4×4 Off-Road Vehicles Make Little Difference in a Bug Out

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Recently I linked to an article on bug out route planning that reminded me why it’s so important to have good alternate routes picked in advance of any significant disaster scenario.

There’s no doubt in my mind that ANY and ALL major roadways–be they highways or city streets–will become an impassable parking lot in no time flat. You really do need to have a better plan.

Of course, there are those very rare circumstances where the ability to go off-road is a benefit but, IMO, I’d say they’re far and few between. As such, the oft-touted advice that you should include a 4×4 for preparedness is overrated.

Don’t get me wrong, I’d rather have one than not, and I do, but I’d say that anyone who lives in a city or suburb shouldn’t make it a priority purchase. Focus on everything else first.


It’s simple really: most cities and suburbs that I’ve been through aren’t setup to allow for off-road driving whatsoever! Considering that they’re littered with an assortment of barriers, guard rails, drop-offs (or embankments), an assortment of annoying buildings, as well as the occasional tree or shrub… most people wouldn’t get very far. 😉 In fact, I’d say most people would get farther walking.

Think about it. Better yet, glance around as you drive along your normal routes on your way to and from work or wherever. Think: “What would I do if I came to a huge traffic jam right here, in this very spot?” Never mind that the nearest exit is within sight a quarter mile down the road… you’re stuck NOW! Could you get around it… even with four wheel drive? Could you backtrack to get around it? Now do this several times over and don’t just pick the spots where you have open space to maneuver… that’s cheating.

I should note that there’s obviously a huge difference in what each geographic region is like. In my former stomping grounds in the Midwest it wasn’t unheard of to see open spaces where off-roading would be possible but, of course, these same places probably wouldn’t be packed like a parking lot either. The roadways where traffic is often a mess in normal times are also the same places where it would be most difficult to get off-road.

On the other hand, where I now live in the Pacific Northwest, there’s often nothing but a path cut through the trees and many two-lane roads… good luck to anyone off-roading through that. 😉

In conclusion, I’m not saying a 4×4 will make no difference during a bug out; I’m just saying that it’s far less likely to be useful than most of use think. Obviously, as with more preps, the old adage still applies even to this: “I’d rather have one and not need it than to need one and not have it.”

How to Plan a 2000 Mile Cross-Country Bug Out Trip – It Could Literally Save Your Life!

Seeing as though we have our upcoming and ridiculously long drive from Kansas City to Seattle in a few days, I figured I would share how I went about planning the drive. Simply put, I treated it as a REALLY long bug out trip. In fact, I intend on keeping the information I compiled for this trip if I ever needed to reverse the trip to make it back to Kansas City someday. Let’s hope not…

A few Things to Note

  1. I chose to break up the drive into at least four days of several hours of driving a day. Although you could conceivable make the drive straight through (it’s about 30 hours or so) if you have enough drivers, which might be a better plan if you needed to G.O.O.D. quickly, you would still want plenty of places to stop if you had to. And, just in case, I have shorter stops planned as well in case of inclement weather.
  2. I placed emphasis on larger cities to allow for several choices for hotels, especially those with Wi-Fi and that accept pets, but if I were planning this purely for bug out then I would have taken any hotel I could find since I wouldn’t need Wi-Fi and I would figure out how to sneak my dog in. I wanted more places with more options rather than less in case my first choice in hotels were booked.
  3. I included two major routes. Typically, in a bug out you would want as many potential routes as you can–let’s say two at minimum with three or four being preferable–and the preference would be on lesser-used routes, including back streets, outer roads, even public land access roads…. anything other than the interstate. But, sadly, a 2000 mile trip is simply going to include the interstate. Of course, if I were planning this for a but out (and I will adjust it eventually) then the most useful plan would be to get out of the city where the trouble is using lesser-traveled streets while avoiding interstates and THEN–once cleared of trouble–to use the interstates.
  4. If I had thought about this before I packed everything I might have considered planting caches along the way. But since we’re in a sedan that probably wouldn’t have happened due to a simple lack of space for anything besides what we MUST take with us like clothes and such.

