Friday, August 1, 2008

Is Bugging-Out a Viable Plan?

Should I stay or should I go?

That is the question you may be asking if an unexpected catastrophe strikes where you live or work, and it is the subject of many discussions and arguments among survivalists and preppers. But if you have to ask your self this question after the SHTF, it may be too late already.

Preparing to stay, or "bug-in" means that you will have begun your planning months or even years in advance, laying in the necessary supplies and preparing defenses so that you can hopefully wait out whatever is going on around you, even if it means a lengthy stay. Bugging-in requires utter confidence that your chosen retreat will remain secure and sustainable no matter what is going on outside. Preparations will have to be meticulous and acquiring all the necessary gear and supplies will be time-consuming and expensive.

Depending on where you live, bugging-in may not be an option anyway. Consider the total chaos that reigned in New Orleans in the aftermath of Katrina. Imagine a major disaster or terrorist attack in any big city and ask yourself how well you would fare there after the grid is shut down and millions of less prepared residents take to the streets looking for food and whatever they can plunder. Because of these possibilities, most proponents of the bug-in philosophy advocate purchasing land and preparing a retreat in advance to go to when the SHTF. But there are problems with that too. What if your carefully-prepared retreat location turns out to be near or in ground zero of an unforeseen catastrophe? Where will you go then if you've put all your eggs in one basket, so to speak and now can't use the location or all the expensive supplies you've stored there?

Another problem with planning your survival around a retreat location is that it costs more money than most people have or are willing to spend to purchase a tract of remote land, then build a second home, cabin or even simple shelter on it. In today's economy, many people can barely afford the cost of living as it is, without trying to acquire additional real estate. And most people have interests and passions beyond survival planning and would rather spend any extra money available on those pursuits rather than on investing in stockpiles of supplies to equip a bunker for months or years. The carefully-prepared retreat may never be needed at all, so it's a hard sell to get the majority of people to make such an investment.

Buying and outfitting a simple bug-out bag, however, is a much more reasonable alternative for many, and does not require major lifestyle changes or commitments. The bug-out bag can be kept in your home or carried with you in your car, always ready to go at a moment's notice. It gives you the flexibility of going anywhere you choose, so no matter what happens and where it occurs, there will likely be options available to you. Bug-out planning is fun and getting out and scouting out potential bug-out locations will get you into the outdoors and help hone your wilderness travel and survival skills. For those who already enjoy hiking, canoeing, camping or other outdoor recreation, bug-out planning will come naturally and be a welcome addition to your wilderness skill set.


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