If you are new to prepping then you have probably heard a couple of times about bug-out locations, although not a lot of people actually explain what a bug-out location is. A bug out location is a location where you bug out in case of an emergency, this can be a cabin, house, apartment, or even a temporary shelter. A lot of peppers have a bug out location as a plan B, this way if they have to evacuate their home they have a safe place to stay until the emergency ends.
A good bug out location should have available water, distance from your home, multiple routes to getting there, shelter, ability to generate power, relaxed building regulations, it should be financially viable, it should not be in a natural disaster-prone area, it has to be a secure location, plenty of firewood, the possibility to grow crops, and the possibility to hunt and fish. In addition to this, you should also prepare the bug-out location in advance, test the location out, and even come up with a food rationing plan.
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Some people think that bug out locations are places where preppers move permanently, the truth is that these are only temporary shelters, and most of them are equipped to house them for a set period of time. On the other hand, there are some preppers who have a long term bug out location, and often these bug out locations have more stockpiled food and water than their actual home, this way they will be able to live at the bug out location for longer periods of time.
Preppers who have long term bug out locations have a good reason for making them long term, usually, it is because their home is not that safe, or because the area where they live is prone to natural disasters. Preppers who have short term bug out locations tend to use them for a set amount of time, usually, they will have enough food supplies for a couple of months. On what kind of bug out location should you choose, either long term or short term will depend on your personal circumstances.
The problem with bug out locations is that in the best case scenario you will never have to use it and if you have invested a lot of money into your bug out location then you have just thrown your money out of the window. If you are new to prepping then you should check out my recent article How to start prepping in 12 Steps ( Prepping for Beginners ).
Water availability at the bug out location
By far one of the most important factors when searching for a good bug out location is the availability of water. Most people imagine a remote area when they are thinking of a bug out location, but if the area doesn’t have plenty of water then that means that you have to carry all of your water to the location. The problem with this approach is that you will not actually know how long the emergency situation will last, and if you run out of water, then you will have a massive problem,
Ideally, you should search for a bug out location which has flowing water, streams, creeks, and rivers are the best. If your bug out location is near a lake then you can use the water from the lake, but the problem is that there are a lot more bacteria and parasites in stagnant waters than in flowing water. In addition to this make sure that you have the capability to harvest rainwater as well, this way you have two reliable sources of water.
Distance from your home of the bug out location
When choosing a bug out location you have to calculate the distance from your home extremely carefully. Most preppers want a remote bug out location, but these are generally harder to get to. Most preppers make their bug out plan with their vehicle in mind, the problem is that even if you have prepared for every scenario, there is no guarantee that you will able to use your vehicle to get to the bug out location.
In case of an emergency, a lot of people will try to make it to safety, and usually, this means massive traffic jams. If you need to use highways and interstates to get to your bug out location, make sure to look for alternative routes and to test them if they are viable. In addition to this, you should also think about how would you get to your bug out location without your vehicle, either with a bike or on foot. If your bug out location is relatively far, you might have to siphon gas out from other cars, for more information check out my recent article How to siphon gas out of a newer car? ( In 5 Easy Steps ).
Multiple routes to get to your bug out location
Ideally, you should have several routes to get to your bug out location and make sure to check them out if they are actually viable. If your bug out location is in the middle of nowhere than you will most likely have to access it by a dirt road or a forest road, however, these can be unusable in certain periods of the year. If the average snowfall in your area is fairly high and you have to bug out during the wintertime you might find yourself stuck in the snow.
Shelter at the bug out location
Your bug out location must have a shelter, without it will not be a bug out location. Most preppers have a wooden cabin at their bug out location, these are relatively cheap to make and to buy. Although wooden cabins are not that spacious, but as long as all the members of your family have a bed to sleep on and you have plenty of space for your food stockpiles then you are good to go. Comfort is probably the last thing that will be on your mind, your family will have a fairly hard time adjusting to these living conditions, but sooner or later they will.
In some areas where winters are fairly mild, you can get away by setting up something like a Yurt or a family tent, although the problem with these is that you will have to carry your food to the bug out location at the worst possible time when there is an emergency and you will probably forget some of the things.
Ability to generate power at the bug out location
For the most part, you should be able to generate at least enough power for your communication devices, like radios and smartphones. You do not need to make a complete solar panel system as these tend to be fairly expensive. Instead, you should think of using a small solar power kit, these will be more than enough for generating power to charge your phone and other electrical devices.
Building regulations at the bug out location
Even if you are building your bug out shelter in the middle of nowhere you should still abide by the local building regulations. With today’s technology, it is extremely easy to check for building regulations, usually government officials will check on google maps if some new structures have been built in the area. Once they find one they do not even have to go to the location, as they can use a drone to check out the property.
In the worst-case scenario, you might find your bug out shelter demolished and with a massive fine. Make sure to check the local building regulations before you build any kind of shelter, for the most part, you will be able to build a small cabin or a tiny house without any problems, but just to be safe make sure to check with the local authorities.
Financial viability of the bug out location
Everybody should have a strict budget when it comes to a bug out location, there is simply no point in investing a lot of money into a bug out location if in the best case scenario you will never use it. There is plenty of cheap and even free land available across the country, so make sure to take a good look at your options. No matter what you do, don’t go into debt due to a bug out location, as you will just make things a lot harder for yourself in the long run.
