As I’ve mentioned a few times, my family and I currently reside in Northern Virginia. Should TEOTWAWKI occur while we’re here, the plan is to bug out to my parents’ farm in rural Nebraska, along with my brothers and a few other family members or close friends. It’s not and ideal plan, but until we can move closer it’s the de facto plan.
Depending on the route, it’s about 1,300 miles, and as the map of population density by county depicts, the eastern half of the U.S. is very densely populated. If things are getting chaotic, detours could add a couple hundred more miles.
Probably a lot of people feel like they’re out in the boonies in some places in the eastern half of the U.S., but the reality is there are large population centers nearby in all directions (unless you’re on the coast – or in Maine). Most of the eastern U.S. would be a nightmare in a total collapse SHTF scenario – without our full-up, just-in-time delivery infrastructure and utilities, these urban and suburban areas will quickly disintegrate into chaos (WROL – without rule of law).
There are a lot of variables that go into a bug out plan and I don’t think it’s realistic to create dozens of detailed plans covering every conceivable scenario. Instead, I’ve focused on the main, essential areas: transportation (BoV, plans for going without); route planning (maps and GPS); and materials (food, firearms, radios, etc.).
The question of an EMP attack bothers me as there is conflicting information as to how dangerous they actually are. However, in my specific situation, I don’t think investing in a pre-1980s, EMP-proof vehicle would be prudent since having a working vehicle in an urban area makes you a great big target. Instead of blending in with the masses on foot or bicycles, it’s like shouting, “here I am!”
If there is an EMP and most vehicles work, great (power and comms likely would not). Or, if there is an EMP and most vehicles don’t work, we’ll have to deal with it; much less (little?) chance of survival in that scenario, depending on the time of year. But the way, I see it, bugging-in along the east coast as pretty much suicide, unless you’re prepared to kill a lot of innocents to survive, and probably resort to cannibalism (strictly speaking of a full TEOTWAWKI situating, of course). Better to bug out.
Bugging Out By Vehicle
Leaving in our Bug out Vehicle (BoV) is obviously preferred. If we could leave as things are getting strange but before they fall apart, well that would be ideal. And unlikely. So I’ve been studying back roads, alleys, and alternate routes in my local area so as to avoid the worst of the traffic crush should there be a mass exodus. Good local maps are a must for this, and as I travel to nearby counties I try to find maps there as well. A national road atlas is also a must.
I’ve already determined what I think I need in a BoV, and how I want to prepare it. I currently have a sufficient vehicle and a good backup. The main concern is fuel – I need more than I have here.
To get where I want to go, I’ll need approximately 90 gallons of gasoline (using 1,300 miles and my approximate gas mileage). If detours are significant and traffic jams many, call it 100+ gallons. My tank is about 25 gallons, so I’d need three good refills to make it.
I have a few cans of gas here, but not enough. Assuming some stations are open, my plan is to fill up as often as possible, buying and filling more cans along the way as possible. In case credit isn’t being accepted or the price of fuel skyrockets, I have a large stash of cash for just such an event. If I have to pay $50 a gallon, I’ll still get home. Having a large amount of cash on hand may be vital in the beginning stages of a collapse or other critical event.
The amount of time available to pack will determine the load. Again it’s obvious that more time is better. After thinking it through, I estimate can fully load the vehicle in about two hours, maybe a little less. (If time was critical, I’d need about five minutes to grab the BoB, food, water, and firearms.) In my case, that’s a truck. I have lockable toolbox for the most critical items, and a cardboard tri-wall container to put in the back and load up.
All items that have a long-term survival value will be taken with us; firearms, ammo, food/water, survival books, clothing, blankets, clothing, shoes, etc. These items will go along the sides of the tri-wall – if they need to be removed quickly, a box knife will help liberate them.
As part of my denial and deception campaign, for those who evaluate me as a target to attempt to loot, the last items to be loaded, and the most visible, will be frivolous; children’s toys, clothes in clear bags, perhaps a garden rake and water hose, etc. The goal is to look like an unworthy target to help avoid confrontation. Along that line, the BoB will be in the front seat of the cab, but covered with a children’s blanket, perhaps with a few toys visible.
If someone still wants to attempt to loot us, they’d find out what caliber is hidden underneath the baby blanket. I’d rather avoid confrontation, but will shoot first and ask questions later if threatened.
If there was some sort of terrorist event or large-scale disaster, natural or man-made, it may determine our route out of the DC area. For example, we may need to detour significantly north our south before proceeding west by northwest to Nebraska. Because of this, having a capable GPS with up-to-date maps is critical. Having a multi-band radio to get the most current information is also important.
Bugging Out On Foot
If we encounter a massive traffic jam that cannot be escaped, or if the truck breaks down and cannot be repaired, we’d have to continue on foot. If we can’t leave the DC area by BoV, we might have to do the entire trip on foot, perhaps on bicycles, but using a jogging stroller/bike trailer in any case. The stroller would carry our children and much of the supplies we’d take in this specific case.
My wife and I would still need to wear packs. And we would both be well armed. We have a hiking GPS, shortwave radio, and two-way GMRS/FRS radios in what I hope is a functioning Faraday cage.
Going on foot from the DC area to Nebraska would take two months or more in good times for a fit man unencumbered by two very small children. If we could make 10 miles a day, it would be over four months (more if winter was near). At five miles a day, nearly nine months. Chances of all four of us making it, very low. I don’t know how low and can’t assign a realistic percentage.
In general, the plan would be to navigate away from the most populated areas, seeking secondary roads, steering towards Nebraska the entire time. Monitoring the SW radio would be key for avoiding the most chaotic areas, blocked roads, etc. The GPS already has up-to-date road maps uploaded for all states we’d possibly transit. The BoB has a supply of batteries, but I’ll likely be adding more soon.
My BoB gear is really provisioned for the longer term with this scenario in mind, and we would have basic shelter. We would have weapons appropriate for both defense and hunting. If we had to stop for a few weeks or winter over someplace, we both have skills that might help us gain acceptance, especially my wife’s medical profession.
A Work in Progress
This is a basic plan that is always being fine tuned, and I’ve probably forgotten a few important details. New streets found, new maps added, gear being swapped out, and so on. When we eventually move, the plan will be greatly simplified by the much shorter distance we’d have to travel.
Even so, I’m always seeking gear (at a reasonable price) that will help with bugging out, adding maps, and thinking about what I’d need to do for different situations. Something to think about while at red lights.
Even if you live in your retreat, I think having a backup bug out plan is essential, so my brothers and I are also thinking about where we would go if our farm became an nonviable option.
As Ben Franklin said, “God helps those who help themselves” – being prepared to evacuate is the beginning.