If a major disaster occurs, millions of people will be forced to leave their homes and find some other safe place to live. Let me be clear about something: if you don’t secure your safe place before SHTF, then you will be a REFUGEE. You will be left roaming with the masses and fighting for any resources you can find. Let’s hope that a disaster never strikes, but let’s also be prepared for it by choosing a Bug Out Location before one does!
Saying “Bug Out Location” Will Make You Sound Crazy
Before I get into all the requirements of a good Bug Out Location (BOL), I want to warn you that you should be careful about how you talk about Bugging Out. As Survival Mom points out, a lot of “normal” people think preppers are crazy – in part because of the language we use. She says,
“Bug out location” sounds a lot like a robber’s hideout or the stereotypical 500 square foot log cabin in the wilds of Idaho, home to toothless refugees from “Deliverance”.
While it might be really common and completely okay to use the word Bug Out location in survival circles, avoid it when talking to your neighbors, real estate agent, bankers when applying for a loan…
You Need More than One Bug Out Location
It isn’t enough to have 1 Bug Out location planned. You need to have a backup.
Because we can’t predict what disasters will occur. We can only predict the most likely disasters, and what their impact areas will be. It is possible that your primary Bug Out location will be in Ground Zero, or will be taken over by thieves, or will be inaccessible for reasons like road closures.
It is vital that you have a backup Bug Out location which is located far away from your primary location, and also uses different access routes.
The 8 Requirements for Choosing a Bug Out Location
You can have the best Bug Out location in the world, but it is useless if you can’t access it in times of a disaster. A good common piece of advice is to choose a Bug Out location which is 1 tank of gas away from you. Other common advice is to make sure there are at least 3 different routes you can take to get to your BOL.
When SHTF, you aren’t going to be the only one fleeing! Even places which are normally very remote will likely be overrun by people seeking safety. So you’ve really got to search to find an isolate spot for your Bug Out location.
I think it would be great to Bug Out in the Appalachians, which are apparently one of the top 5 Bug Out Locations in the USA. But I’ve never really hiked in the Appalachians. I don’t know the local flora and fauna. I don’t know what to expect of the weather conditions throughout the year.
Familiarity is one of the biggest advantages you will have in a disaster scenario. For example, there are no shortages of war stories where outnumbered and under-armed groups were able to beat attackers because they had the advantage of knowing the local terrain. There were the Jewish families who hid in caves in Ukraine to escape Nazis. There was the Albanian hero Bajram Curri who hid in the mountains while leading rebel forces. And then there was the whole Vietnam War example…
If you aren’t familiar with the area, it isn’t safe. Either pick a Bug Out location you are familiar with, or spend some time getting to know it!
You can only go about 3 days without water before dying. Water is also essential for hygiene, cooking, gardening, and many other things which will take us from basic survival to homesteading. Have a viable source of water!
When talking about Bug Out locations, there are two things that people refer to:
- A survival property, which they buy and stock with supplies
- A location in the wilderness, where you could go and Bug Out until the disaster dies down
A survival property is used for long-term disasters, whereas the wilderness location is meant for short-term disasters (hence why you need to have a 3-Day Survival Backpack). However, with the right outdoor survival skills, one could easily survive in the wilderness indefinitely. In this case, you could make your own survival shelter with a tarp or items like branches.
Let’s be realistic here: not everyone is suited for wilderness survival. If you’ve got an infant, for example, you are going to want to have a better shelter than a bunch of branches overhead or a snow burrow. Your shelter doesn’t have to be luxury, but it should be able to provide you with protection from the elements and keep you warm.
The mountains make for a great Bug Out location because they offer isolation, but the land might not be very suitable for farming. You will have to learn to hunt game and wild edible plants. By contrast, an area in the plains would be more suitable for farming, but would be more accessible to invaders. You will have to balance out the availability of food and possibility of self-sustainability with all the other factors in choosing a Bug Out location. Some major self-sustainability factors include:
- Sunlight for solar panels
- Land for livestock
- Soil arability
- Wood for heating
Are you ready to survive a mountain winter without electricity? Would you even be able to access your Bug Out location during certain seasons, such as when mountains are covered with snow? Please visit your BOL in all seasons so you can be familiar with what to expect from the climate!
Even if you choose a really isolated location for your Bug Out location, people are still going to come across it. Especially in a SHTF situation where many people are fleeing. This mostly applies to long-term BOLs, such as if you are buying a survival property. With a short-term BOL (the nomadic approach), you can just flee or hide if you encounter anyone. But, with survival properties, your location is going to be even more of a target because it will have resources like a garden and solar panels.
When choosing your Bug Out location, consider how safe it will be and how you would be able to defend it. Some good points to look for are:
- Located on top of a hill with a good vantage point
- Is camouflaged
- Has natural barriers, such as it is surrounded by a river or mountain cliff
- Can you set up barb wire fences or defend the property yourself with ammunition?
Is your Bug Out Bag packed? Use this Complete 3-Day Bug Out Bag Checklist to make sure you have everything you need to survive!
Are you looking for a Bug Out location? Let us know in the comments or join the conversation on Facebook.