Bugging out: Why I missed best time to bug out

Bugging Out Survival Course


I am Selco and I am from the Balkan region, and as some of you may know it was hell here from 92-95, anyway, for 1 whole year I lived and survived in a city WITHOUT: electricity, fuel, running water, food distribution, without any kind of organized law or government. The city was surrounded for 1 year and it actually was a real SHTF situation. Our allies were our enemies from one day to the next. Today I’m prepared and share my experience on this blog.

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When is the best time to bug out?

Best way to survive is not being close to any problems.  I missed my chance to bug out in time. I ended up surrounded by enemy army and trapped in city for a year without power and regular resources. Everyone fighting for the little what was left and being shot at by snipers and artillery from enemies did not make experience any better.

There are many reasons why people fail to bug out. Last week Jay (guy I run this website with) left Bangkok because of military coup. He first did not want to leave right away but then common sense won and he left. Nothing bad happened after he left, but it could have.

There can be many reasons like failure to recognize that S. gonna hit the fan, blocked streets on the way out of the city, problems convincing everyone to leave or just some special events you want to stay for.

I mention many times why I failed to leave city before everything became blocked. So I said that simply I did not see signs, or even if I saw something that looked serious to me, I assure myself that everything gonna be OK in short.

And of course media was there to told us that everything gonna be fine, nothing gonna escalate etc. and all of this above is true, it was like that, but as the time goes by I am able to see one more mistake that I have done that contributed to the my choice of staying.

Actually it was not really choice, I failed to see that I had big choice to make back then. We humans like to go with the flow and that is what I did. There was no choice, just years later and when your freedom is taken you realize you failed to make right choice.

So the big mistake I also made was the fact that I was simply thrilled and excited how events are unfolding in front of my own eyes, it was kinda mesmerizing.

You know that feeling that you are going to be part of something big, something that it is gonna be part of history books?

I had that feeling on some subconscious level I guess.

It was like being part of event that goes like this:

  • Day 1: Today we lost ability to phone outside town, sporadic shots were fired whole day, on the TV there is no news from our city, which is weird…
  • Day 2: I just saw tank on the street, went to check is there anything left in the store to buy or take, but actually there is no store anymore, tank was slowly rumbling over the street, guy who was standing next to me said „they gonna ruin the asphalt with that beast“ like that is important, but that guy still thought in old terms, like we all did. I think he thought that it is temporary, and tomorrow city gonna need to repair that street because tank ruined it, and we all pay that through our taxes, and so on, and so on.
  • Day 3: Our first neighbor shows up with rifle and said „I ll gonna shoot those mother……s „ I ask him „who?“ he said „anyone who approaches my house.“
bug out bag

At the beginning it was like being in movie, but pretty soon we all were like „f..k, people get killed for real here“.

One day after another day, events simple unfolding, more dramatic after dramatic. It is a bit like slow collapse that we experience now, changes come step by step, even in short time but it is all exciting until one point and then it can be too late.

This is what happened, one day it was simply too late to leave.

Now you need to understand me that this was not the only reason why I stayed in the city, it was not even most important, I speak about everything in detail in my course. But still it was the one of the reasons and one of the reasons that can be easily overlooked.

It is important to be mentioned here, simply because I can see and read in many places that lots of people still make similar mistakes. It is simply interesting for them to stay and see what is going to happen.

For those of you who were part of some SHTF event, whatever it was, some natural disaster or similar, you may understand what I am trying to say.

It is the fact that timing of events is not going to wait for you, it is going to unfold on its own, and at the end it is simply gonna overrun you if you are in its path.

You will be left behind to sit through consequences or destroyed.

People often act like world is spinning around them, and like nothing bad is going to happen to them, while in reality you (and me) are nobody in bigger picture. When you get more experience as survivalist and prepper you maybe even become arrogant and think you know what you deal with and can stay and wait.

I was young then, and my blood reacted different on gunshots, screams, or hearing about attacks or defense, or pride and similar, so I can blame that too. But still, it is easy to fall into the thinking of „staying to see events“.

Oh it was interesting for sure, especially in the beginning, before I realized fact that people died in great numbers, and that there is a huge possibility that I could be killed too, and it would not be some big event and very soon it is over.

Later it was all about trying to survive, something like constant running for your life. You become very humble man if you almost lose all control over things around you.

And remember the saying: “May you live in interesting times”, but also remember that it is as much curse as it can bring you excitement in good times. So if you see that „interesting times“ are coming to your neighbourhood, just leave the area, it is much better to be „bored“ but alive somewhere else.

