> TEOTWAWKI Blog: Why you shouldn't dismiss bugging out



Why you shouldn't dismiss bugging out

Some posts/comments over on TSLRF inspired me to write out some thoughts on the oft-misunderstood survival tactic of bugging out.

Folks very often say some variety of "I'd never leave my home to become a refugee. I've got food, water, tools and guns here--why would I leave that all behind? If push comes to shove, I'll fight it out here."

Sure, in some situations, sheltering in place is the best bet. But in other instances, it isn't. Having "bugging in" as your one an only crap-hit-the-fan response plan is not particularly prudent.

Let's consider a few examples of when you'd need to bug out--not an exhaustive list, but a few to get the point across.

Natural Disaster

Clip above is from the 2011 tsunami in Japan, but there are countless examples from recent memory--Typhoon Haiyan just ravaged the Philipines.

Wind, water, fire and moving earth can smash your home and belongings to pieces in a matter of seconds...you versus the fury of Mother Nature isn't much of a fight. Good luck staying put.

You might have plenty of advanced warning or you might get only a few seconds to grab and run.

War/Civil Unrest

Wars, coups, mass civil unrest...these happen often in other parts of the world. If you're caught in the middle of something like this, your options are to try and keep your family alive amidst the fighting--gunfire, explosions, bored/angry/hungry fighters and opportunists--or leave for safer territory.

Plenty of examples from current events and history of this happening--pick a war and you'll find smart folks packing up their families and fleeing.

The clip above is about a massive refugee camp in Jordan, just across the border from war-torn Syria. While these people are refugees and living in lousy conditions, they are alive, which is better than they would likely be if they tried to stay in the middle of the fighting.

Surprise! You're on a government hit list.
If your government forces decide...for whatever reason...that they'd want your dead or locked up and shipped off to the Gulags, "sheltering in place" isn't much of an option. SWAT teams, armored vehicles, explosives and all of that.

Governments go bad all of the time and start persecuting, imprisoning and killing people they don't like or who don't fit in with their vision for what their society should be like.

These days in the USA, law abiding citizens don't usually find themselves in that situation. But, there could come a time when people who believe a certain way or say certain things find themselves on something more serious than an NSA watch list.

One man or even a small group against government forces is not a winning proposition. If you get wind that the men in black are coming for you, your only smart move is to run.

Gauge your threat level...
As with all things, you need to gauge the likelihood of something like the above  happening that will force you on the run. It doesn't take a whole lot of imagination to come up with more potential threats. After the assessment, plan accordingly.

Sure, ditching your home may not be all that likely, but one doesn't need to look very far to find examples of a great many people have had to grab their belongings and flee in order to stay alive.

If hitting the road for safety is your best option...it's your best option.


  1. It amazes me how many think I am prepared and so I am never going to leave my home. I don't care how prepared you are when someone throws a punch at you either you move or you take it on the nose. Willingness to MOVE decisively when necessary is the key to surviving real SHTF situations--and if you refuse to consider moving then you are simply not prepared. It is only for the unprepared person that bugging out = refugee status. For the prepared person bugging out intrinsically requires a destination, you never just bug out, you alwau bug out to...

    Maybe you don't have the resources for a BOL that belongs to you...no matter, what about a family member's or friend's house? (Best to pre-plan this with them of course.) No friends or family in opportune locations, then how about rental properties, hunting cabins, and other buildings that might have some resources, offer shelter, and be unoccupied during a SHTF. If you THINK about bug out, even if that is not you first or second plan, then I am sure you can identify and recon several possible BOLs.

  2. yeah, i fall into the bunker mentality. i need to make better preps for bugging. i have a camper but its not stocked very well. one of those "been meaning to" things. here we face very few natural hazards, but in a dry year forest fires break out all around us. i've been thinning the woodline and made some fire preps but you can't fight a full-on forest fire. it would take a couple hours to get out as it is now. thanks for the reminder.

  3. You clearly do not understand how super survivalistastic my "retreat" is.

    Seriously though I think the closed mindedness of that sort of mentality is half closed minded superiority and half laziness. The closed mindedness is this belief that a person's plans are so good nothing could ever make them need to leave their chosen location. The laziness is that these people don't put in the time/ money/ effort to come up with evacuation plans as well as B, C, D type location and cache plans. It is easier and cheaper to sit at home with a mountain of supplies in the basement and ignore reality than make realistic contingency plans.

  4. If you are inflexible, you will die. If you refuse to consider and plan for bugging out, you will die when death arrives at your door and you can't move.

    Flexibility = Survival
    Inflexibility = Death


  5. Many people live in an area where bugging out may be next to impossible. In my case, I live on Long Island, and would have to negotiate 60 miles of travel to just to get to the first bridge to mainland New York. Then I would have to cross at least part of the Bronx, where normal trafficcauses backups of up to 2 hours. After hours of travel, I now have to get out of NYC and go up to the mountains, which are normally 2 hours away. Add 10 million or so crazed and frightened citizens all moving along the same routes, and you can see the difficulty of bugging out under a disaster scenario.
    While I understand the need for bugging out in certain instances, for many people it just won't work. Without a fleet of ships 10 times larger than the Normandy Invasion, getting out of dodge for anyone surrounded by water will not happen. The easy answer is, why don't you move closer to a suitable bugout location? Well, the NYC area, and other cities and suburbs are where the jobs are. Many of us are not yet in the position of being able to move to a rural area at this time. I hope to be able to do this in the coming years, but for now, hunkering down until things calm down a little seems to be the plan. Perhaps after a couple of months, we might be able to sneak out and make our way to a safer locale.
    This plan sucks, but for the circumstances we live in, it is what it is. Wish me good luck. I'll need it.

  6. To Greg Z, and others in this situation:

    I'd still put together a plan to bug out. The mountains would be great. But other buildings and other parts of the city may be your only choice in a quick decision scenario. Maybe rent a storage unit and stash some supplies so you can live there for a few days or months. Make friends in other parts of town. I don't have all the answers. My own plan is vague so as to be adaptable. I have 3 firm destinations and have researched multiple routes by foot and by vehicle. One of those "firm destinations" is actually a compass heading and approximate distance meant to land me in a region. I also have the skills needed to be a vagabond/nomad.

    The point is, don't set yourself up with plan A and leave it at that. Sketch out plan B and plan C. Find something that fits in your budget, however small. Find the solutions that fit your unique needs and situation. Create options. Create flexibility. Make both your mind and your plans flexible.

    Also, and this is super tough, but be ready to walk away from your preps. You spend 25 years building an island and security, then something comes and you have to either walk away or die. So you make your choice. There is little in my life I have had for 25 years. All my gear and home is disposable if need be, but I would hate to leave it. If I ever manage to get married, that will likely change the dynamic. There are factors which complicate bugging out such as children and a spouse. They may not be as willing to cut and run as you or I. People with health needs may not be as able. I advocate you do what you can, within your ability.

    If you don't build in flexibility, realize that is a choice. It is your choice and that choice has consequences. If you can live with them, then fine. We all make those decsions in life. I have made my belief in flexibility clear.


  7. Good points all around. I am one of those people who often dismisses the practicality of bugging out and this gave me some good things to think about.