Pick Your Primary and Secondary Routes

Now, the first thing I did was to open Google Maps and choose to get Directions and typed in “Kansas City MO” as the starting point with “Seattle WA” as the destination. I assume you know how to do this. As you can see, Google wants me to take I-90 but offers two alternatives, I-80 and I-70. You can even drag the route to change it if you like. Here’s what I saw to begin with (click image to enlarge):


After talking to some people and doing a bit of internet research I decided against I-90 as my primary route due to the potential for worse weather that far north, though, I realize both I-80 and I-70 can be bad too. Besides, my wife wanted to see her grandmother in Utah one last time so that settled any debate on taking I-90. That said, we choose I-70 as our primary route so we could stop over in Denver to see friends, however, the following will discuss I-80–our secondary route–because I have been that way before going to Salt Lake City. Here’s what that leg looks like (click image to enlarge):


My intention on this route would be to stop over in Cheyenne, Wyoming the first night and continue on to Salt Lake City, Utah the next day. So, the next thing to do is to note several hotels in Cheyenne because I plan on staying there.

Find Your Stopover Cities

As you can see from the screenshot above, I’ve also circled two other relatively large cities in the image above: Lincoln, Nebraska, and Rock Springs, Wyoming as potential stopping off points if weather was bad. And, so, I’ll find hotels in those places as well for my “something bad happened” scenario. You might also notice that I have a rather long stretch of highway without any obvious stopovers between Lincoln, Nebraska and Cheyenne, Wyoming which doesn’t make me very happy. So, I zoomed in a bit more focusing on the span between Lincoln, NE and Cheyenee, WY and found some smaller towns, including Grand Island, Lexington, and North Platte, Nebraska (click image to enlarge):


You’ll also notice another circle on the far left that doesn’t have a town name which means it’s an even smaller town I found after zooming in even more named Ogallala, Nebraska which is starting to make me a bit concerned because there’s not much between North Platte, Nebraska and Cheyenne, Wyoming which is over 200 miles.

List and Refine Hotels That Meet Your Criteria (and then some)

After identifying the route and the best stopover cities I could, the next step was to find hotels in each of those cities. While I could use sites like hotels.com or expedia.com, I choose to simply use Google Hotel Finder and found the following listings for Cheyenne, Wyoming (click image to enlarge):


There are two major things to point out. First, you can refine your search for any number of options, including price point, hotel class and ratings, and amenities of which I required both “internet” and “pets allowed” and preferred better rated hotels, usually 3.5 starts or better. Second, if you look at the map on the right you can get a general idea of where the hotels are located around the city, if interested, but that wasn’t a major concern for me.

After refining I still had quite a few options available in a larger city such as Cheyenne and so the easiest thing to do was to click on each hotel, scroll down to the bottom, then copy and paste the hotel’s information–name, address, and phone–into a Word document like this (click image to enlarge):


Since it’s a relatively fast process there’s no reason not to copy and paste details for several hotels in each city or all of them if you prefer. You can even jot down notes after printed such as general pricing for each, preferences, or whatever you like. Simply repeat this process for each additional city identified and you’ll quickly develop a list of hotels you can call and reserve as needed. Even smaller cities like Ogallala, Nebraska offered a handful of choices… I was surprised.

Rinse and Repeat!

Obviously, then, you would repeat this process for each major route. In my case I would do this for both I-70 as well as I-80 from Kansas City, Missouri to Salt Lake City, Utah. I would first pick the routes, identify major cities (and minor ones too if needed), list hotels with preferences (especially phone numbers) and that’s about it. of course, I would repeat this process for each major leg of the trip and get as detailed as I needed.

Other Thoughts

While hotels are a higher priority, it couldn’t hurt to also list and print rest areas along the way for each major interstate you intend on travelling too: http://www.interstaterestareas.com or http://roadnow.com link to the major highways. I did… why not.

