We at the SHTFSchool are launching our new „Bug out“ course. The first one will be running in Sweden (More details here) so it is perfect time to consider again some things about bugging out.
I written before about it, but it is never ending topic, simply because there is too many variables and small change in your particular scenario can push you toward the plan and action that would not work at all in someone else’s case (and scenario).
Over the years of writing articles and reading other folk articles and comments, and having my own SHTF experience there is clear that people „fixate“ on more or less same topics concerning the bugging out, so I’ll comment some of those topics.
Do I Need to Bug Out, When and How?
I wrote before about timing during the SHTF event when it makes sense to bug out, but what kind of event do you need to experience in order to bug out and how you are you going to do that?
If you expecting that you’re just going to jump in your car and drive to your BOL without problems then you are missing something or you are really good.
There are countless details that may be thrown in equation of bugging out but lets stick to the most important:
- Is event that is happening (or will happen very soon) a serious physical threat you and your family? (dirty bomb attack, serious weather event, civil unrest…)
- Is staying at your home mean more danger to you than to go out and travel to desired location (bug out) considering all known factors of risk during the trip? (you are expecting that things going to be better out of your current area)
- Your current resources at your home are clearly going to „run out“ much earlier than at your BOL (you have preps at your home but clearly you have much more in your BOL)
As advice, in a case of some serious event I would choose to move away from the area where there are more people (urban) to the area where there are less people.
It is general rule, but that does not mean that I would blindly run from my home out to the unknown just because I am in the city.
Sometimes bugging in make more sense even if you are preparing your whole life for bugging out, just check factors from above.
Getting to your BOL location can be simple like driving 100 miles to your location, but that 100 miles may turn out to be 10 days trip on foot.
You never know how it will turns out, but on some things you can be prepared.
I am big advocate of being „grey“, and that is very important especially while you bugging out.
What actually that means?
- Your decision about using weapon needs to be made based on circumstances in that moment and for that particular situation. Sometimes it make sense to carry weapon openly, sometimes not.
Use common sense, if there are bunch of scared and confused people outside, trying to understand what kind of event is happening do you really want to go outside in full camouflage gear with rifle in your hand? What is the point of that?
If there is obstacle on your route (check point, armed people for example) can you avoid it and take other route?
If you really need to use weapon then use it to completely terminate threat, usually it will not be time to just „show the muscle“ it will rather be time to quickly and efficiently „use the muscle“.
- Expect that lot of problems on your way you will have to solve by „bargaining“ , for example sometimes you ll be in situation to give money (alcohol, marijuana, bullets, medicine,clothes…) on some check points in order to go through maybe,-as a general rule for that there is this: do not ever give good reason to people to take the chance of attacking and killing you.
What that means?
If you are passing some local militia (neighborhood watch for example) check point (if you can not avoid it) you may offer your wife wedding ring, or your kid’s golden necklace, or your last 50 dollars, or last 25 liters of fuel… but you never offer 10 silver coins from your stash of silver coins, or your 1 pack of antibiotic out of box of 25 packs, or 50 dollars from the pile of 500 dollars.
Use common sense, usually people will avoid trouble if there is no gain from it, if they see good opportunity they might take chance, even if that means some of them might end up dead, it simply worth the risk in that times.
You need to look like ordinary guy, not like experienced prepper with lot of fancy stuff. You need to be grey.
Today,in normal times, people often see something in other people possession and they think „I wish I could have that“, when SHTF lot of people will think „ oh, I can take that“.
Being grey means a lot, and it means different things for different situations, but there is general rule here, and it is very simple: look and act like everybody else around you – do not stick out.
It goes for your vehicle, your equipment, clothes, way how you act, talk…
Examples are numerous, let say it is SHTF and you are bugging out with your pick up truck with 5 steel military canister of fuel clearly visible (among the other equipment) on the back of pick up.
It is great that you thought about extra fuel that you had stored in your garage for bugging out when SHTF.
It is not smart to show that to whole bunch of other people who are also trying to run away from chaos in the city in the middle of fuel shortage.
They were not smart to store that fuel for bugging out like you, but they will kill you for that fuel, because they like their kids more then they hate feeling of killing someone.
After fact that you need to be grey, let’s mention few more basics here:
- you need to have at least basic knowledge about your vehicle. For example „fixing“ flat tires, radiator leaks, changing belts, ways to unblock cars from compromised roads and you need to have parts and means for that.
- Your car might be your home for prolonged period of time, maybe your trip is few hours driving, but you do not know on what problems you might stumble and how long it is going to be.
- You need to be ready to leave (forever) your car in a matter of minutes or even seconds, and continue on foot, so try to organize it on that way that you do not in hurry leave something with your car that is of life importance (for example water, or ammo, or weapon) Load the car with small packages, small containers, things easy to ‘grab and go’ (We DO NOT advocate the use of ‘totes’ in vehicles, unless you have a clear plan and means to empty that tote FAST into an easy to carry bag or similar method of easy to carry equipment.)
