Survival Friday: Sorting Out the Myth of Bugging Out

Avatar Gaye Levy  |  Updated: April 21, 2020
Survival Friday: Sorting Out the Myth of Bugging Out

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For all intents and purposes, bugging out represents a last ditch effort to get to safety.  Real life examples of events requiring you to flee the comfort of your home are few and far between but they do exist.  A devastating storm, earthquake, hurricane, chemical spill or even localized civil unrest may be reason enough to require you to grab your bug out bag and flee.

As much as we need to be prepared for such events, there is an abundance of misinformation on the internet that glamorizes bugging out.  I read some of it and think “Wow, I hope I get to bug out someday so I can hike to a remote location and live my days surrounded by my great prepping gear”.

Sorting Out the Myth of Bugging Out

All right, you know that I can be somewhat facetious at times but still, there is a hint of seriousness to all of this.  I can not tell you how many times the Survival Husband and I have talked about cashing in our IRAs for a piece of remote farmland that we could flee to in a stuff hits the fan scenario. The reality is that for us, doing so is totally unrealistic.  We may be able to afford the land but who will take care of it?  How will we defend it?  How will we get there and how will we transfer all of the goods we have so carefully stowed away for future sustainability?

This is not a random thought.  In the hundreds of emails I receive each week, I hear echoes of the same thing.  It is almost as though folks who are otherwise responsible preppers are feeling guilty because they will choose to stay in their homes unless the triggering event is so catastrophic that they will be in danger if they stay.

I recently addressed this topic in the article 16 Items To Help You Hunker Down in Comfort.  Shortly after writing that piece, I read Chris Ray’s article on Challenging Bug Out Myths and just knew I had to share it with you.  This is an important piece, shared with his permission.

Challenging Bug Out Myths

Over the years I have read several blog posts, and statements in many different preparedness/survival forums about bugging out that I want to challenge today. I call them “myths” because, as I see it, they are just not true.

The trouble with these myths is that the person saying them might not mean it as a hard and fast rule but the person new to preparedness who reads it, might not understand that.

Myth One: You Have to Bug Out

This is probably the biggest of the myths; that there are many reasons that you’ll have to bug out.

The truth is that for the vast majority of scenarios, you will be safer, more secure, and more comfortable by battening down and staying home. Home is where your family feels the safest. It is where you have a routine and familiar surroundings. In dire times, those two things go a long way to uphold our mental wellbeing.

Home is also where all of your preparations are and where you’re best suited to face the most “come, what may” scenarios.

Myth Two: You Don’t Need a Bug Out Plan

This is the other camp that says they won’t ever bug out and don’t need a bug out plan.

As I mentioned above, in the vast majority of scenarios, staying home or “bugging in” is a better solution. To me, this means that the events you do need to bug out for are much more serious.

Events that could push me from my home are things like imminent fire, flooding, a prolonged grid down or civil unrest in an urban and some suburban areas. When do you know you should bug out? When you would be safer leaving than staying. The events I described could be extremely dangerous, so not having a plan to put in action, having BOB’s and a plan for bugging out, is equally as dangerous.

Myth Three: You Need a Bug Out Location (BOL)

The majority of preppers don’t own a separate piece of property that they consider their BOL. The truth is, you don’t need one. Sure, it might be ideal, but it isn’t needed. Below is a way to develop multiple locations. That way you have four routes out of your area.

First, if you have a relative or friend outside of your general area, consider asking them if you could head there.  If you don’t have another location to go, I recommend finding a town that’s big enough to have a hotel but small enough to be inconspicuous, which is thirty to sixty miles away.

I say “large enough to have a hotel” because that is the landmark. If they have a room available, stay if you like. If you want to continue on, do so. Do this going north, south, east and west.

Now develop a couple different routes to each location and label the routes “1” and “2”. We purchased plastic foldable maps and have one in our BOBs and one in the vehicle.  I think each car should have a map and the directions to each location. If you’re at work and your spouse is at home when you need to bug out, you can send a text or email that says “North, route 2”. Now you know where they are going and the route they’re taking to get there.

Myth Four: BOB’s Need to Last 72 Hours

Many times BOB’s are referred to as “72 hour kits”. The purpose of a BOB should be to get you from your home to your BOL and to last a minimum of three days, or 72 hours. As I have stated above, the events that would actually force me to bug out are pretty serious. If I have to leave, there is a good chance it won’t be safe for me to return to my home in 72 hours.

