Two Letters Re: Get Out of Dodge Considerations

Mr. Rawles,
I know this is not really any kind of revelation, but it seems worth saying again. If you can’t live at your retreat, have a loaded bug out trailer or pre-position a substantial amount of provisions at your retreat. Thus, you put yourself in a far superior position. My family decided to take a spur-of-the-moment camping trip last weekend. The whole time I was getting ready, I was thinking “What if this were a bug out situation?”. Although I have most of the equipment conveniently situated in my basement, it took me almost 3 hours to load the gear we eventually decided to take. We took too much for the length of the trip and forgot a few things. Admittedly I was waiting for my wife to make some decisions about what she wanted to take, but it’s easy to think there would be confusion that would use up that much time in a real emergency. My plan for most emergencies is to hunker down at home, and if I had to evacuate quickly, I would grab a few essentials and go. My big concern is being able to get everyone home after an emergency. But having a bug out trailer pre-packed or living at your retreat is optimum. – C.G. in NC

Dear Jim:
I moved recently, and the parallels to bugging out were pretty obvious – a lot of stuff to move in a fairly high stress situation. Fortunately the deadline was not nearly as severe as bugging out, but even so, I got a good reminder on several lessons that are so easy to let slide.
1) If your stuff is organized it’s a lot faster and easier. If it’s a jumble, it’s time consuming nightmare. It took very little time when my stuff was well-packed and labeled, but it seemed to take forever when I had to organize and move at the same time. Keep it all organized in plastic tubs (not cardboard boxes that fold in the rain) and clearly labeled to avoid confusion. Don’t raid your BOB for one item, and leave it unpacked, etc., etc.
2) Don’t move too much stuff! The preparedness mindset can also be a pack rat mentality, and we definitely had too much stuff to move. Twice as much stuff takes twice as long to load and tires you out twice as much. It reminded me of the folks in your novel “Patriots” who tried to pack too much, too late, and only Got Out Of Dodge on foot, and under fire. Pre-positioning is a lot easier than moving under stress.
3) If your equipment is well-maintained you might be okay. If not, Murphy’s Law will bite with a vengeance. I took my truck to the shop in the last week before, and, of course it took longer than expected, wasn’t done right the first time, and then they couldn’t get the right part, etc., etc. Keep all your vehicles and tools ahead of the curve on maintenance. If we do have a TEOTWAWKI situation, you will have a cushion while your vehicles and equipment still works while you adapt to the new situation.
4) If your fitness is not up, you will suffer. I’m in pretty good shape, running 20+ miles per week, but moving several tons of stuff, and all the stress of moving, still wiped me out by the end of the day. If you aren’t on a physical fitness program, it will be a short, sharp shock to find out how badly our sedentary lives prepare us for hard physical work. Even just walking briskly for a half hour a day is a good start.
5) Keep ALL of your body maintained – moving, or bugging out, is not the time for an illness, a toothache, or a backache. Don’t let yourself get in a sleep deficit, eat your veggies, see the dentist every six months, and get proactive on any physical weaknesses. Keep your body ahead of the curve on maintenance.
I have had some minor back problems in the past, so I got on my back maintenance exercises and pulled through with only minor soreness.
These two books are absolutely excellent to get fast results correcting the root causes – and avoid wasting time and money with doctors that only treat symptoms:
Treat Your Own Back
The Back Power Program

My bet is a lot of older folks who try to bug out will also put their back out, and really be in serious trouble.
6) Get strong mentally. Expect screw-ups and prepare mentally to deal with them. About half of the various services and contractors we arranged with, showed up late and/or didn’t do everything they were supposed to do.
So don’t plan or relying on anyone but yourself to get it done right, and make a conscious choice that you will face the inevitable stresses with a can-do attitude – even better, with good humor. Monitor your own behavior and discipline yourself to make the right choices. This is something we can all practice every day.
7) Build slack time into the plan. Between too much stuff, and truck repair problems, and contractor screw ups, my original idea of how long it “should” take was a fantasy. Think how long it “should” take, double it for a more realistic estimate, and then plan around a worst case of doubling the time again.8) Practice by taking a camping or backpacking trip. You’ll find out your strength and weaknesses, and get a chance to correct before you have to do it for real.Hope it helps, – OSOM