County List & Special Report it’s absolutely FREE. In minutes you’ll know EXACTLY where you stand and if you should be worried or not..

    Cooking over a rocket stove
    Get My 10 Steps To Basic Preparedness Video For FREE.
    Plus daily survival tips (unsubscribe anytime).