My point is that you might have to make do for longer than 72 hours. Keep that in mind when stocking your BOB. You don’t know if you’ll find a working ATM while you’re out so you might consider keeping cash or precious metals in your BOB so you can restock while you’re bugged out.

Myth Five: Your BOB Needs to be as Light as Possible

There have been more posts and comments about this than any of the other myths. Anytime someone makes a forum thread and shows their BOB, there are always people who make a comment like “Good luck carrying that”. I always wonder where these scoffers are planning on bugging out to. Me? I plan on driving. If there is some type of event that keeps me from driving, I can think of five ways to carry my BOB and other gear as well.

Maybe they plan on heading to the deep woods? For 95% of people, that is a bad idea. Even if you are a primitive skill master and can make do with a knife and a dirty look, what about your family?

Since the events that you actually need to bug out for are severe and you don’t know when you’ll be able to go home, what will you do in the woods when your supplies run out?

My thoughts are that if I do have to bug out there is a pretty serious reason. Since I don’t know how long I might need to be away, I want to make sure I have enough gear to take care of my family. I’m more concerned with making sure I have what we need than I am with the weight of the pack. On the very slim chance I can’t drive and have to carry it, I can find means to negate the weight.

My Bug Out Plan

If there is something that forces us to leave, we’ll grab the BOB’s and other gear and load the truck. We’ll then head to one of our locations and keep an eye on the situation. If something happens that would force us to walk, we have a wagon and would find a shopping cart nearby as well. In the winter we have a couple children’s sleds we could load up and tow behind us.

I hope this helps clear up some misconceptions about bugging out. I look forward to reading your comments.

Chris Ray is the owner of, where he teaches preparedness with a Christian worldview. His articles are well-written and are sound information to the Prepper community.

The Final Word

To repeat what Chis has said, I hope this helps to clear up some misconceptions when it comes to bugging out.  That is not to say that you should forget about having a bug out bag and that you should forget about having a bug out plan.  Quite the contrary.  Both are important.

On the other hand, you do need to give yourself permission to accept your home as your ultimate bug-out location.  Make it as self-sustaining as possible and set up strong defenses to keep Mother Nature and bad guys from getting the best of you.  When all is said in done, you will find comfort in knowing that you have done the right thing not only for yourself but for your family and loved ones.

Enjoy your next adventure through common sense and thoughtful preparation!

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10 Responses to “Survival Friday: Sorting Out the Myth of Bugging Out”

  1. Couldn’t disagree with you more Chris.
    “You don’t need a bug out plan” I’ve grew up in FL and we had to bug out numerous times due to hurricanes/flooding/power outage (it’s FL, A/C is essential, elec is nice, frig, lights… and looting is bad thing). To be a Prepper/Survivalist means to understand the likely threats to you (and your family) and to plan/prep for them. Not to do so means you plan on staying in your comfortable home (don’t we all want to stay home in our recliners??) and hoping nothing “bad” happens… and if it does… the government will swoop in and save you (ummm Katrina…). Lastly on this point, not planning and prepping means you MUST rely on someone else to survive.
    Myth two, I have a plan. Well, let me go into some detail. I grew up in FL but have lived throughout the US, Asia, the Middle-East, Europe… been to South and Central America, Northern, Southern and Eastern Africa, Russia, Ukraine, Bosnia-Herz… several of the Crapistans… so when I retired from Military service I took a great job in Las Vegas. Lake Mead level, ethnic tensions, corrupt politicians, road rage… drove me to test my bug out plans. After testing, we moved. We now live at our bug out location… but still have a plan to bug out from here (very low likelihood, but still have plans and resources).
    Myth three, the bug out location – plans for anything from a temporary “vacation” to leaving our ranch forever. My wife is my joy… keeping her and our kids safe is my priority. We practice our plans as camping trips. I have some great apps but I don’t expect them to work when the SHTF, so I have a Gazzetter. My daughter (10 going on 30) can navigate day and night… so all of this is good fun for her… and builds skills.
    Myth four – Bug out bags – we have several, depending on the threat scenario (current/expected weather/season, disaster/event duration, who besides ourselves may need assistance… first aid kits, fuel, clothing…)…
    Myth five – see Myth four… Light and man-portable is great… we have those, but plan (based on sufficient plan/prep time) to drive out. “A Bags” (72 hour kits) in the vehicle with us. “B Bags” on the roof (nice to have stuff, makes life easier, but not essential) and lastly, our utility trailer with “C Bags” bikes, our small livestock, their feed, water… things we’d like to have to “start over”.
    Lastly, I think you do your readers a disservice with this article. I’ve been there, done that… seen children killed by snipers for “sport”, seen fathers and mothers begging for any morsel to feed their children, seen people standing in sewage up to their waist because they had no way to evacuate and no place to go. Some planning and resources are worth it when the “wolf claws at your door”. Chris, as the owner of, wouldn’t you follow the example of our Lord and Savior? We need to be ready for calamity (both the temporal and spiritual ones)… and by being prepared, we can help our brother (that’s anyone in need)… like the Good Samaritan.

