Under What Circumstances Would You BUG OUT?


There are seemingly endless opinions about whether or not it’s a good idea to ‘bug out’, to ‘get out of Dodge’…

The fact that the opinions are endless underlines the reality that the decision to bug out is highly dependent upon many integral unique circumstances which are nearly always unique to the individual making that decision – not the least of which might be your proximity to high population density (for example).

Lets hear your thoughts and opinions of the specific criteria and circumstances whereby someone might make the decision to bug out… What are the thresholds?

First let me say this… IF you are to bug out (regardless of the circumstances and thresholds of the decision), DO IT EARLY before the masses. We’ve all seen the miles upon miles of gridlocked vehicles on the highways and bi-ways…

The decision to leave one’s home, one’s ‘castle’, could be a very difficult one. As opposed to a shoreline dweller who is escaping the path of a hurricane (an easy decision), there are other circumstances which may not be so clear and filled with a-lot of unknowns, what-if’s, and uncertainties. There might be an unfolding event which has never before been experienced by so many – and with it the question of how everyone around you might handle it…

The magnitude of the circumstances (or the magnitude of the expected circumstances) would need to be at a high threshold to even consider a bug out from one’s home. Would they not? What are some examples of those circumstances and the thresholds thereof? What are some of the dependencies for the decision to bug out (it depends on this or it depends on that…)?

I’ve touched upon the notion of bug-out within quite a number of articles here over the years – each with a slightly different approach. In this one, instead of listing my own opinions, I’m curious about yours and the criteria and circumstances in which one might actually consider it…

Note: Just because you yourself might be ‘all set’ and already living in your BOL, I’m still curious to discover your opinions regarding hypothetical ‘what if’ you were not, and what set of circumstances would set you in motion…


  1. Due to my location, I’m presently a “Bug in” type. Like most, it would take the possibility of being overrun, military rolling down the road, a lack of food and water, or some other danger to my family for me to change locations.

    1. Who says kids today have it easy?

      Growing up in the 60s, I never worried about my dad saying “From now on, call me Caitlyn”.

  2. This is going to be a GREAT discussion I believe.

    Bugging out for me is 99.99% not going to happen. I live in a rather rural location with closest neighbors about 1/3 mile away (also preppers). Short of a Fire-Storm forest-fire or an Apache Helicopter buzzing my windows there is no reason for me to evacuate. I practice one weekend every 2 months to “survive” with only my BOB/GHB so I can do just that, Get Home. All of my preps are there, water supply, food storage, I know the area so I can defend it, and I’m actually quite comfortable sleeping in my bed and not on the cold wet unknown ground somewhere (and yes I have preps hidden other places). If and I do mean “if” I do leave, it will be for a very short term, to a close location I can observe and “reach out and touch someone” that’s invading my space. I don’t believe in a “bug-out-location” for the simple reason there will be 300 million other sheeple trying to get “somewhere”, as Ken said, look at the congestion within the normal day commute. Now multiply that with panic, fear, hunger and you’re screwed if you’re out there with that. We have already seen what happens, take a look at the video of the evacuation before the hurricanes or storms, and take a look at video of the riots or the panic and people trying to escape the city after 911. If your around many people when TSHTF, you may be in a world of hurt.

    My advice if you’re concerned with “bugging out” to somewhere safe or TSHTF, than you really need to consider living somewhere other than where you’re currently at. And please don’t give me that “job” stuff, what is your family’s lives worth? What will they do if you’re the first one injured or killed trying to get out of that city you live in? If you think that dude walking alongside you down the highway won’t kill you so his family can eat, you better think again. If the SHTF hard, there will be no “bugging out”. No stopping by the store for that “last run”. No topping off the old BOV so you can “make it”. You had already be ready for “it”, whatever you think “it” may be.

    JMHO for what it’s worth.

    1. I couldn’t have said it better. I would rather “stand my ground” under 99% of possibilities. My home is my “bug in bag” with all my preps. That being said I do keep bug out bags for me and the misses for the 1% which to me would be a derailed train carrying anhydrous ammonia or other chemical since we are about 1/2 mile from a railroad track. Unlikely, but would grab the bug out bag and stay at fellow preppers 15 miles away.

