Bugging Out

7 Critical Bugging Out Mistakes

children bugging out

I think we can all agree that bugging out will probably be the most dangerous and important journey any of us will ever take. We become migrants, and if we look at others migrants’ journeys (Syrians, Central Americans), we can see just how dangerous it ca be.

I’m not saying bugging in isn’t the best option, it most definitely is, but bugging out should always be taken into account, for the simple reason that no place on this Earth is 100% immune to disasters, emergencies and SHTF.

It’s one thing to prepare to bug out, and a totally different one to survive when the time comes. This is why we have to think ahead and address the most common mistakes we could make when our life is on the line, particularly since we might live this life for days or even weeks, until we reach the final destination.

Mistake #1: Not Keeping a Low Profile

This could potentially kill entire prepper families when bugging out. Period.

When doing it, they and their loved ones need to be fast, quiet, to know exactly where they’re going and to do it in such a way that they’re seen by the least amount of people possible.

Note that I did not say “hidden”. Although that would be ideal, they’re probably going to run into a lot of people on their way out, some friendlier than others, and things such as dressing in camo or having a bumper sticker that says “I’m a prepper” won’t help.

Having a bug-out vehicle that’s quiet is also important. You don’t want those crazy bug out vehicles that never go unnoticed. You’re not going to the North Pole, you’re going to your bug-out location.

Also, if you don’t have or don’t want a car, and your BOL is relatively close, consider alternative bug-out vehicles that are quieter and consume less fuel or none at all: ATVs, bikes, inflatable kayaks and even dirt bikes.

Mistake #2: Thinking That Their Loved Ones Will Know What to Do

I wish I could tell you that your spouse and kids will be of much help but the reality is, if they’re not prepared, they’re going to be a burden, and one you need to take into consideration.

Your survival group is only as ready as the weakest link, so helping them ramp up their prepping skills should be at the top of the list.

Mistake #3: Not Considering that their Bug-Out Location Has Been Compromised

Totally possible. People who are not aware of this will not only be left without a roof over their heads when SHTF, but they’ll have their entire stockpile stolen. Plus, they might have to confront the new residents head-on (probably not the best idea).

Mistake #4: Being Out of Shape

I’m not looking to bash other preppers out there but some of them are a little overweight. That’s going to be a problem while bugging out because they need speed, strength, and flexibility for all the challenges that await them. Even if they bug in, they’ll still need to be fit for daily homesteading chores

Take bugging out on foot on the train tracks, for instance. One wrong step and their rigid ankle is going to twist so hard, they won’t be able to make another step.

They should at least do some jogging or join a gym, although specific workouts for preppers (that include hiking, running, walking, bodyweight exercises and so on) are well worth it.

Mistake #5: Having a BOB That’s Too Heavy

If they were to simulate a bug-out scenario, many would be surprised to find out that they couldn’t walk a mile with that thing on their back… on flat terrain.

Yes, fitness is an issue but so is overpacking. Every ounce counts when they’re walking, running, jumping and climbing with 40 pound backpacks on them – so try to lighten your load by taking some of these items out.

Mistake #6: Not Being Able to Think for Themselves

The fact that they have a bug out plan doesn’t mean they will end up following it to the letter. In fact, when the brown stuff hits the fan, they’re probably going to do a lot unplanned things than they ever thought they would. That’s where learning to think outside the box and expect anything comes in handy, but you have to train your mind for it.

Ask yourself: when was the last time you did something counter-intuitive? Did it work?

Mistake #7: Bugging Out

Yes, bugging out can be a mistake and a fatal one at that. It’s pretty obvious that you need to decide between staying put and feeling but I just had to put it in the list.

As stated in the intro, bugging in should always be plan A. I realize many live in cities, and doing an 180 degrees lifestyle change isn’t possible, but even so, bugging in could be an option.

Ok, those were it. If you know any other mistakes you’ve made in your drills or if you anticipate other mistakes that people will make when bugging out, share them in the comments below.

bugging out mistakes pinterest

Dan Sullivan

About Dan Sullivan

Dan has come into contact with homesteading when he was 4 years old, and would spend summers in the countryside with his grandparents. The skills and the mindset that he's learned now allow him in his mid 30s to better prepare for whatever may come.
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24 thoughts on “7 Critical Bugging Out Mistakes

  1. What about never having gone camping? And I mean primitive camping, not ‘glamping’.
    What ONE exercise can everyone do to help enhance their ‘prepper’ skills? Whatever your skill level, wherever you live.
    Start by camping in your back yard. No access to the house (except for maybe the toilet, if this is your first time). Make it a learning experience. Grow from there.