Did you draw clear line for yourself when you bug out or bug in?

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33 Responses

  1. In general, my first basic move will always be to stay put and not to bug out. The reasons are pretty simple:

    A) I have no pre-set destination. There is no cabin in the woods or underground bunker waiting for me somewhere “out there”. I would love to have that, but I don’t have the money for it

    B) My nearest relatives — people I can trust — are my mom and dad. they live about 400 miles away. That’s a LONG way to drive when TSHTF

    C) Also, my parents are insanely and hopelessly anti-gun. I love them dearly, they raised me to be a good person, but on this point they are flat out wrong. Bugging out to their location is trouble, because people don’t chnage, even reality is smacking them upside the head

    D) So, I have no set destination. You know that would make me and mine? REFUGEES. Also known by the criminal element as “easy pickings”. Anyone wanna take a guess at the survival rate for people on the road like that?

    E) Even if the criminals don’t get you, the police forces and military — or anyone with waaaaaayyyy bigger guns than I’ve got — might take you into custody. And bring you to the nice safe FEMA camp. For your “protection” of course

    F) Btw, how much stuff am I going to be carrying? What will I carry it in? I believe if you put your faith in a mobile pile of stuff like that, you will be very loath to leave it. That alone might get you killed

    G) I’m not Rambo. I’m not going to leave all my stuff and “live off the land”. That might look cool in the movies, but in real life, not so much. Let’s say I tried that, and I use my rifle to kill a deer. Let’s also say that I actually know how to butcher it, and have some way of cooking it. Is there anyone besides me who thinks that the gunshot followed by the smell of meat cooking wouldn’t attract others. Maybe they would try to take my kill; who would prevent them? Sure I would try to defend myself, but if I’m outnumbered 10 to 1, that’s going to be a very short fight

    Look, I’m not saying to NEVER bug out. I’m just saying that it might present even bigger problems than you are trying to solve. Just sayin’

  2. I would submit that bugging out is an action to be measured and judged according to current circumstances. And as proferred by the author, who has experienced the wrong end of a delayed choice, there’s never ANY guarantee, EITHER way……

    Bugging OUT could as easily be a BAD choice as staying in. Family makeup could have much to do with the choice as well. Especially if you have elderly, the very young, or the medically challenged in tow, which could complicate your exodus considerably. If you are an over middle age man with bad knees and high blood pressure, and you have a brood of beautiful women under your charge, hitting the road could be a very BAD choice, as you’ll be a magnet for every maggot OUT there. Armed to the teeth or not, and you HAVE to sleep SOMETIME.
    Many, MANY unknown factors hitting the road in a SHTF situation. Especially if relatives and friends are hundreds, even thouands of miles away from you. You won’t have the resources to make the journey. And who’s to speak to THEIR current condition if you DO get there? And to be stranded amongst desperate and aggressive, hungry strangers? Not preferable. And WHERE will you go, or wind up, amongst MILLIONS of folks in America scattering like roaches ALL at the same time, in the same region? With no anchor, I see vulerability only INCREASING, not the other way around. We’ve ALL seen refugees over the years on tv, fleeing whatever disaster manifested upon them. I would join that only under the LAST of available options.
    Unless 500,000 screaming Chinamen were descending upon north Georgia, or we were taking direct cannon fire or rounds from WHOMEVER, I would opt to stay put. Your resources are THERE, you’ve had time to make preparatons to repel small groups of home invaders, you’re surrounded by like-minded people who will come together to defend your common ground from marauders, PERSONALLY, unless the circumtances were EXTREME, i would stay put. I would find that the safer option. We’re also a community out in the sticks a bit, also. If i lived in a CITY, as I assume the AUTHOR did at the time of encirclement, then HELL YES, get moving as SOON as humanly possible. Cities will be deathtraps, as he has attested to….Out in the country a bit, one has more options. Of course, we will be left to defend against those that HAVE fled the cities, and are aggressively foraging. That will be ANOTHER significant problem that manifests all by itself…… The desperate takers. But that’s what RPK’s and scopes are for…. My job will be to keep the aggressives and the crazies AWAY from my family, friends and community.
    Note to my brethren on here…… SPEND THE MONEY on night vision! AND a battery stash for same. Even a cheap monocular……That will be the time you will be MOST vulnerable and the most opportune time for scumbags to strike. You cannot address what you CANNOT EVEN SEE…….. Sportsmans Guide and Amazon have some inexpensive but well-functioning units for sale. Overlook this one item at your own peril. And finding one post-SHTF will be damn near impossible.

