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    How to Be a Prepper While Living on the Road

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    How to Be a Prepper While Living on the Road

    In the realm of emergency preparedness, ‘bugging in' and ‘bugging out' are common terms. But what happens when you're caught in between, living life on the move? A lack of available amenities and resources means you have to think on your feet.

    This guide will explain the less-explored concept of ‘bugging out' on the move – a scenario where your current location isn't safe, but neither is a fixed bug-out location.

    You'll learn about the unique challenges this presents, practical considerations for nomadic survival, and essential gear to help you navigate this complex landscape. Whether by necessity or choice, here's how to prepare for a life on the road.

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    The Concept of Living on the Road

    Living on the road for emergency preparedness, colloquially known as ‘bugging out', is a lifestyle that involves a high degree of adaptability and resourcefulness. It's about survival in a transient state, relying on limited resources and constantly changing environments.

    This lifestyle is chosen by some due to various factors ranging from socio-economic pressures to a desire for freedom and adventure. Some find solace in the unpredictability, viewing each new location as an opportunity for exploration and self-discovery.

    However, this lifestyle isn't for everyone. It demands flexibility, a willingness to part ways with creature comforts, and a level of self-reliance that can be quite challenging. Yet, it's important to note that humans, by nature, are resilient. We have an innate ability to adapt to new environments and circumstances.

    Living on the road for emergency preparedness pushes the boundaries of this adaptability, but it is not an insurmountable challenge. With the right preparation, mindset, and resources, it can become a way of life that offers a unique sense of freedom and self-reliance, even while bugging out.

    Pros and Cons of Living on the Road for Emergency Preparedness

    While bugging out is not an inherently ideal situation, often triggered by urgent circumstances, it carries with it some unexpected benefits.

    Benefits to You

    The ability to depart at a moment's notice is perhaps the greatest advantage of living on the road for emergency preparedness. You're free from the constraints of a stationary lifestyle, able to move swiftly and stay ahead of impending threats.

    This lifestyle also affords immense freedom and flexibility, allowing you to navigate your course based on your comfort and safety. One of the bigger pros is that being constantly on the move may reduce your exposure to large-scale disasters that could severely impact stationary locations.

    The Challenges

    Living on the road brings some significant drawbacks, or some may think. The limited space in an RV or car means you can't carry all of your belongings or store excessive supplies.

    You also miss out on the stability, support, and sense of belonging that comes from being part of a permanent community. Not settling down also requires the continual need to find essential resources like food and water which can add a layer of complexity and potential stress to your daily life.

    Practical Considerations

    Before bugging out in this manner, you must grapple with a long list of practical considerations. Some of these center around necessities such as cooking and laundry, which take on new dimensions when living on the road.

    Then there are concerns about maintaining power during emergencies, navigating the legal and safety issues that come with mobile living, and managing the psychological effects of a life perpetually in transit.

    These next sections address each of these considerations, providing strategies and suggestions that will guide you in managing these challenges effectively while living on the road.

    Cooking and Water Collection

    While living on the road, cooking requires a bit of creativity and adaptability. Luckily, there are a myriad of options available to make it easier. Here are some examples:

    • Portable camp stoves: Compact and lightweight, these stoves allow you to prepare meals using small propane or butane canisters as fuel.
    • Portable grills: Ideal for outdoor barbecue sessions. Simply load up with wood and cook on top.
    • Portable electric cookers: Convenient for cooking on the go, they can be powered by electricity or batteries.
    • Backpacking cookware sets: Designed for outdoor enthusiasts, these sets typically include pots, pans, and utensils that are lightweight and easy to carry.
    • Solar ovens: Harnessing the power of the sun, these ovens are a sustainable option for cooking outdoors in hot environments.
    • Dutch ovens: Versatile and durable, these cast iron pots are perfect for campfire cooking and can be used to prepare a variety of dishes.

    In terms of meal planning, opt for non-perishable food items, canned goods, and easy-to-cook meals to maximize storage and minimize waste. A cooler can help keep perishables fresh for a few days.

    Water collection and purification are other crucial aspects of road living. Always keep a sturdy, collapsible water container for collection and storage. Rainwater can be an excellent source of water on the road, and with a portable water purifier or purification tablets, you can ensure it's safe to drink.

