Why You Might Need to Rethink the Possibility of Bugging Out

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By the author of The Prepper’s Water Survival Guide and Prepper’s Pantry.

Three years ago, I was fortunate enough to go to Europe with five other women and train with Selco and Toby in bombed-out facilities in Western Croatia. The lessons we all learned were numerous, and we all became lifelong friends. This happened less than a year before the pandemic, and the knowledge we brought back with us has served us all well throughout these times of turmoil.

The other day we posted an article about how Selco and his neighbors in the Balkans all thought that the disruption was only temporary initially. It was illustrated with a photo that I took when I was in Croatia.

This was one of the buildings in which we trained.

This was not an outlier.

You might look at that picture and think that this was unusual, just an extreme example of a place to train. But it wasn’t. There were ruins all over the place, and it was nearly impossible to find a building that was around in the 1990s that had not taken fire. There were homes that still didn’t have the third story because the entire floor had been blown off during the war. Buildings were pockmarked with bullet holes and scarred with shrapnel from exploding shells.

I’ve spent about six months of my life in the Balkans, including Albania, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Croatia, Kosovo, Montenegro, and Northern Macedonia, and evidence of the war is everywhere even 30 years later. I have traveled the rural backroads and urban areas, and one thing holds true: No place was safe. Nobody was left unscathed.

In fact, it looked in places a lot like Ukraine right now.

I can’t look at the photos and videos of the situation in Ukraine now without flashing back to the things I saw in the Balkans. There’s a strange sense of deja vu looking at the destruction and rubble and desperation. Although we were there long after the war, old videos show almost a mirror image of the goings-on in Ukraine.

It brings one very important thought to the forefront.

Are you sure you’ll NEVER bug out?

There are so many people who only have Plan A, and many of them have very good reasons for planning to hunker down in their homes. Perhaps they have a family member who isn’t very mobile. Maybe they’ve spent years creating the “perfect” retreat. It could be that they lack the money to set up two locations. I am not trying to discredit the reasons behind your plans if this is you.

But take one moment and look at the photos in this article. What if your home was reduced to that state? What if your home was reduced to that state, and an invading army was making its way through your streets, killing and raping without mercy?

(Check out our free QUICKSTART Guide on emergency evacuations to learn more.)

There are many, many situations in which staying put is not an option if you want to live.

You need to make a Plan B.

Now, it’s one thing for you if you intend to fight in the streets against the invading army. But what about the noncombatants in your family? Would you want your teenage daughter or your wife left to the mercy of foreign soldiers? Think about the endemic gang rape going on in Ukraine – wouldn’t you rather get your loved ones to a safer place? What about your disabled family members? Your toddlers? Imagine your small child wandering down the street in a warzone looking for Mommy and Daddy.

Sometimes staying is not a viable option. So many people never consider what they’d do if their home no longer offered shelter and security. It’s hard to imagine the place we raised our children reduced to this kind of rubble, but we’re watching it happen in real-time, right now, playing out on the news. The photos and videos I see are nearly interchangeable with the things I saw in the Balkans.

Selco wrote an article about whether or not you’d be willing to leave everything behind to survive. What you’re seeing in Ukraine, with the bombing, the shelling, and the assassination squads – that’s exactly the scenario he was talking about. Nobody is recommending that you give up, but there are times that a tactical retreat is the only answer if you want to continue to protect your loved ones. Sometimes it’s better to live to fight another day.  Going down in a blaze of glory is fine if that’s how you choose to go out, but would you really sacrifice the lives and safety of the people you love in order to make a point?

Rape as a weapon of war

Rape has long been used as a weapon of war by invading armies, and the current conflict shows us this has not changed with the passage of time.

Why is this so common? The answer is multifaceted.

First, it’s humiliating and degrading to the victims and the family members who are unable to protect them. Secondly, it’s an assertion of power that tells people, “We can do anything we want, and you cannot stop us.” The rape of women, teens, and children is a tool that is wielded over the conquered in order to reduce morale and increase the feeling of powerlessness. Not only does this affect the victims, but it is also a huge blow to those who love the victims.  Nobody wants to imagine having to sit by, restrained, while this war crime is occurring, but it’s incredibly common.

