How to know whether to stay or go: Tips for bugging in or bugging out

It takes minimal planning to set up several bug-out bags (BOB), but it will take much longer to prepare your bug-out or bug-in plans for when SHTF. (h/t to

Bugging out is a popular topic when it comes to survival prepping, and while the majority of people would opt to bug out, this might not be the best thing to do. Since your home is where you keep most of your survival gear and supplies, consider bugging out as a last option.

Depending on the situation, it might be hard or even impossible to head out to your bug-out location. Even if you have a bug-out vehicle full of gear and supplies, impassable roads can still derail your best-laid plans.

But if the odds are in your favor, you might have time to get to your bug out vehicle (which should already be loaded), and head to your bug-out location. Of course, this will depend on what situation you’re facing. (Related: You must act fast when SHTF: What to do in the first hour.)

The pros and cons of bugging in and bugging out

You may want to bug in if you’re facing:

  • An economic collapse
  • Grid collapse
  • A pandemic
  • Temporary civil unrest

And bug out if you’re facing:

  • A fire at your home
  • A hurricane or wildfire heading towards your home
  • It’s unsafe to return to your home after a disaster
  • Rioters and looters are heading towards your location

As for the pros of bugging in, you’ll still be at home. You’ll be more comfortable, and you can easily access your food and water stockpile along with your gear. You won’t even have to worry about shelter.

The cons of bugging in include possibly running out of food and water. You could also get trapped in your house by any dangers heading your way, and you could run into trouble with rioters and looters. It might even be too dangerous to go outside.

The pros of bugging out include escaping from danger and being in a safer location. If you’ve prepared a BOB, you’ll have everything you need and you can leave at the first sign of trouble.

However, the cons of bugging out include leaving the safety of your home behind. It’s tougher to bug out, and whatever you’re running from could still catch up to you.

If you’re having trouble deciding between bugging out or bugging in, ask yourself these questions:

  • Is it safer to bug in instead of heading to my bug out location?
  • Do I have access to water if I bug in and run out of water supplies?
  • Do I have enough food stored in case I run out and I can’t leave the house?
  • Can I keep myself warm/cool with a functioning HVAC system?
  • Do I have an electricity generator to power the house?
  • Do I have access to medical care/a well-stocked first aid kit?
  • Do I have enough ammo to protect myself, my family, and my home?

Is there a definite way to decide between bugging out or bugging in? The best answer is to observe your surroundings and what is going on, then use your best judgment to make a choice.

While things are quiet, prepare your gear, stockpile, and your bug-out or bug-in plans. Read up on possible SHTF scenarios that you may face, and practice drills so everyone in your family will know what to do.

Get everyone on the same page, such as when you should bug out and what scenario merits staying home. Prepare supplies at home, and keep your BOB within easy reach. Keep your bug-out vehicle stocked so you’ll have one less thing to worry about.

If you do your homework, you won’t have trouble deciding when the time comes.

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