I know most of this is regularly covered, but in case anyone missed these, I just wanted to point out a few concerns.
First: Food. There are roughly 30 million deer in America. Every hunting season, about 6 million deer are harvested over the course of a few months, with the firearms seasons only making up a few weeks of that period. And this is what, a couple million hunters per year? If a mere 5% of the U.S. population bugged out, that's 15 million mouths to feed. If a deer lasts a handful of people one week (which I think is optimistic, since I feel few would have the knowledge or skill to preserve it longer than a couple days), that's a few million deer taken per week just to feed hungry mouths. The deer would be almost gone in two months. Even with about a billion squirrels, how many do you think people would need to shoot to keep their families fed? I mean, I'd bet most heads of household would try to shoot at least one per day, per individual. So, if 15 million people bugged out, half the squirrels would be gone in about a month, which means they are just going to get harder and harder to find until it is an unreliable source of food. Yes, there are many more sources of meat, but again through the same logic it is pretty easy to see that nobody should count on more than a few months worth of consistent food sources. And people won't last more than a couple of weeks with anything they can fit in their packs (at least without feeling the hunger and starting to get desperate).
Not to mention, how much of this land do you think will be private? Now, not that everyone with an acreage is crazy or whatever, but how would those of you with lots of land feel about people camping out in it and killing all your local game? Just another thing to worry about.
Then think about the issue of bugging out too early to beat the rush, and finding the issue has worked itself out. After you drag your family out in into the woods in the middle of the week, will they follow and cooperate so readily the next time when it's really happening? Will you have a job when you return?
As far as bugging out during the rush goes, most likely your going to get stuck in traffic. If you have a bicycle, chances are you aren't going to get far enough away to avoid the above problems. If you have a suped-up Jeep, you might become a target, and the same applies to riding out on ATVs, dirtbikes, or horseback. If nothing else, you'll likely be constantly hassled for rides or supplies, to the point it could become dangerous. Obviously, the point would be to head away
from people, but with a mass exodus of millions of people, you'd have to go pretty far before you really got away from everyone. In any case, as with "living" off someone else's land, cutting across the pasture behind some country home won't earn you a very warm welcome from its occupants during times of crisis
. So, if bugging out from a populated area, I wouldn't try to count on being able to load your truck up with a year's worth of supplies, as I believe chances are you won't get where your going with them. Either you're going to have to abandon your vehicle, or you'll be such a big target that it will eventually be taken.
Now, yes, there are a lucky few who are going to be far enough from population centers that they won't face these challenges, or at least not as quickly. There is a small percentage of those who will head to the hills that know how to preserve meat and what plants and bugs can be eaten as well. But, of all the people I've personally heard proclaim they'll just pack up their camping gear and head into the mountains, only a VERY small percentage of them really knew enough about primitive living or true "survival" to really make it, and I'm not claiming to be one of them!
So, really, it is absolutely a good idea to be prepared to leave. But first, be prepared to stay
. Stock up a decent amount of food and water and such. I've noticed a trend in people whoview Bugging Out as a primary emergency option, in that they tend to ignore the importance of being prepared to stay in. I can say this because I started out the same way and see it in many others; all sorts of sweet gear and such, but essentially none of the basics of food and water at home for the simpler "what if the supply lines are temporarily cut or overwhelmed, and people buy up all the food in the stores and I can't get more for a month?" We are far more likely to encounter such a situation with general food shortages than we are to encounter a situation so bad that it drives people by the millions out of their homes and into the wild. I mean, we'd have to be talking about maybe a nuke going off a few miles away, zombies, or maybe some kind of invasian (from space, or from another country--with about the same likelihood :P ). In fact, the only time I think I'd readily bug out, but would not
be among a panicking mob, would be if some really
bad sickness got out. It would have to be slow enough that it isn't an over-night-and-millions-are-dead kind of thing, because that would surely cause the panicked evacuation. But it must be serious enough that businesses and schools are cancelled (this is more of a measure of its seriousness, than saying "I won't leave until my boss gives me the ok!"). Only then could I forsee one being able to head into the hills without having to deal with millions of refugees.
Anyways, just some thoughts. IMO it is way better to plan
to stay home than it is to plan
to big out. Even in an apartment, bugging out should be a last resort, and only if some very serious problems become local to you (rioting and / or fires consuming your neighborhood, or the aforementioned horde of zombies / aliens / russians drawing near). Other than that, at least
wait until your own supplies run out. If you make it three weeks and there is no sign of things getting better, AND it's bad enough that bugging out is a better option than just trying to make the best of it**, the majority of people will either be dead, in government shelters or camps, or otherwise indisposed enough to allow you to move more freely than when they all were headed in the same direction as you. Bugging out early probably won't get you anything, as the assumption is the problem exists over a large region (or else they'd just have shipped the food from the next town over, or whatever), and you'd be leaving most of the supplies already stored at home (including changes of clothes, toilet paper, tools, etc, and not just a few bags of beans and rice).
**This would be something like if open fighting in the streets has become a problem, riots or fires are spreading, etc. Basically, serious harm or death must be very likely if you don't leave. A lack of readily-available food, again, probably won't be any different within hundreds of miles if the problem has lasted that long.