As well, if the incursion is genocidal, impregnating the women with the invaders’ babies is a way to dilute the genetic lines of the victims. The children borne of this violence are often not accepted, leading to another angry generation and future conflicts.

When you are outnumbered and without shelter, it’s vital to remember what could happen if you stay. It doesn’t matter if you are protecting people young or old – they can all become victims of sexual violence in a show of dominance and force.

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How you bug out is important too.

Invading armies destroy everything in their path. They make it impossible for civilians to shelter in place unless those civilians are in a bomb shelter. Even then, the time before you are discovered is limited, and the outcome will be brutal.

Timing is everything – leaving before your streets are crawling with foreign soldiers is vital. You don’t always have a warning, but if you do, know when you are outgunned. Get out with the people you love. Survive to fight back from a better position, and choose the moment when you can be offensive instead of defensive. There is no shame in a tactical retreat.

As well, I would rather bug out on my own accord on the road less traveled than join a group of refugees. Think about how the Russian Army attacked refugees after promising them safe passage. You can’t believe anything in the midst of war.

You simply may not be able to hunker down.

I think anyone who has ever been in a warzone can understand what I’m getting at with this article. I never imagined this type of destruction and devastation before visiting previous warzones in the Balkans. Combat veterans know that this portrayal is accurate.

No matter how compelling your reasons for planning to hunker down, you need to accept that you may not be able to do so in an event like the one we’re seeing in Ukraine. And if that comes to pass, you’ll need to create a plan to get your loved ones out of Dodge, regardless of the difficulty.

  • Think about how you’d move immobile people.
  • Think about where you could go to hide them.
  • Create caches along your route – you may have to leave with nothing more than the clothes on your back.
  • As Rory Miller, a violence expert and author says, “Run toward safety, not away from danger.” Have a destination in mind that is safer than where you are currently.

Above all, don’t be so set in your plan that you refuse to even consider an alternative. While I will almost always recommend hunkering down, there are times when it just isn’t possible. If you haven’t thought through what you’d do in that case, then you cannot consider yourself prepared.

What about you?

Have you accepted the possibility that there are situations in which you cannot remain at home? Have you looked at the bombed-out buildings rolling across your tv screen and thought about the people once living there? Let’s discuss it in the comments.

About Daisy

Daisy Luther is a coffee-swigging, adventure-seeking, globe-trotting blogger. She is the founder and publisher of three websites.  1) The Organic Prepper, which is about current events, preparedness, self-reliance, and the pursuit of liberty; 2)  The Frugalite, a website with thrifty tips and solutions to help people get a handle on their personal finances without feeling deprived; and 3) PreppersDailyNews.com, an aggregate site where you can find links to all the most important news for those who wish to be prepared. Her work is widely republished across alternative media and she has appeared in many interviews.

Daisy is the best-selling author of 5 traditionally published books, 12 self-published books, and runs a small digital publishing company with PDF guides, printables, and courses at SelfRelianceandSurvival.com You can find her on FacebookPinterest, Gab, MeWe, Parler, Instagram, and Twitter.

Why You Might Need to Rethink the Possibility of Bugging Out
Daisy Luther

Daisy Luther

Daisy Luther is a coffee-swigging, globe-trotting blogger. She is the founder and publisher of three websites.  1) The Organic Prepper, which is about current events, preparedness, self-reliance, and the pursuit of liberty on her website, 2)  The Frugalite, a website with thrifty tips and solutions to help people get a handle on their personal finances without feeling deprived, and 3) PreppersDailyNews.com, an aggregate site where you can find links to all the most important news for those who wish to be prepared. She is widely republished across alternative media and  Daisy is the best-selling author of 5 traditionally published books and runs a small digital publishing company with PDF guides, printables, and courses. You can find her on FacebookPinterest, Gab, MeWe, Parler, Instagram, and Twitter.