    1. Great idea. Another one would be to do (grocery) shopping with a backpack, a solid test to see how much you can carry on your back.

      1. Dan,

        This is a good idea for people in reasonable shape. Sadly, my heavy weight bearing days are far behind me now. I keep thinking I’m still the 22-year old Marine sergeant able to hump a 50lb+ field transport pack, plus fighting kit, rifle and helmet, up hill in the Sierra Nevadas at an infantry company pace (even without a loose belt hook eating a bloody hole in my back), but my body tells me I’m an idiot. 🙂

        Maybe I can hire a porter or two?

      2. Dan,

        Another one would be to do (grocery) shopping with a backpack, a solid test to see how much you can carry on your back.

        This comment fired up some 40 year old neurons. LOL
        Only 2 years out of college I rented a house that I eventually purchased, that was only about 3 blocks from a local grocery. I almost always walked there with a frame pack &/or a duffle to do my shopping. I had more than one city person ask if I had a car or offer me a ride. It’s odd for some; but, a great idea.

    2. Grammyprepper,

      What about never having gone camping? And I mean primitive camping, not ‘glamping’.

      I did this starting as a teen; but, the kids & I did this all of the time here. I look forward to you and the DH ”glamping”</strong here this summer; but, you can also ten camp in the yard or the woods on the northern end of the property.
      I may actually join you.

      1. LOL, TOP, we don’t ‘glamp’…having access to power and running water is considered a luxury for us when we camp! We can be fully contained, or rough it, either way is good for us! And we practice both. So maybe we will do a little of each next time we visit!

        1. Grammyprepper,

          So maybe we will do a little of each next time we visit!

          We’re looking forward to it and it has actually stopped raining enough that we have a few dry spaces, though, still don’t have the garden tilled yet. Any day now???

  2. Why not practice bugging out? Leave your home on a Fri after work, or Sat. morning & travel (according to your plan) to your BOL. If that backpack is too heavy, you will soon learn that firsthand. If it’s too far for your children or out of shape members to go, you’ll learn that before a major SHTF. As part of your practice, spend 1-2 nights at your BOL, & cook some meals there. After the practice exercise is done, with your family or group, sit down & list ways to improve your bug out plan. Work out your changes & improvements. Then in a month or 2, have another practice bug out. For a more complete practice, take a week off of work, & stay at your BOL for 4-5 nights & days. A real test.

    Some advocate practicing living without electricity for an evening, 24 hours, a weekend, a whole week. It’s the same concept of practicing & learning from doing.

    1. Chris,

      I have no BOL as I plan to bug-in if at all possible. I have arthritis in my knees, hips, and lower back. My L-5 vertebrae is a bit out of whack too. Right now I’m having a lot of back pain. I can gut out carrying the BOB down to my SUV, but I wouldn’t be able to hump it a lot further right now.

      I live in Florida and have been through real loss of electricity events many times. Those pesky hurricanes, y’know. I also spent a 21-years in the military, active and reserve (plus Scouting), so camping out is not a problem for me. I’m well trained to be miserable. 🙂 I’m also about as well prepped as an apartment dweller can be for a hurricane. I’m in a good building and I have lots of lanterns and flashlights (right TOP and Daddio7?).

      1. Zulu 3-6,

        I’m well trained to be miserable. 🙂

        That’s the adult talking of course. We all loved this as kids when we could bend over and stand back up with no help. LOL.

        I’m in a good building and I have lots of lanterns and flashlights (right TOP and Daddio7?).

        Who me???? LOL

      2. Zulu, you and I are in good company, LOL! On the rare ocassion we lose power at work, everyone knows I have a flashlight in my pocket, and several more in my vehicle! 😉

        1. Grammyprepper,

          On the rare ocassion we lose power at work, everyone knows I have a flashlight in my pocket, and several more in my vehicle! 😉

          Only ”A” flashlight? You need to catch up girl. LOL

          1. Bwahaha, TOP, got the one in my pocket but backups are in the van…and have been used several times…

          2. TOP and Grammyprepper

            I usually have two flashlights on me, plus spare batteries. If I’m in my SUV, that means two more flashlights available.

          3. Zulu 3-6,

            I usually have two flashlights on me, plus spare batteries. If I’m in my SUV, that means two more flashlights available.

            I always have one on me and two more in my EDC vest plus several laying around the house in strategic places. The DW has one in her purse and each vehicle has at least one available plus one in the car kit.
            These include a mix of various size flashlights and LED lanterns
            For the time being I’ve stopped purchasing any more lights.