While I could do the same for gas stations that could get rather involved. Instead, my plan is to force myself to fill up like I would if I were driving around the city and that’s to keep the tank filled at half full or more. Besides, I’ll have a GPS that identifies nearby gas stations and dining too and I’m sure the family needs to stretch their legs every so often. Of course, if I were truly bugging out then I would have also taken my gasoline cans–strapped to the trunk–but I figured my wife would have a heart attack if I did that for this trip. 😉

Once I had it all together the last step was to let family know the dates I will be travelling, what legs I’ll take and when, and the hotels I expect to stay at with phone numbers. Then I would immediately let these people know if plans or routes change, hotels changed, and so on. And, needless to say, I would tell these people when I’ve arrived at my destination each night too.

What additional steps would you have taken? I would love to hear them before I leave in a few days.

Supercharge Your Bicycle With the Hill Topper Electric Bike Kit!


Where we live there are some significant hills that are simply no fun to ride a bicycle up. Downhill? That’s a breeze… but wherever there’s a downhill slope, there’s an uphill one too. As such–and more likely because I’m just getting older–I don’t get my bicycle out much any more. Ignoring the lack of exercise in this post, it also means that if I had to bug out and I were not able to take my vehicles then I would have to do so by foot which obviously means I’m not getting far very fast!

Bugging out on foot isn’t all bad since it means I’m not necessarily limited to paved roads but there’s an obvious reason why we humans have paved everything and it makes sense to utilize such roads if you can. Certainly, there’s a solution if I can’t use my vehicles and don’t want to hoof-it on foot: a bicycle. But, again, there are those darn hills… and that’s where this Hill Topper Electric Bike Kit comes into play… yet another cool device my buddy Douglas pointed out. According to their website:

“Your Benefits: Tired of high gas prices? Then try the easiest-to-install electric bike kit on the market. Lets you zoom up ‘that one darn hill’ that has kept you off your bike until now, run an errand or commute without getting sweaty. Get that bike out of the garage! Kit assembled in America with high-quality wheels built and tuned by hand in the USA. Get ready with your kit today and don’t miss out on another day of riding!”

In fact, watch this video about installing the Hill Topper:

Interesting? Perhaps. You might, therefore, like to read their rather extensive FAQ on the setup. Now, there are a variety of prices ranging from $399 to $1,195 depending on the battery size you opt for. And that’s where I became slightly disappointed. Personally, I would have loved to see them offer this setup WITHOUT a battery so that I could utilize one my own. If they would have done that I would have been all over this idea and got one for each of our bicycles as a “just in case” option. That said, the Hill Topper Electric Bike Kit could still prove quite useful depending on your situation and need.

Short on Space When Bugging Out in Your Vehicle? Add a Roof Carrier or Cargo Bag!

cargo-bagYou know, not everybody has a large SUV, truck, or spacious RV in which to bug out. Some of us (me included) have only a lowly four door sedan with which to rely upon. Originally, our plan–or should I say “my” plan–had always included the use of two vehicles so that we could take our “extra” stuff but a while back we had to sell one car and, hence, were left with just one. So, what to do?

Well, there were options, including a trailer and cargo hitch and even trading in our car for a larger vehicle but we elected not to do so knowing that we were going to have to drive across country for our upcoming move (didn’t want to drive two cars) and because we would want multiple vehicles in Seattle… one of which would be our current vehicle. So, we’re making do for a while but didn’t want to be completely without options and, thus, we purchased a rooftop cargo bag that would not only double as additional vehicle bug out space but also help up in our move.

Now, there are both hard-shelled carriers and soft (cargo) bags. The hard-shelled carriers are better and work great for vehicles that have rooftop rails (such as SUVs) but we opted for a soft cargo bag because it worked better for our car. Unfortunately, this means we can’t put a lot of heavy items inside so that means we can’t load up the bag with buckets of rice and beans or ammo cans. It does, however, mean we can put extra luggage, assorted camping gears, maybe blankets, freeze dried foods, and other lightweight items.

Of course, I guess you *could* load up with heavier items if you had to but most vehicle rooftops aren’t designed to sustain hundreds of pounds of weight without caving, though, you might have a few very large dents for sure. Ultimately, you’re not going to add a ton of space with a rooftop carrier but it is a lot better than NOT having the option. And, fortunately, most canvas cargo bags are fairly inexpensive at between $40-80 on Amazon. Hard-shelled carriers are going to be a bit more expensive.

