Why Bugging Out is a Bad Idea: Not So Fast

It’s perfect. You have a location in an isolated area full of food, tools, seeds, and everything else you might need to survive forever. You even have running water and clear lines of sight to help keep yourself safe. It’s a great plan… If you can get there. Sadly that’s not a guarantee. Moreover, there are some other flaws in the bugout plan that need addressing.

Bugging out can be a perfect plan, but you know what they say about plans. I looked into the downside of using a bugout plan, and it may not be the best idea.

Why is bugging out a bad idea? Everyone’s doing it. When supplies run low in cities, where do you think people will go? It’s not always necessary, and that makes it wasteful. Plus, most people probably can’t hack it. 


Let’s Talk About Sanity

Look, I hate to bring this up, but we need to look at some common delusions. When the grocery stores are open, and your power is running, it’s fine to say, “Grab your tinfoil hat and gun, we’re all gonna die when SHTF!” You look crazy, but it’s mostly harmless. More importantly, convincing yourself that you are somehow magically protected by a perfect plan is a big problem.

Truly functional emergency preparedness is about doing what you can to be ready for realistic scenarios. It is not about convincing yourself that you can do anything with the right gear or team. It’s not even about convincing yourself that you can go it alone and make it all by your onesie savvy.

Every plan you’ve ever made can be messed up by one really sneaky thief or a shot in the head from a farmer who saw you coming a decade before you started prepping at all. They know how to prepare the home they have for long term sustainability. Especially farmers. They have weapons, like this quiet and effective Snake Eye Tactical Crossbow you can pick up on Amazon.

Before we go any further, you need to accept two simple facts. First, there’s always someone smarter, faster, stronger, or better prepared than you are. Second, you cannot have a perfect plan, and you missed something important. It doesn’t matter what you missed.

You Underestimate Things

Both humans and animals are less stupid than you think. The wild areas around cities will be filled with bug out teams, desperate people, and everyone who lives there. Supplies aren’t going to be abundant in the wild for a long time after any significant event.

Some desperate and starving people may die, but plenty of others will quickly pick up the survival skills they need on the fly. This ability to adapt and improvise is why we’re at the top of the food chain.

Animals aren’t going to hang out and wait for you to find them. When hunting season starts, lots of smart critters head for the hills. Those that don’t will end up getting depleted pretty quickly. All those extra bodies of people fleeing big cities mean animals will head further out, or back toward the cities to escape and then you’re out of luck. Similarly, the plant life will be stripped off because the areas outside metro areas can’t sustain all those hungry people.

More important than all of these things combined is that nature, even abundant nature will kill you without mercy. Most people will die of infections, freezing, and other elementary complications long before they starve.


Bug In

Bugging out is what you do when there’s a fire headed for your house, or when it’s burnt to the ground. It’s the solution to hurricanes, floods, and other unavoidable messes. However, it’s not an end-all-be-all, every egg in the same basket solution. You need a bug in plan.

Being able to stay home gives you the home-court advantage. This is where you know the area and people the best. Bugging in means not needing to move a lot of people, equipment, and supplies anywhere. Also, you may not be able to bug out. Vehicles fail, and broken ankles happen. There are plenty of scenarios where traveling isn’t a choice for you or your group. Are you ready for that?

Plus, home is where your bed is. Sleep is more important than you think. Not just comfort, but your actual sanity and ability to function at all depend on getting enough high-quality rest. If you’re not a young, healthy regular camping enthusiast, sleeping on the ground is a terrible idea.

Prepare Where You Live

For now, let’s let go of the bug out location. You may need one, but first, you need a bug-in plan. If you’re a renter, some things won’t be practical. You may not be allowed to beef up your windows and doors. Homeowners should undoubtedly take a look at basic security features like that.


If you rent or own a home, then power is usually one of your first concerns. When the lights go out, you need a backup plan. Carefully shielding your running lights with some great blackout curtains is a start.

Traditional gas-powered generators are highly effective. However, they have two major flaws. First, they need gas, which is expensive and may not be readily available in an emergency. Second, generators are loud. Not only will this make it harder for you to hear trouble coming, but it will also paint a noisy target over your home if everywhere else is nice and quiet.

Consider an alternative camping generator. You can pick up more than one if necessary. An excellent solar generator like the Jackery Portable Power Station Explorer 240 runs on solar energy. It won’t work in a nuclear winter, but you probably have more significant problems if that’s the case anyhow. Otherwise, I suggest you invest in a couple of them. You can get Jackery 240s on Amazon. Plus the company can also help you find some solar power cells for the roof. 


All the light and heat in the world won’t help if you starve or die of dehydration. Water supplies can get old and funky over time. Make sure you rotate them often and check for leaks or pollutants.

As long as you have water put away, there’s another easy solution in case your supply grows unwanted mold or has some other contamination issue. I like these Life Straw Water Bottles also from Amazon. They take the guesswork out of safe water. All you have to do is fill it up and sip. Anything that can double as bug in or bug out gear is golden in my book.

Beyond Basic Long Term Food Storage

People can survive a whole lot longer than they think without food. Anyone who watches Naked and Afraid can tell you that even a mostly unprepared homemaker can live off their body fat for twenty days if they have water and shelter. However, you’d be severely compromised. The energy to do what needs doing is pretty crucial if you want to survive.

Spices & More List

Before We discuss actual food storage options, here’s a quick rundown on some things to add to your supplies that might not otherwise occur to you.

  • Garlic is tasty and great for your immune system. It can be sprinkled on wounds to help keep them from getting infected.
  • Regular iodized table salt provides us with necessary iodine and salt we need to survive.
  • Ginger can help with digestive issues and spice up your food.
  • Cayenne pepper helps keep your circulatory system in better shape.
  • Vinegar, especially apple cider vinegar, can help prevent kidney stones and aid in cleaning among other uses.
  • Onion powder is packed with antioxidants.
  • Tumeric reduces swelling.
  • Black pepper will give meals a kick and make the tumeric hundreds of times more effective.
  • Cocoa powder affects the pleasure centers of your brain and will help keep spirits up when things are tough.

Food Storage

We have lots of great articles right here on newbie prepper to help you with your food storage. In general, you want to look out for practical solutions that don’t waste much space and last as long as possible. Canned goods and freeze-dried foods are the best for the long term.

Get into the habit of rotating your stocks. Buy new items and then store them at the back of your supplies. Things near the front should be closer to their expiration dates. Use those first. When you add to your supplies, take out some of the older foods, and cook with them to keep things fresh.

Learning to can things yourself is incredibly useful. However, there are some things that you need to leave to the professionals. Pumpkin, for example, is incredibly prone to developing problems because you need ultra-high heat to make it safe enough for storage.

When you’re just starting, or you need more supplies in a hurry, pick up Keystone Meats. They keep well, and the flavor is outstanding. For those who are just realizing their whole plan hinges on getting somewhere else, this can be a lifesaver and a time saver for getting your current home emergency ready. 


Final Thoughts

You can never be ready enough for every emergency. That’s why we talk so much about having equipment that does double or triple duty. Moreover, it’s why we discuss skills acquisition in addition to or in lieu of just buying stuff.

I’m not saying you should ditch all your bug-out plans altogether. You should, however, reassess and consider a good bug in plan part of your necessary preparations. If you want to survive, you need to make sure you can do that wherever you are. Be ready for everything to go sideways and your plans to fall apart. Most importantly, never assume your best strategy is the one that you’ll be able to act on but have one anyhow.

There are no perfect plans, just reasonable efforts. Don’t get discouraged, but don’t leave everything to a bug out plan you may have to change or toss out the window either.

Recent Posts