How to Craft an Effective Bug-Out Plan


When it comes to disasters, nobody truly wants to leave their home and all of their belongings, but there are times that the decision is made for you and the only safe option is to literally head for the hills.

The act of heading out from your current home to find safer conditions is known as bugging out. While bugging out means grabbing your supplies and getting out of Dodge while the getting is good, it does not mean that you should just all of a sudden throw what you think you need into a bag and run. The only way bugging out would be safer than staying where you are is having an effective bug-out plan in place. By crafting an effective plan for bugging out, you can make sure you have what you need, know where you’re going, and most importantly, know when to make the call. There are five key questions you need to ask yourself to make an effective bug-out plan, and by focusing on these, you should be able to safely and effectively bug out when the SHTF.

1. When should you leave?

When it comes to bugging out, knowing when to make the call to leave is by far the most critical decision. Leave too soon and the disaster may pass, opening you up to looting and destruction of your home, but leave too late and you can easily doom yourself to being trapped in whatever disaster you’re trying to escape.

For example, think about a wildfire. These are definitely not something you want to be around, but knowing where the fire is, how it’s spreading, and what your overall risk is all play in to your decision on staying or leaving.

2. Where are you going?


There are few reasons you’d ever leave your home, possibly forever; you need to know where you’re going.

For natural disasters like earthquakes, floods and fires you should know where shelters are and where the best places to be in each scenario are. For example, you’d want a high spot during a flood and a place away from the woods or fields in case of wildfire.

If the disaster you’re worried about is more of the man-made variety, then you’d be wise to plan a bug-out spot that’s far from civilization. Each scenario you have should include at least two locations to bug-out to.

3. How are you going to get there?


With the location in mind, the next question you need to ask yourself is how you’re going to get there. Are you taking your car, truck, motorcycle, ATV, or are you hiking out of town on foot? Ideally the motorized means of travel are the easiest, but depending on the type of disaster you’re planning for, they may not be an option.

Roads can become clogged and fuel can quickly become a precious commodity, combining to make it hard, if not impossible, to escape to your bug-out location by vehicle. As with the other questions above, you need to come up with a few different options based on the scenarios you’re planning for.


On top of the means of transportation, you need to have a map of how to get to your bug-out spot. While today we use GPS navigation for just about everything, this technology can easily become disabled during a major disaster, rendering it useless. What you need is the tried-and-true analog method of travel: map and compass. Plan out at least two routes to each bug-out location on a map meant specifically for your bug-out plan, and store it with your compass and any other bug-out necessities.

4. What are you bringing with you?

Speaking of those necessities, deciding on what you need to bring with you is the starting point of building your own Bug Out Bag. This bag should include everything you need to survive for 72 hours. Sure, you might be bugging out for more than that, but we’ll get to that in just a minute. For now, understand that your bug-out bag is your 72-hour survival best friend.

The basics you need to include are food, water, fire starters, a first aid kit and some additional clothing. After this there’s quite a bit you can add to make bugging out better. Check out these posts on everything you need to know about bug-out bags.

5. How long will you be gone?


With your 72-hour bug-out bag in place, you need to ask yourself how long you plan on bugging out. If you’re just leaving to avoid the aforementioned wildfire or flood, then a few days should be fine, but if you’re planning on bugging out for longer, possibly forever, then you need to think about the bigger picture.

Maybe escaping with just a backpack of supplies won’t do. If you have the time to think about it, you should bring enough supplies to keep you going for as long as possible. This is where knowing when to bug out comes into play. By gauging this correctly you may be able to escape with a carload of supplies before the highways become crowded and people start looting those of us that are more prepared.

Think about those scenarios we discussed above and estimate how long you’d need to bug out for each. By knowing how long you plan on being gone, you can better prepare for the exact supplies you need. Too few and you run the risk of, well, not surviving. Too many and you run the risk of being slowed down or targeted for looting.


Think about your answers to these five questions so you can keep yourself and your family alive. Who knows, maybe the idea of bugging out might start to be not so scary after all.

About the Author:


Brian is a technology nut who loves craft beer. Still a Boy Scout at heart, he believes in always being prepared. Brian believes the most important tools you can have when the SHTF are your brain and the ability to keep a level head, no matter what the situation is.


Emergency Preparedness, Most Popular, Prepping, Self Reliance, Survival Skills


bug out plan, bug out bag essentials, Bug Out Bag, bug out

One thought on “How to Craft an Effective Bug-Out Plan”

  • Noell Biahop

    I have a whole training course on Bug Out Bags. Give me a shout, I can help you streamline your bag (by what's in the picture).


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