So, what do you think? I know it’s not the best of plans but when you have to make do, you gotta’ improvise!

If You Only Had 15 Minutes to “Bug Out,” Could You? My Thoughts on Doing it Right…


It should be no surprise to anybody who’s been around my blog for any length of time that I am NOT a big fan of bugging out. Not at all. I feel that in most situations you’re far better off trying to survive at home, after all, that’s why I’ve created The PREPARED Path course!

That said, a portion of the course does discuss the need to be prepared to bug out. Because, obviously, you can’t plan your family’s survival on just ONE option.

The question today–ignoring many others–is in what time-frame should you be ready to bug out? Certainly there are many opinions and I’ve got mine. But the answer should really depend on the situation. Some situations might dictate a nearly immediate bug out, such as with an approaching wildfire, whereas other situations might allow for more time to leave, such as a forming tropical storm that’s expected to make landfall days from now.

With this in mind, I’ve got my strategy in place so that we should be able to bug out in different time-frames depending on the situation. Specifically, I think 15 minutes, 1 hour, and 1 day are appropriate time frames to plan around. The thought is that the more time you have to plan the more stuff you can take with you. Granted, some of this has to do with available cargo space and whether or not you can take two cars, for example, but the idea is the same: less time equals take less stuff, more time equals take more stuff.

Today, I want to focus on being able to bug out in the shortest amount of time allotted: 15 minutes or less. Of course, it is possible that you may have literally no time whatsoever to bug out–you just have to grab your BOB’s and go, but let’s say you have a small ability to take the MOST important stuff and pack a car, what would that stuff be?

Before discussing specifically what to take, there are two important considerations I want to point out: (1) what you think is important and what I do may be very different and (2) you really don’t know what you can take with you until you’ve actually tried. This is particularly critical for small cars (as opposed to trucks and SUVs) because there really isn’t that much space in them to begin with. Once you get people and maybe pets in there you’re kinda out of room. There are really only two solutions here: get a roof cargo bag/carrier or a very small trailer of some sort and hitch, that is, assuming you want to bring much of anything to survive wwith. Well, there ARE other options, including taking less stuff, utilizing multiple cars, or trading in a car for something larger. Regardless, you really need to figure out what fits and precisely what stuff goes in what vehicle if you expect to take much more than the clothes on your back. Go try it!

Now, let’s talk about time. 15 minutes isn’t a long time. It’s WILL go by in a flash in an emergency situation. You and everyone else will probably be running around frantically, grabbing random stuff, yelling, screaming, etc. You need a plan…

To be honest, it’s not hard to develop a plan you can follow. Get out a piece of paper and start writing. Jot down what’s critical to you for your survival, note where each item is (by room), and if you like include some numbering system to show how important each item is. So, for instance, I might suggest that my bug out bags are top priority whereas my firesafe is slightly less important and my wife’s numerous photo albums at the bottom of the list. I would then list these items, note where they are, and then sort them from most important to least important (e.g., 1 to 5 with 1 being most important) or whatever system works for you. You’ll have a good-sized list fairly quickly. I use Excel for this purpose but pen and paper work just fine too.

Now, you need to decide what’s really important. That’s why I like segregating my lists into 15 minute, 1 hour, and 1 day lists so that if I have more time I can pack more stuff, otherwise, I just grab the MOST important stuff. That’s the stuff that makes my 15 minute list. Slightly less important stuff makes the 1 hour list, and nice to have stuff makes the 1 day list. See?

So long as you’re ready to bug out in 15 minutes, in that you’ve got the gear and plan to make it happen, they you’re really ready to bug out given any time-frame presented… then it’s just a matter of “playing Tetris” in your vehicles to fit more stuff.

Again, I pinpoint 15 minute as being the critical time-frame to consider because anything less means you’re probably just grabbing your bug out bags and high-tailing it ASAP. 15 minutes or more means you can enact a plan, shove stuff in a car, and get a move on. Well, that’s my opinion, for what it’s worth.