    Here are several practical ways to purify water while living on the road:

    • Boiling: This is one of the most effective methods to purify water. Bringing water to a roaring boil for at least one minute will kill most types of disease-causing organisms.
    • Water Purification Tablets: These are readily available and easy to use. Just drop a tablet into your water container and wait for it to dissolve.
    • Portable Water Filters: These are specially designed for travelers and outdoor enthusiasts. They can filter out bacteria, viruses, and other contaminants.
    • Ultraviolet (UV) Light Devices: These handy gadgets use UV light to kill bacteria and viruses in water.
    • Solar Distillation: This method uses the sun's heat to evaporate water and then condense the vapor back into liquid in a separate container, leaving the contaminants behind.
    • Iodine Solution: A few drops of iodine solution can disinfect water, making it safe to drink. However, it gives the water a distinctive taste that not everyone likes.
    • Straw Filters: These are compact devices that filter water as you drink it, removing most contaminants. They are lightweight and ideal for individual use.

    Considering you will be spending the majority of your time outside, use a combination of these methods to ensure your water is safe to drink. It's always a good idea to have backups in case you are out for the unforeseeable future


    Keeping clean while living on the road is a paramount necessity, both for personal comfort and health. Laundry can be a bit more challenging when you're constantly on the move, but it's not impossible. Here are a few options to consider:

    Keeping your clothes clean is one of the most important things you can do to maintain your health. For example, dirty clothing cannot insulate you properly because it's clogged with the oils from your skin.

    A lack of insulating clothing can lead to hypothermia in cold weather and heat stroke in hot climates. With a lack of medical facilities around you'll need to be as proactive as possible. 

    Emergency Power

    A reliable power source is a critical component for living on the road, particularly during an emergency. It powers your essential devices, from communication tools to basic appliances. A gas generator is a viable option, providing substantial power but requiring a consistent fuel supply. It can also be noisy and produce stinky emissions.

    Solar power is a quiet, eco-friendly solution. Solar panels, once installed, offer a continuous power supply during the day, storing excess energy in batteries for use at night. The downside is that they are weather-dependent and may require a backup option. Both options have their merits; choose based on your specific needs.

    Vehicle Upkeep and Maintenance

    Maintaining your vehicle is a no-brainer when living on the road, particularly when it serves as your sanctuary during emergencies. Regular vehicle maintenance makes sure that your car keeps running, until a part breaks. This lifestyle will require you to develop a few handy skills, such as changing a flat tire, checking oil levels, or replacing worn-out brake pads.

    Understandably, you can't be a mechanic overnight, but basic vehicle upkeep tasks are quite manageable. Learning how to perform these tasks can save you time and most importantly, keep you moving when it matters the most. Consider your vehicle a lifeline when you need to move fast.

    Personal Hygiene

    Maintaining personal hygiene while on the road is crucial for overall health and well-being. A dirty body can have difficulty fighting off infections or other illnesses.

    Developing a basic routine that includes washing your hair, hands, and teeth is a must, even in the great outdoors. Innovative bathing solutions include solar showers which are compact, easy to use, and can be warmed by the sun.

    With a lack of stores, creating your cleaning products is a necessity, luckily it’s not as difficult as it may seem. For example, you can easily make toothpaste with baking soda and activated charcoal. Or use baking soda and apple cider vinegar to wash your hair.

    There are many natural ingredients you can find inexpensive now that can help you in a mobile bug out situation.

    Depending on your location, natural water sources could also be a refreshing alternative. If none of these options are available then a simple spot cleaning with warm water and a rag will suffice.

    Keeping Warm

    Staying warm while living on the road, especially in harsh winter conditions, poses a significant challenge. Vehicles, unlike conventional homes, lack proper insulation, making it difficult to maintain a comfortable temperature. However, there are a few hacks that can help you stay cozy.

    • Purchase sunshades for your car and cut them to fit the windows to prevent heat from escaping.
    • Use insulated wool blankets to trap body heat during cold nights. Wool is underestimated and is the best option for blankets, hands down. The main benefit is the ability to keep you warm while it's wet. 
    • Wear multiple, thinner layers to create an insulating effect, keeping heat close to your body and offering versatility as the temperature fluctuates throughout the day. Bulky layers may trap heat but they can also trap the cold.

