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Alternative Bug Out Transportation: How to Bug Out Without a Car

Avatar for Samantha Biggers Samantha Biggers  |  Updated: August 25, 2019
Alternative Bug Out Transportation: How to Bug Out Without a Car

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Bugging out. This is a term it is hard not to hear daily in the prepping community. To plenty it means hitting the trail but for others their car plays a major role in making it as far as they can or getting to their bug out point or camp. What is one to do if they do not own a car or when it simply is not an option due to a myriad of circumstances.

This is an especially serious consideration for those that are older, have young children, or are disabled.

If you can’t walk to but out and the car is not an option what do you do? Let’s look at the facts about getting out of the city to start with.


While you may have a car, what good does that do if the traffic doesn’t allow you to get out soon enough? It can help to know the backroad routes if they exist but for some there is not going to be as many choices of how to get out as others.

Blocks & Natural Disasters

During an emergency situation, you may find that some routes are totally blocked. This can happen for a variety of reasons. Law enforcement may want to check cars on their way out or at least have the option. Inclement weather may cause road ways to become impassable or very unsafe.

This is not something you can completely plan for but it helps to realize that your chosen route that you so carefully planned may not be available so you always need a Plan B.


Who has not seen some of the violence on the news when people are upset and attacking civilian vehicles. If you are part of an exodus then it is possible that you get caught up in violence without any good exit out.

Unfortunately plenty of people that have no interest in being involved with riots and violence lose their lives just by being in the wrong place at the wrong time.

Smaller vehicles are more maneuverable

How many times have you been in traffic only to see someone on a motorcycle or moped zipping in and out of traffic and gaining a lot of ground? Even when traffic is barely at a crawl, you can make some time with a motorcycle or moped. Sure only 1-2 people can ride on one but that might be all that you need.


If you are interested in an alternative bug out vehicle then you need to take the time to get a good level of comfort with it. During a survival situation things can be pretty darn intense which can make it hard to be on top of your game.

The more comfortable you are before a situation arises, the better you are going to be able to handle things when the situation is not ideal.

Children and Bug Out Transportation

A stressful situation for you can be downright terrifying for a child. Throw in a few comfort items for the kids and everyone will have a little easier time. Coloring books, a tablet that can be charged off the battery while going down the road, etc can all be good.

Of course some vehicles may not make this an option. If you plan on using non enclosed transport then it might be good to get kids used to it before hand so they are not as scared. A single parent bugging out with a child on a motorcycle is feasible but if the child has never been on a motorcycle then there are not just fears to possibly overcome but safety issues as well.


There are a lot of these around and if you are away from town and want to cover some ground they can help you out. Of course these are gas dependent machines but they can go a long way on not that much. Some UTVs are made for higher speeds.

These are the sporty ones that people like to take out and off road with their friends. These will hit highway speeds of 45 mph or even more if they are souped up. On our place we have a Kawasaki Mule trans 4 x4 4010 and it has a maximum speed of 25 mph because it is governed and made for work rather than play.

What it has in its favor is that the bed capacity is close to that of a mid sized truck at 1200 lbs and you can add two passengers. With 4 passengers the bed capacity goes down to 800 lbs.

Lightweight Motor Cycle

There are a lot of small motorcycles out there that can be purchased used at a low price. You have to realize that Even if you only get to use is for a little while during a big crisis and have to abandon or trade it, what is $1,000-$3,000 when it comes to the difference between survival and death.

This sounds harsh but that type of money isn’t much anymore. One trip to the ER can be more expensive than that so those that are quick to say that spending thousands on a bug out machine is too much for something that might happen, I say that your life is worth a lot more than few grand.

Even a new motorcycle like the Kawasaki KLR 650 retails for just over $6,000. Find an earlier model that someone has taken the depreciation on. The Kawasaki KLX 250 has an MSRP of just over $5,000 and while it is street legal, it is designed to perform better off road than the KLR.

Here is an example of a decked out Kawasaki KLR ready for bugging out in style!


