Having a plan for “bugging out” is an option that pretty much every survivalist includes in his or her survival plans.
It’s where you or I would retreat to when we determine it’s time to “get out of Dodge” in the event of a natural or man-made disaster. For those of us who can’t afford such a place, we still need a planned location to get to, even if we don’t have a cabin already built and stocked with everything we need to survive.
While most people will take whatever they can get, there are several things you should consider when you are looking at a bug-out retreat location. Each of these things apply to an even greater extent if you don’t have that cabin in the woods and are going to try and survive in the wild.
You need the retreat far enough from your home so that any weather event that affects your home won’t affect your retreat. That could create a rather lengthy commute to your retreat, if your home is near the coast in a hurricane zone. In such a case, you’d want your retreat to be far enough inland to ensure that the hurricane would have dissipated before it struck your location.
The big problem with a retreat that is far from your home is the problem of getting there. Most people will want to drive, which you should do … if you can. However, you should also ensure that you leave home with enough fuel to get you to your destination. You may not be able to buy fuel along the way. Assume delays in your fuel calculations.
But what if you can’t drive there? If you are going to have to walk, then you’ll need to ensure that you have enough supplies to eat to sustain you through that walk. Of course, there you have the problem of carrying that much food. See my article on “Beyond the Bug-Out Bag” for ideas about this.
2. Proximity to population centers
You truly want to avoid any major population centers. Establishing a retreat that is close to a population center just guarantees that someone is going to find you — most likely, someone you’d rather not have find you.
On the other hand, locating within a day’s walk of a small town could end up being useful. Small town communities are more likely to pull together and work to help each other survive during a disaster. Integrating yourself into that community could become useful — if for nothing else, than as a source of resupply.
As much as possible, you want your survival retreat to be hidden from view. Obviously, that will be easier to accomplish in some types of terrain than in others. But as you are planning, use the terrain to your benefit — especially trees and other foliage to hide your retreat.
At the same time, you need good visibility to see anyone who is approaching your retreat. This can be from an upstairs or rooftop balcony, a lookout built in a tree, or a convenient rock outcropping located close to your shelter. Whatever you do, you don’t want that lookout point to be obviously identifiable as a lookout.
Of all the natural resources, water is the one you’ll need the most. Make sure that you have a reliable source of water, within a reasonable distance from your retreat. Remember: You may not be able to drive to water, as you may not have any gas. So, it needs to be a place that you can get to on foot and bring the water back.
As part of that, you need to consider how you would haul the water. Ideally you can use your vehicle for that, but if you don’t have any source of gasoline, you’ll need some other way. A hand truck with a couple of five gallon buckets will work, as well as almost any other type of cart you can come up with.
Don’t overlook the possibility of rainwater catchment there at your survival retreat. Design the roof so that you can collect the water falling on it. In addition, look for places where water would flow during rainfall and what you can do to dam up those areas and collect the water.
If you are in a moderate to cold climate, you’ll need fuel to keep your cabin or shelter warm. Is there abundant fuel available without having to cut down all the trees? You’ll go through a lot of wood heating a cabin through the winter. Ideally, that will be deadfalls, but if you have to cut trees, you want to be sure that you won’t be thinning them out too much.
What sources of food are readily available nearby your retreat? Ideally, you’ll have food stocked there. But if you can hunt or fish, that will help to augment the food you have stored. However, you really don’t want to depend on hunting and fishing, as you may not be able to catch enough to keep you fed. Therefore, what about edible plants or planting a vegetable garden? Is there room for that? Is the ground appropriate for it?
7. Building materials
If you are going to have to build your own retreat, what materials are available that you can use for construction? Is there stone available for a fireplace? Is there wood for a log cabin? Throughout history, mankind has adapted their building style to utilize the materials available. Can you do that with the materials you have on site, or will you need to bring in materials? Once again, like with the fuel, you don’t want to thin out the forest too much, just to build your cabin.
What items would you add to this list? Share your tips in the section below: