10 Bug-Out Scenarios to Practice Today

Pretty much every prepper plans on bugging out in response to a situation that seems particularly dangerous, likely to intensify or impossible to survive. Having a bug out plan is a cornerstone of prepping, and the bug-out bag has a nearly religious significance to most preppers.

man hiking with backpack into the woods

There are more words written and spoken about this particular topic than nearly any other in many circles, and your dear author here has done more than his fair share on this very subject.

But there seems to be something of a blind spot in most preppers during conceptualization of a bug out. Specifically, the notion that a bug out is just as simple as making the decision to go from point A to point B, on foot or by car, and that’s that.

I don’t want to rain on anyone’s parade, but chances are your bug out will be anything but that simple. That’s because your life isn’t that simple…

You’ll be facing down a dangerous, life-threatening event with everything that entails but also dealing with challenges, baggage, and unique circumstances: Your own condition, your family, where you live, and so forth.

Planning to bug out while ignoring all of these essential factors is failing to plan at all. In an effort to keep our readership’s bug-out efforts grounded, and this article we will be presenting a selection of bug-out scenarios complicated by real life circumstances that all of us might well be dealing with today, or might have to deal with in the future.

While you might be on Easy Street right now when it comes to prepping, that might not always be the case. Stay on your toes, be ready for curve balls, and read on!

No Easy Way Out

Almost invariably, there is something you can do to improve your position no matter how dire the circumstances seem. But there is no easy way to put this: sometimes your choices all pretty much suck. That is just life.

Whether it is the hand you are dealt, misfortune, or just a confluence of consequences resulting from innumerable previous decisions there may yet come a time where none of your responses seem acceptable.

Sometimes all of your choices will suck, and you will just have to do what you can to minimize loss, suffering or risk. That’s real life for you; real survival and, naturally, real bug outs are not the stuff of movies or daytime TV where the hero comes through it a little sweatier and a little dirtier, but with himself and his people no worse for the wear.

You might yet have to pay your “pound of flesh” to get out of a bad situation, or potentially risk it all on the chance, merely the chance, but you could get away intact with everyone alive.

The only thing you can do is deal with it. You will have to make a choice, because choosing to not act is still a choice. Don’t waste time lamenting your situation, getting bent out of shape or screaming at the sky.

10 Bug-Out Scenarios to Practice Today

landslide near road

Landslide – Dealing with Major Disability

  • Setting: Your mountainside home, somewhere in the mountains of western North Carolina.
  • Group: You and your partner who is wheelchair bound (paraplegic).
  • Scenario: Cataclysmic storms bracketed by two major hurricanes have dumped truly biblical amounts of rainfall on your area, enough that flooding is already bad and getting worse. Road closures are increasingly frequent, and the possibility of mass landslides and mudslides is being discussed constantly in the media.

Anywhere that it can rain it can flood, and even your home purchased way up on the side of a mountain far above sea level can be imperiled by enough rainfall, even if the home is in no danger of being underwater.

While you chose this setting to get away from all the potential dangers lurking in the major cities, it seems you might have traded one set of risks for another.

Though your home is sound, dry and well-stocked with all manner of provisions and equipment, you risk becoming stranded in an untenable situation: things off the mountain are getting worse all the time, and pretty soon no road in your area will be safely passable.

On the other hand, there have been reports of landslides and mudslides owing to the constant rainfall that is showing no signs of slackening. Your home is halfway up the mountain, and you have become rightly worried that the soil supporting it might give way or your home could be demolished by a mudslide from higher up the mountain.

You are considering bugging out to someplace safer, if not drier, but there is a major complication. Your partner is wheelchair-bound, and though it is an easy affair to get them into a vehicle and go, you have serious doubts that the winding, packed gravel roads traversing the mountain are in any condition to support your heavy SUV presently.

Walking down the mountain by safer means is going to be an exhausting, chilling experience, although you have no idea how your partner’s wheelchair will manage.

