When reading survivalist literature, on various blogs and in fiction, there are many good ideas and suggestions, but often suffering from an idealization of circumstances, both before and after “the event”, which throws all into confusion. On the one hand, preparations for disaster are too often haunted by the twin hell-hounds of over-confidence and the myth of universal preparedness. Over-confidence, in that the prepper is assumed to have unlimited financial resources and time to purchase the items suggested and to acquire the training needed to do various things. Universal preparedness, being a myth, is based on the idea that the things prepared for are the things one will have to deal with. Reality is a sloppy mess at times, and the things that happen are often not the things one has thought to deal with. Chaos is always bubbling under the surface, and in a SHTF scenario, chaos bursts to the surface. Therefore, it is not theoretically possible to be prepared for anything and everything. One can prepare for those things one has the imagination to project out into the future, but one cannot prepare for that which has not been imagined.
On the subject of bug out bags and bugging out in general, these deficiencies of the imagination can be fatal. On the one hand, one can over pack their bags, leading to a slow and painful foot evacuation, which inevitably results in taking rests, perhaps at the exact moment when one must keep moving, or gear must be shed to lighten the load and continue the trek toward safety. Packing a vehicle, one should also keep in mind that there is a fair likelihood of not being able to complete the journey in a vehicle. Whether automotive breakdowns, road blockages, carjacking, or inaccessible terrain, the reality is the longer the vehicular journey to a safe place during a crisis, the greater the odds of a disruption and possible rehabilitating breakdown. Journeys should be planned and packing done with the assumption of getting at least part of the way there on foot. Your vehicle may get you closer to the destination and faster, but do not assume that a vehicle will get you all of the way there.
Bugging out is a problematic subject. Much has been written on this subject, and I do not wish to rehash it. But suffice to say, if you do not get the “jump” on traffic, whether by early warning or simply pulling up stakes and leaving before it gets really bad, then chances are you will be stuck in traffic at some point. Fuel costs will immediately begin spiking up, as soon as a generalized crisis is announced, and travel restrictions may well come into play at some point. If you are not fully prepared at that moment and ready to go, you may well miss a narrow window of opportunity to get from point A to point B.
Bugging in is a preferred option for many, especially the elderly and the disabled. Those without financial resources to secure a secondary residence are also likely to bug in. Bugging in consists of securing the home for an extended stay indoors with little to no outside relief. One can fortify the home with improved doors, locks, alarm systems, fences, et cetera. Certainly, one should store enough food and water to stay indoors for an absolute minimum of two weeks. For an extended crisis, one should store enough food to last for multiple months and up to one year. Fortification of the home should also increase exponentially with the projected duration and severity of the foreseen crisis.
For an extended crisis, one should also raise food resources, from gardening to small livestock, and even small luxuries like homemade beer and wine. I am of the opinion that black market trade will always exist, regardless of any national or local crisis, and many things can be obtained even in the worst circumstances, but the question becomes: What are you willing to trade in exchange for whatever is on sale?
One thing that one should not be without in a crisis is a firearm and plenty of ammunition. While it may be possible to trade for guns and ammo, even deep into a crisis, valuation will be so high as to require the buyer to give up things they had no intention of being without. Then, the owner of the gun may decide to simply take what you have and give you nothing in return. In which case you will be lucky to escape with your life. Therefore, always have a gun, regardless of any law. Every American should have at least one gun hidden away somewhere it cannot be found. The day may come when only such hidden guns are the last barrier between absolute tyranny and the possibility of one day achieving the freedom we once knew.
The flip side is, in certain circumstances, having a gun is the one thing that will surely result in the loss of your freedom. Checkpoints are an ideal gun disarmament zone. I have manned checkpoints and done other security work, and I can assure you that when I was at the checkpoint there was no such thing as a legal gun. Anyone attempting to cross through under suspicion of having a gun would be quickly detained or worse. The only exception to the rule is VIP’s. Are you a VIP? If not, then this advice is for you. There was at least one occasion when I had a legal gun that had to be left behind in order to cross an international border into a country where everybody hated me, and they would have killed me on principle. On the other hand, if I had tried to sneak a gun through security, I would have been in quite a pickle.
