Written by 3:45 pmSurvival

When to Bug Out

photo of a woman applying insect repellent on a boy

The doomsday clock is ticking towards midnight, some scientists believe that the apocalypse is closing in and global anxiety has never been more prevalent. The 2020 pandemic, global political tensions, and social unrest have only added to that anxiety. So it is no surprise that some people are taking it upon themselves to prepare for the worst-case scenario.

Maybe you are a family man looking at hunkering down and collecting food and toiletries to last many years. Preparing a bunker near your home to keep you safe from the greatest harm. Or perhaps you are creating a moving vehicle that can take you and a substantial amount of items through all possible apocalyptic terrains.

There is always a style of bugging out to prepare for any scenario and to suit you and your family’s needs. With a wide variety of possible situations that could happen such as floods, chemical warfare, or even civil unrest, it is important to consider if you are prepared for everything that could happen.

Read on to see what our top tips are for prepping a SHTF situation and how you can best succeed in keeping your family safe and ready to go in any scenario.

Bug Out versus Bug In

Bugging Out

If you are thinking about preparing for the worst-case scenario then you might be wondering if you want to stay in or try bugging out. The chances are if you live in an area such as a large city then in the event of a global emergency, you might want to vacate away from the crowds and into a safer location. The same could be said if you lived near high-risk areas such as a nuclear power station or a large dam at risk of collapse. You may be thinking about trying to get your family away from the area as quickly as possible. If this is the case then bugging out is the right way to prepare for you.

Bugging Out means preparing to get up and go at the smallest notice. This can include having a large armored vehicle fully stocked with food and essential resources to last for a sustainable amount of time. However, some people will choose to go with just the bag on their back with resources stashed away at pit stops along a planned route. Often people will have multiple bug out spot that has been scouted out for a clean water supply and close by amenities in case of stock shortages.

This gives you the luxury of being remote and you can move wherever you need to be. For example, one day you may need to find a water source or you may need to venture to another city to find urgent medical supplies. However, bugging out will most likely involve a lot more prepping than bugging in. Finding the ideal bugout location for a safe escape could become a lifelong task. The spot will regularly need to be visited so it can be risk assessed and maintained. Not only will the preparations take a lot of time but it could take a lot of money as well.

But remember, bugging out does not need to cost a lot of money though and there are always many cheaper alternatives.

Bugging In

If traveling around the country or world with all your belongings does not fit your style then there are other options for you. You might think that preparing for the worst-case scenario within the comfort of your own home would be more comfortable. Therefore you might be interested in the idea of bugging in.

Why travel the length of the country when you could be perfectly safe underneath your own home?

In the instance that the world experiences a catastrophic event, a person who is hunkering down in their own home can transform their living space into an ingenious self-sufficient space away from the world. This can often be in the basement of some form below the house or even in the garden in a bunker. Food will be stored in large quantities with clever ways of growing vegetables indoors and finding sources of water.

Keep in mind that with your doomsday home being so close to your own home it will be much easier to check on your resources regularly during the preparations. However, if you find that your permanent position is suddenly at risk of a flood or other natural disaster then all your planning could come to nothing. With all your belongings placed in one position, you may find that you could be unlucky and left with no options. If you are forced to relocate then you will suddenly be without food and water and back to where you started.

When Might You Need to Bug Out?

You may find yourself in a situation where you have no choice but to leave your prepared home and turn to an alternative plan of bugging out. When preparing for your worst-case scenario it is worth considering what happens when things don’t go to plan and when to bug out.

But what situations could you find yourself in where this may be the case?


Flooding is becoming an increasing problem due to global warming. You may find yourself in a situation where a flood has taken over your home and has potentially ruined many of your stock. Unless you have a very sophisticated system that can prevent floods completely, you will be forced to Bug Out.