  • Option 1 – Shelter in place: Avoid the flooding and danger that you know rests at the foot of the mountain. Pray there will not be a landslide that destabilizes your home, or strikes it from farther up the slope. A minor landslide could be damaging, but might not destroy your house and sweep you both away. You trust that the stone foundations of the mountain and its many trees will secure the soil against the deluge of rain.
  • Option 2 – Evacuate by vehicle: You cannot risk going by foot. You are certain your partner’s wheelchair will be a liability, and if you try to carry them on your back or using some kind of litter, you still risk getting stranded, and suffering from exposure in the pouring rain. If you go slowly and cautiously, you are confident your SUV can handle whatever you encounter so long as the roads are intact.
  • Option 3 – Evacuate on foot: Despite the awful conditions, you have high confidence in your physical ability and the good teamwork that you have historically shared with your partner. Using the wheelchair or not you are going to get both of you down off this mountain. If you dress for the occasion, move cautiously and rest when needed you are confident that you can reach neighbors or help down below and do so in the surest possible way, even if it is grueling and miserable.

Nuclear Material Release – Time is of the Essence

  • Setting: Your townhouse, Philadelphia, PA
  • Group: Partner, brother-in-law.
  • Scenario: It finally happened; one of the three nearby nuclear power plants has had a serious accident, and a substantial amount of radioactive material has been released high into the air and is currently drifting right for Philly.

Panicked evacuations are already well underway as people scramble to get out of the way of the approaching nuclear threat.

Nuclear power is one of the cleanest and best options for supplying truly monumental amounts of electricity demanded by modern civilizations. Statistically, nuclear power plants are safer that almost any of their competitors, but when misfortune strikes and things do go bad, they typically go truly bad in a spectacular way.

Any uncontrolled release of radioactive fuel or other materials spells bad news for the surrounding area and depending upon the quantity and nature of the material it might be rendered virtually uninhabitable for some time.

It did not take much time for things to go from bad to worse, as the reported “minor” incident quickly turned into a major disaster of international import at one of the nearby nuke plants – as reported by the local news now seemingly all of Philadelphia is trying to get out of town at once, and get to safety that may or may not exist.

The federal government has already declared a state of emergency, and both local and Federal agencies are relentlessly warning people to take preparatory measures and shelter in place.

You know enough right now to understand that the amount of radioactive material released is substantial and think it is in yours and your partner’s best interest to get out of dodge, and do it quickly.

To complicate matters, you have your “wilting violet” of a brother-in-law visiting and he is currently losing his mind, adding to your stress levels by the minute.

The obvious problem is that getting out by vehicle is going to be nearly impossible where you are. Breathless news reports are already showing every major street, highway, and interstate hopelessly clogged with vehicles. Already panic is taking its toll.

You don’t want to be near “Ground Zero” even in a good shelter with this much fallout on the way. You need to act fast; initial reports are claiming you will have about an hour to an hour and a half before the deadly particulates start reaching the ground all over Philly.

  • Option 1 – Bug out by Vehicle: Despite the gridlock, you decide to take your chances going by vehicle. You plan on hopping curbs, traveling down medians, and going by other unconventional routes to get clear of the traffic quickly enough and then hopefully far enough out of the path of the fallout that the danger will be greatly reduced.
  • Option 2 – Bug out on Foot: The prospect is terrifying, but you believe it possible to get far enough out of the city if you hustle on foot that you can potentially grab a ride to reach minimum safe distance. If the fallout does arrive while you are still within the affected area, you can always take shelter in one of any number of buildings along your path. You have grabbed some duct tape and a roll of heavy plastic just for the purpose, along with your BOB.
  • Option 3 – Head Underground: Philadelphia is a massive city, and one with a not insubstantial amount of underground infrastructure. The only problem is it is not near your home. You will have to hoof it, fast, but you are certain you can get yourself below ground in a maintenance shaft or subway tunnel, safely shielded from the radiation by many feet of soil, concrete and rebar. You might be living like a mole for a little while, but you are confident that outside help will arrive and start accounting for trapped survivors.
sandbag stopping flood

Major Flooding – Bugging Out With Livestock

  • Setting: Your livestock ranch and home, somewhere in Mississippi.
  • Group: You, your two teenage children, and your live-in ranch hand.
  • Scenario: Non-stop rain has seen several rivers and lakes in the area burst their banks, and it is showing no signs of stopping. The flooding is expected to be catastrophic, at least up to the gutters on your home. You know the time is coming and will soon be upon you that you must evacuate or die.

Flooding is an especially common disaster and one that always hits low-lying areas and places near major bodies of water very hard. While it is easy enough to escape flooding that occurs as a result of non-stop rainfall or slow snow melt, matters can be complicated when you have other people depending on you for evacuation.

In your case, you have four horses, half a dozen cows, and a modest pack of pigs depending on you for their welfare, and you depend on them just the same to make a living.

