Sorting Out The Myth Of Bugging Out

Sorting Out The Myth Of Bugging Out | bugging-out | Preparedness\Survival

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”.

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 PreparedChristian.net, 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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About The Author

Gaye Levy, also known as the Survival Woman, grew up and attended school in the Greater Seattle area. After spending many years as an executive in the software industry, she started a specialized accounting practice offering contract CFO work to emerging high tech and service industries. She has now abandoned city life and has moved to a serenely beautiful rural area on an island in NW Washington State. She lives and teaches the principles of a sustainable and self-reliant lifestyle through her website at BackdoorSurvival.com. At Backdoor Survival, Gaye speaks her mind and delivers her message of prepping with optimism and grace, regardless of the uncertain times and mayhem swirling around us.

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    • wandakate

      People on the west coast should consider getting out of there b/c of earthquakes and tidal waves. That area as well as most all coastal areas are NOT safe. That, I would say would be a poop hits the fan situation. As for bugging out in any other location, I agree that everything you have gathered or will need is at home. In case of an EMP for instance, you’re not going to be driving anywhere and there will be no stores open anywhere, so no food or anything that you needed would be available, including any medication. Wherever one happens to be when that happens that is where they are. How will people carry all of the supplies and food and water?, they won’t be able to…(common sense,) and how will they survive out in the wilderness for days and days (they won’t), and how will they keep up with their pets, or will they have to leave them behind? The babies and very young children or the elderly or the disabled WILL NOT make it. Diapers, formula or baby food, necessities will be needed for people with medical conditions, people on oxygen, etc.
      Stay where you are, and be able to protect what you have inside, and then PRAY hard to GOD for protection for yourself as well as your household (be it humans or animals), and then stay put. Nothing outside will be safe at that time anyway. Use some common sense. Besides if you have a storage unit full of supplies etc. how on earth do you plan to get to it and get it all out in a poop hits the fan situation? AHHH, food for thought.