  3. I saved to notes a quote from you which carries personal meaning to me. I hope you don’t mind!
    “It is the fact that timing of events is not goning to wait for you, it is going to unfold on its own, and at the end it is simply gonna overrun you if you are in its path. -Selco

    I for one have the habit of procrastinating or as my Cambodian wife says I tend to “wait for water to come up to my nose” she also found herself struggling to survive against the repressive and murderous Khmer Rouge. She ultmately survived along with Mom and a younger brother. All living in US. She claimed she is having nightmares of war. I see this as warning that something bad is about to happen in the United States. I too am beginning to see the same warning signs that you mention Selco. Thankyou for sharing your candid and honest shtf experience.

    John P.

    1. It is so usual habit, it is simply human, to wait “what is gonna be” and to keep saying “it is gonna be fine”.
      Sometimes we just need to forget on everything that we left behind and leave.

  4. I lived in South Florida for 11 years, from 1997 to 2008. In that time, I prepped for 6 different hurricanes. I bring this up concerning the topic of CHOICE to stay or go as proferred by the author. Of the 6 hurricanes, 2 turned into the Atlantic at the last minute and went out to sea, 1 fizzled to nothing in the Keys, and 3 were DIRECT hits.
    Now, I made the decision to remain put, UP TO a high catagory 3 caliber storm. Cat 4 and above, then I would uproot for the duration for fear of storm surge. The home was new, built to post Hurricane Andrew specs with a full shutter package and strapped roof, I knew the home could withstand a decent hit. We were 20 miles inland from the water which was a decent buffer.
    The 3 storms that directly hit us, Hurricanes Frances, Jeanne and Wilma? The only one that was a high cat 3 was Jeanne, and that was a crapshoot guess to be honest…… I was watching closely for ANY sign of strengthening as it approached land.
    Now, take a different hurricane scenario like Katrina, and hell YES, I would’ve scrambled, NO questions asked…… When a storm has sustained winds of 180 MPH, is 230 miles off your coast, and you’re 6 feet BELOW sea level with an ancient levee designed to handle MAYBE cat 2 level storm surge, It’s a no-brainer. You GOTTA go……
    I offer up the 2 different scenarios to illustrate the different conditions that beg different responses to bugging out. Good topic, and thank you for posting it! :).

  5. The Chinese phrase “May you live in interesting times” is intended to BE a curse, not a blessing.

    Very insightful and helpful post, thank you!

  6. I am convinced something big is coming to America and ain’t gonna be good…I think we have at most 1.5 yrs till everything collapses.
    Even if one does not have the money to buy land and build a retreat, one can still find a retreat location. there is a lot of BLM land that can be relocated to, and one can set up a campsite fairly easily.
    While not the ideal situation, it is survivable. Look for Joel Skoussen’s book ‘Relocation’.
    it is an excellent source of information about where to look.
    We need to hope and pray we don’t need to bug out in winter….shelter in place or bug out, that time of yr will be VERY difficult to do either…

  7. If you dont spend Thousands on night vision you are wasting your money. My eyes are better than the $400 Gen I night vision stuff out there. You need to learn how to see at night. Now the Gen III and Gen IV stuff? yes it can see into the darkness better than you can. But the junk available at Gander Mountain and Cabelas? Those are toys for people that dont know how to deal with darkness and how to use your built in night vision.

    Light control around your encampment or homestead is key. They will not be sneaking up on you if you did not have the place lit up like a Christmas tree. put out the lights, keep them out. your only fire is in a Denver Pit that is not visible and you do not look at the fire.

  8. Exactly. get maps and find National forests, learn how to camp, learn how to build a shelter, etc.. I’d rather live quietly in the forest eating bugs than trying to dodge firefights or defending your home in the city or suburbs.

  9. Whether or not to bug out does depend on situations and timing. How well you are prepared and whether or not there is access to your alternate location when you attempt. To stay put also begs some questions of hiding in plain sight. How can you secure and camouflage your location to look like it is not worth bothering with? Is your location defensible? Do you even want to defend at that location or set up an FOB aside from your place of retreat? Of course defense of any location is important but having a network of escape routes is critical as well. Access and stores of water and food you can ‘keep’ is critical. There is only so much you can ruck with you. For that matter, how much can fit in any vehicle for transport. You can lose this at a stop if the roads are blocked and it may not be a block from officials but of other enterprising vultures. Max Velocity put out the book Contact which is an imperative read. A Failure of Civility is also an important read… Ponder carefully.

