Should I Stay Or Should I Go? Bug-In Or Bug-Out?


Disaster strikes. Perhaps even a collapse event, or an evacuation order. You must decide FIRST if you need to prepare where you are (Bug-in), or attempt evacuation (Bug-out).

Here are some considerations while making that decision…

You must VERY SERIOUSLY CONSIDER the nature-magnitude-implications of the threat or disaster that is unfolding.

Information — THE RIGHT INFORMATION — as well as the confidence that you have in your sources of information should be weighed and applied to your decision.

You must factor in your previous preparations up to this point. If you know already that you will be preparing to stay at your own home, then begin to implement your disaster plan immediately.

If you are considering a bug-out evacuation, your decision requires that you have VERY HIGH CONFIDENCE that it is worth the risk to leave.

You do not want to get stuck between your current location and your planned destination, as the probabilites will be high that your travel will not be easy, and should you decide to turn back… it may be impossible.

If you are unable to make it to your destination or bug-out location, you may be exposed without shelter, in a very dangerous situation, perhaps among panicked hordes of refugees. Whatever supplies that you have with you may be limited, and you may even have to travel and carry supplies on foot.

IF you are bugging out from a big city or suburban metropolis,

AND you have relatives or friends in the country that you know are waiting for you,

AND the roads between you and them are clear,

AND the authorities are not yet restricting traffic,

AND you have the means, an adequate supply kit, and fuel,

evacuation may be a viable option for a limited time.

DO NOT attempt evacuation if all of the above is not clearly known, or if the situation is deteriorating too quickly to assure the complete trip.

You do not want to get stuck and/or become a refugee being herded along with panicked masses.

If evacuation is truly a viable option, do not wait – GO NOW! Do so with as many of the supplies you can bring with you as possible. Better to leave early and arrive early than getting snagged mid-way, potentially exposing your family to a worse fate than having stayed where you were.

Because of the very real danger of getting caught in an evacuation stampede that stalls, almost all families will be better off making the best of it wherever they currently are.


  1. I will be staying put.I live 60 miles from the nearest city.I have the old family home on an acre of land that has a brook with trout,and land that had been farmed before.I have no where else to go,having lost good BOL in a divorce,so here I will stay till the end!

    1. 60 miles from the nearest city is a good thing, and it sounds like you are in a good place (water, arable land, away from major population density). You are already in your BOL ;)

    2. If that city is really large and might be a target for a nuclear attack, your location might still not be distant enough, as many inhabitants will probably bug out into your area. You might still end up with more company than you like.

  2. Closest city to me is 95 miles with a mountain pass (7,900′) in the way. Staying where I am at. Small town of 950 people in the middle of a ranching/farming mountain valley. Elevation 5,400′. Been planning this for years. Doors open to family but to get here they will need to leave ASAP after SHTF.

  3. Another thing to keep in mind about bugging out, is the possibility that someone closer to your BOL has already found it and set up shop there. I have been watching/reading the whole “bug-out” mentality thing for a while now, and it appears to me that many people are just caught up in it with little thought as to what it will really entail. Unless you receive some kind of very early warning of an impending event, it is quite possible that you will never reach your BOL, will suffer negative consequences in route, will encounter trespassers when you get there, or any combination thereof. People need to really think things thru before deciding they’re just going to leave a known condition for an unknown condition. We live only 40 miles from the nearest large city, but we are in a very rural area, and have no intentions of embarking on a multi-hour journey thru who knows what kind of conditions, just on the off-chance city refugees might make their way out to our neck of the woods. Obviously, for some, bugging out is the right thing to do, but I personally think that fits less people than the number of people I read about who are including such options in their emergency plans.

  4. This question really depends on where you live and your community you now currently reside in and how well everybody lives together. If for say I lived in a very small town like “Mike” lives in I would most likely stay BUT have a Bug Out plan in place if it does get to hot. You have to figure in the aspect that once the looting is complete in the cities the organized gangs will eventually spread out to small towns for more plunder. The fact that they will leave the cities and spread is not a IF but a WHEN. The thing is this folks: How far will you go to survive? Do you know what edible wild plants are in your region? Do you have a water supply to go to preferably natural pure springs? So many questions to ask yourself NOW because if you wait until TSHTF to find answers your in trouble. I say if your going to stay, even for a little while, fort up and be ready for ANYTHING. Once Martial Law is declared there wont be much movement. I’m lucky that my Base Camp is near a creek so I can travel MILES on it and be for the most part be undetected.

