When the time comes, do you plan to hunker down at home, or are you prepared to bug out? Staking out your home is a reasonable plan – it allows you to work your land, stockpile more supplies than you can fit in your car, and generally lends itself to a more complete prep. Unfortunately, the situation may require that you get out. That means you’re going to need a plan and, more importantly, a car.
You don’t need to have a high-end vehicle to bug out, but you do need to be confident that your car can at least give you a good start. That’s why it’s important to keep your car well maintained. Incorporate these strategies and you can be sure you’ll get the most miles out of your car when you need it most.
Is Your Car Ready to Bug Out?
You’ve got a few options when choosing a car for your bug out vehicle, depending on what you already have on hand and how good you are with an engine. If you’re confident that you can keep an older engine in working order or you’re planning to dramatically alter your vehicle anyway – by installing a cool air intake system, for example – then your best bet is to have a low value vehicle as your primary means of bugging out.
By using an older vehicle and maintaining only basic liability coverage, you can keep low car insurance costs. If you’re driving your bug out vehicle semi-regularly, upgrade to comprehensive coverage so you’re more likely to get a payout if something happens to your car. That money can then help you get a new car if necessary. Using your vehicle infrequently for only low mileage travel can also lower your insurance premium.
Always keep an eye on critical car maintenance, making sure that your tires are properly inflated, regularly replacing your windshield wiper blades, and inspecting belts and hosing. Make a schedule and stick to it – you’ll want to be sure that you don’t have a cracked belt or leaking exhaust system when you try to take off.
It’s also worth keeping a few extras around if you have the room and the budget. Keep a spare battery, some headlight bulbs, and other similar supplies on hand and packed to take with you. Having a spare battery is especially valuable if you think you might want to power another tool with your engine.
What to Pack
Next to maintenance, packing your car is the most important aspect of bugging out. Of course, the foundation for your bug out supplies lies in your everyday carry (EDC). Your EDC is minimal – utility knife or multi-tool, flashlight, bandana – the things you keep on your person at all times. Now, add 72 hours or more of food and water, a first aid kit, and car maintenance supplies, and you have a good start.
From there, what you pack has a lot to do with your destination. If you live in a rural area and you’re trained to forage, you might pack less food than if you know you’re in a more barren area. Some community members have an established bug out location with food stocked in place, but limited clothing, so they might pack more seasonally appropriate items, like winter jackets. It all depends on your skills, your location, and your plan.
Don’t forget to pack a map. If the grid goes down, you won’t have Google maps. Even if you’ve practiced your bug out route, you may need to adjust your plan, hit the road a second time, or you may feel a bit disoriented under the pressure of bug out situation. Even if you don’t need the map, you’ve got a little extra fuel for your fire.
You know best what you and your family need to survive when it’s time to bug out, but it takes practice to hone these skills. Time how long it takes you to pack and try to improve the process. Pose different hypothetical situations and test whether you’re prepared for alternate scenarios.
Push your limits in your prep, because when disaster strikes, there are no limits.