The idea that you might leave them behind is untenable, but if you don’t think of a solution and execute really soon, the timetable for certain evacuation will be past for you and your family, and you aren’t willing to risk that.

You also aren’t willing to let your animals fend for themselves and most likely die in the ever-rising waters to come.

You know you have friends and neighbors elsewhere in the region that can help you, but they cannot help you with the transportation; the flood warnings and dire prognostications about the consequences have already whipped people into a frenzy, and coming up with transport on short notice under these circumstances is virtually impossible.

You only have a small trailer capable of transporting a pair of horses at a time, or perhaps a handful of cows.

  • Option 1 – Bug out, taking what Animals You Can: There is nothing for it. You have to get yourself, your family and your employee out. You will not needlessly let any of your animals die, but you’ll have to pick which ones you will take with you, and then let the rest fend for themselves. But even that small trailer will add a substantial amount of weight to your load, and the roads are already getting nasty ahead of the major flooding.
  • Option 2 – Bug-out Caravan: There is more than one way to bug out, and ways besides on foot or by truck! In this case you will be going by horseback. It is going to take a little bit of doing logistically, but you, your kids and your employee are all skilled riders and animal handlers; you think it is possible to get to safe ground on horseback and lead the other animals, at least some of them, behind you all the way. If you can reach your friend’s farm on the high ground across the county, you can all wait there for the waters to recede.
  • Option 3 – Take No Chances, Abandon the Livestock: Even taking your small trailer with a couple of horses in it will add weight that you are not willing to chance driving through dangerous conditions. Nothing is more important than your family and your friends. It is a terrible thing, but all you can do is open the gates on your way out to give your animals a chance.
house destroyed by earthquake

Earthquake – Emotional Breakdown

  • Setting: Your home, Reno, NV.
  • Group: Family, consisting of partner and children; one young, one young adult.
  • Scenario: It was only a matter of time, and now another major earthquake has struck, registering at least an 8.0 on the scale. The damage is drastic; this is a regional disaster.

Earthquakes are surprisingly common near areas of major tectonic activity and all-around significant fault lines. You knew that when you moved into your current home in Reno, but you didn’t think you would be around when it was finally time for a major earthquake to shake, rattle and roll.

This was something far removed from the periodic, train-like tremors you and other residents of Nevada feel regularly. This was massive, a heaving in the ground, one that rocked vehicles, badly damaged large structures, and collapsed plenty of smaller ones.

You are fortunate that you drilled your family relentlessly when it came to proper earthquake procedure, even when they rolled their eyes at you with turned backs they still complied.

You think that is what saved all of you; your partner was able to grab cover with your youngest child while your oldest took care of themselves. You were outside when the quake struck and getting back inside was an impossibility. You threw yourself down and tried in vain to hold on for dear life as you were tossed skyward repeatedly.

Now the shaking has stopped and your family has emerged from the rubble of your home unscathed save for bumps and bruises, but your survival journey has just begun. The landscape has been changed, and even now you can smell the smoke and hear the screams.

Something has broken in your partner and they are babbling, crying uncontrollably; they are certain that their elderly mother living near the center of town has been killed in the ensuing disaster, and is pleading hysterically for you all to go check on them.

You know that is a bad idea and that it is time to bug out to an area less prone to follow-on injury or mayhem since aftershocks will be coming. Furthermore, trying to move around in a built-up area ravaged by an earthquake is a great way to get hurt or killed outright.

  • Option 1 – Check on/Retrieve Grandma, Return, Bug-Out by Vehicle: You are not willing to risk your families’ lives moving through this ruined city. It is safe enough where they are now, so you decide to leave them behind, ascertain the whereabouts and status of Grandma, and hopefully return with her before bugging out together. This will take time, and more time in the area means greater risk…
  • Option 2 – Bug Out Immediately on Foot: Your first responsibility is to take care of your children, and you are unwilling to put yourself or them in peril to move farther into the affected area. It is time to bug out, and since you are already on the edge of town, you decide to not risk the badly broken roads and head out on foot. If your partner does not want to come with you, that is on them.
  • Option 3 – Bug Out Immediately by Vehicle: You are suddenly so glad you invested in that lift kit. The roads are broken and some of them are mangled but you are confident if you drive carefully you will be able to ferry your family out of danger with plenty of supplies in tow. This has the major advantage that your partner can just sit in the seat and bawl while hating you if they want to; you will still get to where you are going and know that it is a trip none of you will soon forget.


