To Bug In or Bug Out?

Note: This is our tenth article in our new prepper series. If you wish to begin at the first, start here.

This is one of the most serious decisions you may face. In a SHTF scenario, do you stay or go?

If you are a concerned individual who has recognized the seriousness of the subject of preparing yourself and your family for many of the potential and even probable disasters that can happen to you, and have followed this series of articles, you have come a long way.

So, in a serious crisis, do you bug in or bug out?

The reality is that if you are serious about you and your family surviving a SHTF situation, you need to plan for and be prepared for both. So let’s define our terms:

Bugging In: This is where you determine that the situation warrants you staying put in your home and ridding the situation out. There could be a number of valid reasons for this decision.

Bugging Out: This is where you determine that the situation warrants you getting out of Dodge perhaps VERY quickly. There could be a number of valid reasons for this decision also.

Each of these choices has a very considerable number of issues involved and require very serious planning. We will discuss each choice in more detail but for now let’s do an overview of the advantages and disadvantages of each.

Bugging In



  • You are in your own home and probably have many of its comforts still available.
  • All of your personal possessions are being protected by you.
  • You may have friends, neighbors, and family nearby for support.
  • You can stockpile large quantities of supplies such as food, water, medical supplies, arms and ammunition.

Possible Disadvantages

  • You may not be able to successfully defend your home from roving gangs or even desperate neighbors who did not prepare like you did if law and order break down.
  • You run the risk of being forcefully evacuated or even “resettled” in a government camp and your firearms confiscated if martial law is declared, and the possibility of your supplies being confiscated in a government crackdown on “Hoarding”.
  • If you wait too long, you might not be able to leave.
  • If the disaster goes on for an extended time frame, you are going to be facing sanitation issues such as disposal of human waste especially if the grid goes down and the water supplies don’t work.

Bugging Out



  • It gets you out of the “Danger Zone” (Hopefully)
  • It allows you a measure of mobility, and the possibility of avoiding dangerous people and events (if you leave soon enough)
  • It allows you the potential option of avoiding
    government “help”
  • You can link up with family or like-minded people/friends

Potential disadvantages:

  • You may have to abandon, or be unable to use your
    auto if you wait too long.
  • If bugging out on foot, you are limited to what you
    can carry.
  • You can possibly encounter a large number of
    desperate people or even criminal gangs.
  • When you leave your home behind you will probably not have much to return to due to the disaster itself or looters, assuming you are even able to return.

Again, you need to have a plan for both options. Carefully consider your situation and write your plans down.

In drawing up a plan for either bugging in or bugging out, don’t forget to consider factors such as health, age of family members, requirements for medication, ect.


This is going to be one of your critical decision-making factors. If you decide to bug out too soon, you may find that it was unneccessary. If you wait too long, you may not be able to get out to your bug out location due to clogged roads, martial law or any number of factors including your vehicle getting stolen. You need to carefully consider what triggers would cause you to decide to bug out. In future articles we will discuss  making detailed plans for either bugging in or bugging out.

10 thoughts on “To Bug In or Bug Out?

  1. There is a protocol for being bugged out, homeless, dispossessed, no fixed abode (NFA), refugees, or whatever, that many do not know.

    Never ask for aid looking like you don’t need it.
    If you are carrying equipment, lose it before saying “Please help”.
    Problem is with all your preparations, careful ones too, all you look like is someone trying it on, scrounging, or taking advantage.

    Add to that, if you turn up at an aid station too well equipped, three things may happen.
    1. You’ll get exactly what you need. Unlikely but you never know.
    2. At the entrance your gear and arms MAY be taken from you.
    3. They’ll take one look at you and say “you don’t need help”.

    Apart from that, one of the most important factors we consider when bugging out is your loss of status as a “local citizen or resident” of a township.

    In the UK if you leave your abode voluntarily, i.e. without being told to leave or obviously forced out by events, you lose that important distinction or label of being a displaced person.

    Is that important? Well actually YES as it can lead to you being shoved to the back of the line for aid be that money, supplies, medico, and even cover.

    Bugging out is not the only final solution to a problem BUT when you do, consider what will happen when you finally need aid (and everyone will eventually needs aid).
    ALWAYS take identification and proof of last address.
    If someone says “get out”, get them to put that order on paper.
    Where possible, work to or with the system BUT NEVER surrender to it.


    • It is interesting to note how different countries have different regulations and laws in regards to these issues. Our Government actually has recommended bug out bag lists and SAYS they want everyone to have 72hr. essentials on hand. Katrina, (as well as other disasters) showed how deficient FEMA was and actually is. Those who prep here understand that it is basically every person for themselves until the bureaucrats get their head out of the dark place. I prefer not to have to rely on government “help” to begin with.


      • I so totally agree.
        Having lived at the bottom I know that the only way out is to IGNORE government help.
        Yet, there will come a time when people will need help or supplies and that’s when being thoughtful about what approach you use will score dividends.
        Always work the system on your terms.
        Don’t ever let the system work you.


        • I would observe (from a distance) any government help operations VERY carefully. If I could get something without having to give up either my liberty or personal property, I might take advantage of it.
          Over here many of us are willing to help each other without the government. That has to be approached very carefully also.


  2. Pingback: Beginning Prepper Series | Azweaponcraftprepper

  3. Pingback: To Bug In or Bug Out? | Azweaponcraftprepper

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