In preparation for floods, you should find higher ground away from potential flood plains. You should always be ready to take a bag of supplies with you or have a stash of food and water in an area that is unlikely to flood. This would be something to consider if you are local to rivers, coastlines, or any large bodies of waters such as reservoirs, dams, or lakes.


Fires in the wild are becoming more common as time goes on and have not only issues within hot countries like Australia and the USA but have become regular events within a British summer.

In the event of a wildfire, you will need to evacuate your home immediately to prevent long term injuries or death. In preparation for this, it would be important to think of an area unlikely to be affected such as wetlands or urban city areas. Wildfires are often seen in dry grass or woodland areas which can be popular bugging out spots. Thinking outside of the box is key here to keep your family safe.

Chemical Spills

Though chemical spills may not be on your radar, they are very real events that are waiting to happen. With chemicals becoming more frequent in most industries the risk of accidental spillage becomes more likely.

In the event of a chemical spill, it can irritate your eyes and nose and can cause lifelong damage to your body. These spills can often form into clouds and are therefore very hard to contain.

In the instance of chemical spills it is all about urgency and when to bug out and leave your home, if you do not get out right at the start then you may be forced to stay inside your home to protect yourself from long term damage. Creating a quick getaway bag, as well as enough food water within the house in case of being notified of the dangers too late.

Earthquakes and Other Natural Disasters

There is nothing more unpredictable than the ground below our feet; the earth is a mixture of constantly moving elements that can cause the greatest of disasters.

Unfortunately due to the earth not giving much warning in a lot of these events, you may find yourself potentially stuck in your property. In preparation for any natural disaster, the first thing to look at is the house you are in. Is there a building you can go to that is structurally sound and prepared with enough foodstuffs to last for a long period. But also on the rare occasion that there is a warning, for example, a hurricane. In this instance having your resources and a route to take that avoid the mass evacuations will be useful.

Civil Unrest

In the current climate, we are in there has never been a greater risk of civil unrest with global leaders becoming more unpredictable and aggressive towards their global neighbors.

In the event of civil unrest, it would be useful to have a route and plan prepared that can divert away from people and can be particularly remote. This would involve preparing remote accommodation and ensuring there are enough supplies to last a significant amount of time to prevent going back into a dangerous civilization. It could help to discuss with other people that can pull together in times of unrest and can protect each other within the remote spot that has been chosen, perhaps from friends or neighbors.

Top 5 Tips for Bugging Out in a SHTF Situation

There are many scenarios where disaster strikes and you may be expected to prepare to leave at little or no notice. But what can you do to get way ahead of the crowd and increase your chances of bugging out success? Let’s look at the top 5 tips of ways that we can get ahead of the crowd and thrive in SHTF scenarios.

Timing is Everything

Nothing is more important than the timing when it comes to deciding when to bug out. Getting the timing right could be the difference between getting ahead of the crowds or falling behind and getting stuck in disaster situations. Many of these disasters will come with no warning and as soon as danger presents itself, a natural ripple of anxiety will run through a community of desperate people. This anxiety will cause widespread evacuation which can clog up the roads and cause panic.

One way to tackle this is by emergency preparedness ahead of time. If you can get up and go at the first sign of trouble then you will hit the roads before other people have finished collecting their supplies. Therefore you will be first out of the area and will reach your safe area without delay.

Know the Benefits

It is always very important to know why you are bugging out and that you are committed to those reasons. What are the benefits to you bugging out and how does it improve your family’s life?

This is a question that can only be answered by yourself and what you perceive as a benefit to your family. But once you know the benefits and what it will add to your family’s quality of life, it will help you become motivated in making it happen. There will be no second-guessing or any further delays because you will know what you are doing and why you are doing it.

Know the Dangers

In all aspects of bugging out, each decision must be carefully risk assessed to try and avoid emergencies. Bugging out isn’t guaranteed to be smooth sailing.