  • Setting: Your rental cabin somewhere in Oregon.
  • Group: Just you.
  • Scenario: A wildfire draws near, already bad and has turning into a raging, racing firestorm thanks to a convergence of ideally horrible weather, wind and a total lack of proper forestry and fire management in the area.

Wildfires have been in the news a lot lately these past few years, and it is not due to boosting the signal on them for ratings, either.

Wildfires are indeed occurring more often due to a combination of drought conditions, unseasonably warm weather, and piss-poor fire prevention and forestry procedures due to the irrepressible tree huggers’ meddling, putting sentiment before common sense.

No matter why they are happening, wildfires remain an incredibly dangerous, capricious and destructive force.

That is what you are up against as the situation takes a turn for the worse just when you needed some peace and quiet in your rental cabin somewhere in the hills of Oregon.

You knew there was a fire burning out there before you ever got on the plane, but in the days since your arrival, in-between fun bouts of hiking and doing absolutely nothing, somebody has made a big mistake.

Ideal conditions have seen the fire accelerate drastically, completely confounding fire response efforts, and it is now threatening your area, getting closer by the minute at speed.

Evacuation orders, emergency alerts, and breathless reports are pouring in on the radio and the TV. You are properly in danger now, and you don’t know which way is a safe way out. The situation is grave enough you dare not wait for an 11th hour rescue via helicopter that will whisk you out of harm’s way.

Neither option appears anything even close to certain enough. One thing is certain sure, however: only a miracle will save you from death if you stay where you are. It is time to go, and that means it is time to choose.

  • Option 1 – Hike Out on Foot: The safest bet might be to bug out on foot, moving directly away from the approaching fire. The roads out of the area all twist and wind uncertainly through the forest, and though you are not positive you believe that the fire has already overtaken some sections. Hiking out will take you down some fairly steep slopes and broken terrain, but hopefully you’ll be able to move fast enough to escape the flames. You don’t want to think about what will happen if you get stuck or injured while going over land.
  • Option 2 – Drive Out: Driving out is definitely going to be quicker, but chances are at least some parts of the only path out of the area have already been overtaken by the flames, and some might still be on fire. Driving through such broiling conditions and potentially damaged roadways is going to be a risky thing, and a breakdown could be disastrous. Even so, this will certainly be the swiftest option if you can pull it off.

Civil Unrest – Have Room for More?

  • Setting: Your apartment in Atlanta, GA.
  • Group: You and your partner, two small kids, dog and potentially your neighbors.
  • Scenario: Simmering discontent and political agitation has finally boiled over into full-blown rioting, and that rioting spread throughout the city which is now gripped in total bedlam. Police and the National Guard have utterly failed to contain it.

Human violence is one of the scariest and most unpredictable events that can be visited upon you, and widespread civil unrest (complete with burning, pillaging, beating, raping and other assorted mayhem) is certainly an event worth bugging out over. That is exactly what you are preparing to do in light of the situation currently enveloping your hometown.

You like to think that you knew in your heart it was going to end this way, with neither side of the discussion willing to curb the violent rhetoric, and neither side willing to concede any point practical or theoretical.

Skyrocketing summer temperatures and the highly contentious election season combined with all the other stresses of an uncertain era finally saw the lid pop off; localized rioting and looting that were limited to commercial installations hasve now sparked off throughout the city.

With the police and even the National Guard being completely overwhelmed for days, the city is in a mad panic, and you have already heard calls from friends and associates that full-blown incursions into suburban neighborhoods are taking place.

Enough is enough. At least you planned for this, and have busily been loading your family bug-out bags among other precious resources and possessions into your SUV. Lucky for you, you only have a comparatively short hop to get outside the city limits where you will detour well around Atlanta, burning fiercely, before heading north to link up with your parents and extended family.

A friend not too far out of town has already graciously scouted a less traveled highway with his drone, and reported it clear for the moment.

But then your neighbors come a-calling; John barely made it back home, his vehicle being overtaken by the rioters, from which he bailed out of and ran for his life. He is desperate to get out of town with his wife and young daughter, but now they have no vehicle, and there is almost no chance of commissioning transport to get them out of the city.