TaoTao LANCER-150 Gas Street Legal Scooter

Now these will not go as many places as a dirt bike or light road bike, and they are technically not legal to take on highways with speed limits above 55 mph in almost any place but who cares during an emergency? A new moped can cost as little as $1,000 and a used one for far less.

You can zip around cars and other vehicles and although you are not going to be going at interstate speeds, 25-40 mph is better than staying in place or being stuck in a jam.

There are a lot of brands out there and of course you can pay more if you start getting in to the range of larger or fancier motors and accessories.


Intex 5 Person Inflatable Boat With Oars & Motor Mount

If you are near water then utilizing this for bug out transportation may be a good idea. While a lot of people will be clogging motor ways and intersections there will probably be far less traffic on a body of water.

Those in busy urban areas that are on the water should definitely look into boats for getting out during an emergency. Of course you want to make sure to have plenty of fuel and have an idea of where you are going to try for.

Fuel capacities of boats vary a lot so it is important to know what your typical range is on a full tank. If you don’t have a place to store a boat or want to invest in a large one there are inflatables that you can throw a motor on and take off.

While some are not going to be the best for a very long journey, if they can get you to a point where you can safely take off on foot or to an island where you can shelter in safety then they are not a bad thing to consider.

Even a row boat could help you out of a situation. An inflatable can be kept in small space and inflated when needed. A pump that runs on batteries can be kept on hand for quick inflation or you can always use a hand pump if that is all you have.

Remember that some boats definitely have limits to the size motor that can be mounted. A trolling motor is not fast but it will save you some work and allow you to go a lot faster if you have some people rowing or paddling while the motor does some of the work as well.

There are a lot of different styles of inflatables out there. I have shown you but one example.

Mountain Bike Or Road Bicycle

A good bicycle can help get you out of a situation with some work on your part. Some bicycles may be partially electric as well which can help you out for at least a little while. You can get bags that fit on your bike to increase the amount of weight you can take with you and take some of the strain off your back if you have strapped a pack on.

Mountain bikes would be my recommendation because they can be taken off the pavement. A bicycle is not going to be ideal to bug out on for a lot of people but it would certainly be better than walking if you need to cover some ground.

Not all bikes are created equal so if you want a bike for a bug out option try to find one that is built better than the average department store bike. Craigslist usually has a ton of bikes with some of them being very high end and ready for some tough conditions.

Combined Transport Options

Inflatable boats or small craft can also be utilized by those that have other transportation to get to a specific point and then take off in the boat. Combining different bug out transport methods may be able to get you to a safer location than just using one.

What if you have a spot scouted out that is easier to reach by water but you still need to get there using other transportation?

Think strategically about what is going to work best for what leg of your journey. If you do make it out in a car then maybe you could have a mountain bike on a rack for the second part of your journey? There are a lot of options to think about.

Ultralight Air Craft

While owning a plane may seem out of the question, there is an amazing array of ultralight aircraft out there for a much more affordable cost than you might think. Of course you are going to need the space to store it and an area for take off. If you are already an amateur pilot then you should be thinking about how you could bug out with your plane.

Those that live in areas where a natural disaster is one of the major scenarios to worry about, plane transport may be an option if you have the budget and skills. I know this is out of most people’s reach but I think all types of transport need to be thought about because there are all types of preppers out there.

Learning to fly is a skill and to me seems like it would take quite a bit of time. With ultralights costing less than a car though, I thought it would be worth it to point out.

Saving Money On Your Bug Out Transportation

  • Buy Used

A lot of the alternative transportation I have talked about can be found used for a deep discount. Think about how many people buy a boat, UTV, motorcycle, bicycle, ect thinking they will use it a lot and then discover they don’t have the time or they simply don’t like it as much as they thought.

There are a lot of boats out there that haven’t seen the water in years and there are some garage queens out there that have barely any miles on them.

