How to Make a Bug Out Plan

bug out plan

It can be argued that having a bug out plan is as or even more essential than having a packed bug out bag as one can escape mortal danger with or without a survival kit as long as they have a plan.

We have looked in the past at how to pick a bug out bag as well as what to put in it and even how to customize it for wilderness or urban survival.

Now we will maximize our survival preparedness by examining how to execute a bug out or strategic evacuation.

Click on the link below to download a free template for making your own custom bug out plan. The information presented in this article will help you make informed decisions while formulating this plan. Once it is complete, be sure to share it with anyone whom you will be bugging out with and conduct practice runs to make it second nature.

Also, be sure to review and update your bug out plan periodically to make sure it is effective towards the ever-changing threats you may face.

Factors to Consider When Making Your Bug Out Plan

1. What disasters are likely to occur in YOUR area?

An important part of survival preparedness is knowing what has happened historically. Is your area known for having massive floods? Are you in an earthquake zone? Has your town or city been a target of terrorist attacks?

Consider these factors when making your plan, as they may immediately eliminate some options or make others more favorable.

2. What are your personal strengths and weaknesses?

Considering these can help tailor your Bug Out Plan to complement your strengths, mitigate your weaknesses, and give you a much higher probability of survival.

  • Are you very fit? Great, you will be able to carry more survival supplies and plan a longer route.
  • Do you know how to perform survival first aid? That could be vital if a member of your party gets injured.

Identifying weaknesses can be as easy as understanding what survival skills you need to train in.

  • Can you make a fire reliably? Are you able to navigate at night with your map and compass?
  • Do you have a working knowledge of plants and animals in your area?

Learning these things and other survival skills will make your Bug Out Plan far stronger.

Remember, the more skills you have, the less you need to carry.

3. Plan on more than one possible destination

The best practice for survival planning is to have at least 4 destinations as a part of your Bug Out Plan, one for each cardinal direction on the map (North, South, East, West).

This can be narrowed down due to both geography and the likeliness of particular events occurring. For example, if you lived on the Mississippi River’s western bank and were preparing for a flood, you would not need to consider bugging out to the East. Having multiple destinations in your plan and multiple routes to each adds a level of flexibility that must be planned out ahead of time. Going through this planning effort will make you prepared no matter what disaster fate throws at you.

Going through this planning effort will make you prepared no matter what disaster fate throws at you.

4. Have specific destinations in mind

Having a destination in your bug out plan gives you a goal to work towards as you travel. This will have an enormous positive psychological impact on your survival scenario. Surviving is extremely difficult in even favorable conditions and having a positive state of mind makes a huge difference towards success.

Certain types of destinations, such as a second home, relative’s house, or designated camp also allow for caching survival supplies both at the location and on the routes to them. Besides giving you an even greater psychological boost, this will massively increase your odds of survival as well as lessen the amount you have to carry.

If none of these options are available, look for large public facilities or designated shelters, no matter what it is, having a destination is a key element to your bug out plan.

bug out plan - survival planning

5. Calculate how fast you will be able to travel

This is essential for planning your routes. If you can calculate your average travel speed you will know how many hours or days it will take you to reach your destination. This then informs you as to how much survival gear and supplies you need to either carry, forage, or cache along the way. Your average travel speed will be most heavily impacted by the following factors:

Weight of your Bug Out Bag

An average person should carry no more than 25 percent of their body weight in a backpack. More than this is possible but highly strenuous, plan your bug out bag accordingly. To aid you in determining what you will bring and how it will affect the overall weight of your bug out bag, we have created this free tool. It is even better if you can perform a test carry of your bag over a significant distance to ensure you can handle it. You need to be able to carry your pack for hours, if not days. Bringing too much weight will hobble your progress.

The terrain you will be crossing

The average walking speed with a pack is 2.5-4 miles per hour on flat ground. When planning your route, you need to account for what type of terrain you will be crossing. People often make the mistake of thinking that hiking downhill is faster than uphill. This is often not true, as hiking with a pack downhill will mean that you need to take extra care to have proper footing and to brace your steps. Will you be picking your way through rubble or having to cross a body of water? Plan a realistic pace as a part of your survival planning to have a better outcome.

Overall fitness

A very fit person will obviously be able to cover more ground than an unfit person. Assess yourself realistically for this trait; there are no egos in survival. If it has been a while since you went for a run, plan accordingly. The great part of making a Bug Out Plan is that it brings to light your weaknesses. This allows you to address them BEFORE they become a liability. If your plan would benefit from additional fitness, start slow going for walks or runs and then build up to conditioning your body to hike with the additional weight of a pack.

The makeup of your party

If you are creating Bug Out Plan for additional people you will have to consider this as a factor. If you are moving with elderly people or children, you should incorporate into your survival preparedness the additional resources and time needed to assist them. Do this by planning your routes’ progress based on how far you expect to travel at the pace of the least fit/mobile of your party.

bug out plan - map

Additional Factors to Include in Your Bug Out Plan

  • Plan on packing an extra waterproof or laminated map with your routes and destinations clearly marked. It is additionally helpful to mark landmarks along each route to aid navigation.
  • If you are bugging out with others, establish a rallying point for you all to meet at. Doing this beforehand avoids a messy situation where you are all wasting valuable time desperately attempting to contact each other when you should be on the move.
  • Also, bring along a list of emergency numbers for friends, family, and government agencies. This will help you stay in touch and keep updated on the disaster situation as it evolves.
  • This may seem obvious but actually USE your Bug Out Bag to make your journey easier. This may mean using your hatchet to fashion a shelter or pry tool to open a door to access a shortcut.  There is no point in planning, packing, and carrying awesome survival supplies if you are not going to use them. Have you ever gone camping with a friend who brings a carload of gadgets that they never even take out? Battery-powered tent fan, anyone? Do Not Be That Guy.
  • Plan on looking for a place to spend the night 2-3 hours before sunset each night. You may not like the idea of trading that much travel time in, but this will give you enough time to find a safe, dry place to camp, prepare food and water, and establish your shelter.
  • Know that a 160-pound person will burn more than 400 calories in an hour while hiking and more than 500 if carrying a full backpack. This is a level of exertion comparable to that of aerobics or running. Incorporate into your survival planning rest breaks and methods of keeping yourself hydrated and fueled up.
  • Once you have made a bug out plan it is important to review it periodically to make sure it still fits your personal survival scenario. Learn how to do this and get our free Bug Out Kit Update Checklist here.
  • More information about general disaster preparedness planning can be found at (external link).


Creating a Bug Out Plan is an important step towards your overall survival planning. Utilizing these tips to build a simple, effective survival preparedness plan will ready you and your loved ones to survive when disaster strikes. Download our free Bug Out Plan Template and get started preparing your family to evacuate. Be sure to also use our Free Bug Out Bag Planning Tool to help you determine what to pack.

Remember, chance favors the well prepared.

Your Thoughts?

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Bug Out Plan


Chris Ruiz

My name is Chris and I created this site to help ordinary people prepare for the uncertainties of the modern day world. I believe that a well-prepared society is the best safeguard against any natural or manmade disaster.

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