Common mistakes while bugging out

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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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Bugging out is something that I once failed to do, because I did not even realize that it needed to be done, actually I saw what was happening but I did not „proccess“ the information in correct way, so I stay and had to go trough whole period of watching, doing, and getting hit by violence, together with being cold, hungry, sick and everything else.

Because bugging out is so important and survival done right is often not getting into survival situations in the first place I stress importance of bugging out (if you are not already live in great bug out location anyway)

Consider the following couple of mistakes that I witnessed (more than one time).

Right moment

Guy figured out that SHTF, something happening in the city, hears screams outside, shots, confusing news on TV, he rounds up his family, puts all bags in his car, they are armed and they go out in order to reach their bug out location in hills some 50 miles away.

After one mile of traveling angry mob who just plundering local mall stops the car, pull them out, and beat them, and then kill the guy, he managed to kill few of them before that, but they were hundreds.
He is dead. End of story.

If you woke up in the middle of the night, because something strange happens in your town, some event, maybe terrorist attack, or martial law put into effect or whatever, sit down and think for a moment.

Your mission is to leave the area and reach your bug out location, do not confuse that mission with any urge to panically run. If you go into the panic you will make mistakes, and it is definetly not time for mistakes.

You would be surprised to know how many people are prone to panic, and how many of them end up dead because of that.

Try to gather some information, and act acordingly to that information, who, what, when, how long, where. Try to figure out what is happening before you start to bug out to your bug out location. What are problematic areas? Who is in control? You will never have perfect information but it is better than having no information at all. Speak to neighbors, listen to the radio and TV and look on Twitter and other social media.

Yes that often means you will need to postpone your trip, maybe for hours, or sometimes for even days. You need to choose the best moment to leave the area (if you already missed to leave the area before SHTF). Personally I missed the best time to bug out – I explain here why. But now I am prepared, so should you be.

Right „way“

SHTF and family get in their pick up, with trailer full of good equipment for SHTF time.
They managed to go some 20 miles down the road, where few cars simply „get them“, block them and take everything from them. They manage to save their lives or maybe not. Who knows.

Real problem here is not having right and good equipment, and lots of it.
Real problem is that we are being constantly bombarded with information that we (preppers and survivalists) need to have right equipment (a lot) in order to survive. Because without it we are gonna end up dead.

We are being instructed that without „things“ we are lost, we are not even right survivalists.
So when SHTF we are becoming something like prisoners of our things.

Guess what? I am preparing myself to bug out in my sneakers, with pistol and plastic bag.
If I have to I will collect everything else what I need on my way to my bug out location.

Do not get me wrong, of course I have my bug out bag, my plans, and my useful stuff for trip to my bug out location, but the point is that I am really expecting that I will find myself in situation where I need to reach bug out location without all those things.

Do not accept philosophy that things will save your life. Things will help you to stay alive, but your (correct) mindset will mainly save your life.

Anyway, plan to have what you need at your bug out location (already prepared), do not rely too much on things while you are bugging out, you need to be able to get things done with minimal equipment that’s why skills are more important than equipment and in best case you have both.

Right mindset

One word-ADAPT.

If you are bug out plan plays out excatly like it should you are a very lucky man.
Consider the fact, that most of you are making plans to cover hypothetical SHTF scenarios, that you seen on TV shows, read about it somewhere, member of family went through somewhere, or simply you had couple of bad experiences. It is normal. We need to guess and it is best we can do.

You are building your plans based on that, nothing wrong with that. Except that everything may go wrong in one moment.

You have plan to go through the city from point A to point B then to point C etc, and then to reach safe point somewhere.

All good, but SHTF and your youngest son is still in school, your car is broken, and at point B in your plan something weird is happening, some kind of riot, let say with all chaos and confusion some trucks with money are rolled over right at your point B and now you need to find out a new way quickly, and your whole plan is gone, you do not know what to do.

Welcome to reality!

Reality usually likes to blow all your good plans to pieces.

But point of planning is to COVER as many problems as you can, so make sure you play through as many scenarios as possible.

For example if you have just one way out of the city it is bad plan, it needs backup and backup of the backup.

Prepare for the fact that your plan will be wrong right at the beginning, and that you need to make new plan very soon, (and couple of more new plans until you reach your bug out location.)
Do not end up dead because you wanted to stick to your plan because it looks good, while circumstances changed hourly around you. Survival is about quickly adapting to new situations. That is why it always helps to take a map and whatever else you need to have good sources of information to make new plans on the go.

These were just few of the most important things to consider when bugging out. How do you plan to bug out. Share in comments below.