  5. THis is one question I think most of us struggle with. WHEN and IF to bug out. Better to err on the side of Early. No one wants to get stuck behind the lines and have to bushwhack it to the BOL. Can’t carry a lot of supplies doing that.
    Remember, those who were most at peace during and shortly after WW2 were the ones smart enough to leave Germany early on………

  6. I just moved to south Florida from Tucson, AZ last November. My kids grew up knowing our survival plan in Tucson. Now that I have moved to Florida I need a new one. I’m in Boynton Beach. I need a bug out plan but I haven’t a clue as to what. If I had a boat then that would be my ticket I think but I don’t have a boat. Any suggestions? Just driving north to the middle of Florida takes 4 hours. Suggestions?

    1. Deborah, Sounds like you moved from the frying pan into the fire. If you were thinking preparedness, you made a bad choice. There are no valid exit points from South Florida that will be viable. Sorry, but that is the hard truth. Prepare to stay in place come what may. God Bless, James

    2. I live in Hendry County which is due west of you. That is where you should head. While others are going north, go west. Plenty of water and land. The only problem is that the Herbert Hoover Dyke around Lake Okeechobee is in poor condition. They are gradually repairing it, but until then it could break and cause a great deal of flooding. However, Lake O and the waterways around it have lots of fishing and are sparsely populated.

  7. I know this is big picture but if you live in an area that you are reasonably certain will require bugging out from then it’s really time to consider moving. Obviously there’s no way to know for sure if you’ll need to leave in an emergency (no matter where you live) but it’s much less likely to happen in farmville than in lower Manhattan.

  8. A couple of comments. You might get further on a bicycle, no need for fuel, get around blocked roads, even travel on trails. Still faster and easier than on foot. A moped – power assisted bike – might be an option. Or in your car, have a bike(s) as an option.

    If that is part of your plan, stock your BOL in advance.

    If you are in poor health, or the roads are clear, go by vehicle.


  9. Looking at the picture you posted Ken,looks like hurricane evac pics dont you want to yell “where is the truck at?” to move a few of the concrete divider barriers so they can use the whole other 7 lanes on the non used side of the highway? This does go to show you that just a small road block could completely screw up your best laid plans to bug out.And if you are in one of those middle lanes and surrounded you will either be waiting or walking. And if you say I will travel back roads, those are even easier to block off either by a tree,accident or police check point road block.The state police in my area had road checkpoints up with stop strips in less than an hour after a shooting, a few years back, and now they have all the MRAPS and other free DHS goodies they are just itching to deploy.

    No,if you have a bug out location you had better be leaving for it soon and not wait any longer.Better to be a few months early than a few hours late Because I do believe that those that are waiting for news of SHTF to leave for their BOL will be…SOL!

  10. First, I would recommend that everyone read One Second After in which an EMP event occurs and then how one small town deals with local supplies, agricultural sources, lack of medicines, lack of utilities, and raiders. I think you’ll at first be shocked by the very low number of survivors after many months. We are not a strong people with high stamina and supplies, hence we won’t survive.

    That book can be purchased through Ken’s store on this site and might be the most important prepping you’ve done all year. I think it will wake a lot of folks up.

    There are many documents on the web that were prepared so that government officials could make risk assessment decisions and short and long term strategic decisions. Look for Congressional Research Services and also look for documents from the War College. There are documents that deal with EMP and Pandemic and some on economic collapse. They use a multidisciplinary committee of advisers to come to those conclusions. These are often politicized and hence somewhat muted to not cause fear, but some are deadly serious.

    Most bugging out folks are doing so because of lack of preparedness or because they know the population density will lead to anarchy (since there already are issues with high crime locally). Other bugging out folks are panicking. Some bugging out folks are intelligent and have put it all together.

    Since 80 percent of Americans live in urban areas, then I cannot believe those folks will make it in a sustained collapse of high severity without mitigation from trained relief workers. That’s not a military role, and even if we had that many military folks domestically, their role is to “break things and kill people” as Rush Limbaugh says. They are not the folks to maintain the facade of civilization.

    Those in the urban areas, because of the high population density, will also have the most voters and money, and hence can expect martial law concentrated in those regions. That’s all bad all the way around, and also a good reason not to be there when it happens.

    Get out of the cities while you can.

  11. How far is far enough for safety. Eventually the scroungers predators and bottom feeders will find you. You must be ready to defend and protect you and yours for an extended siege.

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