They’re asking if they can all pile into your vehicle with you in order to evacuate. That would mean you have to leave virtually all of your supplies behind…

  • Option 1 – Leave them Behind: It is a sad thing, and you hate to abandon them in your time of need, but their bad outcome cannot and should not snowball into a bad outcome for your family. You tried to get them to prepare, to plan, and now it has come to naught. You are not willing to forego the essential supplies you might need for the long haul in order to give them a ride out of town. You and yours must come first.
  • Option 2 – Take them with You: You will not abandon your neighbors to their fate; without your humanity, what do you have? You will have room for a couple of small bags besides, but no more. You are trusting that once you are clear of the city, hopefully a quick and easy jaunt, you can link up with your family members and resupply later. Maybe your apartment will be gone if you ever get to return, or maybe not. What is important is that you will have ensured that your neighbors got away also.
tsunami aftermath

Tsunami – Vacay Mayhem

  • Setting: On the beach, southwest coast of Thailand, near Khao Lak resort.
  • Group: You, your partner, and your elderly parents.
  • Scenario: A tremendously powerful undersea earthquake has been detected some miles offshore and it is all but certain that a devastating tsunami is on the way. Unfortunately, due to a combination of misinterpretation and equipment failure, the warning has gone out late, and the deadly tsunami is only minutes away from impacting the shore.

What was supposed to be a wonderful and relaxing family vacation to celebrate your parents’ 50th anniversary in far-away and exotic Thailand has suddenly turned into a nightmarish life-or-death situation.

After an enjoyable day of relaxing on the beach, your cell phone receives an urgent alert along with many other phones scattered here and there in the hands of beachgoers. Many locals start sprinting away from shore.

Then you hear the sirens, the loud and dolorous klaxons chilling your blood even in the midst of the steamy temperature. You glance around, and see plenty of other tourists gazing at their phones and confusion. The tsunami is on its way, and it is already dangerously close.

Your parents are obviously scared, and right after you finish telling your wife and them to start heading up the beach you notice the tide ominously pulling back, way back, and getting lower, too low.

You have read about this before; it is a certain warning of an incoming tsunami and it must be very close now. You all scramble up the beach but your parents are very old, and cannot move quickly. You could carry one of them, but not both, and your partner is not strong enough. You can only move as fast as they can.

You’re grateful that you always keep a minimalist survival kit with you in your go bag, which also carries the needed supplies for the beach, but now you have a terrible choice to make.

You cannot remain near the shore when the tsunami strikes, but being overtaken by the onrushing water even at some distance will mean certain death for you and your parents.

  • Option 1 – Get Inside the Nearest Sturdy Building: It is crucial that you get as far away from the shore as you can when dealing with a tsunami; you are entirely acquainted with how deadly they are, but it is deadlier still to be caught out of doors. There is no way you’re going to make it any considerable distance with your elderly parents, even carrying them in a relay. The first sturdy buildings you can reach, so you’re all going to pile in and take your chances. You are minimally prepared for a long stay, but hopefully rescue will come after the final recession.
  • Option 2 – Get As Far Away as You Can: The strength and danger of a tsunami is geometrically worse the closer you are to shore. If you’re not dragged down and drowned by the incredible mass of water, it is just as likely that you will be swept out to sea no matter how strong a swimmer you are. You and your partner will probably die, and your parents wouldn’t stand a chance. Your only hope is to get as far as you can with what time you have, no matter the risk.
  • Option 3 – Get off the Ground: An outside-the-box play might be best here: There are quite a few sturdy trees and telephone poles nearby that you think could withstand the onslaught. If you use this time wisely, you think it is possible to hoist your parents safely up off the ground where you can wait for the waters to recede before moving on.

Blackout – Medical Misadventure

  • Setting: Your freakishly overpriced apartment, New York City, New York
  • Group: You and your partner.
  • Scenario: A snap storm system has knocked out power over a wide area, and then a simple case of operator error led to a cascading series of equipment destruction that has blacked out much of New England.

You always knew that large-scale blackouts were possible, and especially possible in the old, antiquated and ramshackle power grid attendant with living in New England, but you didn’t think it would happen now, of all times.

A late-season storm system rapidly coalesced into an organized monster that steamrolled its way through Pennsylvania, New Jersey and New York with much sound and fury, spawning tornadoes all the while.

Sure enough, the power went out a couple of times but it always came back on between batterings. Then it went out and stayed out, and as far as you can tell so did the rest of the city.

You are able to get scattered bits of information from what people still had access to the internet or phone service, and it turns out the problem is much bigger than you initially thought.