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  • Its here or die. There is no place else to go, no relatives in a better location and no money for anything else. But we are rural and other than desperate unprepared locals, unlikely to have any warfare in our area.

    • Same here. I don’t have anywhere else I could safely get to that would have anything needed to survive. So it’s basically a choice of dying when my home is destroyed and dying of thirst a few days later trying to find somewhere else hospitable that isn’t already taken. It’s a harsh reality but that’s just the way it is. That said, if anyone has means to set up a bug out location and a way to get there, by all means do so! It’s an awesome idea. I can take some comfort that my current location is a whoooole lot more survivable than anywhere else I’ve been.

    • Rural here and agreed and some good people around me who are like minded. Im to old to trek so here it is.

    • Yep….rural, lots of Veterans and all like minded. I will stay where I am because where would I go? Cities will be a death trap, just remember city evacuations from Hurricanes and the resulting car parks. If the SHTF, there will be hard choices to make. Serious hard choices.

  • Okay…Unpacking this takes me to a lot of places…
    IMHO…
    1. Former Yugoslavia…Take a very very hard look at its history. Why it is like it is now is not hard to fathom. Hence when it fell apart it really was not a surprise. Serious ethnic/nationalistic/religious fault lines. Hundreds of years of barely suppressed hatred for each other. Tito forced them together. I do not see the same virulent parallels in the US. Oh yes we have some of those elements, but not even close to what was/is going on there. So many examples in their history…a long history. We are less then 250 years old…a bare footnote compared to them.
    2. Urban Areas. Not sustainable when it comes apart; they produce nothing; they only consume. “Forting” up there is extremely problematic; food, water, sanitation, security, etc. Hence a lot of people (Former Yugo, Ukraine, Iraq, Syria (and the list goes on and on and on)) experienced an exodus from the urban areas (Like London in WW2 during “the Blitz” – sending kids to the country). Those who can leave…leave. I cannot even begin to tell you how many pictures, videos I have seen where people are just leaving urban areas or first hand experiences I have had on the “ground” seeing people get out as fast as they can. Hence all the refugee camps. Should never ever be used as a “Plan A.”
    3. Fail to Plan…Plan to Fail! If you pick a non-workable site to try and ride it out in then it makes sense to have a better Plan “B.” But did you know your “Plan “A” was flawed?
    4. Do Your Homework. You have to be “all in” when developing a plan. This involves a bunch of time to figure out. Most people are NOT EQUIPPED to figure out what it takes to even put a plan together; they simply do not know what they don’t know. Hence this website; they can get some insight on what they need to consider. The list of things to be thinking about goes far further then just food and shelter. The list scrolling before my minds-eye is mind boggling! Is my site perfect? Nope! But you have to weigh the Pro’s and Con’s and be willing to compromise. Its never going to be perfect, but it will be as good as it gets.
    5. No Plan Survives First Contact. I have been living my “Plan A” for the last 2 years. I have been making adjustments to it from Day 1. Some things work great, but still need adjustments – Off Grid Solar, Rain Water Harvesting, Gardening, Chickens, Pond, Composting Toilet (just to name a few of the things I have had to adjust of the fly as things come up).
    6. Take Responsibility. I am fortunate in that I have worked diligently to be able to have what I have. My Grandparents, who raised me, were products of the depression in rural Nebraska. They had nothing growing up. The instilled upon me a strong work ethic and the importance of being frugal and not wasting anything. If you have not invested in yourself and taken responsibility for what you have or don’t have…you probably never will. If you are not willing to “own” your situation then no one can help you. I have relatives that will simply not survive what’s coming; they are barely making it now and have no intentions of changing.
    7. Not Everyone Is Going To Make It. Sad, but true. I might not even make despite my preparations. At least I tried…

    Take a hard look around this country today…The collective “we” have done this to ourselves and now we will reap what we have sewn.

    Bless you for trying to get people out of their lethargy!