    2. Just look at how chaotic a grocery store is in ‘normal’ times. I prep because I don’t want to make that ‘last run’.

    3. AMEN!
      I would rather die in a pile of brass and spent lead from the Apache than run and live as a refugee, there will be no bugging out.

  3. I agree 100% with NRP. Our home is our BOL, we have everything needed to survive. There are only 2 scenarios that come to mind that would get me to leave. The first would be a forest fire as we are surrounded by woods. Although it is an unlikely scenario as we are also edged on two sides by wetlands. The second would be an immanent flood, also not too likely as we don’t live in an area that usually sees flood, but with the weather getting more and more severe, I suspect that that can change at some point.

    Once you bug out, you are like everyone else on the road. A refugee. Being a refugee is never your best scenario. If we do have to leave because of overwhelming forces, it would also be to vacate to the woods surrounding our home which we know so well, but not before setting up a couple of booby-traps. Some of the ideas I got while reading some of the fictional doomsday books.

  4. Bugging in is what we prepare our home setup for. There’s really just a few scenarios that’d force us to bug out or leave our home under duress. So, any kind of bugging out scenario is strictly hypothetical unless this slow grind we’re living under speeds up even more.

    But, I do think there are still several scenarios that could cause most anyone to be forced in to bugging out:

    Martial Law (Dare I say Jade Helm)
    Societal/Racial Anarchy w/localized WROL
    Financial/EPA Land & Home Grab

    I’d go on to say that any of these do not necessarily have to be on a grand scale either. What’s to say that there won’t be regional real estate collapse (remember Detroit?) in the housing market again. What about businesses bugging out? I don’t think CVS is going to rebuild anytime soon after the latest rioting in Baltimore. I wonder if the store manager there went through a company mandated procedure prior to the riots occurring? That’s business bugging out…

    And, with all of the LGBT bullying as of late, businesses are “legally” being forced to shutter their doors and pay reparations for emotional damages. That kind of action as far as I’m concerned is bugging out and just not what we’re traditionally taught “bugging out” is – lest we forget what it might be like to be in the business owners shoes while packing up their business for good to never open up again.

    And, I could see some homes being torn to shreds or burned down in another Baltimore type riot scenario. Just a matter of time… And, I just read online a few hours ago about a Baltimore Professor touting that all whites should just hand over their money to African-Americans as reparations. It won’t take much more to keep inciting recially divided communities into an American-Apartheid – and that would mean bugging out no matter what your race is.

    The increased interval in possible scenarios is what worries me most when it comes to our family bugging out…

    1. CVS said they would rebuild, but i read that they had to be begged, prodded, and coerced into building that store in the first place. Wonder how much their ‘good faith gesture’ will cost each of the 3 taxpayers in Baltimore?

  5. There are few scenarios outside of a flood, forest fire or nuclear war that would make bugging out a better decision than staying put. Does anyone actually expect that finding food, water, shelter and defending yourself would be easier as a refugee vice staying at your residence. Sorry I am not John Rambo.

  6. I’m medically retired from the military with limited mobility. That’s one of the reasons I’ve already bugged out. So I can miss the mad rush if anything ever does happen. I hope nothing ever does happen and I just end up a fool living in the woods. I’ll still be a happy fool though. The scenery here is much better than what I had back in Chicago. But what would make me bug out from here? Pretty much anything that threatens survival basics like food, water, shelter, security. Drought or crop failures could threaten a food supply (unlikely in this area but not impossible), poisoned wells or lack of water, tornadoes ripping up my cabin would make me bug out for awhile till I could rebuild, and security could be any number of things. I guess one more thing might make me bug out, if I found someplace better. Not that I’m looking, just saying.

  7. I built my home with a nice view so when I’m on the deathbed I’ll be able to look out over the hills and woods.

  8. Not going anywhere , rural area , have quite a few friends that are prepared in the area , have plans already worked out . Be prepared and ready . Keep your powder dry .

