Bugging out should, with rare exception, be your last resort rather than your primary plan. That said, it is important to plan for the possibility that home won’t be a safe haven.
While putting together a bug out bag is, of course, a crucial step, knowing where you’re going is perhaps more important than knowing what you’re going to take with you to get there.
See, here’s the thing. Without a specific destination in mind, bugging out just makes you one more refugee on the roads. There are a few different factors to consider when choosing a bug out location.
Attempting to bug out to a location that is several hundred miles from home is likely folly at best. Remember, the odds are pretty good that you may end up on foot for some or even most of your journey. Think about it like this – if you can’t get to the end of your driveway and back without getting winded, you’re probably not going to make it a few hundred miles on foot. As a general rule of thumb, I like to use 100 miles as the absolute maximum distance a bug out location should be from home. For most vehicles, that’s less than a half tank of gas. That’s still a haul, though, if you’re on foot.
Next up is property ownership. Planning to bug out to some sort of state or county owned land probably isn’t the greatest choice. See, you’re not the only person who’s going to have that brilliant idea. In fact, you might find the state forest bursting at the seams with wannabe survivalists. The absolute ideal, though it isn’t feasible for everyone, is to bug out to land you personally own. A hunting cabin, perhaps? Failing that, talk to family or close friends who live outside your immediate area. Come to an agreement whereby if disaster hits your area, you’ll be welcome in their home and vice versa. Maybe go so far as to stash some supplies at their place, including extra clothes, toiletries, cash, and such.
I also suggest choosing more than one bug out location. I recommend at least three possible bug out locations, ideally laid out in sort of a triangle around your home. For example, Grandpa’s hunting cabin to the north, your old college roommate’s house to the southwest, and your Aunt Suzanne’s farm to the east. The idea here is to give yourself options. Given that we have no way to know the nature of the disaster that could cause a bug out, we can’t reliably predict whether it would prevent us from traveling in the direction of our primary bug out location. Let’s say the way north is blocked by massive storm damage, earthquake fissures, or even manned roadblocks. It would be nice to have some alternate locations to consider, right?
Plan ahead, choose a few different bug out locations, and practice different routes getting to each of them.