- And in worst case scenario-no matter how good vehicle you have, maybe you’ll be forced to bug out on foot from the start, so have a plan for that too
That means you have to have equipment for long walk, plans for resources on your way, means to spend more nights in the field…
Few more things about planning and mapping your bugging out:
- Have at least two alternate routes to your BOL
- Try to understand- recognize, mark on map and avoid possible danger spots on your route (for example gas stations, police stations, malls, bridges,“choking points“…
- Try to have either secret stashes (fuel, food, water, medicine, ammo…) or help (safe friendly houses, safe places…) on your route
- Be ready to change plan, change routes, be ready to improvise and adapt, your traveling may look weird (not straight forward) on map, but it is more important to come alive then to stick to the original plan or to come there to fast.
- Remember when SHTF that means new rules, so you may pose as a policeman, you may have uniform of city services, you may be reporter… all old rules are dead and your task is to get there. Improvise and adapt
- Check map of your area for natural obstacles (and weather too) but have open mind. That means if for example there are rivers in your area of traveling then no matter that you are planning to drive the car still you need to be prepared for the situation that you gonna swim over the river (what kind of river is, how fast and cold, do you have right bag to put your most valuable items in for that river crossing…) if there is a mountain and winter be ready to spend night outside (have clothes and equipment for that) no matter again that you plan to travel with car
Good exercise would be that you go once per year and travel your „bugging out“ route by foot. It would give you some sense of few things. It would be without re-routes, real dangers and problems but still you would notice lot of things and you would get a few good ideas…
These are just a few thoughts on the matter. Those joining us on the physical bug out course, will learn and practice this and much much more…!
End of the year and start of the new year is usually time for some new decisions, changes in your life and similar.
Usually in this time of the year I write about some expectations in „prepper terms“ about what for and why we should be prepared.
Nothing really changed in what we should expect, the world is going faster in some wrong directions and so there is no need for me to repeat that now.
For New Preppers
I would like to take this chance to just surmise what we at the SHTFSchool are doing and why, because in last months we have quite number of newbies here, new on my blog but also new in prepping.
Many times I read that Selco is „guy who survived year under siege during war“ and that I talk and write from that perspective.
I should mention however It was a long process. This ‘one year in hell’ is the literal tip of the iceberg.
From the moment when I was an ordinary guy prior to the war who did not have a clue about survival, up to this moment now at the end of 2017, a whole bunch of things happened.
Of course from the survival point of view most important thing was that I was part of the 4 year Balkan war, that includes that 1 year under siege, but also other things like being soldier and being a refugee in that time…
It is a process that lasted many years, before the war, during and after. An important part of it is meeting and talking with other preppers through my courses in ‘real life’ live or online, because I have learned, the hard way, that it is impossible to know everything and that you are actually learning all the time.
„The Truth Will Set You Free“?
One of the let’s say „sad advantages“ why I know few things about SHTF in such well rounded terms, lies simply in the fact that I’m still living in the middle of it right now, for years, because post war society is exactly that.
War for me was one experience, it was fighting, hunger, air raids, being dirty and sick… complete absence of system.
Post war society is another experience: life now is life in a corrupted system, political homicides, car bombs between different fractions, teenagers being drug addicts and prostitutes because there is no other way to find food…
It is life where ex war lords (or their children) are political party leaders with their own private armies of mercenaries „disguised“ in security companies, it is life where every (decent) home have AK 47 hidden somewhere, and bedtime stories for kids how „they“ just waiting for next chance to start new war, so we need to hate them… (who ever „we“ or „they“ are, really we are all the same)
It is life where I have to have different amounts of money in different pockets all the time, either to bribe the policeman (if I calculate it’s worth it) or to give it to drug addict with knife (if I calculate not to shoot him)… To repeat, this is EVERY DAY life here…
It is life where I need to have a registered and not registered pistol, based on what I am trying to achieve…
In very short, I am living in the middle of collapse, compared to war this is comfortable, but it is STILL SHTF.
So for all newbies here, and for guys who following me for years, you need to understand one thing: Selco is talking and teaching about real things, and to live here and talk openly about truth means that you may end up in deep s..t really fast, so that is the reason why you won’t ever see my face in an interview, or read my real name, I am not gonna show up in a youtube channel.
People from the events that I am writing on my blog are here, alive, and mostly in power, actually they rule here, they give you job and salary just not to be hungry, they and their people will find school for your kid, or simply find medicines for your mother cancer…
Otherwise a drug addict may ‘find’ your kid from the way back to school, you may be labeled as a „traitor“ maybe, or simply you may one morning when you start your car engine end up in Heavens…
You may watch at your dying mother who was told that „she need to wait for the specialist oncologist appointment for 16 months…”
This is EVERY DAY life here
You must be invisible and not interesting, you need to be small all the time.
