10 Mistakes that Can Ruin Your Bug out Plans and How to Avoid Them

By: Conrad Novak | Survivor’s Fortress

When making a bug out plan, everyone likes to focus on the bug out bag–and it is not difficult to see why. The bug out bag is fairly easy to get right if you put time and resources into it. Moreover, once you have finished organizing the perfect bug out bag, you have a real, tangible thing that you can look to for comfort and security.

However, all too often people get so wrapped up in focusing on their bug out bag that they overlook all of the many other parts of a successful bug out plan. This oversight can turn deadly if things do not go as expected. That is why we have provided a list of 10 mistakes you need to avoid when making a bug out plan.

  1. Of Mice and Men – One or No Plans

Much like cleaning out the garage, a number of well-intentioned people think they will get around to developing a bug out plan eventually. Of course, disaster often strikes with little or no warning. Moreover, by the time you do have a warning, everyone else is also thinking the same thing you are.

In this situation, you will be competing with frightened, potentially frenzied, masses for quickly diminishing resources. Then, once you grab whatever you can, you still have to get all packed and figure a way to leave wherever you are. In short, it is a recipe for disaster, and you are the main ingredient.

Still, you can have a plan that will ultimately fail, especially if you only have one. The specific response required for a natural disaster should likely differ in a number of important ways than a man-made disaster. For instance, in the event of nuclear attack, you should actually stay indoors for 48 hours to allow the most dangerous radiation to dissipate.

Other ways your plan may be lacking might otherwise not be related to the disaster at all. For example, a flash flood that occurs during the summer demands a different response and gear than a flash flood that occurs during autumn when the waters and temperature may be just above freezing.

  1. Packing Procrastination – Not Already Being Packed

Making a bug out plan can be a lot like cleaning the garage if you let it: something that you will get to eventually but are constantly putting off for another day. Of course, should that day come, having your bug out plan ready and waiting may be the only thing that saves your life. In this case, too late may end up being too little.

That is why you need to have your bug out bag already packed and waiting either at the central rally point or near the exits. In this instance, you can quickly organize your party, grab your gear, and head out the door. The alternative ultimately means that you spend precious minutes doing something that should have already been done.

Something to keep in mind, your bug out bag may not be the only one you need to pack. If your party includes children, chances are that they are less than diligent with their preparations. As such, it is incumbent upon you to regularly check everyone’s bug out bag to ensure that it is packed and ready to go at a moment’s notice.

  1. The Weight of the World – Bag Too Heavy

When prepping, one of the most important factors is the bug out bag. The overwhelming majority of information about prepping will generally be centered around this aspect of the process. However, placing too much of a focus on the bug out bag can carry its own issues that extend well-beyond simple myopia.

Even experienced preppers who have developed numerous plans, each agile enough to include healthy improvisation, can still fall victim to the oversight of being “too prepared.” Granted, there is no such thing as being too prepared, but there is definitely the possibility that you can inhibit your ability to bug out by trying to be prepared for everything all at once.

If you have a single pack designed to meet all challenges, chances are you have items in that pack that will not get used. Cold weather gear will not be of much use in the Summer. This additional weight will slow you down and sap your energy. Instead, it is better to have different packs for specific situations–even if you have to regularly rotate the gear you pack.

  1. Gas, Grass, or Highway – Relying on a Vehicle

This is a mistake you can make in a number of different ways, though all of them can be costly. Arguably the biggest issue with a vehicle is the likelihood that you may have to abandon it and not being prepared for that circumstance. Things happen quickly during a disaster, and your vehicle may not be the best mode of transportation.

For instance, if you live in a densely populated area, there is a good chance that the roads out of town will be far too congested with other people trying to flee to be useful. However, even if you do make it out of the urban areas, there is no guarantee that the rest of the region–and most importantly its roads–will be in any condition to allow safe passage.

Another major mistake concerning a vehicle is not having it gassed up and ready to go. Aside from the probable traffic jam that will inevitably develop, gas stations will likely be overloaded with unprepared people as well. Making sure that your bug out vehicle is already fueled and that you have additional fuel reserves is vital.

Finally, having the wrong bug out vehicle in the first place can be costly. A front engine, rear-wheel drive car might be fun and convenient in the city, but it cannot handle the needs of an off-road trip. Also, make sure your vehicle does not stand out or alert others to your presence.

  1. No Way Out – No Alternate Routes

Regardless of how you plan to reach your bug out shelter, there is simply no guarantee that you preferred route will be available. This consideration makes relying on a vehicle that much more risky. However, it can also be a major factor even if you plan to hike it the entire way. Granted, heading out on foot can actually be more effective, but that does not mean it is without forethought.

For instance, major road networks are liable to be packed with frantic people all trying to escape–even if a large number of the population simply attempts to bear down and bug in. Of course, most of those people will be doing it for lack of better options, but the point remains that the most common and well-maintained routes are liable to be crowded.