  9. Like my guns they can have my home when they uncurl my cold dead hands from it.

    1. They can sift through the ashes of my house to find the remnants of my guns and my cold dead fingers

  10. I live in my BO location and plan to stay. Anything can be compromised though, so if I have to leave, I have several choices laid out to go to that are as isolated with natural resources.

  11. Wife and I have discussed that topic a few times. Now we don’t live in the inner city but also not rural. We live in a subdivision on the far outskirts of a big city. Also ours as several other subdivisions in the area have a ton of LEO’S residing there. That could be a plus or a minus but i lean more to a plus. I also joke that our subdivision alone could have its own police force. Pretty sure we also have a few feds here and I know some current and x-military (younger than me) also. We have some very good neighbors. Some of I feel pretty sure that they are peppers but I’m not going to show my hand to see if they will show theirs.
    Our first plan is to bug in but also prepare to bug out at a moments notice if we feel the time is dire. Bugging out with a 5 yr old and wife can be very challenging. So the moment we think the bad things are spreading out to our area and we feel our neighbors/neighborhood is not going to do whats needed or whatever we are gone with all our preps loaded. Not leaving a bit behind. We are only 45mins by back road away from BOL1.
    We have several plans in place and feel they would be good for us but we are also going be very flexible and adapt to whichever the situations presents.

    Adapt and Overcome.

    1. Quit kidding yourself about your neighborhood. I am LEO. The suburban location will not last long in MOST locations. Get out in the middle of nowhere.

  12. I am a native Californian(Northern-that means north of Sacramento), and we raised our family in Southern California, then got out of California all together. While I miss the geography of my native state, I do not miss what I have always called, “the crush of humanity”. With more than 40 million people, give or take a few more million there illegally not counted in any census, trying to “bug out” of SoCal was a ludicrous proposition. Even on good days, all travel was measured in time, NOT miles. When all of the freeways have major jams on them, and yes they DO have that happen frequently, nobody is going anywhere fast.Try traveling the I-15 corridor between Las Vegas and SoCal on any Friday evening, it’s bumper-to-bumper at freeway speeds or 90 MPH or more.(not kidding) Sunday evenings reverse direction it’s even worse.
    THe sheer size of the state and the millions of people and limited access to freeways and highways, means that you are screwed in a natural disaster, or need for evacuation, like massive brush fires.
    Where we now live, we are not bugging out of here, unless we are burned out. This place was chosen carefully and with great care and thought to being defensible, fire and security, water supply, weather, and wood supply. Hopefully, we will not have to bug out and become refugees. Not something I want to think about for anyone in our family. I would rather stay and fight if it came to that. Our preps are always improving and continuing. Never will be “finished” I think, that is tantamount to giving up.

  13. That’s easy enough to answer:

    Local Disaster and/or
    Certain Death

    If neither applies, I’m staying put.

    I’m realistically past the point of “cabin in the woods” type of survival, so I’ve chosen to live in a community that I feel is very resilient for the bioregion. There are even a couple nationally recognized authors in the homestead/permaculture field within a day’s hike. Giving up my community connections, and my on-site preps, is something I would only do under the gravest circumstances.

    1. Oh yes, I didn’t express myself clearly. I meant absolutely no disrespect, it was a recognition of my own weaknesses, of age and infirmity. If you are capable of surviving in a cabin in the woods, more power to you! If things get that bad that that is the only option, I don’t realistically stand much of a chance.

      As far as the bioregion goes, I just mean I wouldn’t want to move to another part of the country where I am unfamiliar with the climate or the plants. My knowledge of local conditions is probably my greatest survival asset. Given that I’m staying within this bioregion, I have chosen an area that is relatively high in like-minded individuals — that’s what I was primarily getting at about the author comment.