As for what to bring? It’s simple, really. Focus on the normal survival priorities like appropriate clothing, weapons and ammo, Rx and OTC medications, first aid supplies, some water, food, etc. I consider these the bare essentials. I would also include other things like evacuation routes, money, personal documentation (stuff that’s hard to replace like birth certs, deeds, etc), extra gasoline, and and batteries as also being pretty darn important. Make your own list.

My advice: do your best to be ready to bug out within 15 minutes. Get your essential down to the bare minimums–whatever that means to you–and then expand on your plans to include more stuff, more vehicles, etc. Use a simple sorted list to decide what’s most important and there you have it. Of course, I have my own ideas on how to do this and include a complete template in my Prepared PATH course but you can certainly make your own too. The point is to follow Nike’s slogan and “Just do it!”

The Bug Out Dilemma for Those With Troubled Bowels


For most people I would assume this isn’t a huge concern–though it could turn into one for even the most “regular” among us–for others, however, it could be a big deal. I’m talking about making a huge switch in one’s diet for days on end while bugging out.

Typically, the advice to anyone while bugging out is to not only continue eating as you normally would (e.g., three squares a day) but quite possibly to consume more food if you can because you’re likely expending more energy and consuming more calories and, obviously, your body NEEDS the extra food.

But, what if you’re one of millions that already have very significant bowel troubles? You know, difficulty in the “# two business” when things are normal and your diet regular? I’m wondering if it’s actually better for you to eat much less than you normally would on a bug out for the simple fact that you will be consuming foods (e.g., freeze dried meals, MRE’s, survival bars) that you would NOT typically consume as a part of your normal diet.

Just think how much havoc consuming nothing but foods you normally do not eat would cause to your digestive tract! I would imagine an immediate stoppage of the works would ensue.

And while I’m sure this problem will pass eventually and I know there are some OTC medications that can help here but you’re still probably in for days of very significant discomfort one way or another. As such, if you’re expected to be very active during this time, well, bowel troubles caused by a big change in diet could become very problematic.

I know, I know, just suck it up, you say! Consider, however, if this person is already stressed, tired, scared, and so on… for them it might not be that straight-forward and easy. You might then suggest they start incorporating these foods into their diet. Ok, maybe. But how dedicated would somebody be to eat such foods even a few times a week? Probably not that dedicated over many months or years and it’s not like they’re super-cheap to purchase either.

Fortunately, I don’t have this problem. I can eat darn near anything and be fine but I’ve honestly never tried to eat days worth of my bug out food only. In fact, this reminds me of an experiment a guy did on YouTube (I think it was CutleryLover) where he ate only survival bars over 72 hours and I don’t think it ended very well for him! Anyway, I do know people who have very significant bowel troubles and even small changes in their diet would be a problem, let alone very large changes like what I’m talking about here.

Now, you and I both know that a person won’t starve in only a few days if they eat but one meal a day or even nothing at all, for that matter. That said, being drastically under-nourished does pose other problems such as affecting one’s cognitive thinking skills as well as seriously reducing their stamina… neither of which are conducive to bugging out effectively or safely. So, I’m not suggesting they eat nothing but perhaps a single meal in the morning is a good compromise? That way a person gets the energy they need to move during the day but has time to “process” things the rest of the day and night.

Ultimately, I’m not saying that purposely eating less food is the right thing to do here. I really don’t know. I am suggesting, however, that you think about how you would tackle it if you do have bowel problems because I’m sure this is a problem nobody wants when they’re literally running for their lives.

What do you think? Should a person eat as they normally would even if they currently have very significant bowel problems AND will be consuming foods they do not eat or should they purposely limit their intake of these foods as I propose?

One Problem I’ll Bet Almost NOBODY has Considered for Bug Outs in the Summer Heat

The other day I spent the entire day outside doing a bunch of different things from landscaping to cleaning out the garage and plenty of other random stuff. In fact, I felt like I was running around like a chicken with my head cut off. 😉 Because it was hot and fairly muggy out that day (aren’t most days in the midwest?) I felt I was prepared for the day as I wore loose-fitted clothing, a hat, sunscreen, and had plenty of water breaks too.