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18 Responses

  1. Exiting quiet and not seen. Like you have said time and time again. Of all the things you educate us on Selco ,I take the “do not be seen or noticed” as the single most important thing that applies to every single lesson.

    I have an every day carry of critical items that fits in my pocket that I can use to get there. Be prepared to only use what you have in your pockets. It’s a nice idea to have 3 days of supplies 1500 rounds of ammo a pistol and 2 rifles over your shoulder. but it’s not reality. 99% of preppers have never tried to run 3 miles with all that on their back.

  2. Thought provoking article as usual Selco. Made me pause yet again to consider how I can successfully travel from point A to BOL @ Point B while:
    1. Not getting killed on the way, and
    2. Not having my goods stolen, and
    3. Not getting detained by TPTB, and
    4. Arriving at BOL capable of surviving other unknowns.

    It seems difficult if not impossible to plan for every potential contingency, am I correct? If so, then planning to be as flexible as possible may be an effective strategy for safely eggressing from the city and for avoiding other entanglements that may be encountered on the journey. It definitely means having a BOL pre-stocked for there is no way short of a transport caravan to move all the items required to survive off grid at a BOL from a city, through who knows how many hurdles (road blocks, gangs, traps, mobs, etc) one may encounter, to a BOL in a single trip. A large truck pulling a trailer will be a prime target for all types of bad guys (even rogue LE) so that seems like a very bad idea.

    Of course having a BOL where goods can be stored in advance and done so with a relatively high degree of security to insure the goods will be there when we arrive is another huge challenge in and of itself.

    No easy answers though thanks for making us think about the SHTF scenarios.

  3. Words of wisdom again Selco. I have learned the value of traveling light with only the essentials – and it does work. We have a bug-out location out of the city (and a couple of temporary ones in the city and en-route). My son knows how to get there and how long to wait. It will take him a day or two to get there on foot. From my home, it will take about 10 days by foot – I am still trying to master the art of riding a bike as I do not want to rely on being able to reach there by car.

    Sounds good – maybe. But since those plans were made, my mother has become physically disabled. I know the terrain en-route and even if I had her on a bicycle cart (already made up), it would take about 3-4 weeks to get to the final bug-out location. Do you or any of your readers have any advice for bugging out with a physically disabled person who is unable to push her own wheelchair? And I do have spare tyres, puncture repair kit and a bike pump.

    PS – to short-circuit what some of you may say or at least be thinking: I will not be leaving mum behind.

    1. Furball I too am in a similar situation. My wife is partially disabled and I have thought about this many times. I don’t know the terrain where you live so my advice may not be for you. You mentioned a bike and cart. That is one option but remember there may places such as a creek or stream that will make crossing with a bike very difficult. Consider adding some light rope and inflatables to your gear. Inflatables could be anything from kids pool toys to a trash bag filled with air and tied off. Find things that will float but don’t take up much room. The inflatables can be left deflated until needed and thus take up less space. They can be used as life preservers or used along with your rope to float your gear across once you make the swim yourself. For your cart pick something light enough where you could pull it yourself should your bike break down or be lost. I have simple aluminum fame cart with a sling/hammock seat I plan to use if I have to. The frame is simply a rectangle with an attachment point for the bike on one end and bicycle tires on a solid axel at the other end. There is a loosely stretched piece of heavy fabric that goes from end to end that makes the sling seat. I have shoulder straps that could be attached to the frame so I could pull it myself if I had to. It would be hell and slow going but it could be done. As mentioned in another post a pack animal would be a good option too if you have that capability.

    2. Most likely the best answer for you is to be hyper sensitive to bugging out even if it is not needed and you have to go back home after a false alarm. Your safest and best bet with a disabled person is to get out early when you can still drive. that means you will have a lot of false alarm bugouts but it’s better safe than sorry. Just use them as quick getaways or quick trips to check on the BOL.

  4. Two oversights I think most overlook when “bugging out” – Yes, pre-staging your stuff at your BOL is imperative so as to “travel light”, but 1) it is VERY possible that desperate persons will ransack/loot/steal your unguarded goods. It is even foreseeable that your BOL be taken over by the same desperate ones if unoccupied. Be prepared to “hold back” and surveil your BOL from a distance for some time before making the decision to go in. This is assuming, of course, that one of your team is not already on sight.
    The second issue is the assumption that you are safe once there. Is this where you will make your last stand? One does not know what the future may hold for that fixed location…. As soon as arriving I suggest consider “divesting” a portion of your “stuff” and create (at least) three more (temporary) BOL by caching some of your collected goods in three differing directions – one never knows which direction may come under assault, nor WHO will be doing the “assaulting”. This is a new layer of complexity which I would rather undertake WITH some “pre-staged resources” than without. Think about it.

