This post may contain affiliate links. Please read my disclosure for more info...
The prepper community loves to discuss bugging out. It’s one of the most talked about and fantasized about topics. Bugging out is something that definitely needs to be considered and properly planned. There are many reasons someone may need to bug out outside of the zombie apocalypse, such as a train derailment, fire, hurricane, etc.
Bugging in is what we plan to do, and I think what most people plan to do. The only time we would consider bugging out is if we’re forced from our home.
In order to decide when you need to bug out, where you’re bugging out to and all of the other considerations, you need to have a disaster plan. In the disaster plan you should have at least a few different bug out locations to choose from. If bug out location A is compromised, then go to bug out location B and so on.
The locations don’t have to be perfect. In reality, nowhere you bug out to is 100% ideal. Do the best you can to think of places that will be best for the whole family. My suggestion, if you’re not already outside of the city, then get outside of the city. Cities are generally not ideal places during an emergency or disaster.
Once you’ve written out the disaster plan, it’s time to run a mock bug out.
The mock bug out is so important to the overall planning and creation process. You can write a plan all day long, but until you’ve actually run the route to your bug out location(s) then you won’t know what you’re up against when the time comes to really bug out.
When we ran our first mock bug out, we crossed over several rivers, went through a few small towns and was forced to get on major freeways a couple times. It was a big eye opener on what we should expect during a real bug out.
When you run your mock bug out, you’ll have to take a few things under consideration:
- You’re most likely going to be running the route in an ideal situation with low stress and low traffic. Depending on the type of emergency event that could happen, you could run into a lot of traffic or you could run into very little. It depends on a variety of factors, time of day, size of city, where you are in the city, etc. If you see that a hurricane is on its way and you decide to leave before anyone else starts to evacuate, you may be dealing with less stress. But if you decide to leave whenever everyone else has also decided to evacuate, then you may be dealing with a lot more traffic and a lot more stress. Take this into consideration when running your mock bug out. The mock bug out could have gone swimmingly, but you’ll need to brainstorm how it could go wrong and how you might avoid complications. Not all complications can be avoided, but it’s good to think about.
- Take as many backroads as possible and pay very close attention to every little detail. Even though we pass over several bridges on the way to our bug out location, if those bridges remain intact, those are potential viable water sources. However, we also need to consider the fact that those bridges could be damaged or there could be a blockade. It’s something we need to consider and think about if there’s an alternative route to cross those rivers. When you run your bug out location(s), look at any potential obstacles and see if they can be avoided or how you might be able to work around them.
- Going through towns is not ideal, but it depends on the size of the town, time of the season, etc. The towns we went through are very touristy and will be quite busy during the summer months. We have to consider taking roads that go around the towns, instead of going right through them.
- Time your route. How long did it take you to get from your home to your bug out location? It takes us a little over 3 hours because of all the backroads we have to take. That’s a small price to pay for being out of high traffic areas. This time could be doubled depending on the amount of traffic you could encounter. It just depends.
- How much gas are you using? Because it takes us 3 hours to get to our destination and because we’re going on back roads, we can burn quite a bit of gas. It’s important to keep track of how much gas you use and you may want to consider carrying a couple extra canisters.
- Track your route and adjust as you go. It wasn’t that hard to find back roads to our destination. In fact, we thought it would be a lot harder. Pull out Google maps (or a good ol’ fashion map, whatever you’re comfortable with) and look at the map to find alternative routes. Track your routes with a paper map or with a topographical map app. I use ‘Topo Maps+’ for iPhone. It tracked our entire route and saved the route in my phone. Then when we get got back home, we opened up a paper map and highlighted the exact route to bug out location #1. That map is then stored in my bug out bag.
- Consider the needs of your family. Do you have pets? A newborn baby? Someone with disabilities or elderly? Keep your bug out bag(s) and your vehicle stocked with the necessary needs of your family members who will be bugging out with you. Consider the time it takes to load everyone into the vehicle. Consider how well behaved your pets are. If you’re the primary caregiver, will you have to pull off the side of the road to care for them before you reach your bug out location? Are there any safe spots to pull off? Really, you wouldn’t want to pull off at any time, but if you think it’ll be necessary, look out for that along your route.
- How well do you handle stress? Bugging out isn’t going to be a fun experience, it will be stressful from the very beginning. You’ll need to understand how you personally deal with stress and how you’ll be able to manage it during that time. How will your kids behave? How will your pets behave? How will you manage those behaviors?
- Get your kids involved. Getting kids involved is extremely important. You don’t want them wondering why you’re suddenly rushing them into a vehicle. Make a game for them, ask them to point out how many emergency vehicles they see, or whatever. Give them some sort of job or task and allow them to be apart of the overall process. It’ll make them feel empowered and it’ll help you to have a better handle on the entire situation when everyone cooperates.
- What if you can’t use your vehicle? Do you have a backup plan to get to your bug out location? On foot? Bicycle? Canoe? Magic carpet? What happens if your car unexpectedly breaks down? There are a lot of considerations when it comes to the transportation to your bug out location that you’ll need to seriously consider.
What we ended up doing was running our location first under ideal situations, just a leisurely drive one sunday morning. That way we were able to really pay attention to our route, map it out, etc.
Then once we had it mapped out, we ran a real mock bug out. In a mock bug out situation you want to take everything and everyone that would normally go during a bug out scenario. Use the route that was already planned and focus on other things, such as how long it takes to pack all of your gear and to get everyone into the vehicle, how much gas you have and if you need to fill up, maybe that’s a good reminder to keep it above half or try to keep it full as often as you can.
And so on, the mock bug out will really help to shed some light on what needs to be fixed. The run doesn’t have to be perfect, it just needs to get done. You’ll learn a lot and that’s a good thing! That’s what all of this is suppose to do; teach you how to improve.
One final thought, make sure the entire family is on board with your overall bug out plan. Whether your family is on board with the whole prepping thing in general or not, they need to know what to do when something bad happens. Sit them down and ask them to take it seriously. Bribe them if you have to, say you’ll take them all out to dinner after you run the mock bug out. Whatever it takes. This is something everyone in the household needs to be aware of and actually be apart of.
Once your disaster plan is written out, developing and running the route(s) to your bug out location(s) is a great first start to your overall bug out preparedness.
- Articles on Bug Out Bags, Kits and Bugging Out
- Bug Out Bag Checklist: Serious Preppers ONLY (Updated For 2017)
- Build the Perfect Bug Out Bag: Your 72-Hour Disaster Survival Kit
- Bug Out: The Complete Plan for Escaping a Catastrophic Disaster Before It’s Too Late
- Build the Perfect Bug Out Vehicle: The Disaster Survival Vehicle Guide
- Build the Perfect Bug Out Survival Skills: Your Guide to Emergency Wilderness Survival
- The Prepper’s Guide to Surviving the End of the World, as We Know It: Gear, Skills, and Related Know-How
Do you plan on bugging in or out? Do you have a pre-determined bug out route? Have you ever done a mock bug out? What happened?