Owning a Bug Out Bag can certainly provide us with a greater sense of security in dangerous places and uncertain times. This carefully chosen gear is reassuring since it should provide for all of our basic needs. But often, there is a piece missing. One of the most important bug-out assets isn’t a tool in your kit, but a plan that you have prepared in advance. The BOB is valuable, don’t misunderstand me, but it’s only half of the bug-out concept.

You need a plan. Before you build your kit, you should have picked bug-out destinations, routes, and drop points for your personal emergency evacuation plan. If you don’t have a bug-out plan right now, don’t freak out. Use this post as a template to design your own bug out plan.

The Destination
You’re living in a fantasy land if you think that you can simply stride down the side of the highway, BOB on your back, and stumble onto some greener pastures in the aftermath of a disaster. You have to have a pre-planned destination. A friend’s house in the ‘burbs, a relative’s house in the country, your cabin in the woods, or a campsite in the wild could all serve as primary and back-up destinations. Just make sure that you have all this worked out ahead of time. In the event of a disaster, you don’t want to show up as an unannounced house guest. You’ll also want to make sure that your destination is achievable. Walking to a cabin 500 miles away could take you a while. Generally speaking, it’s best to have a primary bug out location (BOL) that you could walk to in a few days, with a few back-up spots closer and farther away.

To build your plan today, pull out a regional map or sketch one on paper. If you don’t have a map, then add “buy map” to your week’s to-do list. Pick a primary spot for a BOL, where you could live for a few weeks. Pick a few spots where you could stay a night or two, as alternate sites. If these spots belong to others, start working on the permission to be there. Even if it’s just a patch of woods you plan to camp in, get permission from the landowner in writing, and keep it in your BOB.

The Routes
While you have your map out, plan several routes to your BOL’s. Trace out some driving routes (at least two), walking routes (several, including roads and overland routes as the crow flies), and water routes (if available). These routes are a critical part of your plan. Find ways that your routes can interconnect and provide you with options. Imagine where you’d go if you had to change the mode of travel. Your bug out may start in a vehicle, but gridlock could soon put you on your feet. Try to imagine whether this would change your route. And in your route planning, identify and avoid natural “choke points” if possible. Bridges, ferries and other places where people may stop and congregate should be avoided in your route, if possible. It’s also wise to plan for departures from home, work, and other frequented spots. Pencil these routes on your map, and you’re one step closer to your bug out plan.

The Drop Points
Even if you’re on your own, a few drop points are still handy along your bug out routes. These could be caches of food, water and other supplies, staged at halfway points or other handy spots along your path. If you have family and friends that are joining you on your bug out plan, these drop points could also contain pencils and a notebook, which could allow you to leave messages for each other. This could be incredibly important if the cell phones and other communications are out. Make sure your drop points are easy to find (if you know what to look for), weather-tight, bug and rodent proof, re-useable, and hidden. Ammo boxes, metal tins, and similar containers are all great choices. Avoid wood or plastic containers, as rodents can smell any food they hold and chew their way in.

Stock The Site
One final part of the plan is the stocking and maintenance of the BOL. It should be stocked with ready-to-drink water, water purification equipment, non-perishable foods, first-aid supplies, lighting, communications equipment, batteries, spare clothing, and all the other gear and supplies you’d need to survive for several weeks. This gear should be hidden. It should also be inspected and rotated several times a year. Inspecting once each season is a good average. And let’s all hope we never need it.

Do you have a detailed bug out plan? Have you shared it with family and friends? Please tell us your thoughts by leaving a comment.