Power is out across the vast majority of New England, and the only places that still have lights on in the city have their own dedicated power generation facilities, or access to backup power sources.

Hopefully, that includes your local clinic and hospitals because your partner remains gravely ill from an existing condition and is getting worse. It has been an absolute nightmare trying to get her in to see a doctor through all the attendant chaos.

The situation at large is deteriorating. A couple of days without power, and the gremlins have all come out to play, with police response being gravely hampered. Hospitals and clinics are overwhelmed with cases great and small, and organization is suffering, increasing lead times.

Mercifully, you were able to reach your usual doctor down at his local clinic, and he agreed that your partner needs emergency care. He told you to head to the local hospital, and he would get in touch with someone there to pave the way for you.

You have been waiting for a couple of hours after checking in, and there does not seem to be the first sign of anyone attending to your partner. Whether or not your doc made the call remains unknown.

With things getting worse by the minute throughout the city, you are wondering if it is time to bug out and seek help elsewhere, some place that still has power.

  • Option 1 – Head Upstate: You have heard it told already that there are a few smaller towns in upstate New York that still have power, and some of them even have decent medical centers. It is going to take time for you to get there, but perhaps this is the best option considering there are less people heading that way to get out of the city. A potential downgrade in medical facilities compared to New York City proper is just something you will have to chance.
  • Option 2 – Head to Jersey: New Jersey is much closer, and though they are affected by the power outage it is not quite as pronounced as it is in New York. The problem is that most residents you have heard of that are evacuating have the exact same plan, and traffic snarls are all but a certainty. Vineland is likely far enough away to get clear of the refugees from the Big Apple, and still get the help you need.
  • Option 3 – Stay Put: If your partner is going to get the help they need, it is going to be here and one of the medical capitals of the country, power outage be damned. You’re confident if you can just hold on all of this will blow over, and you don’t want to risk going from bad to worse getting irretrievably caught in some mass exodus from the city.

Hurricane – Harrowing Rescue

  • Setting: Your home, Crystal River, Florida
  • Group: You, your partner, three kids.
  • Scenario: A category 1 hurricane heading north and west away from Florida through the Gulf of Mexico has suddenly intensified into a monstrous Category 4 storm and is growing stronger by the hour. Plot twist: the storm has button hooked, and is now barreling back towards the West Coast of Florida. Landfall is expected.

You have lived in the Sunshine State for most of your life, and been through hurricanes great and small both direct hits and near misses. This is not one you’re going to mess around with; there is a better than even chance this will be a Cat-5 before it makes landfall.

Happily, you have been through this particular song and dance many times before, and getting your house boarded up and your bug-out bags loaded into your family vehicle is going off like a well-rehearsed dance.

But then the call comes in; your aunt across the state in Fort Lauderdale is desperate to evacuate, but doesn’t have a ride.

She’s a newly-arrived transplant to the state, and has not yet made dependable friends or associates in the area. She has no one else to depend on since your uncle, her husband, died a couple of years prior.

You suspect she is just nervous about the entire affair and perhaps Fort Lauderdale will be spared the worst of the storm since it is on the opposite coast, but by all accounts this one’s going to be bad enough where you can take no chances.

She wants you to come and get her, but the time is already drawing close to departure hour, and every highway and interstate in the state is clogged with evacuees already. What should you do…?

  • Option 1 – Retrieve Aunt, Bug Out Northbound: You don’t leave your people behind, especially family. You know it is going to completely blow your timetable, and perhaps see you on the roads when the storm makes landfall, and then starts to get properly bad, but then again you might be able to wind your way north a little quicker using lesser traveled highways.
  • Option 2 – Evacuate Posthaste without Aunt: You have said it and said it, and you can say it no more. People have to have a plan for dealing with hurricanes, and you are not going to put your partner and children in even more jeopardy to pick up your “springtime grasshopper” of an aunt. You definitely aren’t going to separate from your immediate family. She can shelter in place and take her chances.
  • Option 3 – Meet Aunt, Charter a Plane: It is a long shot and is going to be expensive, but if you can come up with a pilot on short notice who will fly in cloudy, rainy weather you can meet your aunt in Fort Lauderdale and take a small plane north, at least far enough to get well away from Florida and the coasts. The logistics are going to be challenging, but if you travel light and call in a favor you think it can be done.