  • I’m a senior citizen. I have a bad back and won’t be able to carry my BOB. My nearest family is 200 miles away. My son said he’s taking off when SHTF he’s not staying here to help me. I’m on my own. Yeah. I’m scared but I have to have faith that everything will work out. I’m looking into buying a rifle in the meantime.

    • Why would you even want carry your BOB? A “garden cart” like those sold at home depot, tractor supply, etc. or possibly even a commercial shopping cart are better alternatives. Get one with good sturdy tires and enough room to carry your BOB, 5 gallons of water and a tent and whatever else will fit. Also make sure you know basic survival skills.
      Learn something that will make you an asset to a survival group. like advanced first aid or herbal medicine.
      There are a lot of Prepper groups that have meetings in most cities, find one, make friends and find people that will assist you.

      • An old lady farmer’s market cart with two wheels. About 15″x 18″x 36-40″. You can still find them! They collapse flat to store. ($25.) You might have to strap it to yourself in some fashion like a pony pulling a cart, but it would make things harder for someone to part it so easily from you. Carries some of the bulkier, heavier items and the task of pulling easily shared by the whole family. Easier on kids and older folk. Those with babies can also load down a stroller. So many of those are like Cadillacs these days. Anything valuable should be hidden next to your person.

    • I recently read a story about a guy who hiked across the world over several years and used a really nice jogger stroller. It was big enough to hold all his stuff and it was easy to push/pull. I’ll see if I can find the story and what kind he used.

    • Can you not bug out with your son?
      Do you belong to a church whose members might be able to help?
      Could you look into getting a bicycle, even an electric bike, with a small tow trailer?
      I pray the Lord guides you to other alternatives.

    • dianne, hubs and I in same position, 74 yrs old, bad knees etc. closest fam is 10 hrs away, so yeah, here is where we must stay too. although I’ve stored what I can, locked and loaded, he doesnt believe in much else, like alternatives i.e. solar, water storage/filter, extra gasoline/kerosene, parts things like that. have pool so have stored stuff to purify for drinking, have tools, non electric appliances, charcoal/grills, etc. so yeah, we might not make it, depending on circumstances, but done what I could….good luck, and keep the faith, yep buy ya a rifle you can handle and if possible, practice every day with it…….

    • “I’m scared but I have to have faith that everything will work out”

      any thought of helping someone else to survive instead of you?

  • We’re extremely rural surrounded by “hillbillies” like us who know how to make the most of what others might consider poor conditions. If it got so bad that we needed to bug out there would probably be no where else to go.

  • I live in a rural community. Maybe 200 people. 1st choice is stay put. I’m 50 miles from a city and 15 miles from a small town. Beyond that I have 2 “choices” with some preps already stored. #1. 2 miIes along a paved road, 2 miles up a seldom used dirt road, 1 mile across open private property, across a small river, and immediately into cliff faces and many sheltered hiding places with seasonal gardening possible, small game available, pretty survivable spot. #2. 2 miles up a little used dirt road to a series of rugged canyons, miles more into rugged forrest with scarce water and big game.
    I’m 75. Life is still good. But with 2 after dark trips to #1 or if my son were home 2 people 1 trip. I could pull a childs wagon and set up chickens and rabbits, garden, live in a cave, and an elk trail is nearby.
    Most folks plan on high on the mountain. I’d plan to stay low on that mountain and work out of sight. Besides the higher you go the colder it gets. My next planned stash at #1 is tools. A bow saw and blades, ax, pick, 2 shovels, wire cutters, spool of wire, and more in a 55 gallon drum that may become a water tank. Maybe include the makings of a hydraulic ram pump. Always thinking and pIanning ahead makes life easier.
    Still home, if possible, is the best place.

  • This was one of the things that I have observed, as well when watching the views of what has been happening in Ukraine. This has led to tentative thoughts on what I would do if I had to bug out. It also got me to thinking what I need to do if we are attacked with a nuclear weapon. As I said, both situations are currently tentative, and I am currently in the information gathering stage.

  • Ridiculous. The USA is simply not a third-world country. Spend YOUR free time cowering. I’m going to live the rest of my life the way I want.