  10. I just came back from a minimalist over-night camping trip and I must confess that it was difficult…extremely difficult. I am very skilled and knowledgable too. I think it’s a bit naive to think just knowing how to camp or build a shelter is going to save you. Your knowledge and skills need to run much deeper; you need to know plant-lore, both edible and medicinal, you need to know when and where to find bugs (it’s not as easy as it sounds), you need to know seasonal and migratory habits of wild game, plus a lot more. AND you should have practice doing all of these things in the rain and snow, it’s easy to scratch up a fire in the summer, try doing it after it’s rained for a week. It is easy to “know” how you’d want to live out a SHTF scenario, but it’s a much different experience than the Cub Scout manual implies. My point is that if you think you want to bug out into the woods, you had better start doing it NOW and often.

    Wishing us all the best of luck,

  11. . . . and remember, if you don’t leave early enough, all the good spots will already be taken. . . :^)

    I guess why people procrastinate is HOPE. Even with evidence in their face, some people refuse to believe that this is occurring and will not stop.

    We saw what the people in New Orleans did when they elected to stay with Katrina barreling in and everybody in authority said we would not come for you in the middle of the hurricane. Refugees is what they became – they were angry that Uncle Sugar did not come in riding a white horse, bringing them air conditioned buses with food, blanket and medicines. The Super Dome became a FEMA camp.

  12. Son of Sam – Sorry to say, but you are already defeated because you have defeated yourself in your own mind. You have decided that you are outnumbered, outgunned, and unable to take care of yourself and if you believe this in your heart, then unfortunately, no one can convince you otherwise
    There are many of us who are not well, or elderly, infirm or whatever and may not be able to go anywhere if the SHTF but we refuse to be victims; alone or with neighbors, we will not give in to fear or despair as long as we have breath… and for many of us, who have been through times similar to Selco, death does not hold fear for us either.. I hope that you will find a way to encourage yourself to see that you nhave just as much ability to survive as all those before you. But you must believe!

  13. “…it is much better to be „bored“ but alive somewhere else…”

    I’ve always said that boredom is good. Cops, firemen, airline pilots, submarine commanders…all should be thankful for boredom.

    Why? Because boredom means that nothing is going wrong.

    1. Yes Dave, boredom can be actually productive when man wants to use that time for something good. “Real action” like lot of people (who never been in real survival situation) imagine it is actually very different in real life, and it can hurt.

  14. It’s the same as a Dakota Fire Pit, probably.
    All that is is a hole in the ground with another hole dug like a diagonal shaft to the bottom of it for air. You put your fire in the bottom of the hole. It’s sort of like a rocket stove only made by digging.

  15. Johnny has it right, each and every one of us is in a somewhat different situation as it relates to geographical area, rural or urban, dependents/dependencies, level of preps, degree of physical and mental fortitude and assets at our disposal. Think “continuous incremental improvement” in all aspects at all times…When this goes down we need to have played the “future vision” game of what might happen, what the outcomes will be, how to best get through it, what our options would be and our next move in the scenarios.
    Mental clarity of having played it out in your mind prior to is a must and physical training (PT) of carrying a loadout will be a plus. No matter what your physical capabilities or non capabilities are, you will have an advantage if you are 25% capable over 5% capable. Do what you can now and get your mind and body in the best state that you can, this will be a game of seconds and inches.

  16. I think that you are reading too much negativity into Son-of-Sam’s comment. What I read are his thoughts on the dangers of bugging out, and they are realistic.

    However, you are very right about not being self-defeatist. If there ever is a real SHTF situation here, surviving will be difficult, and would be made virtually impossible if one gives up.

    Personally, the only realistic reason to bug out would be a hurricane headed towards my area. In that case, evacuating early is the intelligent thing to do. In any other situation that I can imagine, the risks of bugging out are are equal to, or greater than staying. But, I will always try to be prepared for the exingencies of the moment, and if bugging out seems prudent, will do so.

