What Does Bugging Out Mean to You?

Any survival instructor worth his or her salt will be the first to tell you that there are no universal solutions in the world of preparedness. What works for one isn’t necessarily the best idea for another. We all bring to the table different levels of knowledge and experience, different budgets, and different goals.

Bugging out is the single most popular topic in all of prepperdom, that is for certain. I couldn’t even begin to guess how many words have been written on the subject. Yet, for all of its popularity and coverage in survival literature, people still struggle with the concept. I think at least part of that confusion stems from the common human desire to have someone just tell us what to do, rather than figuring out the solution ourselves.

Here’s the thing. Bugging out means different things to different people. Generally speaking, I believe bugging out should always be a last resort, rather than a primary plan. However, I’m smart enough to know that even that rule will have exceptions. For me, bugging out means I’m going to have to abandon all of my goodies at home, grab my kit, and head for a safer location, such as the home of a close friend or family member, until the crisis has passed.

For others, bugging out means leaving home and never planning to return. Some of those folks figure to head for the hills and live off the land for the rest of their days.

Some people envision bugging out as involving heated gun battles as they fight their way toward their final destination. Because of this way of thinking, they load up their bug out bags with several firearms and many boxes of ammunition. Others plan for a more stealthy trip, doing everything they can to avoid any contact with other human beings. As a result, their planned bug out routes may take them miles away from a straight path, circling around towns and other potential problems.

I, nor any other instructor, can tell you exactly how to craft your own bug out plan. Your situation is unique to you. However, I can give you some guidelines to consider.

1) Any confrontation carries a risk of injury to you and members of your group. It doesn’t matter how well armed and prepared you may be, all it takes is a lucky shot from the other side to bring down one of your people. It might be a better plan to try and avoid such situations as best you can.

2) Bugging out without a planned destination just makes you a refugee. Know where you’re going and how you are going to get there, including alternate routes.

3) Planning to live off the land for any length of time, for the vast majority of people, is folly at best. Avoid the Hollywood nonsense and apply a good amount of common sense when crafting your plans.

Published by

Steve Thibeault

Steve Thibeault is the owner of survival-gear.com. He likes fishing, hunting, and anything outdoors. Tired of the pretend survival kits all over the internet, he decided to create quality emergency kits that people could actually use and depend on if there was ever a need.

3 thoughts on “What Does Bugging Out Mean to You?”

  1. Bugging out is option 1 for me not because I don’t see the difficulties of a journey to my BOL especially during the chaos of an event, but because in any long term serious SHTF situation I do no believe that the places I live and work will be viable. Population density, hazardous materials, racial and economic instability, and crime, particularly drug use make me think that staying home is not a prudent choice.

    Therefore if possible my plan is to get our of dodge for any major disaster. I try to remain vigilant so that if the flag goes up I can leave before the roads become jammed. However, realizing that the roads around here often get jammed even without an event I also have plans to shelter in place for a short time; bug out by water or air; or on foot (least desirable option). I have a BOL four hours from the city, stocked, so that if I need to bug out on foot my BOB is all I NEED. I have mapped, driven, and partially walked several routes and have alternate BOLs chosen along the way. Ideally a bug out looks like this.

    1) Identify threat, determine conditions warrant a bug out.
    2) Contact my bug out group of family and friends and invite them to bug out.
    3) Load my supplies from home and my storage locker.
    3a) if time/conditions permit make a supply run to local places of business to top off on supplies, I keep an emergency cash supply for this.
    4) determine if the roads are clear
    If yes:
    4a) Bug out–use primary roads, but bypassing major cities.
    4b) Bug out using secondary roads.
    4c) Temporarily delay bug out
    4d) Bug out using alternative means, possibly after delay.
    5) Adapt to changing situations: Be prepared to choose alternative routes or to bug out on foot, or detour to alternative BOLs, carrying only BOB and weapons.
    6) Arrive safely at BOL in 4hrs to 2 weeks.
    7) If conditions at BOL allow make a supply run.

  2. In the real world,…. Happening somewhere in the world every day,….. It means becoming a refugee. It means gathering whatever you can carry that’s important to you, money, documents, jewelry, family pictures, and stuffing it all into a big purse with a shoulder strap, and into a tow-along suite cases, and heading off toward what you hope will be someplace that’s safe, and where there will be resources enough to sustain you and your family until you can put your life back together.
    It means having a truck, or trailer large enough to pile on as many of your possessions as possible, or a farm cart, and tractor, or a van, or at least a cart you can pull by hand, or a child’s little red wagon, if that’s all you have.
    It means determining the need to get out, before most of those around you come to the same conclusion, so as to not get caught up in the general panic.
    It means being searched for weapons every time you encounter military, para-military, police, militia, and bandits, and maybe having to bribe your way through each checkpoint, and chokepoint, any praying that you aren’t “detained”. It means very possibly loosing your valuables to thievery.
    It means being able to give up on all the stuff you’ll have to leave behind forever, putting the life you knew behind you.
    It means finding a safe place for your family to stay, a job to support them, getting your kids into school, dealing with bureaucrats, lots of bureaucrats.
    What it does not mean, is squatting in the woods, trying to live out of a B.O.B. for more than 72 hours.

  3. Thanks for this informative blog. I realize it is an old post, but feel compelled to reply none the less. Though bugging out permanently, long or short term sounds simple enough, the reality of it is not so easy. I’m in a remote area of Montana and spend extensive time in the hills and am a knowledgeable woodsman, and sometimes think I could live off the land indefinitely, other times I think there is no way even with my experience. While I believe I would have no problem securing meat protein, I do not have the knowledge of what plants are edible, and at what stage of their growth is best to harvest them. Some plants are only edible at certain times of year, and may be wothless or even poisonous at certain stages of growth. While I doubt my own abilities, I am certain most city folks would not stand a chance “living off the land”, especially if bugging out on foot – you can only carry so much gear and food. Knowledge is most critical to survival, so I am working on learning EVERYTHING I may need to know, and not just assuming I will be ok with what I know now. With all the informational resources out there, there is no reason we can’t all perfect our skills and expand our knowledge about how to survive, even though it may be quite time consuming. I just hope I can find the time before I need to apply the skills to survive. Thanks again for the article.

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