  2. Not ALL City dweller are NOT as Stupid as you think ! Many are military, law enforcement , immigrants with Rural & SURVIVAL backgrounds , Tech. Geeks
    who CAN FIND YOU etc…..! If the rural RED NECKS & the Stereotyping ALL rural folks as
    ” Backwards @ Racists”, can WORK Together….! We ALL will get OLD , if live long enough & SLOW DOWN! If you have BABIES, Pregnant females , Children/Teens /Adults you LOVE /Care about , with DISABILITIES ( Or yourself ), or in MEED OFES.s, SURGERY, etc….., the URBAN facilities WILL BE NEEDED ! Most of us are NOT SURGEONS/M.D s/R.N s/Surgical Tech.s/Pharmacists or SERIOUS Herbalists!
    Let’s GET REAL ! Why keep the “Us vs
    Them ” game going ? Those AT THE TOP ,
    Want to see this ” Divide & Conquer ” game
    Going ! I have lived in both ‘Worlds’ &
    Each has merits & drawbacks !
    Underestimate Urban people if you want to
    ( YOUR MISTAKE )! If we DO NOT KEEP food GROWING & The VITAL Urban basic
    Infrastructure GOING ( Or get them
    Back ON Line ) we ALL SUFFER LONG
    TERM ! If you all claim to be Christian, what is with the HATE/Stereotyping ?? There are
    BADD folks in ALL AREAS! Wait til the Prisoners & Zoo animals ESCAPE ! If any of
    White people in RURAL areas, REALLY think
    Killers / Militias CARE YOU look like them …..! You ARE STOOOPID ! We will have same ISSUES in Urban areas ! And SURE ALL rural folks are : SANE/Honest /Law Abiding/Non Alcoholic & Drug addicts/PREPPERS !
    Yeah RIIIIGHT !

  3. Folks – – Bugging out is for those in the cities. if you live in a rural area you will not be going anywhere.

    What the bug-out proponents rarely tell you is how absolutely dangerous it is to bug out.

    If you have six to ten other companions, all armed and in good shape (so as to not slow the group down), you might make it.

    The only bug out plan which works is: Get the heck outta Dodge before the SHTF !

    No other plan is workable. Why? Because after SHTF the roads will be full of others/bad guys all headed “out”.

    City folks have an ignorance that causes them to think that those in rural areas ALL have food. Those in the country do not have “food”, but city folks have no clue as to where grocery store food really comes from. Crops in the field and live animals are not the “Food” that they are used to.

    So when the Schumer Hits The Fan, the mass of city folks/bad guys will head outta town because they will shortly figure that the govt will not be coming to their rescue and that their lives, in the city likely are threatened to end shortly.

    When you “city preppers” decide to leave, it will already too late, for the most of you to avoid the masses.

    So, if you live in a city, classified as more than 15,000 population, you had better be attuned to what is happening and make your departure ahead of the masses. If you time it wrong, you will be chewed up by the masses who will attack you on the way, not to mention the bad guys who will set up road blocks along the way. Watch these movies: “The Road” and “”The Book of Eli” to get an idea of what it is going to be like as you try to get to your “retreat”.

    173d Viet Vet

    • Right on Viet Vet. Get out of Dodge now. Get yourself a map of your area. Take one of those do-dads that draw circles, (maybe called a compass). Start drawing 5 mile circles around the city. Use some formula to figure the amount of square miles in that circle, maybe pi R square, I don’t know, but take the sq miles in that circle and divide it into the population of that city. This will give you the amount of people per sq mile. You will see that you don’t have to be very far from that city to get the amount of people per sq mile down to a manageable amount.
      I am 35 miles from a city of 100,000, I planned it that way, and I am tickled pink. I personally don’t think the zombies will make it 35 miles before they are killed off or starve to death.

