Deciding if you are going to bug out or bug in is a personal choice. However, that choice should not be made lightly as it may the most important decision you make following a collapse.
Many people already have it in their mind that they will bug out or bug in. The choice isn’t that cut and dry. You should be prepared to bug out or bug in based on the situation.
Ultimately, your decision to bug out or bug in will be influenced by many things. Do you live in a city or do you live in a rural setting? Do you have family members that you need to meet up with? Are you part of a preparedness group? Do you have family members that cannot bug out? Do you have anywhere to bug out to?
All of these questions and more will drive you toward your final decision.
I would argue that you should bug in under most circumstances. If you currently live in an area that will force you to bug out immediately after a collapse, you should move NOW.
I understand that it is not always possible for any number of reasons. However, if you are serious about preparedness you should do everything in your power to get yourself out of that situation. You have already met the conditions for bugging out!
If you’re stuck living in an area that is going to immediately cause you to bug out in the event of a major disaster, then you need to prioritize building a bug out bag.
Our article on putting together the perfect bug out bag list will get you thinking about what’s important for your situation and will help you choose the right gear.
When should you bug out? It really comes down to one thing…if you can no longer stay in place, you need to move.
This can mean that your bug in location is under immediate threat of getting overrun by a hostile force, it can be the spread of nuclear fallout or any number of other things.
Bugging in should be an easy decision for rural preppers. If you are already off on your own, you should have some more time to fully assess the situation before needing to bug out.
Living in a small town, or even a suburban area, could prove to be an ideal situation. Gardening will be easier than in the city and you are probably far enough away from the interior of the city to not suffer the drawbacks of that environment. A small town also lends itself to building a true community capable of defending itself and producing for itself.
Modern cities only exist because of our current transport and agricultural capabilities. This means that as the grid-down situation progresses it will become more likely that you will need to bug out of a city.
If you prescribe to the train of thought that there will be a mass exodus of people from the cities, then that could cause the suburban and rural preppers to need to bug out. This assumes that conditions will deteriorate to the point that everyone will leave in search of food, water, and stability.
Even though the people outside of the city may be unaffected to this point, the flood of people could push them out of their homes.
A pandemic or other type of event that is exacerbated by large populations is an obvious losing situation for those bugging in inside of the city.
Man-made events (conflict, economic collapse, etc.,) will probably take on a different look. In these situations, the collapse could come on gradually as banks run out of money or other events slowly unfold.
A slow collapse event could bring with it martial law or enhanced rule of law. I think the chances of martial law affecting everyone is roughly equal unless you live in a remote area.
If your family is spread out across a state, or several states, then you could all travel to one predetermined place following a collapse.
Similarly, a group of like-minded people could all bug out to a predetermined location. This would benefit those who cannot find other preppers in their local area.
Bugging out is the only way to escape an event that is directly affecting your bug in location.
In my mind, the disadvantages of bugging out far outweigh the advantages.
When you bug out, you give up everything that you cannot take with you until you arrive at your bug out location.
Your bug out location needs to also be stocked or you will still only have what you brought with you.
Deciding what to take can increase the amount of time that it takes to bug out. A solid checklist should be part of your bug out plan.
You and your family are relatively unprotected until you arrive at your bug-out location.
Most people will try to bug out after it is too late. If bugging out is your plan, then you should be ready to leave before a major event occurs. Trying to time this could lead to false alarms or not leaving early enough.
Roads could easily get bogged down with traffic, leaving you stuck on highways and access roads. If this happens you could end up unable to get to your bug out location and unable to return home.
When you bug out in a vehicle you’re reliant on fuel. Bugging out on foot is limited by your physical abilities and what can be carried.
The sick, injured, disabled and elderly may not be able to bug out.
You have all of your stores available to you.
The area is already familiar to you. This greatly increases your ability to secure your home and the area around your home. Defending from the door is not an option!
If you have networked with your neighbors, then you can use those relationships to your advantage.
For the sick, injured, disabled and elderly this may be the only option.
If your home or neighborhood is directly affected by the event then staying in the area may not be the best idea. Of course, this will vary depending on the type of event.
Staying in place will be a bad idea if you live in a high crime neighborhood. With limited police presence, crime will most likely skyrocket.
Bugging in can make you, your family, and your stores an easy target if you don’t have a solid security plan. Trying to simply hide in your home without finding out what is happening outside could be a death sentence.
There is a lot more to surviving a catastrophic event than simply bugging in or bugging out.