  14. We have talked about this many times over the past few years. We did get a camper shell for the truck to make bugging out easier. Also have everything needed to ‘camp’ out. What would make us leave….. a flood, fire, train derailed, things like that. At the end of the day unless you can go to the ‘mountains’ on your own property your pretty much up a creek. As for us, we can stay home or bug out. Where we would go is anyone’s guess. This is one of those things that we need to have a trust in God for direction.

  15. As the topic stated “Under What Circumstances Would You BUG OUT”, I’ve made a conscious decision only to BO when me or family members lives would be put at risk. I’ve prepared to save my family and not to put them in Harms way. Leaving the comforts of home would be devastating, but Plan B has all ways been an option. Needless to say would be very difficult one at that. Also Plan B has to be done before it to can cause future risk to family members.

    1. I totally agree with you Uncle B, everyone MUST have a plan “B” and maybe even a “C”. I’m 99.99% committed to staying put, but with that I have a Plan “B”, I just sure as heck hope it never comes to that, or even to using plan “A”.

  16. Most posts are very vague. This is because we know not what to expect. Speculation fuels the chaos surrounding the option of bugging out. People with families and jobs and bills and mortgages are up against the clock. I do not envy the decision. Hope is not a method; therefore, I think about the topic frequently.Those who have simple, strategic lives will hang or BO at the best time. The leveraged, publicly employed, and unsure will vasilate; they will look for multiple signs and still be apprehensive. Ultimately, when faced with overwhelming evidence, they will BO. This will save some, but hinder many.


    Martial Law -regional or national – for non-distinct reasons
    Multiple extended civil unrest scenarios
    Supply chain disruptions causing public/private forced employment closures
    Lengthy food shortages where the need to use more natural resources seems eminent.
    War-invasion, or similar circumstances
    Internet,cellular extended disruption???
    Total unreasonable, unexpected circumstances where the home is in jeopardy.
    I could see natural disaster too

    I’d love to hear some others to add to my list here.


    1. Thanks for the response. Your list of ‘circumstances’ (and opinion) is what I was hoping to get in the various responses (as opposed to simply “I’m all set and already at my BOL, and don’t need to bug out, etc.. ;) ).

      The fact is that very few (comparatively) live rural and/or already in their bug out location, and there are no doubt many, many, preparedness-minded people who live in suburbia or even urban. I was one of those for many many years. While I had my own list of criteria, thresholds, and circumstances (and various destinations) ‘ready to go’, I’m curious about others and their own list of thresholds and circumstances. It is a VERY difficult choice (or thought process) to actually define as best one can – the details of the circumstances to actually bug out (except for a few obvious no-brainers). Not even to mention…WHERE to go? Food for thought.

    2. “People with families and jobs and bills and mortgages are up against the clock.”

      A nightmare for sure, just look at the people displaced by war in the many areas around the middle east, europe, and Balkans, becoming a refugee is nasty business, running from your home your business your life, and for what? To live in squalor under a rock? In a foreign country? fEMA camp?

      No thanks

  17. Bug in at 97% over here. We have semi tropical weather, semi rural to light urban environment, septic systems and wild fruit trees. I’m surrounded by fresh water and trees. Many of us out here are natural preppers, so we’re all pretty much riding the same boat. Pretty much all of us sport shoot and nearly all of us have some sort of small boat to fish the hundreds of ponds and lakes around here. For now the plan is to lay low and ride it all out.

  18. Pacific ocean asteroid strike with mega tsunami. We live in what we consider our bug out location. It is a community with the potential to support itself if needed and could live on local resources until it got going. Being a costal small town tsunamis are a concern. We live out of the historic inundation zone and could expect a fairly rapid recovery from less than a really huge tsunami. Negatives are if we knew we were going to be hit by a big enough asteroid to need to bug out the routes away from the coast are few. The other negative is a population with a lot of folks to poor to prep. The positive is a lot of folks that would be willing to work (think farm laborers) in order to eat and as mentioned not a lot of ways out of the area relates to lot a lot of ways into the area also.

  19. My residence is a pretty good bug in location in regards to people. Far out in farm country. Easy to defend. Well established berries, orchards, pond, garden area. I would only leave if the area became too unsafe to stay. This would mostly just be military round ups, major natural disaster, which is unlikely where we live. Even if house was destroyed, we would stay and rebuild.

