Which still have limitations.
At best! And usually less in an urban area
My husband is the ham radio expert, not me, but antenna size is often more of a factor than radio size. We’ve achieved a 40 mile transmission with a hand-held UNlicensed CB by way of an antenna mounted on the roof, the top 65 feet high. Of course, this is not a convenient set up for carrying about one’s person. In the car or truck we use a roof-mounted antenna for a 5-10 mile range.
There are a number of radio types, with different varieties of licensing available. The cost for our GMRS radios (if I recall) was $20 for a 10 year license (I think - as I said, I’m not the expert) And there are rigs out there costing thousands of dollars and hours of time to get the license.
Having been stranded in a hayfield far from home, when wandering I’ve taken carrying the following communication devices:
- Cellphone (it just might work)
- CB radio (good if you’re near a highway)
- Change for pay phone
- Aviation transceiver (well, I got lost in the hayfield after an emergency landing, you see…) For non-pilots, substitute a battery operated radio, or even a handcrank variety.
For the car, I carry those adapters for plugging into the cigarette lighters - useful for phones or radios.
Consider where you will be most of the time. If you’re walking about the center of a big city, knowing where there are payphones and having the means to call on one (change, charge card, whatever) is worth more than a cellphone that doesn’t work. If you’re at home a battery/handcrank receiver might be a good choice because there might be some emergency information being broadcast. CB’s can be a source of information if you’re on the road. If you’re going to be traveling by car, having adapters for charging things is a good investment (our CB once helped us avoid a toxic chemical spill and the associated traffic jam on the interstate - worth every penny in that case)
I’m not a big fan of one-size-fits-all contingency planning - consider where you go, what you do, and your environment.
For working downtown my first aid kit contains bandaids and moleskin. Why? Because if I have to walk out of the the Chicago Loop I’m going to have beat up feet. Likewise, I keep a pair of “sensible shoes” under my desk for the same reason. But I don’t take the aviation handheld with me because in that environment it’s most likely dead weight - better I grab a bottle of water for my bag. See how this works?
Not that a cellphone is completely useless - in mundane situations like a flat tire at night they are a godsend. But in a massive disturbance like 9/11 or the Blackout of '03 your regular safety net might develop new holes. Have a backup to your backup, and be flexible.