Ham radio may be a good option, but remember, per the rules, all users need to be licensed. Depending on your license, ham radio offers many different bands on which to operate, some with global reach.
Another option for local communications is GMRS. It operates on frequencies close to those of the 70cm ham band, and has similar performance to that band. In fact, GMRS can use the same frequencies as FRS (so-called “bubble pack”) radios. GMRS has the advantage that one license covers the licensee’s entire family to a large extent (as I recall, it doesn’t cover cousins of the licensee). GMRS also allows the use of repeaters for extended coverage. A well placed repeater can often have a usable range of 20 miles or more, generally within approximate line-of-sight.
Location tracking is possible with radio, however, it is much less invasive than it is with cell phones. Location tracking of radios basically needs to be done within the range of the radio, so they generally can’t be tracked remotely. Some radios have GPS built in, and can transmit location data via the APRS protocol, allowing you to provide your location to others. Most radios, however, do not have GPS built in, so the only way to track location is by signal triangulation, in which case, if your radio isn’t transmitting, it can’t be tracked.
Conversations on radio are not private. Other people are able to hear your conversations. Even if using “private channels” as some brands like to call them, they are not private. All the “private channels” do is exclude other radios from being heard unless they select the same private channel. Encryption of radio traffic is not permitted by FCC regulations.
I recommend that most people get a GMRS license for their family, and several radios for use around their home. Handheld radios can be found in the $30 to $40 price range. Mobile radios and repeaters can add a bit more cost, but they aren’t necessary for beginning users.
The biggest advantage (in my opinion) to handheld radios, other than the tracking protection they offer, is that they provide a back-up means of communicating when phones don’t work.