Stockpiling your bug out location with plenty of food and water will cost you a lot of money, and this on top of the costs of building a shelter. The problem is that most preppers do not actually think about the cost of logistics, as every time you go to your bug out location you will be spending a considerable amount of money, and in the worst-case scenario you might see all your food and water being stolen or even your bug out cabin set on fire.
The good news is that you can find plenty of free land in a lot of states, although most of them have some requirements when it comes to getting the free land but for the most part, it will be a lot cheaper than buying land, for more information check out my recent article How to live off the land with no money ( Free Land & Housing ).
Natural disasters at the bug out location
A lot of areas are prone to having several natural disasters, like floods, storms, hurricanes, tornadoes, earthquakes, and so on. The most common natural disasters which will make your bug out location inaccessible are floods and flash floods. Make sure to check the local area if it is prone to having floods and flash floods, the last thing you would want is to bug out to a location that is prone to having natural disasters.
The bug out location has to be a secure location
If you choose a bug out location which is in the middle of the wilderness then it should be fairly safe, the fewer people know of that location the safer the location is. On the other hand, if your bug out location is near a trail then odds are that some people will find your bug out shelter, and as there is nobody around they might want to steal your stockpiles. In addition to this if there is a lot of hunting in your area then odds are that some people already know of your bug out location.
The last thing you would want in an SHTF situation is to bug out to your secret hideout and find somebody else already there.
Available firewood at the bug out location
In a lot of states, winters can be brutal, and if you have to use your bug out location during the winter then it is extremely important to have plenty of firewood. In some areas, you will be able to purchase firewood, but due to limited road access not all bug out locations will have this luxury. Even if you are able to buy firewood you should still have the necessary tools to get firewood from your surrounding area.
This is why it is important to have the bug out location next to the woods, this way you will have no problem getting firewood. Just keep in mind that during the summertime you should stock up on as much firewood as you can, the last thing you want is to go looking for firewood in the middle of the winter.
Possibility to grow crops at the bug out location
You will not be able to grow crops in all areas, but if you manage to find a bug out location which has fertile soil then you can use it to grow crops. Now, this doesn’t mean that you will be able to grow crops and feed yourself indefinitely, it simply means that you will be able to grow some vegetables that will supplement your diet. There are a lot of vegetables which grown fairly fast, like cherry tomatoes for example.
Ideally, you will not have to stay for a long time at your bug out location, but you will never know when the SHTF event passes over. In the worst-case scenario if you have to stay for a longer period of time at your bug out location like weeks or months then it is a good idea to grow some crops. If you want to know what are the easiest crops to grow at your bug out location then check out my recent article Easiest crops to grow ( Top 20 ).
Possibility to hunt and fish at the bug out location
Even if you have plenty of food stockpiled at your bug out location, you should still have the possibility to hunt or fish. Ideally, you should have the possibility to do them both, but some fishing or hunting is still better than nothing. Hunting and fishing will increase your food stockpiles significantly, especially if you know how to preserve meat. On the other hand, if your bug out location doesn’t give you the possibility to either hunt or fish then you should start rationing some of the food items.
There are a lot of rivers and lakes in the country, and you will have an easier time finding a good fishing spot than hunting, although this depends on how skilled you actually are. Your main goal is to have the ability to feed your family even when you have run out of stockpiled food.
Food ration plan
If things get so bad that you have to get to your bug out location, then it is a good idea to ration food. The uncertainty of when things go back to normal can be stressful for a lot of people, and if you have a limited stockpile of food then you have to stretch it out as best as you can. Although a lot of people think that they have to start rationing food when they are running low on food, but the complete opposite is true.
You should start rationing food while you have plenty of supplies, for more information check out my recent article How to ration food ( In 6 Easy Steps ).
Prepare the bug out location in advance
A lot of people choose to bring their food and water stockpiles with them to the bug out location, although you should also keep at least some of your food and water stockpiles at your bug out location as well. If things get so bad that you have to bug out at a moment’s notice then odds are that you will forget a couple of things at home. If you know that your bug out location is safe from looters, thieves, and other criminals then you should keep a bulk of your stockpile at the location.
From time to time you should go to the bug out location and fix things that were damaged due to the weather, and also bring more supplies. Remember that your main goal should be to use the bug out location once you arrive and not to work on your bug out location once you have arrived.
Test out the bug out location
Far too many people have a bug out location and they never actually test it out. Although in theory everything should work as planned, but you have to test the bug out location. Just go to the bug out location and spend a weekend there with your entire family. This way you will know what improvements you need to make and what additional supplies you might need. In addition to this, it is a good idea to check the bug out location from time to time.
A shelter even in the middle of nowhere can attract animals if they find a way to get inside, in the worst-case scenario you might find that a bear has entered your bug out shelter and it has eaten all your food stockpiles.
As you can see a bug out location is extremely important if you are preparing for an SHTF event, the truth is that not all of the above-mentioned criteria will be available at all bug out locations, so you should try to make the best with what you have. Most importantly make sure that the bug out location is viable, both from a financial stand of point and from a logistical stand of a point.