Blizzard – High-Risk Reunion

  • Setting: Your home, somewhere in Iowa.
  • Group: You and your partner, partner’s niece; your parents, elsewhere.
  • Scenario: Winter has settled in with a vengeance, and an arctic system diving in from Canada is making its presence known, first with powerful winter storms and plunging temperatures, and then with outright blizzard conditions for the past 12 hours, with no relief in sight.

Cold and blustery winter conditions are nothing new to you and your partner, though her young niece is getting a charge out of it since she picked the wrong time to come and visit.

However, no one was prepared for this early-season whiteout that snowballed, forgive the pun, right into a proper blizzard. Even now, the meteorologists are saying this thing is not going to let up anytime soon, so anyone who is not prepared for the long haul freeze-in is going to be in trouble.

You got a great deal on your house, but part of that reason is because it does not have ubiquitous gas heat, and you weren’t prepared to shell out the exorbitant cost necessary to run gas to it.

Luckily, you have a fireplace and a mammoth supply of well seasoned firewood that you are confident will get you through this cold weather. Of greater concern to you are your parents, who live about a hundred miles away and are facing this situation all on their own. You know they are not as well prepared as they need to be.

Though conditions are already pretty nasty, they will be completely impassable in a day’s time, if that. You want to get to your parents, both to consolidate your resources, and make sure they are taken care of but also so that you, your partner and her niece can have the safety and certainty of plentiful gas heating.

Your partner has already kyboshed the idea, not willing to risk the hazardous roadways especially with her young niece in tow.

You don’t particularly like the idea of splitting up and leaving the girls at home behind, but on the other hand, you are worried sick about your parents, especially since the phone lines have gone down (but that is typical)…

  • Option 1 – Everyone Goes to Parents House: It is risky being on the roads, and will get even riskier the longer you wait, but you are an experienced winter driver. You are not willing to let your parents go this one alone, and just as importantly, it is imperative that you have a totally reliable and efficient heating system to warm your shelter. The smartest play under the circumstances is to put your foot down, load everyone in the car right away, grab your bags, and head for Mom and Dad’s house.
  • Option 2 – Head to Parent’s House Alone: You definitely don’t want to risk your partner and her young niece on those treacherous roads, but you damn well aren’t going to let your parents go through this by themselves. You’re certain you can get to your parents’ home while leaving your significant other and nice snug as a bug back at yours. Your fireplace is more than capable of keeping one room comfortably warm, and they have every provision known to man in neat ranks on the shelves. You can assess the situation and respond accordingly once you get to your parents.
  • Option 3Bug In: The situation is already bad on the roadways, and is going to get worse. You just can’t risk it. You know the heating system at your parents house is gas heat and totally dependable, and if the situation gets nasty they will need to get help locally. You aren’t going to help them or yourselves by putting yourself in a dangerous situation out on the roads for a 100-mile one-way trip.

By a Different Way

That concludes the list of various bug-out scenarios that will put you to the test, and scenarios just like these happen all the time.

But a question for you, reader: while you were reviewing and pondering these various scenarios were you able to think of any alternate choices or approaches? Perhaps something that is unique to your lifestyle, location or skillset?

The options presented here are not the only way to tackle the scenarios listed, just a way, and you would be wise to think of others in order to flex your mental planning and procedure muscles.

But no matter what alternative approaches you come up with, make sure you assess them in totality. What are the risks? What are the benefits? Where is the point of greatest vulnerability where your plan can go completely off the rails and end in disaster?

One good method for shaking down a theoretical bug-out plan is to work it backwards from the worst possible conditions you might experience. If the plan can survive the worst conditions, your chance of success will only go up with every degree down from “complete nightmare”.

Be sure to let us know what you would do in any of these given situations down in the comments below!


Bugging out is often a necessary and prudent response to a disaster or to imminent peril. However, you are short-changing yourself if you plan on simply hopping in the car and leaving town just as easily as you please.

Oftentimes, there will be other factors – with the event, with yourself or with your dependents – that will greatly complicate things, and force you to make difficult, marginal choices. But these are the choices you must be prepared to make if you want to survive.

You can increase your chances of obtaining a positive outcome by strategizing around these possible contingencies that we have listed above.

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1 thought on “10 Bug-Out Scenarios to Practice Today”

  1. This is great but the current SHTF is not being addressed here. How do you bug out from a country? How do you save your preps when they are financial and the golden horde is being spearheaded by a hungry government who wants to steal your frugal sacrifices? That’s applicable NOW. Please consider looking out for your customers when they need you.

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