          4. TOP.

            Yeah, you’ve stopped buying lights. Until the next too cool light comes out. Like me. 🙂

          5. Zulu 3-6,

            Yeah, you’ve stopped buying lights. Until the next too cool light comes out. Like me. 🙂

            Hey, I can quit any time I want to. I just don’t want to if there is some new significant addition to the kit.
            Actually, there is one that I didn’t get since it seems a bit too gimmicky. The Hydralight uses an internal water activated battery; but, I’ll stick to my old fashioned NiMH & Li-Ion batteries.
            https://www.hydralight.com/?mid=9528440&gclid=EAIaIQobChMI67bv5sOo4gIVirjACh1oNQThEAAYASAAEgLpQfD_BwE

          6. TOP,

            Yeah, I think I’ll pass on that hydra-light, or whatever, too. It probably works, but how bright is it?

    2. Chris,

      Some advocate practicing living without electricity for an evening, 24 hours, a weekend, a whole week. It’s the same concept of practicing & learning from doing.

      We have a whole house generator and can’t easily do that any more; but, prior to having a generator, we spent whole nights and pieces of weekends without power for real. It’s probably a better test, since the simulated emergency is something you plan for and intuitively check you preps before powering down.

    3. I’m sorry, I have to laugh, just because of the extended power outages I have lived thru. Yes, ppl should practice this. Seriously. There is no better way to figure out gaps in your preps. Every extended power outage we’ve been through has been a learning experience. I lost a full refrigerator and freezer because I didn’t know how to preserve food., and I had just done major grocery shopping. Flashlights? We’ve got some but boy it sure helps to have batteries…I could go on, but that’s not what the original post was about…

  3. Dan & all,

    I’m not saying bugging in isn’t the best option, it most definitely is, but bugging out should always be taken into account, for the simple reason that no place on this Earth is 100% immune to disasters, emergencies and SHTF.

    Bugging in is our primary option. After living on this property, improving it, & adding to it for 35 years, our only disaster would be a tornado strike. With 3000 ft2, 4 bedrooms and lots of space in several barns, we are actually the BOL for some in our MAG. In our late 60’s we are in decent health; but, not in any shape or attitude to leave and go elsewhere.

    Mistake #1: Not Keeping a Low Profile
    I assume this was meant during a bog out; but, even for bugging in, our profile is not much different than most of our farmer neighbors. We have a rather large propane tank farm containing fuel for heating, cooking, and emergency power generation; but, many of our neighbors also have one or more large tanks, mostly to run grain dryers, siphoning some for household use.

    Having a bug-out vehicle that’s quiet is also important. You don’t want those crazy bug out vehicles that never go unnoticed. You’re not going to the North Pole, you’re going to your bug-out location.
    Also, if you don’t have or don’t want a car, and your BOL is relatively close, consider alternative bug-out vehicles that are quieter and consume less fuel or none at all: ATVs, bikes, inflatable kayaks and even dirt bikes.

    Normal SUV, ATV or horses all work and turn no heads in this rural community with a moderately large Amish population should we have to bug out; but, only for a tornado strike or house fire.

    Mistake #2: Thinking That Their Loved Ones Will Know What to Do
    My youngest is 28 & lives out of state, so unfortunately she is on her own.
    The boys all live within a few hours and are well versed in country living, having grown up most of their lives on this property. One Is an engineer and the other in retail management, after a stint in the Marines that included scout sniper training.

    I wish I could tell you that your spouse and kids will be of much help but the reality is, if they’re not prepared, they’re going to be a burden, and one you need to take into consideration.

    Right now it’s only the DW & I and we are well versed in keeping this old place running for the past 35 years.

    Your survival group is only as ready as the weakest link, so helping them ramp up their prepping skills should be at the top of the list.

    In this rural community, even the kids shoot at an early age and are no stranger to hard work, including physical labor and dealing with animals

    Mistake #3: Not Considering that their Bug-Out Location Has Been Compromised
    We live in our BIL and the BOL for others that is not likely to be compromised while we are still drawing breath.

    Mistake #4: Being Out of Shape

    I’m not looking to bash other preppers out there but some of them are a little overweight. That’s going to be a problem while bugging out because they need speed, strength, and flexibility for all the challenges that await them. Even if they bug in, they’ll still need to be fit for daily homesteading chores

    I’m not at all overweight and doing daily chores is not a problem; but, as we age (both in our late 60’s), we do plan things better and move a little slower.

    Mistake #5: Having a BOB That’s Too Heavy
    That’s why we plan to carry the BOB in a vehicle, cart, or other wheeled conveyance and only of forxe out of the house by the events already listed.