    It's important to recognize that if you're experiencing cold toes and fingers, it could be a sign that your core needs some warming up. To maintain a warm body core temperature, circulation is redirected away from the extremities, ensuring warm blood is conserved in vital areas. If you're feeling cold, try warming up your upper body and observe if you notice any changes.

    Addressing Medical Issues on the Road

    Living on the road presents its own set of medical challenges. In an emergency, access to healthcare can be limited, making basic first aid skills and a well-stocked first aid kit crucial for survival. Knowing how to bandage a wound or respond to an allergic reaction can make all the difference.

    When packing your mobile first aid kit, consider including the following essentials:

    • Bandages and gauze of various sizes
    • Antiseptic wipes or solution
    • Tweezers and medical scissors
    • Over-the-counter pain relievers and anti-inflammatory drugs
    • Prescription medication for any chronic conditions
    • A digital thermometer
    • An EpiPen for severe allergic reactions
    • insect repellent

    Beyond the conventional first aid kit, the use of medicinal herbs can also prove beneficial. For example, Aloe Vera is excellent for skin burns and wounds, Echinacea can boost the immune system, and Chamomile has calming properties that can aid sleep.

    While self-treatment can help in minor cases, serious medical issues still require professional attention. In the aftermath of a disaster, look for local clinics or medical facilities that may remain operational. These places can provide crucial emergency services and should not be overlooked.

    Personal Safety and Defense

    Personal safety is a key aspect to consider when living on the road. While the freedom of a mobile lifestyle can be exhilarating, it also exposes you to potential threats and security risks. Being prepared and proactive can help ensure your safety and peace of mind. Here are some items you might consider carrying for personal defense:

    • Pepper Spray: Compact and easy to use for personal protection.
    • Pocket Knife: Useful not only for defense but also for everyday tasks.
    • Personal Alarm: Emits a loud noise to deter threats and alert others.
    • Flashlight: Essential for night-time visibility, some models even come integrated with stun guns.
    • Whistle: A simple device to draw attention in case of danger.

    In addition to carrying defense tools, familiarize yourself with self-defense techniques. Knowledge of martial arts or simple defensive maneuvers can be lifesaving and boosts confidence when dealing with emergencies. Your primary goal is always to avoid conflict, but if confronted, knowing how to defend yourself physically can make all the difference.

    Navigational Skills and Tools

    Having robust navigational skills is essential in any bug-out situation. Being able to navigate unfamiliar terrains increases your mobility and adaptability, essential commodities in emergency scenarios. It allows you to make informed decisions about the safest and quickest routes to take and helps prevent the potential danger of getting lost.

    You might consider carrying the following tools to aid in navigation:

    • Maps: Physical maps do not rely on battery power, making them a reliable source of geographical information.
    • Compasses: A compass, paired with a map, is a powerful tool that can guide you through any terrain.
    • GPS Devices: These provide accurate real-time location data and can plot routes for you. Opt for models that allow offline usage in case you lose internet connectivity.

    Tools can fail, so it's vital to also develop your inherent sense of direction and understanding of natural navigation cues. This can be done with a simple orienteering class or video online where you learn how to get a bearing and use landmarks to help navigate.

    Communication Methods

    Staying connected during an emergency is crucial, and several methods can be employed to maintain lines of communication or send distress signals.


    In a situation where cellular networks may be down, radios, specifically two-way radios or ham radios, serve as a reliable alternative. These devices enable you to receive emergency broadcasts and communicate with others in a specific radius.

    Satellite Phones

    Satellite phones can be a lifesaver in remote locations where cell phone signals are weak or non-existent. They operate independently of terrestrial networks, instead connecting directly to satellites, and therefore, offer the ability to make calls from virtually anywhere in the world. 

    Signal Flares

    In a dire scenario where electronic means fail, signal flares can be used to draw attention and call for help. These devices emit a bright light visible from miles away, even in adverse weather conditions, making them an effective tool for signaling distress.

    It is important to note that a lot of the services for your digital devices may be down during this time. Do not rely on them for communication. The world may not be listening.