Therefore, to increase the chances of your bugging out experience being a success it would be wise to know what the dangers are and how you can avoid them or deal with them when they happen. These dangers could not only be on your route to your safe place but also it would be useful to understand what the dangers are within your own home and what could potentially prevent you from leaving on time. Proper planning prevents really poor performance.

Consider Medical Attention

Firstly, do you have all the medication for your family’s needs, if someone has a particular health condition then can this be maintained? If there was an instance where you needed to find the medication or first aid supplies do you have access on your route or near to your safe area?

One of the dangers of a worst-case scenario is that someone may get injured. In some of these instances, the injury may be something that cannot be fixed by medication or by a first aid kit. A hospital or organization that can give medical attention should be considered into the plan and that if the worst were to happen, there is a plan already in position.

Do You Have a Location to Go To?

During preparation for most bugging out participants, a bugout point is usually one of the earlier decisions made in the plan. Getting out of the danger zone is the first task but without having a safe location to go to you may find yourself stuck or confused as to where to go to next. Having a location already set up with food and water can mean that you will not need to take them with you and you can get to your bug out spot even faster.

In some circumstances, your planned area may be unreachable or perhaps in the danger zone itself, this is why many bugging out preppers will have a second or even third bug out spot in case they find themselves having to divert.


Is it better to bug in or bug out?

Opinions amongst preppers of which option is better differs on who you are asking. Firstly you need to establish what it is you are trying to achieve when preparing for a SHTF event.

When you are planning, it is useful to calculate the risks of your local area and country. Then you will need to think about how much you want to commit to the plan. If you just want a safe home in the event of a disaster then perhaps bugging in, in the comfort of your own home may be more suitable and will allow you to defend your home.

However, if you have the time to spend on planning various routes and a remote bug out location where you can prepare a stockpile of supplies then it may be worth considering a bug out. The climate may be other conditions to consider, are you the type of individual that will survive in the conditions of the areas within your plan? Or would you prefer to wait it out at home instead of being exposed to the elements?

What do you need to bug out?

This mostly depends on your personal needs; there is no particular minimum or maximum amount of resources you can take with you.

If you are planning on using a rucksack with very select items then it is a good idea to pre-pack such essentials as a torch, toilet paper, and other tools you may find useful before you leave your home. Whilst also allowing the majority of your weight to be food and drinking water. Having a bag that is ready to go will ensure that you can leave at the earliest opportunity.

If you are wanting to a more comfortable bug out then there are further options including preparing transport or preparing a go-to location that is remote from other people and where you are living. When preparing to bug out another thing to consider is the clothes that you wear, depending on if you are in a hot, cold, wet, or dry location may change what clothes are acceptable.

What is a bug out situation?

A bug out situation is any situation where you may need to leave your current location because it is unsafe or could be life-threatening, this usually involves there being a lack of food, water, and medical equipment.

A bugging out situation is often caused by a disaster or shtf scenarios.

If you choose to bug out then this means you are following a prepared plan out of your current area and are potentially going ‘off-grid’ for an extended period. A bug out location is usually maintained with a stockpile of items to help you through.

Bugging out could also mean taking alternative routes out of a location to avoid crowds and evacuation ques. The alternative to bugging out would be to bug in, this means staying where you are and preparing to stay within your home for an extended time.

Where is the best place to bug out?

This is specific to the location that you are residing in and the areas that are surrounding. Finding the best place to bug out with your family will involve research and preparation.

In most cases, a bug out spot will be somewhere remote and far away from the current location, it will also have links to essential services such as hospitals and areas that can supply additional food and medication such as gas stations and grocery stores.

One option worth considering is if there is a nearby clean water supply. Sometimes the best place to bug out may no longer be a good place to go depending on the disaster that is taking place, therefore it may be worth asking the question if there is the option of multiple potential bug out spaces in case your first choice is unreachable or destroyed.

Bugging out is specific to your situation and it is important to make sure you understand what you will benefit from and how you will achieve that to protect your loved one.

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