It always gets a smile from me and the team here when I hear someone talking about “bugging out” to their remote cabin to go live off the land until the crisis is over. Because it’s a fallacy. I’ve lived remote for the last few years, and have many trips to my name where I’ve survived months with just the gear on my back. And I can tell you this, from the bottom of my heart, bugging out will be far harder than you ever imagined.

But it’s also a harsh reality, because depending on the situation, bugging out may be your only option. Whatever disaster you’re up against, you may have no choice but to pack up and evacuate, before you get stuck, stranded, or lose your freedoms (or life) to whatever is coming your way. But I want to say this again, because it’s critical - bugging out will be tough. Probably the toughest thing you’ve ever done. Yet with a little forward thinking, you can be a little more prepared to make it safely through.

Get your bag packed

If you’ve not yet packed your bug out bag, the very first thing you should do is to start putting one together. Consider everything you will need to survive for 72 hours as you make your way to your bug out location, items that will give you shelter, keep you warm and fed, give you a means to start a fire, cook your food, and enjoy some level of comfort as you make your way to a new and safer location. Pack gear for all conditions, and ensure you’ve got more than one pair of socks. Hiking in wet boots is no fun at all.

Don’t forget protection

Perhaps most importantly of all, you will need a means to defend yourself against anyone out there who has bad intentions. When the rule of law no longer exists, you’d be surprised at just how viciously people will act, especially if they know the police aren’t going to come and help. Desperate and hungry people will do selfish things to take care of their own, and that’s before the psychos start playing out their inner-most fantasies. Having a firearm will at least give you a way to fight back, as you travel to your bug out location.

Use info to act fast

Staying up to date with the news is imperative, especially in an urban area, because you will want to be one of the first families to evacuate. If not, you’ll be looking at gridlocked highways, and potentially even barricades and quarantine areas that will lock you in. Listen to what’s happening, stay updated on how a particular situation is developing, and consider the timing. The faster you act, the better your chances of actually getting out and on the road. Minutes can make all the difference, so use the information you can get to act fast.

Get ready for the hike

This is a step you should start preparing for today, especially if you’ve not got a lot of experience hiking or in the outdoors. Because people for the most part these days, are largely sedentary (we don’t move a lot). We drive to work. We sit at a desk. We drive home. We relax on our couch. You need to condition your body to be ready for a hike, as the only reliable means of transport you’ve got are your two feet. Being relatively fit is a key part of this, you don’t want your first big hike to be the one you need to make to your bug out.

Have backup plans ready

One of my favorite sayings is that “whatever can go wrong, will go wrong” and bugging out is no exception. You need to have options if you want to survive. Contingencies that cater to all aspects of your plan, so you can safely make it to your bug out location. Where would you go if a bridge was out? What would you do if you had a pursuer after you? Who could you rely on to bring into your plans? Having a backup plan will give you an edge when you encounter a situation like this, as it’s inevitable – things will go wrong with your initial plan.

Know where to find food

Like a backup, knowing where to find food is perhaps the most important skill to learn. Because you’ve only got so much food you can carry in your bug out bag, and if there are any delays in your journey that have you on the road for more than a couple of days, you’ll be going very hungry if you can’t find a way to provide more food for you and your family. Small things, like where to forage for wild edibles in your local area, how to tie a snare and catch small game, or even how to fish are all key parts to a successful bug out plan.

Get some practice first

Finally, I want to stress how important it is to practice. Even the best laid plans are just that, plans, and you need to ensure you’ve got the experience to actually implement you bug out plans. That means taking your bug out bag, walking the different routes to your final destination, and getting the real-world experience of what it takes to survive while living off the land. It’s dirty, it’s gritty and it’s not pretty, but it’s experience you need if you want to ensure you and your family are able to bug out successfully.

While it may be fun to dream about bugging out to the wilderness, the people who survive are the ones who are ready for the hardships that will come from such an endeavor. Take the steps to get prepared now, across every element, to ensure you are one of the ones who make it a success.

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