But, you know what I wasn’t ready for? And it didn’t actually hit me until that evening? Chafing! Also known as “saddle sores” they become quite unpleasant, so much so that if I had to walk a long distance later that night such as on a bug out I would have been VERY unhappy. Now, it’s not like I haven’t had this problem before. It’s just that it has never dawned on me as being relevent to prepping.

Granted, I probably could have taped some large gauze to my legs or even ripped up an old shirt to make do but where’s the fun in that? I know runners and cyclists have this problem and began looking for a solution.  I originally found a page that referenced several home remedies, including Noxema, Vagisil, Preparation H, Tea Tree Oil. Honestly, I’m not sure I would want to use any of those besides maybe the Noxema. I then found another page that discussed using petroleum jelly, other medicated ointments (didn’t specify which ones), baby powder, and cornstarch. Ok, now we’re getting closer.

I was hoping to find something similar to gauze that would–ideally–just velcro on or something but no luck thus far. I did find anti-chafing tape but that seemed to be geared towards marine (boat) use. A bit more research and I wound up opting for anti-chafing gel because it seems to be geared for keeping lubricated yet not being sticky or slimy and it’s not too costly:

My biggest concern with stocking anti-chafing gel is that I keep our primary bug out bag in our car and I doubt this stuff would last very long in the relentless heat. So, any ideas here? I’d love to hear of a better solution.

CONTEST POST: Eighteen Essential Items for Your Bug Out Bag by R.M.

Source: Survival-Goods.com
Source: Survival-Goods.com

A bug out bag is an item anyone who is even slightly invested in prepping should own. A bug out bag is a collection of things that should give you everything you need to get through the first few days on the road. You should be able to grab it in a minute, and it should be your best friend when times are tough.

Obviously what you put in your bag is of the utmost importance. Let’s look at 18 items that no bug out bag should be without.


1. An Easy-to-Carry, Weather Resistant Backpack: You will need something to store all of your goodies in. Your backpack should keep you stash warm and dry in all environments.

2. At Least 2 Liters of Water: First and foremost, you need some water. Water is the key to life, and the key to keeping yours going more than a day or two.

3. 30 Water Purification Tablets: A secondary water option for long term survival. As we will soon see, redundancy is essential.

4. Protein or Granola Bars: You’ll want some light weight, non-perishable, high calorie and nutrient food. Other good ideas are crackers and peanut butter, beef jerky, freeze dried food and MREs.

5. A First Aid Kit: A must-have for any survival kit. You can buy one, but making your own will help you get acquainted with how everything works.

6. An LED Flashlight: You will need some light for darker times. LED flashlights last longer and shine brighter. Store some extra batteries.

7. A Portable, Battery Powered Radio: This may be your only source of information while on the road. Store some extra batteries.

8. A Survival Knife: You will use this a lot for things like chopping wood, opening cans, etc. I can talk for ages on the subject but here’s a quick, important-thing cheat sheet:

  • A stainless steel or carbon blade
  • A 6-9”, single edged blade with a sharp point (nothing hooked, flat or rounded)
  • A 4-6” fixed handle, with full tang, solid pommel and no-slip grip
  • A sheath you can connect to your person, with crossover strap so your knife doesn’t fall out

9. Strike Anywhere Matches, A Piece of Emery Board, in a Plastic Container: This is your fire starting kit. The emery board is used for striker.

10. Dental Floss, Fishing Hooks and Sewing Needles: These tools can be used for:

  • Making fishing lines
  • Sewing torn clothes and fabrics
  • Stitching wounds

11. Paracord, Plastic Sheeting and Duct Tape: For making rain shelters and sealing broken windows.

12. Garbage Bags: For removing waste, and fashioning into ponchos.

13. Warm Hat, Gloves and Socks: Keep your extremities warm to maintain your body heat.

14. A Mirror: For signalling to others visually, and inspecting wounds that are hard to see.

15. A Whistle: For scaring off animals and signalling to others.

16. A Pencil Wrapped in Paper: For leaving notes to others.

17. Photocopies of Important Documents: You should have some copies of any important documents you have, such as:

  • Your passport
  • Driver’s license
  • Home and vehicle info
  • Contact phone numbers

18. A Compass and Maps of the Area: These will help you escape trouble and navigate you and your family to safety.

Keep your bug out bag in an out of the way place, but a place you can grab it quickly when needed. If disaster ever strikes, it will be your lifeline.

