The bugging in versus bugging out debate is probably one of the biggest in the survival community, most likely because it’s impossible to predict the future. Everyone’s got an opinion. You have your extremists (who see themselves doing either one or the other) and then you have those who prep for both.
Instead of siding with either of the two, let’s try to find good reasons for doing either so we can at least figure out which one is more important for our unique situation.
Five Reasons to Bug In
1. If you live in a rural area or if you’re a suburban and your house is fully stocked and defended, it’s best to bug in. Obviously, most of the people bugging out of the cities will leave en masse, but as long as the head count in your town is small and you have your home defenses in place, there’s no reason to leave. Of course, bugging out should always be an option.
2. If you have means to live self-sufficiently, you should bug in. If you’re unable to replenish food, water, and energy, you can only bug in for so long. Sure, having a solid stockpile is fantastic but it will probably won’t last as long as you think. On the other hand, having a few chickens, a garden, and a rainwater harvesting system means you could stay at your primary location indefinitely.
3. If you have small children or if you’re pregnant, you should bug in. The reasons are obvious. Small or unborn children and bugging out don’t mix–you’d just be putting their lives at risk. If you watched the news when Syrian refugees crossed the Mediterranean Sea to get to Greece, you probably saw how a lot of their children didn’t make it.
4. If you don’t have anywhere else to go, you should probably bug in. Well, land is not cheap and neither is building a second home. Still, you should have a bug out bag and be ready just in case. If you absolutely have to bug out and you have nowhere to go, there are a few options.
5. If you don’t have good wilderness skills, it’s best to bug in. Finding water, building a shelter, and hunting are going to be impossible if you’re never done any of them before. Theory is one thing but practice is what matters. Plus, consider the fact that you may have “competition”, hundreds or even thousands of people all bugging out at the same time, trying to find food just like you.
Five Reasons to Bug Out
1. If you have a bug-out retreat that’s less than 100 miles away, it’s best to bug out. I’m assuming your current location is inside a city–maybe the suburbs–and that you have a job keeping you in it. Otherwise, there shouldn’t be any reason to still live there and not move to your other location. As long as you have a bug out location, detailed maps of the area, several ways of getting there, and a fully-packed bug out bag, you should definitely bug out (unless the situation dictates that it’s better to bug in, of course).
2. If you don’t have a choice, you have to bug out. Bugging out is seen as a last resort, and in some cases it may be foolish to venture outside when you can bug in and see what happens. But if your town or city is bombarded, for instance, the last thing you want to do is bug in. Many Syrians died over the past few years because they thought things would go back to normal and didn’t.
3. If you have a solid, well equipped bug out vehicle, you should bug out. If you’re a car enthusiast and you’ve got yourself a nice vehicle that’s fully stocked, a secondary bug out vehicle inside (a foldable bike, an inflatable boat etc.), if you’re an excellent driver and you can maintain and fix your vehicle by yourself, then bugging out may be for you.
4. If the disaster affects the transportation system, you have to bug out. Store shelves will be empty in a matter of days. Hundreds of thousands will be left without food and water, and if you think you can just forage for edibles in your city’s parks and use your LifeStraw to drink water from a pond or a fountain nearby, think again. While you may last a few days or even a couple of weeks inside a city, at some point you’re gonna have to move to a permanent shelter where there’s water, food and security.
5. If you hear news that things will go downhill before anyone else, you should bug out. This assumes you have plenty of time to move all your stuff to your other location without putting yourself in danger, maybe even taking several trips. Of course, if you have a job this could be problematic, maybe you can take a vacation?
If nothing happens or if it’s a false alarm, you have nothing to lose, though it wouldn’t hurt to investigate and be really sure the rumors are true. The thing about bugging out is that, if you’re going to do it, you have to do it as quickly as possible.
Which one is right for you? I say prepare for both, give yourself multiple options and pick the right one when the time comes. You never know what might hit you, situations change by the minute and it’s just wiser to be prepared for as many scenarios as possible.