  • Pay In Cash If You Can

Paying in cash can help get you the best price. Buying privately through an individual and paying in cash is often a much better deal than going to a dealer but even if you do go to a dealer, they will sometimes take a little off the price if they don’t have to fool with financing.

On the other hand, some no credit check we finance everyone places make a lot of money off financing so they don’t want to budge much on price even with cash.

  • Get The Base Model & Add Accessories

Dealers can charge a lot for some things you might not need nor want. After market additions that you do yourself are usually going to be cheaper than letting someone do it for you.

Saddle bags for a motorcycle may be a lot more at the dealer and not as durable as what you need. While durable paint is good to have, you don’t need the extra fancy paint job.

Gas and fuel stabilizer

One thing about bug out transportation is that you need some fuel on hand. Fuel can be stabilized and stored fairly easily. While I know that those living in town may not have a lot of space for this, an extra 5 gallons of fuel is still a good idea. On a moped a gallon of fuel can get you 75 miles which may be the difference between life or death in a severe situation.

There are all types of gas cans out there with the metal varieties being more expensive but also much more durable and spill proof than their plastic counterparts.

Tips For Outfitting Any Bug Out Vehicle

  • Weight Matters

While you can definitely carry more in a vehicle it is important to not go overboard. If you are pushing the weight limit of your vehicle then you are putting more stress on all the components and you are affecting your gas mileage.

Add up the weight of yourself and any family you expect to bug out with you and then go from there. This is not the time to be shy about weight. It is best to add a few pounds to your body weight just to have a buffer.

  • Plan out your supplies

What do you really need? It is easy if you have some extra space to add in things you don’t need. You may also reach a point where you have to abandon your transport so that is something to consider. You should have a bug out bag with the essentials for each person for starters and then extra food.

A few gallons of water to get you down the road until you can filter some water from another source or reach a potable source is advisable. If you have to lose the weight you can just pour it out after drinking what you can.

  • Fire Extinguisher

Any vehicle should have at least a small canned fire extinguisher. It can be just the type that looks like an aerosol can but you need something. Fires happen when you least expect it and you can also use a fire extinguisher as a weapon either by spraying with it or using as a bludgeon.

  • Consider your defense access

I don’t know the exact laws where you live and honestly you probably won’t care too much about law and order if you are in a really bad situation. I do know that regardless of your weapon of choice you need to have it within reach. I for one do not want to be defenseless if someone attempted to gain access to the interior of the car.

Holsters for firearms are advisable so they are out of the way but within easy reach. Knives on belts might not be a bad plan.

If you find yourself wanting to keep these items hidden then there are other weapons that you can have close that are just everyday objects that most people would never consider in the weapon category.

  • Tire Iron Or Breaker Bar

These are not anything that would be considered out of place in a vehicle. Keep it by your side and it makes an excellent bludgeon.

  • Bee Spray Or Even Canned Air Freshener

No one is going to arrest your for concealed carry or having an illegal weapon if you keep bee spray or air freshener in the drink holder built into your door. Getting sprayed by either one of these things is going to be nasty.

Bee spray would be worse because it is actually poisonous. This is of course a pretty awful thing to have to do to someone so it is only something to be used in a serious situation. Bee spray is also better for self defense because a lot of the cans are made to shoot more than 20 ft! You may want to avoid storing it in a car with the windows rolled up on a hot day.

  • Tire Fix Kit

Some of you may already have put together a tire fix kit but for those that have not or that only have one for their regular transportation, you should have one for your bug out transport. For more information on putting together a good tire fix kit check out my previous post “Tire Fix Kit For SHTF”.

Maps, Compass, Or Navigational Equipment

GPS is nice but I don’t think it is something you should plan on having during an emergency. A physical copy of a map of your area and a compass is something you can rely on regardless of the state of your batteries or electronics, satellite signal, etc.

Last but not least, HAVE A PLAN

Having bug out transportation is great but you really need to have at least a Plan A & B. It is impossible to plan for all circumstances but you do need to think about how you would get out and where you would go. In any event, you will still want to prep your bug out bag as well.