For more reading, check out How to Make a Wilderness Survival Kit.

Good luck and stay prepared!

Rambo Moe

To enter your own article please email me at rethinksurvival (at) gmail (dot) com with your submission and review the rules here.

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•Filters up to 50 gallons; removable bite valve doubles as hanging drip filter

6 Reasons Why Bugging Out is a Bad Idea

evacuationIt’s no secret that I feel bugging out should NOT be your first reaction to an emergency situation. After all, I’ve written an entire e-course about sheltering in place. In my opinion, you should stay put most of the time, and for good reason.

Now, let me state clearly that I also understand there are some situations where evacuation is likely the best idea. A few examples include an impending category 5 hurricane bearing down our your town, a nearby wildfire heading your way, or perhaps a tsunami. Most other situations that I can imagine dictate a sheltering in place strategy. The purpose of this post, therefore, is to explain several reasons why bugging out is a bad idea…

  1. The vast majority of your gear, equipment, and supplies will be left behind. While you should have a plan in place to take the most important/critical gear with you, unless you’re evacuating in a fully-stocked motor-home, you’re going to be leaving a lot of it behind, which really negates the advantage of having acquired your preps to begin with. In fact, you may be little better off than the average family who packed hastily… well, almost. Besides, I assume that you’ve spent a good deal of time, effort, and money acquiring your preps… just to leave it? No way!
  2. You’re leaving behind your best known shelter option. Unless your home was destroyed or otherwise made uninhabitable due to said disaster (such as being crushed by a tornado) there’s no guarantee that you’re going to find a better option wherever you end up. Obviously, you should have specific places to evacuate to–such as a friend or relative’s house or hotel–which certainly increases the odds that you’ll have a roof over your head but, like I said, there’s no guarantee that their house is still standing, habitable, or even that you’re welcome regardless of prior arrangements… or even the fact that you were [fill in the blank’s] best man at their wedding. There’s no guarantee.
  3. You know your area, the house, and your neighbors better than anywhere you’re evacuating to or moving through. Personally, I’m not the most outgoing of neighbors and I don’t know everyone’s name but I do recognize faces regarding who belongs and who does not (for the most part). I probably wouldn’t have a clue wherever I evacuated to. Likewise, it should go without saying that you know your area better where you live than you do anywhere else (unless you recently moved, for example, and are evacuating back there). In general, where you live now you know the people, the roads, the stores, the back roads, the culture, maybe the authorities, and so on. Where you are is what you KNOW.
  4. You could be traveling great distances to get to your evacuation spots. I’ve seen people with some really ambitious bug out plans, in the range of traveling several hundred miles or more to get where they want to be. I think that’s crazy if you ask me. Granted, my own evacuation plans include trips of about 200 miles which is asking a lot too. Heck, even bugging out on foot ten or twenty miles can be a multi-day chore and that’s not even considering medical conditions that inhibit travel, injuries acquired during the trip, weather conditions that force slower movement or no movement at all, and anything else that might make a simple “hike” turn into a real “trek.”
  5. Disasters can turn the nicest of people into the worst of people. Like it or not, disasters bring out the worst in people when they become desperate and scared. People who would have given you the shirt off their back yesterday may literally try to take yours from you today, especially if it’s for their kid’s sake. And, the worst part is that the already bad and/or shady people will use this situation to their advantage… after all you’re an easy target being out in the open, out of your element (the places and people you know), and probably traveling with your family. You may not want trouble but trouble may find you.
  6. Plan A may turn into plan B, plan C, and eventually just wing it! As much as I believe in planning to prepare for a emergency, including evacuation destinations and multiple routes, who knows what you might encounter. The routes you’ve selected could be congested with traffic (especially if you’re not among the first to leave), roads could be blocked by floodwater or felled trees, they could be purposely roadblocked by the National Guard or local authorities (or even bad guys posing as the law), or otherwise inaccessible for whatever reason. Now, you’re just praying to get to somewhere safe. Besides, who knows if you’ll be able to re-fuel if you’re traveling long distances, find food to eat, water to drink, etc. Certainly, you can and should minimize these types of problems by packing the aforementioned supplies before you leave.

