Bug In or Bug Out? A Simplified Guide to Smarter Decision-Making

In times of a disaster or SHTF (worst-case-scenario), should you bug in or bug out? Would it be better to just stay in the comfort of your home or venture into the unknown and take your chances for a greener pasture? 

This is one of the toughest questions everyone who wants to survive needs to make with conviction before it’s too late. And whichever you choose will be the deciding factor between being the survivor and being the unfortunate casualty. 

Pretty serious, eh? Well, mind you, it is. And it better be if we want to give ourselves the best chance of surviving to see another day.

That’s exactly what we’ll be covering to help you better understand what suits you best and how to weigh your courses of action. We’ll go over the things you need to consider and the questions you need to ask when deciding. By the end, you’ll have a better perspective on how you should approach every disaster and how to prepare for whatever this unforgiving world throws your way. Take this as a simplified decision-making cheat sheet if you will. 

Sounds good? Let’s get to it. 

Understanding Your Options 

First, let’s dissect both options and see what they bring to the table.

Bugging In 

Bugging in is when you decide to just stay inside your home and wait for the whole thing to be over. You’re taking your life into your own hands along with all the tools and supplies you have in stock (if any…hopefully you’ll have some after reading this). Though this may sound like the ideal option for most people and even preppers, nothing is 100% fail-safe. 

Pros when you bug in: 

  • You’re staying in your own comfort haven and everything is already in place. 
  • You’re familiar with your property and surroundings (you better be). 
  • You don’t have to spend a lot of energy traveling. 
  • You are fully protected from the harsh environment. 

Cons when you bug in: 

  • You’re depending on the sturdiness of your shelter for the duration of the ordeal. 
  • If you have a limited supply, your chances of survival will be equally limited. 
  • Your neighbors or even strangers might depend on you and beg for your help which will further deplete your supplies. 

Bugging Out 

Bugging out, on the other hand, is when you leave your home and go to a different location, usually outdoors. And though you know where you’re going, you’re going all out into the path of the unknown ― what lies ahead and how you’re going to reach your destination remains a mystery. 

Pros when you bug out: 

  • You’re moving into a safer location (just make sure that it truly is). 
  • You’re not confined by space thus you avoid getting trapped in one place. 

Cons when you bug out: 

  • You’re leaving all the comforts of your home behind. 
  • You’re uncertain about the situation at your destination. 
  • You’ll be facing dangers along the way. One misstep, one wrong turn, and one miscalculation could quickly turn things upside down. 

Weighing Your Course of Action 

Now that you have a better understanding of both options, let’s dive into the things you need to consider when deciding between the two. 

Bug in when: 

  1. A member of your family is unfit to travel either due to physical disability or maternity. 
  2. You have a great community and you strongly trust each other. 
  3. You have nowhere safe to go or you live in a remote area. 
  4. You have stockpiled a substantial amount of supply (food, water, etc.) that could sustain everyone for the duration of the predicament. 
  5. No forced evacuation is announced and you’re confident that your home could weather the storm. 

As much as possible, bugging in should be your first option. Don’t rely on evacuation shelters because, guess what, people from everywhere will be joining, and eventually, it’s all crowded. And with the ongoing pandemic, contagion is just around the corner. Moreover, living outdoors especially in the wild takes higher-level survival skills. 

Otherwise, bugging out is your last resort, and only when time permits. Don’t force bugging in if you think you’ll only starve to death or total devastation is inevitable. 

Bugging out tips: 

  1. Solid and clear communication is key. It will be helpful to write down each other’s contact information without relying on technology like your phone. In addition, have a back-up medium like walkie-talkies if you can. 
  2. Familiarize yourself with the ingress and egress points and know the safest routes (even alternatives) from point A to B. 
  3. Designate a meeting time and place just in case you get separated from each other. 
  4. Carry ample food and water supply with you. You can’t depend on diners and drive-thrus on your way because their food prep is unknown and during a disaster, they’re most likely closed if not ravaged. 
  5. Avoid crowded stops. Again, along with the contagion, social unrest is highly possible during a crisis. 
  6. And most importantly, bug out BEFORE, NOT DURING a disaster. The last thing you want is getting stuck in the middle of chaos or nowhere during a disaster. 

We live in an unforgiving and unpredictable world. And that’s the harsh reality whether we like it or not. Since we don’t know how things will play out, it’s always best to prepare for both scenarios. If you bug in, your supplies won’t be there forever. If you bug out, you’ll be going through the unknown. Thus, it pays to have a contingency plan. 

The point is, adaptation and ingenuity are imperative to survival. 

So, bug in or bug out? You should now be able to decide for yourself. Choose which option better suits you and the people around you without discarding the other option. 

“Opportunity does not waste time with those who are unprepared.” -Idowu Koyenikan 


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