Much has been written regarding bug-out bags, vehicle choice and maintenance, weaponry and retreat locations but the one issue missing is how you are going to get there. There are numerous issues to consider in selecting your primary and alternate routes to your bug-out location and hopefully the following will assist in your route selection and maintaining security en route.
Route selection can depend on numerous decision points such as fuel locations, traffic load, choke points and law enforcement roadblocks / checkpoints. Do the highway entry / exit points already have gates on them to close them off during inclement weather? Later in the article these issues are addressed in more detail. One is the most important points to remember is to travel both the primary and alternate routes and become familiar with them. Pay particular attention to what is normal today and make notes to refer to when traveling when the going gets tough. Get to know the folks at the mom and pop convenience stores so they will recognize you when the going gets tough, a little conversation and smile cultivated today could go a long way in the future.
Keep in mind that you are probably the safest while the wheels are rolling as well as having an increased ability for evasive actions.
This should be the quickest route between point A and B. However, it very well may not be the best most secure route. Is it traveling an interstate highway? If you are able to have enough lead time before the masses panic then you may be able to beat the rush of traffic that may use that route to escape the city. If you are looking at using a less traveled route such as a state highway or rural route, be sure to drive those and become familiar with them.
One of the inherent problems with interstate highway travel is that exits can be few and far between as well as the fact that they tend to run between larger cities and those could be where you might encounter the most problems. Also, most Americans have become accustomed to driving interstates and rarely get off those highways so they could become congested in short order. Of course, there is an advantage to having plenty of gas stations and maintenance facilities available in the event of mechanical problems.
Always have back-up route and be familiar with it. Traveling on less used state highways could afford one much more security but there would be a trade-off in available services. While these routes could take longer; they might offer a higher security level. Often on secondary roads there will normally more detours available to you such as county or farm roads that will allow you to bypass areas and still continue in your desired direction.
Detour around large cities:
Check your maps and investigate the routes around large cities, avoid them at all costs. It may take an extra hour to detour but could well save you countless hours in road jams and lessen your odds of confrontation.
Road Atlas / Maps:
Purchase a large road atlas and use wet erase or permanent markers for marking of primary and secondary routes using different colors. Get an atlas with large print so you can read it in low-light conditions or so that you don’t need to find your “readers” to be able to see it. Also, if you have a traveling companion, have them review the maps and notes often to stay informed of what is ahead of you.
Points to consider:
Concrete / Cable barriers:
Numerous interstate highways have concrete / cable barriers dividing the lanes of traffic. Once you are on these roads you are committed until the next exit or highway. Normally there are few “official use only” turn around locations along these types of barriers so it is very important to travel the route and make note of these turn around locations, you can also record the GPS coordinates. I prefer to make notes on map sheets and a route planner. The biggest problem that I see in traveling on routes with these type of barriers is that will be very difficult to reverse route as turning around could very well not be an option. Cable barriers (those 2 – 4 cables running in the center median) to prevent head-on collisions could possibly be defeated with and large set of bolt-cutters. One of my biggest concerns about highways with these type of barriers is that it would be very simple to get caught in your direction of travel and not be able to reverse direction in the event of an accident or roadblock.
One of the observations that I have made over the past few years in snow/ice prone areas is that a number of cities are installing gates at the entry ramps so that in the event of inclement weather they can close off highways that are closed due to bad road conditions. They will more than likely use those during other “times of uncertainty”.
Keep your situational awareness up at any choke point such as four-way intersections, exits and overpasses.
More than likely, at some point you will need to purchase fuel (if the grid is still up). Someone should always stay with the vehicle, this is not a time to mess around. Do not go shopping, get in and get out. If you are serious about not being tracked to your end location, do not use credit or debit cards as they can be easily tracked. Only take in a set amount of cash and get back out to the vehicle. If you pay for $40 in fuel and only pump $38 – forget about the change and get back on the road. Always keep your vehicle in view and whoever stays with the car needs to get out and maintain situational awareness. Another note, prior to getting out of your vehicle, take out whatever cash you need and put it in a pocket for the purchase. Never take out your wallet and allow others to see additional cash, or cards.
Hills / High points:
If along your route there are hills and high points, stop before the crest and walk up and use binoculars to view the road ahead and look for anything unusual.
Ability to divert / change route:
Keep in mind each time you pass a turn off to an alternate route there is a good chance of not being able to make that choice again. Basically, once you pass the point of no return you are committed.
Route security measures:
Stay aware of your surrounding while driving at all times! Try not to get bunched up in a lot of traffic, always keep plenty of distance between you and the car(s) in front of you to allow you plenty of time to react in the event of an accident or other event. Never let yourself get boxed in, you never know if those around you are partners in crime.
Have a prearranged cover story and ensure all vehicle passengers are on the same page. If law enforcement personnel feel anything strange about the driver or occupants they will try to question everyone separately and then compare notes to see if you all are relaying the same story. Rehearse the story often and be sure and add in personal details which should include a name and mention that they are aging or sick. Try to work the sympathy card and stress that time is of the essence.
Try to have something from the bug-out location to show “officials” that you have a reason to be going there. Rent a post office box in the nearest town and show receipt, have a utility receipt or better yet a copy of your deed (this would be a last resort as giving the actual location may be recorded) just something ease their curiosity and allow you to proceed.
This issue could be a mixed bag, while rural folks tend to be friendlier and willing to help out a stranger, who knows what could happen if things start going south. Depending on the rural area that you are planning on traveling through, they could have their fair share of bad guys as well. One way to mitigate this would be to keep up on news from the area. Are there a lot of burglaries, dope busts and such? If so, might be best to avoid.
Items to have in your bug-out vehicle:
- Compass / GPS
- Spare fuel filter
- Fuel dryer / antifreeze (in case of bad fuel or water in fuel)
- Spare tire(s)
- Serpentine belt
- Duct tape
- Flat repair kit
- Water (yes, I know you know that but it bears repeating)
- Tools for normal road repairs
- Neutral earth tone tarp or camo netting (in case you have to stop – to help hide vehicle)
Bug-out vehicle security measures:
Disclaimer: I’m not advocating violating traffic laws just giving you food for thought.
- Turn off inside dome light so that if you open the door in the dark without notifying everyone in the area that you getting out of the vehicle. If you can’t turn it off, cover with duct tape or pull the bulb out.
- If you need to see inside the vehicle purchase a light that will plug into your power outlet and also try to find one with a red lens even better.
- Push bar or complete grill guard and install fog or driving lights with easily accessible interior on/off switch. If you feel that you are in an area with security concerns switch off your headlights and drive with the fog/driving lights.
- Figure out how to disable your brake light switch (normally) a spring loaded switch mounted in contact with the brake pedal. A simple wrap of electrical tape to hold the switch compressed will do the trick. Brake lights can be seen for miles and no reason to advertise.
- If you have to stop for rest or repairs get at least a couple of hundred yards off the road in an out of sight location. Also, I would recommend that you don’t sleep in the vehicle get 25 – 50 yards away in a hide sight where you can watch the vehicle. Today’s vehicles are very quiet inside and you may not be able hear approaching footsteps or voices and it could be very easy for a couple of bad guys to trap you inside.
- Keep your maintenance up to date on your vehicles, especially the tires.
- Make sure that everyone traveling with you has a set of keys and keep a set hidden somewhere under the car just in case you get separated.
In summary, I hope that this article can help you determine the safest, most secure routes and has given you some things to consider in your route selection. Look at your routes as if you were someone with ill-intent watching for prey, don’t become a victim and most of all maintain your situational awareness at all times. God’s speed and may His blessings be with you.