  17. The decision to stay or leave depends on many factors. I am living on Social Security and don;t have many dollars to pend on supplies or equipment. I have made my own, bought military surplus, or found items in strange places like the Dollar Store believe it or not. I try to keep a stock pike in our small apartment…but again my finances are strained. Living in an apartment in a city…I have no land in which to dig a shelter nor to plant any food. We hope the “zombies” from the inner city don’t over run us. IF they do I have a Ruger mini 14 and a 12 gauge shotgun for defense. I have a 30.06 bolt action I would only use for anti sniper work or to pot a deer which are plentiful in the woods up here where I live. I have a pack so could bug out and have made an emergency shelter from tarps. Just the gear for myself is a heavy load to carry. I would try to head north away from the city. To disguise my guns I have made what I call “shotguns in a can”. I have two former ordnance containers that can carry the shotgun, disassembled. I can re assemble it in a minute once I am clear of the city streets. I fear that if I carry the gun on my shoulder or in my arms I will be detained by the police or the “zombies”. The guns are not for perimeter defense…but to protect myself and family form direct harm….and for food if we can make it to the woods. I am not a hunter but have read how to field dress deer and small game. Some have made the comments about living off the land. In the US survival manuals there are chapters on edible plants as well as fish and small game. I suggest you buy the paper copy and put one in each pack for your self and your family. Also…my “shot gun in a can” can be buried in the woods and used as a cache. I carry silver coins for barter…some food water…some survival items….I can bury it if necessary…that s my plan…

  18. I bugged out of Tokyo with my family two days after the huge 2011 Tohoku earthquake and tsunami. First to Osaka, then back to Tokyo to pack, and away permanently. It’s always difficult to be sure you are making the right choice. The nuclear meltdown in Fukushima is still ongoing. There could be another big earthquake any day. Some friends stay and either ignore or accept the potential danger. I lost a job, good money, and a lifestyle, but I think I’m smarter and better now, and my family is safer out of harms way. I’m prepared to bug in or out at my new location.

  19. @ Daniel, I’ve never heard it referred to as a “Denver” pit before, but I’m pretty sure Tim means building your fire in a pit in the ground so the flames are not visible. This can be quite effective at hiding a campfire, if you build it small and sit close, it will still keep you warm and let you cook.

    If any of you are seriously considering the “extended camping trip” form of bugout, you might want to read the army manual titled Survival, Evasion And Escape – FM 100. I read it years ago, so it probably has a different designation and title now days. (I’m probably dating myself, lol) I’m sure some of the vets on here can give us the modern version.

  20. I agree with many of SonOfSam’s points. We plan to Bug In. There are limited items that you can put in your vehicle. Depending on the disaster or crisis, fuel may limit your range. My wife and I are both somewhat disabled, so walking away from our home further reduces the supplies and equipment we’d be able to take. We have been preparing for a SHTF/WROL situation for over 3 years. We have stocked many necessary supplies and are well armed. We have Bug Out Bags, camping and outdoor survival items. However, these would only be used as a last resort. Although we live in a development with hundreds of houses in the vicinity, I would still say the area is more rural than urban. Our development borders a State Game Land, along side a mountain. We are 10 miles from the nearest highway. I’ll make my stand right here. I just need some barbed wire to establish a perimeter. I would like to have an alternate power source to run a well pump, hot water heater and refrigerator. But, we can survive without electricity.

  21. They are also call Dakota Fire Pits. you dig a hole about a foot across and about 12-18 inches deep. then dig a diagonial hole (small dia) about 12 in away from the first hole that intersects at the bottom of the first hole. the second hole provides air and your fire burns in the first hole and does not have a big light signature for all to see. You still get warmth etc.

  22. Tim Grey, exactly right, Lowend nightvision is a waste of time. My youngest son brought home a $99.00 monocular,
    couldn’t even spot two white draft horses in a one acre pasture from 50 yards…

  23. My clear bug-out line is well behind me, now… pre-Y2K. Bugged out and started working out the ways and means in (beyond) rural region. Good forage, few people mostly concentrated in towns and cities. Good, off road mobility (sailboat) in 900nm archipelago. Lots of places to duck and cover. Lifestyle is inexpensive and satisfying.

    Wife and I are now skilled in moving around, living off the land and have a good network of people who know we’re worth more alive than dead (sailing without engines, boatbuilding, general fixit, paramedic, neolithic, basic chemistry, etc.). Love the life, while we’re at it.

    No plan is fer sure, but bugging out NOW, if not THEN seems the best bet. The signs of general SHTF are increasing, but they’ve been around us for years. Local SHTF is called history! Could come locally anytime, anywhere.

    Consider going sooner than later. It’s inexpensive. Make a lifestyle of it and you may find you gain more than you give up.

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