    Wildlife Encounters

    Living on the road increases the chances of encountering a variety of wildlife. These encounters can range from awe-inspiring to potentially dangerous, depending on the type of animal and the circumstances.

    Here are a few tips to avoid attracting animals and what to do if you come across one:

    • Food Storage: Keep all food and garbage secured and out of sight. Use bear-resistant containers if you're in bear country. Never leave food or trash lying around your temporary location, as it can attract animals.
    • Keeping Distance: Always maintain a safe distance from wildlife. This is not only for your safety but also for the well-being of the animals. Approaching too closely can stress them and provoke aggressive behavior.
    • Feeding Wildlife: It's essential never to feed wildlife, as it encourages them to approach humans, risking safety and altering their natural behaviors and diet.
    • Noise: Making a bit of noise can often scare off animals. The same can be said for any human intruders as well.
    • In Case of Encounter: If you do encounter wildlife, stay calm. Do not run, as it might trigger a chase response. Instead, back away slowly while avoiding direct eye contact, which some animals can interpret as a threat.

    For the most part, wildlife encounters will be harmless. But it's always better to be safe than sorry.

    Choosing the Right Vehicle

    Selecting the appropriate vehicle for life on the road is a critical decision that directly impacts your mobility, comfort, and survival during a bug-out situation. When comparing options, it's important to consider the vehicle's purpose, size, durability, and fuel efficiency.

    • Recreational Vehicles (RVs) are an excellent choice for those prioritizing comfort and space. They come equipped with amenities such as a kitchen, bathroom, and sleeping quarters. However, RVs have high fuel consumption and may be challenging to maneuver in certain terrains.
    • Vans: Offer a balance between mobility and living space. They are easier to drive, and with some customization, can offer decent living quarters. Vans are also more fuel-efficient compared to RVs.
    • Trucks: Particularly four-wheel drives, provide excellent durability and can handle rough terrains. They also offer decent storage space but lack the living amenities found in RVs or customized vans.
    • Cars: Sedans and SUVs are a practical choice for those who prioritize mobility, fuel efficiency, and ease of driving. With ample storage space and four-wheel drive capabilities, they can handle various terrains, making them ideal for emergencies. While lacking the amenities of RVs and customized vans, cars can be equipped for short-term living on the road with careful planning. Cars also blend into environments more seamlessly and attract less attention, which is beneficial during crises.

    Fuel consumption is crucial to consider, as you may not have access to regular fuel supplies. Prioritizing vehicles with good fuel economy should be preferred. You should also store extra fuel safely if space allows. It's not strange to see multiple jerry cans strapped to the back of a vehicle.

    Ultimately, the vehicle you choose should meet your specific needs and serve as a reliable, comfortable, and sustainable home base in a bug-out situation.

    Psychological Effects of Living on the Road

    Living on the road can present psychological challenges that individuals should be prepared to navigate. The transient lifestyle can often lead to feelings of loneliness, especially for solo travelers, as the lack of a stable community can impact social interactions.

    Constant travel can also induce stress, as individuals must consistently adapt to new environments, deal with unpredictability, and manage safety concerns. In a bug out situation, living on the road will offer unique opportunities for personal growth and self-exploration. Expect a lot of highs and lows.

    To maintain positive mental health, it's important to stay socially connected. People will need to flock together in these times to weather the storm, so to speak. If you are traveling with someone, keep the conversation flowing, even if it's just about plans, or reminiscing.

    Regular exercise can help to alleviate stress while maintaining a routine can provide a sense of stability. Mindfulness practices, such as meditation, can also be valuable tools for managing stress and promoting emotional well-being during extended periods on the road.

    Final Thoughts

    Living on the road for emergency preparedness encompasses both challenges and opportunities. The choice of vehicle, effective utilization of space, managing power needs, and ensuring physical and mental well-being are key considerations.

    This lifestyle won't suit everyone, balancing the freedom of mobility against limited living space and constant environmental adaptation. But it will be necessary for you to adapt and grow.

    As a final note, stay positive, the situation also brings unique opportunities to witness the beauty of the land, encouraging personal growth and resilience. It's important to remain positive and adaptable, focusing on the road ahead.

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