    If they were to simulate a bug-out scenario, many would be surprised to find out that they couldn’t walk a mile with that thing on their back… on flat terrain.

    Our bug outs are only as far as one of the outbuildings or one of the neighbors.

    Yes, fitness is an issue but so is overpacking. Every ounce counts when they’re walking, running, jumping and climbing with 40 pound backpacks on them – so try to lighten your load by taking some of these items out.

    We actually have things pretty good today with some planning. Growing up tarps were heavy canvass and ground cloths were heavy canvass soaked in mineral oil, and thus called oilcloth.
    Today we have lightweight nylon, Gore-Tex, and aluminized Mylar. Cordage is 550 paracord instead of hemp, jute, or cotton.

    Mistake #6: Not Being Able to Think for Themselves
    As a trained engineer, thinking for me and thinking out of the box was and still is imperative.

    The fact that they have a bug out plan doesn’t mean they will end up following it to the letter. In fact, when the brown stuff hits the fan, they’re probably going to do a lot unplanned things than they ever thought they would. That’s where learning to think outside the box and expect anything comes in handy, but you have to train your mind for it.

    That also means map & compass in case the GPS fails and potentially alternative communications like amateur radio. For trips lasting more than a day, the ability to hunker down and camp in any weather en route would also be important.

    Ask yourself: when was the last time you did something counter-intuitive? Did it work?

    Often and normally yes; but, when it fails and you survive, it’s a learning experience.
    Mistake #7: Bugging Out

    Yes, bugging out can be a mistake and a fatal one at that. It’s pretty obvious that you need to decide between staying put and feeling but I just had to put it in the list.

    Tornado strike and house fire are our only reason to leave. A knock on the door @ 3:00 AM telling us about a hazmat spill with fumes coming our way could also be a ”short term” Bug Out.

    As stated in the intro, bugging in should always be plan A. I realize many live in cities, and doing an 180 degrees lifestyle change isn’t possible, but even so, bugging in could be an option.

    We’ve lived rural here for 35 years and the DW lived her whole life in this area. City living is the only thing that creeps us out. LOL

    Ok, those were it. If you know any other mistakes you’ve made in your drills or if you anticipate other mistakes that people will make when bugging out, share them in the comments below.

    I think I covered my perspective; but, will no doubt comment on other comments as well as learn from them all.

    1. TOP, Dan, and others,

      Bugging-in is my Plan A. However, if something did come up (HazMat event, fire, tornado damage) that forces me to leave, I do have alternatives. I can always go to my daughter’s homes (#1 lives six-miles away, #2 lives in Jacksonville – a lot further away, and the Ex would also take me in for a short time, she lives 72-miles away). The Ex and I get along now because we don’t live with each other anymore, so her place would only be a few days refuge before the gunfights in the living room started. 🙂

      I know #1 daughter would much prefer me to come to her place if it were feasible since I’m her babysitter. Of course, she and her family are more than welcome here, plus I have duplicate facilities for keeping a 31-month old, highly intelligent and active girl, entertained and cared for.

  4. While I think the importance of having a BOL is relevant, esp for those who live in cities, those of us who live more rural are more inclined to focus on bugging in. As it is for us who are ‘getting older’. That does not dismiss the points raised by the author, as they should be considered whether bugging in or out. We are kind of ‘in between’. Our semi rural location is quickly becoming ‘citified’. We used to have a BOL, but it became too costly to maintain both properties (and the BOL wasn’t property we owned, but a campground we belonged to, rising rates and more property restrictions led us to leave). We have a few friends and some family who would welcome us, but most would require travel thru a major city to get to. That is where it is important to have alternative travel plans. (And no, TOP, I don’t mean the roundabout way we took to your house last time, LOL!) Take it from me, you can’t rely on GPS! And you have to know how to read a map! That is an important skill whether you have a BOL or not; if you are just trying to get away from an incident, you better have a map and know how to read it, whether you are on foot or in a vehicle.

    1. Grammyprepper,

      We have a few friends and some family who would welcome us, but most would require travel thru a major city to get to. That is where it is important to have alternative travel plans.

      We have to have a discussion when next you are here, since you and the DH might also be a good fit.

      (And no, TOP, I don’t mean the roundabout way we took to your house last time, LOL!)

      You will have to admit that the trip back home was better, and if you could navigate around that one city in the middle, it could be viable.

      Take it from me, you can’t rely on GPS! And you have to know how to read a map!

      Actually you can; but, knowing the lay of the land and the basic route is a good thing to do first so you don’t make any unneeded turns.

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