Still, other routes which are less likely to see traffic will also probably have their own issues. For instance, rural or farm roads may not have panicked peoples, but they are also liable to be in less sound conditions. This can make traversing them just as dangerous. Ultimately, the more routes you have to bug out, the better–each with a specified set of parameters defining when they are to be used.

  1. Not Enough Cache – No Extra Bug Out Bags

Once you have safely made it out of your starting location, you can feel confident that the first leg of the journey is over. Still, there is no time to celebrate, because any good bug out shelter will be located one or more handful of miles away from wherever you are fleeing. Now the bug out turns from a sprint to a marathon.

Of course, when traversing miles, likely in less than ideal conditions, you cannot count on your starting supplies to carry through to the finish line. That is why it is always a smart move to store numerous cache supplies along the various potential bug out routes. The reason for this is two-fold.

First, there may be some unforeseen event that forces one or more of your party members to either lose or ditch their bug out bag. Rather than rationing and trying to make do, additional caches can serve as a backup. However, if your bug out shelter is more than ten miles away, those caches may become necessary parts of your bug out plan instead of simply reassuring backups.

  1. Practice Makes Perfect – Not Doing Dry-Runs

Those who can, do. Those who cannot, teach. While the aphorism may be a bit unfair to teachers, the salient point remains: it is a very different thing to do something in the real world than it is to consider it in theory. Even the best plan on paper will not be able to prepare you for all possible eventualities.

Knowing that a local national park has rarely used trails which can make travel both convenient and inconspicuous is one thing, but until you get there, you will not be able to properly plan for it. For instance, those rarely used trails might regularly be washed away by heavy rainstorms or need to be cleared of heavy brush.

In a similar vein, being aware that your bug out location is five miles away with a rough estimation of how long it will take you and your party to travel five miles does not account for the various issues that can crop up in real time while you are bugging out.

  1. Knowledge is Power – Not Practicing Skills

If the preppers purpose is to be prepared, then relying strictly on goods and items is a poor man’s substitute for genuine preparation. You can develop the best of plans for less than ideal conditions, but what happens if everything collapses and fails simultaneously. Are you prepared to survive without any of your gear?

A successful prepper does more than simply plan to account for the absence of modern life’s conveniences. Stockpiling food is a great idea in theory, but what if vermin find a way through an air ventilation duct into your food stores? You need to be capable of improvising with genuine survival skills to hunt, forage, and grow your own food should a stockpile be contaminated or destroyed.

An even greater risk would be if you lost your gear in transit to your bug out location. If your shelter is located more than a day’s hike, this can be a serious risk–especially if your party includes children or the elderly. Your skills must be honed to survive the wilds, at least long enough to reach your shelter, even if your gear is lost.

  1. Location, Location, Location – Bad Shelter

When disaster strikes, getting out of town is only half the battle. Then, you still have to traverse a significant distance to your shelter designed to withstand whatever disaster occurs. However, reaching your shelter may or may not guarantee your survival depending on where you built it and what kind it is.

The most likely potential issue with your shelter is its location. Sure, it is easy enough to figure out that you need to build your shelter away from other people, but that is not the only consideration which can spell tragedy if unaccounted. What types of resources are nearby and the potential environmental hazards are also a primary concern.

Still, beyond the location of the shelter is the shelter’s construction itself. A shelter for you and one other person can be fairly basic. However, the more people you have in your party, the more you need to consider cleanliness as a major potential hurdle. Untreated, porous materials can make a cozy shelter into a hotbed of disease if someone gets sick.

  1. Loose Lips Sink Ships – Telling Too Many People

When you develop a robust and comprehensive plan to ensure the survival of your family in the event of a catastrophe, it can, and should, give you a sense of pride. Through a little time and effort, you have done your first job as a person: make sure that you and your loved ones will carry on through the worst of situations.

However, all of that planning and preparation can be for naught if you let your pride take over your mouth before the need to bug out arises and tell everyone who listens how well prepared you are. Even worse, this can come back to bite you in a couple of different ways.

Easily the most likely problem with being too open about your prepping is that should disaster strike, everyone who knows your plans will immediately come to you seeking aid. Unless you have planned for half the neighborhood to also survive on your stores and gear, chances are you will have to turn them away–assuming they go.

That brings us to the other, far more dangerous, possible result of telling too many people about your plans. When SHTF, people will respond with panic and fear, and that fear can drive them to react with violence. Those people you told might not be willing to accept “sorry, I do not have enough to help you” for an answer.


In truth, this list could go on even further. Not bringing enough water is a major potential issue. Though, in the same vein, bringing too much water can play into your pack being too heavy. Making sure you have the right clothing, paying attention to hygiene, and staying in shape could also easily make it onto this list.

Regardless, these 10 mistakes are liable to be some of the bigger ones and many are more easily overlooked. However, by properly accounting for these flaws, you bug out plan has a much greater chance of succeeding and will be able to adapt to rapidly shifting circumstances should it need to.

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