Bug Out Route

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Your bug out route is the path you will take to your bug out location. Typically this will be a series of highways and roads, but could be a straight-line hike, a waterway, or even flight if you have the skills and vehicle necessary to do so. Your bug out route is one of the biggest considerations to make when planning your bug out strategy.


Considering the Road

Since you will likely be driving some sort of BOV over some sort of road, this should be your main consideration. You will need to consider how far, what service, what conditions, and any other challenges your route may cause you.

Road Type

Each type of roadway has its own issues, whether it is a traction problem or a traffic problem every road you encounter is probably going to cause you some problem during an emergency bug out.

  • Interstate/Major Highway - Interstates and major highways generally have the best surface conditions, the fewest natural obstacles, and the fastest most direct route. Unfortunately everyone else knows this, so they'll all be taking the interstate with you with.
  • Minor Highways - Minor highways, typically two-lanes, are perhaps some of the best roadways as they are relatively clear of natural obstacles and will probably have far less traffic than the interstate, especially outside of cities. They can suffer from bad traffic in some situation though.
  • Residential Roads - If you live in a city your bug out is almost guaranteed to start off on residential roads. These generally have good road conditions, but can have many natural and unatural obstacles during and emergency, will have a lot of oncoming traffic from your neighbors making accidents more likely, and have very poor lines of sight.
  • Gravel Roads - Gravel roads vary greatly in quality, they can be well maintained or slightly better than mud. They are unlikely to have much traffic, will be well out of the way of others, and have few unnatural barriers. The actual surface conditions of gravel can be extremely challenging, especially for vehicles without four wheel drive. They can also be covered with more natural barriers, especially during inclement weather.
  • Class B/Mud Roads - Mud roads will likely not have any traffic, are as far off the beaten path as you can get and still have a "road", and will generally allow you to go unnoticed by all but the locals. Unforunately this comes are a price, road conditions are bad at best and impassable at worst. If you include a mud road in your BO plans then you should make sure you vehicle can handle it.


The distance you have to travel should be considered. Does your BOV have the range to make it there and back on a single tank of fuel? Can you, and any alternatve drivers, cover that distance without stopping for sleep? What sort of changes might take place during the length of time such as weather changes? Ensuring that you and your vehicle are prepared to cover this distance is critical to your success.


Most any vehicle bug out will encounter some sort of barriers along the way, both natural and unnatural. You and you vehicle should be prepared to deal with these obstacles quickly and efficiently, having appropriate recovery tools can make this much easier to do. In most situations you should be prepared to fall back on one of your multiple alternate routes, but sometimes this is not an option.

Downed Power Lines

Downed power lines are a somewhat exaggerated problem, your vehicles rubber tires will insulate you from electric shock in most situations. If there is also standing water then the power lines should be avoided entirely and you should take an alternate route.

Downed Trees

Downed trees and similar obstacles are likely to be encountered during weather-related emergencies. The best solution is a chainsaw and a vehicle strong enough to pull them out of the way, but as always you should be prepared with an alternate route.


Hostile individuals or groups are one of the worst possible obstacles. This is one of the only obstacles that actively and intelligently seeks to interrupt your bug out and possibly do you harm or take what you have. While it is impossible to have a complete plan for hostile encounters, you should have some basic preparations and strategies for dealing with hostiles.

  • Avoidance - this is always the best option when possible, no matter how well armed you are an inferior force can stil inflict a terrible loss of life or supplies and equipment. Unforunately sometimes the hostiles are unavoidable.
  • Appeasement - this is generally the worst, but if you cannot avoid the hostiles and are unable to mount a defenesive you will have to risk appeasing them with whatever you have. Some or all of you precious supplies may be enough. This could still end violently, however, if they realize they are a superior force or are simply malicious.
  • Armed Confronation - an armed confrontation may occur, or may be your only reasonable option. You should be prepared with the best possible offensive and defensive tools possible. Do not discount the vehicle as a weapon.

Mud and others types of washouts can be serious problems or minor nuisances depending upon severity and vehicle capabilities. A thin mud washout can generally be traversed by a vehicle with four-wheel drive and appropriate tires, cars should never attempt to cross mud of any significant or uncertain depth. As always an alternate route should be available if the washout is to severe to cross.

Official Obstacles

Obstacles of the officially sanctioned variety can be a serious problem. They will likely be well organized, staffed by armed police, and use extremely effective barriers such as concrete walls. Often times an organized evacuation will be accompanied by these barriers to control the masses exit and keep them on "official" evacuation paths. Your two best options are avoidance or diplomacy. Again, you should have many different exit routes planned allowing you to circumvent any road blocks entirely. The diplomatic approach is a complex one, having some sort of credentials (i.e. first responder, press, etc...) may be effective, some officers may be reasoned with, or you may find more creative ways of dealin with the problem in some situations.


Rubble can take many forms, ideally you should be intimately familiar with your route and know what types of rubble could potentially be on the road. You should either be able to go over the rubble, remove the rubble, or have an alternate route.


Traffic is perhaps the most likely barrier to your escape, especially during a mass exodous from a city. There is only one good way to deal with traffic, avoid it. You should either leave before the traffic is bad, after it has dispersed, or be prepared with several alternate routes out of town. If the former plans are not options for you then you are at great risk for many reasons. During severe traffic as people try to escape from danger you may encounter hostility, fuel shortage, and other problems. You should be prepared to defend yourself if necessary and have a plan for not running out of fuel such as carrying ample fuel, driving in such a way as to preserve fuel or having a vehicle that will not likely encounter a fuel problem through hours of idling and crawling.

Non-terrestrial Routes

Nearly everyone will likely be bugging out over land, but for sake of completeness these are some other possibilities that you might want to consider.


Sometimes a waterway such as a river, lake, or ocean may be the way best way to get to your BOL. If you are bugging out to an island it is the only way. Waterways offer many unique challenges such as very different weather and subsequent preparations as well as an altogether different type of vehicle.


With the necessary skills and an aircraft you could potentially fly to your BOL. Flying would almost certainly be the fastest and safest way to get somewhere during an emergency, but few people have both piloting skills and access to a plane; not to mention a runway or equivalent makeshift landing strip in close proximity to both their BOL and current location. If you are a pilot with a plane and want to consider this as an option, you should look into rural airstrips that are used by cropdusters as potential landing strips near a BOL in the country.

See Also


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