A Beginners Guide to Bugging Out

A Beginners Guide to Bugging Out

I always hoped my preparations and plans to bug out were a waste of time, but the more violence we see in the streets across the country, the more I think I may just have to put my plan into action.  This guide is for people who have never thought about needing to flee their homes for a safer place.  We will provide you with basic education on what to consider when forming a plan and a starting point to preparing for emergencies.

The preparations we discuss here will be helpful in a variety of emergencies, whether it is weather related (hurricanes, tornadoes), or due to civil unrest.  Although it is impossible to plan for every possible scenario, some basics will go a long way surviving any situation.  Once you have the basics, you can improvise the rest if necessary.

Bug Out Plan for Success

My motto is to hope for the best but plan for the worst.  The most important thing you can do in your emergency preparations is to develop a plan.  Don’t worry, we will help you know exactly what your plans should entail.  But they will require thought on your part.

Get Out of Town

Perhaps the most important part of your plan is to know where you are going and how to get there.  Ideally you would have a place in a rural area within 120 miles of your location.  120 miles is important because that is roughly how far a person can walk in 3-4 days.  Walking distance is important in case your vehicle is disabled.  You want to be in a rural location because violence is most likely to be concentrated in urban cities or suburbs.  The farther away from populated areas, the better for survival purposes.  Rural locations are easier to defend and less likely to have significant civil unrest.

Unfortunately, most people do not own a rural piece of property where they can go in case of emergency.  We recommend going in with like-minded family or friends to purchase a small 5-10 acre parcel where everyone can congregate in event of an emergency.  In many parts of the country, land can be purchased for less than $5,000 an acre.  Bringing a few family members into such a purchase can make this investment very reasonable.  And it will bring peace of mind to everyone knowing they have a place to go in an emergency.  Even if you don’t have to use land for an emergency, it is nice to have a place of your own where you can get away occasionally.  Also, holding real estate is a good thing in a diversified investment portfolio.

We recommend owning your first parcel of land within the state where you live.  This is because in an emergency, some states might close their borders, so crossing state borders may be problematic.  However, once you own a parcel of land in the state where you live, there is nothing wrong with purchasing parcels in a few other parts of the country.  Diversification is always good because some parts of the country may be impacted differently from other parts.

If you cannot own your own piece of rural property, you will need to find a secluded part of a National Park or Forest.  But know that many other people will be looking for safe places to stay in these parks.  You will want to be far away from designated campgrounds.  Ideally, a 1-2 day hike from any roads.  By finding a place like this in a park, you are more likely to be left alone.  You will want to scout out a few potential locations now while there is not an emergency so you know where you are going and have a plan on how to get there.  Start with a good map of the park and figure out places where you think others might not try to go, either because it is hard to get there or a long way from roads.

Know How to Get Where You’re Going

Have a paper map of every location where you need to go.  In my survival kit, I have a paper map of every state where I need to drive through, I also have more detailed maps of the cities and towns in areas where I expect to need to stay for longer periods.

Ultimately, you will want your maps to be in enough detail that you can find alternate routes where necessary.  In true emergencies, everyone will be on the road trying to escape.  And most of these people will only know one way to get where they are going, and that is the Interstate.  If you have maps, you will be able to find alternate routes with much less traffic so you can actually get where you’re going rather than being stuck on the road.

Paper maps are important because in certain types of emergencies, cell service will not be available.  In fact, electronics might not even work.

Have a Bug Out Bag and Survival Kit Ready

Many people consider the Bug Out Bag and Survival Kit to be the same thing.  I call them two separate things because my Bug-Out Bag is just enough to carry on my back to survive for a few days.  My survival kit includes far more items and will enable me to live for a few weeks.

Your Bug Out Bag is only enough stuff to put into a backpack and should weigh no more than around 25 pounds.  Here you will have ways to purify water, a knife, a few days worth of food, an AM/FM Radio that can tune to the Weather station, and perhaps a handgun and ammunition. You might also include a tent and sleeping bags depending on the situation.  The Bug Out Bag is something you can carry on your back for long hikes and arrive at your out of town location.

Backpack sitting in an airplane seat

Your Survival Kit will likely be in large storage bins and will need to be carried in your car.  In the larger survival kit, you will want to have a small stove, lots of canned beans and freeze dried food, enough to last the length of time you expect to be gone, or at least enough to hold you over until you can hunt for food.  You should also have plenty of water.  At least enough water for everyone in your family to have at least a gallon each day.

Make Sure Everyone in the Family Knows Where to Go

In the event of an emergency, make sure everyone knows what to do.  In certain situations, communications will be difficult or impossible.  Everyone in your party needs to know what to do if they get separated.  Whether this location is at a trusted friend’s house, or at your out of town location depends a lot on your situation.  Or it could be a hybrid such as if you get separated in an emergency, try to meet at someone’s house, but if after 24 hours nobody comes to get you, make your way to the out of town location.

Communications are Key

In the event of an emergency that takes out all lines of communication, it would be nice to have alternate means of communication.  This is where Amateur Radio (also known as HAM radio comes in).  Amateur radios are much like high-powered walkie-talkies.  Depending on the radio and setup, you could potentially talk to someone halfway across the world.  For a few hundred dollars, you can get a handheld radio that will let you communicate 10 miles or more.

Amateur radio requires an FCC license, but for the “Technician” license, it is not a difficult exam.  The days of needing to know Morse Code are gone.  There is a 35 question multiple choice exam that, with a few hours of studying, is easily passed.  I recommend everyone in your family have at least a “Technician” license and a handheld radio.  Also, you should determine a frequency on which everyone will listen during an emergency.  All the radios in your family should have this frequency saved in the first memory position on the handheld radio.  In the event that anyone gets separated, the first thing they should do is turn on the radio and call to find out if the family is listening for them.  Also, be sure the rest of the family does turn on their radios and listen if one person in the party gets separated.


Regardless of where you live, you should be able to find somewhere to take the Amateur Radio exam.  HAM clubs across the country regularly schedule exams.  The cost is only $10 per try, and if you pass one exam, you can take the next higher exam for free on the same day.  Study guides are easy to find on the Internet for the “Technician” class license.

The “Technician” license is all you need for a handheld radio.  It will also get you access to frequencies that are used for longer range communications, but the best frequencies for long range communications come with the “General” license, which is a longer and more difficult exam.  The “General” license is really the highest level license you would ever need.  It gives you access to enough frequencies that you can communicate across the world and there are very few reasons to get the “Extra” license which is the highest level license.  Perhaps the best reason to get the “Extra” license is it allows radio operation from most countries in the world.  The “Extra” license also provides access to a few additional frequencies, but not enough to be worth the effort of studying for the harder exam.


The bottom line for survival is to stay away from the crowds and remain calm.  Always look for your exit points.  And have multiple ways to communicate.

Leave a Comment