If you find yourself stuck in traffic on the way to your bug out and you see a checkpoint up ahead, know that your vehicular journey has come to an end. The only way out at this point is too quietly and with great stealth exit the vehicle with what you can easily carry in your hands and attempt to sneak into the cover by the side of the road. If you have not been seen exiting the vehicle, you may be able to escape into the woods and possibly continue your evasion until you reach your destination. Take with you any maps, GPS, and other material that may indicate your eventual destination. When the police and soldiers search your empty vehicle, they will find indicators that may alert them to go in hot pursuit. Your long rifle in the trunk is probable cause to initiate pursuit. Certainly, they will have your identity, either from insurance and registration left behind or from the VIN number. At this point in your escape, destroy and dispose of all identity documents. You can get new identity documents later, if you wish, and it may be wise to change your identity at this point.
From that point on, escape and evasion is the name of the game. Put all your training into practice, and this time it is for real. The likelihood of bringing legal guns through a checkpoint in a national crisis is virtually nil. The only result of passing through the checkpoint with guns in the vehicle will be your incarceration. So, leave the vehicle and sneak into the woods. Keep moving, and avoid highways. Do not attempt to camp out in the woods anywhere in that county or municipal jurisdiction. Keep moving, avoid highways, utilize drainage ditches to evade helicopters, stash and hide gear as necessary, change appearances, and in general consider yourself to be behind enemy lines.
One simple way to avoid this eventuality is simply to stay off the roads. Evacuate on foot, blend in with refugees, and affect a sad and discouraged demeanor, combined with dirty faces and worn clothing, and you are likely to attract less attention. I recommend taking with you in the vehicle, a folding shopping cart and a dirty change of clothes in case one must suddenly take on the appearance of “homeless” refugees. With any luck and perhaps a CB radio or a police scanner in the vehicle, one might take advantage of a rest stop to make this transformation before traffic is stopped at a bottleneck of a checkpoint.
I have a little experience in escape and evasion, running blockades, and even running from the law. Without going into details, I have crossed international borders during a national lock-down for reasons of security. I have crossed into hostile countries where there are people who would murder me if they only knew my identity. I have crossed international borders in violation of a court order. Of course I had to see the judge after the fact, but I was able to make that “bug out” when I felt it was necessary. I have also done quite a bit of E&E from basic common criminals. On at least one occasion, the gentleman in question had a gun and intended to shoot me with it.
No system of security is perfect. There is always the possibility of escape, and to make that escape one must remain confident that it is possible. The number one reason that people get caught is that they give up. They despair of escape, and so they remain where they ought not to be, awaiting capture. The second reason people get caught is that they do not believe they can get caught. Overconfidence can also be a disability. One must walk the razor’s edge between confidence and paranoia. At all times, remain calm, bland, and uninteresting. Security guards I have encountered while on the run did not see any signs of nervousness or else I would have been caught. Also, contraband in luggage is a sure way to get caught. Sometimes, one must travel very light to get through obstacles, human and otherwise. On the other hand, carrying no luggage at all is sometimes regarded as suspicious.
Bugging out should be considered a form of escape and evasion. Anything less is preparing to fail. Even when the crisis has not yet arrived, one should plan and execute an orderly evacuation as if behind enemy lines. Just as the hunter sees sudden movement in the brush, so do security forces alert to hasty moves and a high energetic state of “nervousness”. Whatever your plan, do dry runs with all principals involved, make sure everyone knows their role and the script. Have a perfectly reasonable explanation why you are traveling, and do not give an excuse to search the vehicle. If the vehicle is likely to be searched in any case, make an effort to have the more suspicious items not in the vehicle, i.e. pre-positioned at the safe house. Otherwise, hide certain things in parts of the vehicle that are not likely to be searched. A license for a firearm is no excuse at a checkpoint when the orders from on high are to disarm and arrest everyone suspicious. Plan, train, and execute; rinse, repeat. Practice makes perfect.