  20. We live a very rural area 30 minutes away from any big cities and way off the main road. If we have to go deeper out in the country we can. It is unlikely we have to worry about anything but natural disasters here.

  21. Why bug out? Loss of home (with all my preps) and/or immediate threat of life. The reason not to bug out sooner is the lack of somewhere to go. You’re right that most of us probably live in or near a city of some size. I would love to have a place to go, but I can’t yet afford to buy another location. Moving to a more remote place isn’t practical, as access to good medical facilities is a must for my family at this time. Because of this, staying where I am is my best option. Living as a refugee on the road isn’t much of a life, even if I had tons of skills to barter with. Hopefully, one of these days I’ll either have a BOL or live in my BOL. Until that happens, the decision to leave is much harder to make.

  22. Seeing as how I’m not rich and can’t afford to bug out I’ll probably end up dying in my home

  23. I live in a suburban area but have a rural retreat location. But I don’t plan on bugging out unless it is clear that my family is in danger by staying. First,long term survival at the retreat location involves the 90 minutes, minimum, to get there. Second, I am unable to stock enough supplies at both home and the retreat to make the retreat self-sufficient. Any dreams of hunting and gathering, and then reaping a garden harvest are just that–dreams. Actually making it there over the long term at my advanced age and poor health is a last resort. May be needed, but not selected unless remaining in the suburbs is clearly a danger. There is risk in this approach as one could find oneself having waited too long to leave. So for me the retreat is for times of chaos. Judging if and when will be the challenge.

  24. Unfortunately I’m in Jersey City. I am prepared to do either. I have a BOL, but it’s hours away and if I left within a minute of something happening I’d still be no where within 30 minutes. The George Washington Bridge and the Tappan Zee would be grid locked, Rt 80 and 78 out of NJ would be no better. My plan would be to bug in until the madness slowed, then make my move. Understand that even if I made my move 30 minutes BEFORE anything happened, I’d still have to deal with every major road and city after it hit the fan. It’s better to be home and ready than to be stuck along a major highway.

  25. With myself and the Mrs, I lean to staying put. Due to her she and health, it would be to dangerous for her to go any where as she would not be able to move fast enough to evade any approaching danger. I also feel traveling on the roads would only set you up for an ambush and the only safe way to move would be of road and at night. She would not be able to endure that for more than an hour so therefore we stay put and hope for the best as we ride out the storm.

  26. I live in a smallish city in Northern Ca. Have been working with a group of like minded people and have a BOL about an hour away. We’re in the process of stocking now. Defensible, water, wood, buildings on site, garden.


    Bank closing ala Cyprus
    NDAA being signed
    Regional disaster

  27. I have already bugged out once when the governor tried to pay us employees with IOUs after great recession of 2008. I moved/bugged out to a state that pays its people in cash and has a better credit history. With each move, I have gone to a more rural area where there is a stronger sense of self-reliance among the populace as opposed to groups of sheeple standing in line with their hands out. They do not always call themselves preppers but the self-reliant people in small towns and farms are ready for hardship. They live it every day. The word Preppers has become synonymous for weirdo after being featured on some network tv programs. (as in- Nat Geo) The reasons we moved from state to state are: The companies you work for have either gone out of business (my wife) or the company you work for has become insolvent (my own job) In that situation, I/we elected to BUG OUT rather than wait for things to get better. We did so on the advice our our accountant who prepares our taxes. For this type of relocation, I would recommend a book called: “What Color is Your Parachute?” Do some scouting prior to relocation so you do not move from the frying pan into the fire.

  28. I am psyched that everyone has prepared their home to be their fortress. I have prepared enough food and have squirrels to shoot for quite a while. I think after a couple of weeks if there is roving gangs of hungry people, I think I would head to the mountains. I have good bug out stockpile. I can head to limitless mountains in about five minutes of backroads, but you hate to leave all your prep.

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