Having at least some idea will help to conserve your fuel, resources, and make the best use of time when every second counts. A little bit of strategic thinking now can pay off in a major way later on.

Do you have a bug out vehicle plan? What about fuel? What extras have you added in to make it easier to get out when you need to?


Author Bio

Samantha Biggers lives on a mountain in North Carolina with her husband and pack of loyal hounds in a house her husband and she built themselves. When not writing she is working in their vineyard, raising Shetland sheep, or helping her husband with whatever the farm and vineyard can throw at them. 

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6 Responses to “Alternative Bug Out Transportation: How to Bug Out Without a Car”

  1. I keep an adult size (supports my weight) Razor scooter in my vehicle as a backup for “get home transportation”. $70 at the time. Or it can be used as a quick and nimble way to scout the road ahead when traffic is at a stand still. It has a shoulder strap so I can sling it across my back if I need to walk off road for a short cut. I mounted a small get home bag to the handle bar with the 10c’s supplies, first aid and multi tool that fits all the allen bolts, a water bottle holder and handle bar mounted led light. It’s very small when folded up, very light weight and much, much faster than walking on paved or hard packed surfaces. It’s not as fast or comfy as a bicycle but it’s much easier to store in the trunk or behind a seat in our van.

  2. Nice article. I researched many of these options, as well. I’m a cyclist, so I wanted to expand on that idea. Xtracycle makes great add-on cargo bike attachments that give an otherwise “normal” bicycle “Swiss Army Knife” flexibility. Other manufacturers make complete cargo bikes that can carry a couple hundred pounds of gear. I opted for a spendy fat cargo bike, which gives me around-town cargo hauling ability. I’ve been a cyclist for 25ish years, so “expensive” in cycling circles is often a very different number than in “casual rider” circles. I do take this bike on singletrack mountain bike trails, so it’s quite capable. We favor the Surly brand, but there are other options. Here’s mine: //

  3. This is a good article, it addresses most aspects of bugging out.

    You’re totally on point about maps & a compass. I keep a large Rand McNally US road atlas handy. I also added county maps, state maps, park maps & military base maps to my map bag. The county maps are usually free in restaurants, hotels & convenience stores. I have county maps for my county & every contiguous county in my collection. In fact, I have multiple copies of each county map in case I need to mark a route on a map. Private roads, county roads & park roads may be your only option to get into, out of or through an area.

    However, you left out one transportation option: animals. More specifically, horses or donkeys. If you own these animals, you probably wouldn’t leave them behind anyway. I’d say that they could be considered as all terrain transportation. Even if you have a dedicated bug out vehicle you could probably tow a horse trailer with it & switch to riding your horse or donkey once you get to a place where you can’t drive a vehicle. They can even tow some of your provisions on a travois. Large dogs can also pull a travois. This adds an extra option to your bug out plan.

  4. All good suggestions. I worry about this. Caring for an elderly disabled person and babysitting a grandchild make me realize that without a car bugging out for me is impossible.

    • Worst case scenario:

      Provisions for the Grand Child make sense… Provision for the disabled/elderly (I am seriously disabled (line of duty) and elderly.. well unless it makes real good sense.. I ain’t going.

      If your talking about a genuine survival situation (not just a temporary blip) your survival and the survival of my grand kids takes priority. If in an honest assessment I represent a liability I am not going.

      I have been laying up, training “prepping” for around 50 years.. Lot’s of good stuff. The Three “B’s” all the accessories in triplicate.. So that my clan my family (large) would have the greatest chance of survival..

      It would dishonor me if you insisted I accompany you and I represented a liability or drain on those provisions.

      The only reason I put it as I have above..

      This is something you need come to grips with yesterday and work out between you and yours… Your not abandoning anyone.. and the only betrayal would be if you were too weak to make the hard choice if it comes to it and and live with it.

  5. Keep a separate bug out bag in your vehicle. In an emergency, two bug out bags, one personal and one in your vehicle are better than none or one. Update each bag as needed

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