  4. My plan is to hunker down for as long as it seems to be safe and possible. I can’t throw a lot of change into our lives, as our son has high-functioning Autism. A change like bugging out, without a really good reason and no warning, is not something we could easily do.
    In a SHTF situation, it would be difficult enough to maintain a sense of normalcy for him. Leaving behind everything he knows would be a very bad situation.

  5. While I have lived in the wilds for almost a year at a stretch, it amazes me how many folks aren’t proactive with regard to a SHTF scenario. It is for this reason I’m moving to South America. Not some cushy vacation community, but a wilderness where I can build a cabin and maintain my liberties. If you’d like to follow my Boot-Strap adventure, you can follow my progress at //

  6. We live on Oahu, so our most likely catastrophe is a major hurricane. Due to the construction of our house hurricanes are the hardest to prepare for. We plan on a ‘limited modified bug out’ by sheltering from a hurricane at a friend’s condo: Our single-wall house (no basement, just a crawl space, huge lanai/carport roof aka ‘wing’) is very likely to blow away, as is our entire neighborhood. So temporarily bugging out to a high rise is our hurricane plan, followed by a quick return to sift the rubble and help the neighbors.

    Anything we leave, including supplies, are likely to be destroyed or blown away. We do store water, and have collapsible jugs and a tub liner, but if the house departs, so does the tub. Ditto 55 gallon water barrels: probably crushed and ruptured, or just blown away.

    Our bug out ‘bag’ is a light pick up truck with our most important portable possessions and our post hurricane camping supplies and gear. We will park it in our friend’s parking ramp, and take storm supplies up to his place.

    We will pack our second vehicle -a small sedan- with more stuff but will leave it here as there is no place for it at our friend’s. We will tape the windows just as we would the house windows, and hope for the best. It is less likely to blow away than the house, but it could well be destroyed by flying debris.

    One neighbor has a swimming pool and we expect to trade filtering services for water. So the filters go in the truck and the sedan so we should have at least some means of purifying water for several families.

    Given the desperation of people needing water, we have to plan for helping the unprepared get water. Good high capacity filters aren’t cheap, but given the swimming pool across the street, and public pool a mile or so away, I think a couple are important to have. Even though we can’t provide food, helping all neighbors get water can go a long way toward helping people and staving off violence.

    Here is a 27 minute Civil Defense film from 1971 about Hurricane Camille, which hit the Gulf Coast in 1969: Potable water was the biggest problem for many afterwards: //

    As you might guess, we think bugging out to the mountains is a fantasy. We already live on top of a ridge, and there is no place to shelter or obtain food further up. It would be mosquito hell after a hurricane, and a death trap of falling trees and landslides during. In our situation, the only viable place to which to bug out is a sturdier building.

    Other than a hurricane, we will almost certainly bug in. The island is also susceptible to earthquakes and tsunamis, and Honolulu International is apparently the third most likely airport in the country to serve as a distribution hub for a pandemic. All of those militate toward staying put. Earthquakes and tsunamis can knock out the electrical generators and grid, sewage treatment plants, and water system (as, of course, can hurricanes), but staying put is the best plan for them.

  7. Don’t discount the old luggage carriers. They are metal, durable and can carry a lot of weight. I have two that have done double duty for moving. You can load a cooler, BOB, and many other survival needs.

  8. I live in rural Ky. I am on the New Madrid fault, and we have been know to have tornados. Neither of these threats are “end of world” problems. I live on just about the highest point in my county, don’t worry about floods. Plenty of farm land with no large groups of forest, don’t have to worry about wild fires. Not close to areas that have hurricanes. I live 35 miles from a city of 100,000, don’t have to worry about zombies.
    After about 30 days, any roving bands will be big trouble. They will be organized. They will be well armed and well trained. I am hoping they will be as War Lords that say “join us and share what you have, or die”. They will be given my beans and rice and a pat on the back with a hand shake.
    None of this scenarios will cause me to bug out. I am going to hunker down.
    Speaking of hunkering down, it was 22 degrees this morning when I got out from under the electric blanket where I was “hunkered down”. Burrrr.
    Big gun show today. I have to get the shovel and start digging in the back yard for a few cans of money.

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