    • I hope you are right, but World Wars tend to turn any country into a third world country.

      Germany after World War Two was pretty awful for quite some time, and it was as first world as you could get at the time.

    • “I’m going to live the rest of my life the way I want”

      well for the last 20 years that certainly has been a successful approach.

  • This is something I have been thinking about for about a year. Bug in or Out. I’m in a fairly rural spot in Texas, however we’ve been getting a bunch of folks up here from cities so it’s growing faster than anticipated and we have economic warfare going on (Property Taxes Quadrupled, Only 1 utility company for water and electric and internet so they’re price gouging us for their mistakes during winter storm, we’re a rural vacation hotspot so our food and gas prices are high as giraffe’s ass, etc) So my plan WAS to bug in, and we’re making the necessary safety measures (fencing, deer cameras (not for deer) , trip wire, etc) but I also started looking at bugging out options recently and if I have to leave my home and property then it’s just something I will do. I have several other places to go to, albeit their in other states, and if we make it to November Midterms here in Texas and BeatOff Beto steals the election then I am definitely leaving Texas for Florida.

    • I left Texas 20 years ago, even then the influx of socialists and the extreme property taxes were a factor for my exit. Moved to northern nevada and have property taxes like 255 bucks a year, miles and miles of beautiful mountains, mild winters, and can drive an hour and not see a house or person….gotta love it. I am 100 miles to a city, 5 miles to a town and hours and miles of high plain in three other directions. Good luck to you my friend.

  • Is anyone, and how, are you preparing for an EMP. The current Ukraine status means this is possible.

  • My first choice is to bug in, as I am responsible for a nonagenarian mother who has limited mobility.

    Bugging out is problematic. I already know that the shortest way to a bug out location for us is also the most dangerous. There’s only one other way to get there, and that is through the rez. I don’t have detailed plans for Plan-B yet, but I have the general outline and am gradually getting more detailed plans ready.

    I also have a third option, but that’s much more sketchy.

    I expect World War III with a foreign army marching near here. But I expect that this area will be a way point for them to go north-east from here, while we live north-west.

    I see the need for multiple plans, realizing that none of my three may end up usable.

    • “through the rez”

      it’s not often you’ll see survivalists/preppers take cognizance of an indian reservation – their normalcy bias just passes right over it.

      unless you have friends there, there will be no passage for you. grid down them redskins will be on the warpath, and they’re just as heavily armed as any redneck.

  • Lately (the last year)I’ve noticed more than a little negative writing and commenting concerning the b.o vs. b.i. strategies. I have my theories about why these comments are gaining in volume, but, it’s a theory..not something I’d promote.

    Anyway, IMO, where I’m at is, for me, the last good place. Very rural/remote, temperate climate, no large towns (nearest city is 3 hours north), excellent water and plenty of it, hardwoods forests, mildly mountainous terrain, no high value targets (military, POL, hydro, nuclear, heavy manufacturing), not an extremely high production agriculture area.

    I reconciled my decision (perhaps to my doom) years ago. After having participated in a few “special military operations” myself, I concluded there is nowhere to run. There is nowhere left. At least no place that I’d elect to b.o. to.

    Laugh and roll your eyes all you like, dear reader, but at some point your b.o.l. will not do. Then you will need a third location, and then a fourth… No, not me. This is the end of the line for me. My neighbors are all hillbillies and they are my family. These hills and hollers have hemorrhaged 50% annually the flower of our youth to the meat grinder since the civil war. Almost all combat arms. Almost all combat vets.

    There’s nowhere left for us here. We’re not bugging anywhere.
    And our women are tougher than any of the men. They have to be cut from tough cloth to make it here.

    Bug out if you like, I’m staying here. But, if you do bug, don’t bug here. Please.

    • “there is nowhere to run”

      yes there is. towards the enemy – who is the ones behind all this.