  5. Howdy all, I’m new to the blog however, not new to survival scenarios and situations. I do have a few things I’d like to run by everyone, just becouse I have been in situations. 1 who says social media will be present? 2 Are you in a place you can have weapon support? 3 In survival, what happened to improvise, overcome and, adapt? (I am a former USAF seargent not marine). I know I seem slow to play but these were my questions reading your post, to me, thinking as it happens is what needs to come natural. And becouse of where I am, I’m worried about, earthquakes, taunamis, emp pulse(EMP) and with saying that an earthquake and tsunami means having a map is questionable. Truly survival is going to be based on your will to live in the scenario you are given, right? Anyway just had to add my 2 dollars and 35 cents in flour.

    And to the gentlemen that says he won’t leave mom behind .. Are you in a situation, where you can use a pack animal to assist you? ( mule, horse, OX )

  6. I like your point about being “adaptable” if you ever have to bug out. It’s entirely possible that you might have the best bug out plan and a bug out camp that is well stocked and there waiting for you. BUT, what if something happens that prevents you from getting there OR what if you get there and it’s not safe either?

    The ability to adapt in a bug out scenario is what will help to keep you alive. Supplies are important but so are knowledge and skills!

    Great Article!

    1. Even if you take the battery out, there is still residual capacitor power a satellite can use to activate your device and track you. Best to leave the device if you can. Learned it on INFOWARS.COM.

  7. Great article and great comments. My personal nightmare scenario is how to get my family to the BOL without my two 20-something daughters being raped. On my own I’m not much of a target, but I fear that they would be. My plans to avoid this scenario are to 1) travel at night, and 2) make it clear that we will each fight to the death. Which means each of us is armed. But not all attackers will be rational, and we are not all well trained. Suggestions welcome.

  8. For your daughters: In the emergency, cut their hair very short, bind their chests and dress them as boys. If you are truly concerned, find their outfits (very male and unflattering) now and have them practice walking/moving/passing as boys or young men. They may have to do this for more than a transition period.

    We have two plans. One is in place, another is a bug out. Go early and often making as little fuss and attracting as little attention as possible. I agree that adaptability and skills are above material goods in the art of survival.

  9. I suggest you get a scanner and perhaps one of those cheap Chinese BaoFeng hand-held ham radios. Then you can listen to what is going on all over the area as long as there are public safety agencies still communicating, and also to what hams are saying. In many emergencies often ham radio ends up being one of the best sources of information. Better yet, get your Technician class ham license, which is fairly easy to do. Note: The BaoFengs are notoriously difficult to program, so you may need someone more knowledgeable to help with this. Have extra batteries and several ways of powering and recharging your radios. I have a Uniden Home Patrol Scanner which works great and gets programmed by hooking it into your computer with an internet connection. The latest model sells for a bit over $400, but you can still get used ones on Amazon and likely other sources for a little over $200. The older model works great!

  10. Great point about skills, they always trump gear. Some guys could have the best stuff and fluff and gadget ever made, they would still get clipped / robbed. Physical fitness is important (good stamina and functional strenght) but the right skills are the most vital assets one can have (can’t be stolen, weight nothing in your head, can be traded etc). I sometimes play a ‘what if’ game-different bug out situations, different causes for going into survival mode etc. It is always the same minimal gear that come back as being vital everything else is down to skills and proper training.

    Thanks for the reminder Selco. I will cerrainly join your SHTF School.

  11. What of your only bug out location is the vast woods? What if that is your only option?
    I live in a city of 70,000 and a 15 minute drive gets you to the wilderness with many ways to get there. If things got too bad would you just head for the woods if you have NO place to go? Or do you take your chances in the city with the resources you have at hand?

    1. Thanks combatveteran86!
      Hate to answer question with more questions, but:
      What are the your wilderness skills?
      What are the your preps in town?
      Are you alone?
      Questions could go on and on.
      There are many variables there.
      Easiest answer would be that you just head out from the city when SHTF, but surviving in wilderness take so many skills that not so many of us can take.
      On the other side bugging in make sense if you have some kind of organization, like preps and friends.
      In short you should decide what danger is greater, and the just try to run away from the danger.

      To answer another question posted on fb about combat skills-yes thery were valued pretty much, but specific combat skills, if you are professional in some skill it was valued.

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