Choosing a Bug Out Location: Staying Safe When SHTF

Even though it is wiser to bug in rather than to bug out in a majority of survival scenarios, there may be certain situations where your home is directly threatened and you have no choice but for you and your family to bug out for the sake of safety.

In the event that you do evacuate your home, you need to have at least one place for you to bug out to, or a bug out shelter.  Where this bug out shelter is and how you will get there will largely determine whether or not you bugging out keeps you and your family alive.

In this article, we are going to discuss how to select a bug out shelter including taking into account the distance it is from your home, the route(s) you will use to get into, and specific considerations to take into account when actually choosing the place for your shelter.

How Far Should Your Bug Out Location Be From Your Home?

Ideally, your bug out shelter needs to be a drivable distance from your home but still far enough so that you can get away from any disaster that strikes there

Remember that the whole purpose to having a bug out shelter is to have a place to evacuate to in the event that your current home becomes too dangerous to bug in at.  That’s why it must be reachable while also being far away enough that it can be safe from immediate danger

Only you know what you believe you will be able to realistically reach in your car.  Some preppers like to have their bug out location around twenty miles from their home, while others like to have it up to a hundred miles away.

Just remember that you’ll be exposed out on the open road while driving to your bug out shelter, so a hundred mile away shelter could be too risky to reach.  At the same time, one that’s only twenty miles away may not be far enough from the danger that’s causing you to bug out in the first place.

Carefully analyze the circumstances of your situation and then make the decision as to how far your bug out shelter will be.  Balance the risk of driving on the open road vs. the distance you are from danger when making your decision.

What Routes Will You Take to Get to Your Bug Out Location?

It’s arguable that the actual distance of your bug out shelter from your home is not what matters, but rather the routes to your bug out shelter.  There should be multiple available routes, as in at least three or four minimum, for you to use reach your bug out shelter.

Remember that an SHTF scenario is going to be one of the most chaotic and life threatening situations that you ever find yourself in.  You have to decide if you are going to stay or evacuate. The roads are going to be clogged with traffic, desperate people will do desperate things to get what they need to survive, and many roads will simply become shut down by the authorities.

This is why that you can’t just have a backup route for reaching your bug out shelter, but multiple bug out routes.  When one route becomes blocked off or is too dangerous, you will always have another route to turn to.

Bug Out Location Requirements

There are four qualities that the actual location for your bug out shelter should meet: it should be secluded, it should be easily defensible, it should have at least two escape routes, and it should have plenty of natural resources.

Search for a location that has plenty of trees and is nestled in between some hills or mountains.  This way you have plenty of cover to avoid others from spotting your location.

The high ground is always the most easily defensible ground.  Always.  That’s why your bug out location needs to be on elevated rather than flat terrain where you can fire down against attacking forces, and with plenty of natural cover such as hills and mounds for you to fire from.

Take note that one of your two ‘escape routes’ cannot be the main entrance road that you use for getting into your location.  The reason why is because any attacking forces will either utilize or block off that road in invasion effort, making it useless as an escape route.

As for natural resources, having a source of natural water is a must.  Rivers, streams, and lakes work the best.  Don’t count stagnant ponds as your natural water sources.

Evidence of natural wildlife, plenty of fish in your water source, and edible plants and vegetation are also big bonuses when it comes to natural resources.

Tips for Building an Actual Bug Out Shelter

The number one priority when building a bug out shelter is that it have enough storage space for you to keep all of your preps.  This means storage space for your water, food, ammunition, medical equipment, personal hygiene items, and whatever else you need to survive

There should also be plenty of living space in your bug out shelter as well.  It doesn’t have to be complex with numerous bedrooms, living rooms, bathrooms, and what not, but it does need to have enough space for your family to live and sleep comfortably.

In this regard, there are a variety of options you have for your actual bug out shelter.  You may decide that you can get by with just an RV for living and a separate shed for storage.  Or you may want to build a wood cabin or even an entire house.

How Long Will You Stay?

The scary thing about disasters is that you never know how long they will last.  As a result, it can be difficult to predict for how long you need to prepare for.

Keep in mind that if you’re bugging out of your home, you’re likely going to be staying at your bug out shelter for some time, regardless of what the situation is.

Therefore, as a general rule of thumb, you should plan to stay at your bug out shelter for a minimum of one year, and set preparations accordingly.


Well there you have it: your bug out shelter needs to be a realistic distance from your home with multiple routes for getting there, it needs to be secluded and defensible, and it needs to have enough resources so that you can live there for a long time if necessary.

Choosing a bug out shelter that meets his criteria won’t be easy, but it can be done.  And once you do have a bug out location selected, you will know exactly where to go and how to get there in the event that disaster strikes your home and forces you to evacuate.