  • Rape – Robert Regan (R-MI) – lay back and enjoy it. Get pregnant as a result of said rape? Why it’s an opportunity Jean Schmidt (R-OH). Oh wait, war situation so both would be busy back pedaling.
    Few have any idea to where they’d bug out. Few would have any motivation to bug out I suspect as most have put all their eggs in the one proverbial basket.

  • I’d likely hunker down where I am but would take out one neighbor for sure and possible those in another house first thing. Neither are to be trusted nor do they bring anything to the table.

    • Are you seriously this far gone? In this hypothetical thought experiment of your neighborhood become untenable to remain in safely, your first plan is to murder a few of your neighbors that you don’t like? Wow

  • I plan to bug in, (very rural area) However, since I was thirteen, I have often wandered off into the woods or the desert with just a knife, canteen, and a hunk of flint, for two or three weeks at a time. Never needed more to survive. In fact yesterday, I was working in the garden and walked to the woods and turned a downed log to eat a handful of grubs for a snack. After 68 years, I’ve never understood why others can’t seem to do the same. Break a rock, make a knife, and you’re set for a bug out.

    • i like the TV show Naked & Afraid. some make horrible mistakes, but some are actually survivors. Naked doesn’t bother me what so ever.,,decent shows mostly
      keebler.

  • I intend on staying where I am, rural and all that, you see. Even so, I know that conditions could drastically change to where I may have to make a ‘tactical retreat’ prior to being overwhelmed, and do plan for that. But that would be a very last resort and on my list of plans may be about ‘Plan D’. For too many, “bugging out” is Plan A which I believe is akin to being forced to jump into a swollen river, maybe unnecessarily, because thats the only plan they have.

  • Depending on the situation I stay where I’m at. I’m outside of town with some land, but not as rural as I’d like to be. Most of my supplies are set for bug out and ready to be loaded. Anything longer term means a bug out to the farm an hour away.

    I have a trailer filled with “camping gear”, at least that’s what I tell people. To me it’s a bug out trailer. There are a few things that would need to be loaded, other than that it’s ready to go. My house is the rendezvous prior to bugging out in convoy.

    The trailer will always be ready to bug out, even once I reach the farm.

    After the truck and trailer comes a bicycle and trailer so I can take more with me. After that is just the trailer and me on foot. After that is a bug out bag and on foot.

    A tactical retreat will always be an option. The plan is to defend the farm, but if facing an overwhelming opposing force then leaving has to be on the table as an option.

    I may choose not to make a tactical retreat, but that’s a decision that will have to be made down the road. Abandoning my home has always been the primary plan for any longer term situation.

  • \Rape has long been used as a weapon of war by invading armies, and the current conflict shows us this has not changed with the passage of time.\

    old propaganda song.. Well, at least one confirmed case?

    • Be sure and tell that to survivors of the Balkan War who witnessed it first hand. Perhaps it’s you who needs to put down the Kool-aid.

      • Anyone who thinks rape has not been used as a weapon does not know their history. It’s probably been in every conflict…modern or ancient.

      • I was not in the Balkan War and I do not have trusted sources from the participants in that war.
        but I have a number of sources for the Syrian war and operations in Ukraine. individual geeks may be doing their dirty work, but 99.99% of the soldiers not only perceive the population as consanguineous and in need of protection, but the very nature of the hostilities does not imply long contact with the population. soldiers are always in sight and all the time on the move.
        let alone talk about rape as a tool to suppress the civilian population, this is something beyond))
        almost all Russians in Russia have relatives in Ukraine, so imagine the attitude

  • Since the war started I have rethought about the possibility of bugging out, due to some kind of similar situation.
    I still think it would be a low possibility . . . better to do the mental exercise and have a back up plan to the plan or even the back, back up plan.

  • I have no desire to bug out. But I keep a kit at the ready because I rather suffer that than be enslaved, tortured, murderers or even destroyed by natural fallout. Tarps, very basic camping gear. Just a bit of food and water, shoes, hats socks underwear etc. The weight adds up fast. I keep lots of options, understanding we cannot predict what the next emergency will look like. Keep your mind open.

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