I want to be clear: I don’t want to say that you should NEVER consider bug out as a part of your overall plan. Not at all. I have my plans in place and you should as well. I simply believe it’s usually not the best first option. Do what you will.

How to Evacuate in a Matter of Minutes

car-tripAs much as I’m a “shelter in place” kinda guy, I do recognize the need to be able to evacuate your home should the need ever arise. There are many, many reasons for doing so, including natural disasters such as hurricanes, tsunamis, and wildfires to man-made ones such as a natural gas leak, and chemical spills. The question, then, is how to do so as effectively and efficiently as possible?

Well, to me it always starts with a plan. And plans often include lists; in this case a list of the items and gear you intend to take with… assuming, of course, that you’re bugging out by vehicle and not on foot. Anyway, your list doesn’t have to be anything fancy but it should be well thought out and readily accessible to all family members. I like to keep a “bug out” binder but you could just as easily post it on the refrigerator.

That said, I prefer to have my checklists broken down into multiple levels of needs, such as those items that are high, moderate, and low priority needs but you can and should do whatever makes the most sense to you. For example, I might say that my firearms and extra cash are a high priority need whereas extra blankets and my wife’s memorabilia are a low priority need. Got it?

In addition, I also like to develop my checklists around the time frame that I would expect to have to evacuate. For example, I might determine that I’ll only have 15 minutes or so to evacuate from a gas leak, one hour to evacuate an approaching wildfire, and perhaps a full day to evacuate a far-off hurricane. With this is mind I can then begin to determine precisely what items I can and will take with me given their perceived need/usefulness as well as the amount of time I have to gather them. To make my life easier, I actually created a PDf file to help me do just that called my “Priority Checklists” file. It happens to be one of many parts to my Pathway 2 Prepaerdness e-course, here’s an example screenshot (click to enlarge)…

Priority Checklist-2

Again, it doesn’t have to be this elaborate but I like the layout quite a bit and suspect you will too. Once you have all of your decisions made you should then consider the ultimate question: will it all fit? Chances are pretty good you’re going to need multiple vehicles to transport your gear along with family, pets, and who knows what else. So, I strongly encourage you to give it a test run and see not only how it all might fit (or not fit) but also how long it actually takes you… you might be highly disappointed in both answers but it’s critical to know so you can adjust and make more realistic plans.

The other major part of being able to evacuate effectively is to have an actual written out plan as to where you will go, how you will get there, what happens if family members are separated, and so on. This is actually A LOT of work. Before I actually tried to develop my own plans I always assumed that the few places I intended to be able to evacuate to would be ok and accessible. The more I thought about it, however, the more I realized that I could very well be forced to evacuate in directions and places that I really didn’t want to go. Hence, I had to develop a plan to evacuate in all directions (north, south, east, west) and to multiple places and distances. Yeah, it’s a lot of work but well worth the effort should I and my family ever need to fall back on these plans.

In fact, I went ahead and created another document titled “Evacuation Procedures” which is also a part of my e-course to help you develop your own evacuation plans. Here’s a few screenshots (click to enlarge)…

Evacuation Procedures-3Evacuation Procedures-4

Really, it’s all about attempting to plan as best as you can before you ever need to evacuate. Granted, I know that plans aren’t always going to work out perfectly and there will be inevitably be snags, but I firmly believe that I would rather have to adjust my original plan(s) as I go than to have no plan at all. Feel free to learn more about these files and others as well as my 12-week Pathway 2 Prepaerdness e-course if you like.