Bugging Out with a Purpose

October 1, 2014 by | 3 Comments

Everyone talks about bugging out, but few have a real plan. Running into the woods with your bug out bag may be the correct answer in a small handful of situations, but it will get you killed in most others.

Bugging out before a hurricane, for example, requires a very different plan than bugging out to flee riots.  A successful bug out depends on a solid plan as well as thorough knowledge of your own skills and conditions on the ground, both at your location and your destination.

If my time in the Marine Corps taught me anything, it was the importance of planning. The following criteria will help you develop your own bug out plan to help ensure your survival.

Trigger Event

Decide ahead of time exactly what will trigger your bug out in various scenarios. I need to be especially concerned with hurricanes and flooding here in Florida in addition to the universal dangers that could happen anywhere, like economic collapse or riots.

Evaluate the local and universal dangers you could face, and then decide at what point you will bug out. Remember all the idiots who waited to leave when hurricane Katrina was headed their way? They had plenty of time to leave at first, but as the storm progressed, the opportunity to leave disappeared. Many didn’t have a chance to learn from their mistakes—so you learn from them.



Hitting the road is just the beginning. You need to know exactly where you are bugging out to for various scenarios. That cabin in the woods won’t do you much good when it’s surrounded by a raging wildfire. Ideally, you should have multiple destinations planned in each direction (north, south, east and west) so that you aren’t pinned down if one location becomes unusable for some reason.



Plan for multiple routes to each bug out location. Roads may be blocked by flooding, downed trees or even civil unrest, so you need to have a secondary or tertiary route. I usually take it a step further and plan routes for foot travel as well. You never know when your vehicle will break down.

Downed Tree


If you’ve never driven off-road, a crisis is not the time to realize you have no idea how to maneuver your shiny SUV down trails and through mud holes. (Hint—the answer is not to avoid driving off-road, the answer is to learn how before you find yourself in an emergency situation.) How far can you walk with your bug out bag? Can you navigate at night? How long does it take you to walk one mile? Knowing exactly what you are capable of enables you to make wise decisions that improve your chance of survival.

Tired Hiker


Cell phones are the obvious first choice, but walkie talkies are an inexpensive back up in case the cell towers go down or become overloaded like they did on 9/11. CB and ham radio are even better, but both are more expensive and ham radio requires training and a special licence.

Walkie Talkie


Pay attention to weather conditions, such as rain, flooding and wildfires, as well as societal conditions, such as rioting, martial law and pandemics. This will impact your decisions.

Backup Plan

No matter how well you’ve planned or how well you’ve prepared, everything can still go to Hell so a back up plan is a necessity. Every element of your bug out plan should have at least one back up plan.

A good exercise is to war game your plans with like-minded people. Several people thinking about the same problem can identify more things that can go wrong with your plan, as well as develop a more effective ideas for back up plans.

Melanie Swick (a.k.a. Survival Chick) grew up wanting to be a rocket scientist, but when she realized she that required way too much math, she took to her second dream—spending time in the wilderness. Today, when she's not hiking, camping, or hunting, she's blogging about it. You can connect with Melanie on Facebook.

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  • jason says:

    As a fellow Marine, these are all of the things we think about on a daily basis. So it may not come as natural for regular civilians. So practice makes perfect even just 1 hour a weekend or as much as you feel comfortable with to sit down and think about different scenarios. And always remember that there are a lot of bullsh*t sites on the internet so don’t always relay on one source of information but rather gather as much as possible and figure out what works best for you and common sense goes along ways. But this article is a good starting point. Much appreciated.

  • Fred says:

    I have an interesting question……all real estate is owned by somebody. What will landowner say/do if they catch you hiding on their back forty acres?

  • Remember P.A.C.E. Primary, Alternate, contingency, Emergency. A list of plans for every direction!

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