Preppers and survivalists seem to spend a lot of time talking about "bugging-out." Bug-out bags and bug-out vehicles are popular topics of conversation, articles, videos, and even books. This can be frustrating for many folks who feel that they have nowhere to bug-out to, asking in exasperated tones "But, bug-out to where, exactly???"
I want to try to answer that question in this article, but first let me say that bugging-out should not be your Plan A. The best advice for most people in most situations is to stay put. Bug-in (hunker down) where you are, unless and until it becomes too dangerous to do so. You don't want to face the open road during a highly chaotic and dangerous time unless you absolutely have to. Bugging-out is a measure of last resort. Also, consider that a bug-out location isn't
necessarily somewhere you'll move to permanently. You may only need it
for a few days or a few weeks.
If you live in an inherently dangerous area that you know you will have to escape from during a crisis, then you shouldn't be living there now. Figure out a way to move, no ,matter what the sacrifice. You don't have to move to your ideal isolated homestead right away. A small town away from the big cities will be far safer then your current location.
But, bug-out to where, exactly???
Here are some options for bug-out locations, if and when it becomes necessary to bug-out:
1) Your own property. The ideal bug-out location, of course, is a piece of property you already own, be it a fully set-up rural homestead, a mountain cabin, or even just a couple acres of raw land in the country. Problem is, most folks don't have a lot of extra money to purchase a second piece of property "just-in-case."
However, I will say that a few acres of raw land in a truly rural area can still be purchased for only a few thousand dollars. Used campers can be had for under $1,000, particularly if you are willing to do a little repair work yourself and aren't too concerned with its cosmetic appearance. So, it is possible to secure yourself a bug-out location in a rural area for under $10,000. It won't be luxury living, but it will be living.
2) A Relative's or Friend's Place. Maybe your Uncle George has a fishing cabin in the mountains. Or Great Aunt Ida lives alone in that huge old house on the outskirts of a small town in the Ozarks. Or Cousin Eddie has a small farm in Kentucky. Talk to them about using their place as a bug-out location. You could even stockpile some food, clothes, and other supplies there ahead of time. You don't have to move into the house with them. Perhaps you could park a camper or RV in their driveway or backyard.
It can be difficult relying to family at times, as pride, ego, jealousy, and hurt feelings often get in the way. Put aside those petty family squabbles. Besides, Great Aunt Ida is a lonely old lady who will need someone when the SHTF, and Cousin Eddie could always use some extra hands on the farm.
3) Hook up with an established prepper community, or mutual assistance group (MAG) that already has a bug-out location. This will be difficult, but they do exist.. You'll have to find them, meet them, earn their trust, and become a part of the group. And remember: their group, their land, their rules.
This option will take time and effort, so start now. Frequent prepper and survivalist forums and websites, go to meet-ups, attend trade shows, takes classes, and do whatever else it takes to meet like-minded folks. Let it be known that you're looking for a group to join, but don't be pushy or obnoxious about it. You'll have to meet a lot of folks, and befriend a lot of folks, and slowly earn your way into a group.
4) Create a MAG of your own. The group can then go in together to purchase a few acres that could be a mutual bug-out location. This, too, will take effort and time to find the right people, and then to hash out the rules, but it can be done.
I'm aware of three families (two brothers and a cousin) who joined together to purchase a small farm that was for sale in the Appalachian Mountains of Tennessee. Two of the families now live there full time, with the third family spending most weekends and vacation time on the property working the farm. This arrangement has worked for them for almost 15 years now.
5) A church retreat. This is an idea that might work best for a small, tightly-knit church of like-minded folks. Have the church buy some land in a rural area. It can be "officially" for use as a church campground or retreat, and unofficially as a potential bug-out location for church members.
A number of churches in my area have such campgrounds or retreats, sometimes individually, or in conjunction with other churches. These church campgrounds could easily be pressed into use as bug-out locations.
6) National or State Parks. Many national or state parks have camping areas. Some have cabins. Some have RV or camper spaces. At others, you will have to hike in with tents. All these could be used as temporary bug-out locations. I've even heard rumors that some survivalists have buried caches of food and supplies near their favorite spots for use when the SHTF. You'll need to scout out locations ahead of time, but these are an option for those who have no other options.
7) For profit campgrounds. National and state parks aren't the only camping option. There are lots of for-profit campgrounds around the country, offering everything form cabins, to RV and camper hook-ups, to primitive camping. Decide on a general area (or areas) you may want to bug-out to, then start looking for campgrounds.
I don't believe we will actually see a mass exodus from the mega-cities (see my article Survivalist Myth? The Golden Horde). Sure, some folks will abandon the cities, but most will stay long past the time that the cities become complete disaster zones. Due to a concept called learned helplessness, many folks will stay put waiting for government to save them, or will happily march into FEMA camps, expecting to be taken care of...
You may be interested in my articles:
Gypsy Survival - A Different Prepper Strategy
Typical Prepper versus Gypsy Survivalist... What the Gypsy Survival Strategy Might Actually Look Like