You need to be gray. Not in the tacticool interpretation of the word, genuinely, completely blended. This ability to go unnoticed goes WAY BEYOND just the clothes that you wear…
Many times I read that I am ‘not real’ or ‘fraud’ or ‘Russian troll’ because I am staying „hidden“, but it’s like this, I share my advice under this assumed name, take it or leave it, but don’t think these comments are going to change it.
For all my new and old readers, Happy New Year!
Just this last week I completed an interview with Daisy from the Organic Prepper Blog. It was on a timely subject with Christmas being here, so thought I’d share it here as well.
Have you ever thought about what an SHTF Christmas would be like after an end-of-the-world-as-we-know-it event? I’m not talking about a minor issue that just affects a few people, but a full-on disaster that changes everything.
Today, we have a first-hand look at what a post-collapse holiday is really like. I interviewed my friend Selco, of SHTF School, and his answers are really food for thought. I have learned more about long-term survival from Selco than probably anybody else and have based a lot of my own plans on things I’ve learned from him. For most of us who write about preparedness, it’s research and theory. For Selco, it’s real life.
This interview is in his own words.
I read over the answers to his questions at least a dozen times and thought about how fortunate we are. Even our most difficult times here, in our society, would have been the height of luxury during the war in Bosnia.
But will we always be this lucky?
First, give us a little bit of background. What was going on? Please describe the circumstances in Bosnia during this time.
War in the Balkan region (Slovenia, Croatia, Bosnia, Serbia…) started during the 1991 and went on until 2000 (if you include war at Kosovo and NATO bombing of Serbia in 1999), but historians mainly narrow it to a period of 1991-1995 if you do not count Kosovo war and NATO bombing. In some literature, you’ll find the name “Yugoslav Wars“ which is same (all above-mentioned Balkan countries used to be states in Federation of Yugoslavia (Jugoslavija or roughly translated to English it is “country of south Slavs“).
…Yugoslavia (as a socialistic-communist country) founded after WW2 in 1945, and stop to exist in 1991 with the start of the wars. Shortly prior the war socialistic system (communistic) fell apart as a part of bigger events (fall of Soviet Union, fall of Berlin wall…) and democracy came, together with democracy, rivalry between states that wanted to stay in the Yugoslavian union and states who wanted independence raised sharply, that resulted in riots and small and isolated fights, leading to full use of Yugoslavian army (JNA) which was 4th largest military force in Europe in that time.
Wars had all features: Independence fights, aggression between states, civil war, genocide, re-alignments, or switching of allegiances as the operational situational changed, backing up from foreign forces (Such as US and NATO)… through periods of it you could say that it was an ethnic war or even religious in parts, but in the essence it was war for territory and resources between factions who were in power, based on personal gain of wealth and influence only.
I went as a civilian and later as a soldier through the whole period of wars, I was in different regions during that period. Harder period of those wars (because of numerous reasons) happened in Bosnia, and one of the main “feature“ of that period were “sieges“ of a couple of cities that lasted from few months to a couple of years.
I found myself in one of those sieged cities. I lived like that for a year and I survived.
Every day, for almost a year, for me was a constant fight for survival, I was constantly either trying to defend myself or to look for resources, for usable water, food or simply firewood. We scavenged through the destroyed city for usable items because everything was falling apart and we have to “reinvent“ things in order to survive, like the best way to stay warm, to stay clean and safe or simply to make home medicine for diarrhea or high blood pressure.
When Christmas rolled around, it was obviously very different than any other holiday people had ever experienced. Can you tell us the usual Christmas traditions in Bosnia BEFORE this all happened?
As said, I grew up in Yugoslavia, which was socialistic and communistic country. One of the thing in that country and system was that religion was not forbidden, but it was strongly, let’s say “advised“ that religion is way down in the list of life priorities.
On the other side, it was strongly “advised“ that we put aside our differences (we had many different ethnic groups in Yugoslavia, and a couple of main religions) in order to build one “ethnicity“ – Yugoslavian. As the result of that all different religions kinda know each other very well, and people from different religions celebrated more or less or know all religions.
Christmas for most of the folks was very much connected to the New year holiday (again something that is connected to the official socialistic system) and it was just like everywhere in the world I guess, holiday of presents and gathering of family. For example, going on midnight mass was matter of being together with family and friends, and meeting each other-not so much matter of religion not too many “real“ religious people).
I was a teenager more or less, but my memories of that holiday prior the war are: peace, good food, family gathering and presents, and of course Santa. It was huge and “mandatory“ thing that kids gonna get big presents then.
I’m sure that then, everything was very different. What were some of the changes? How did you celebrate?
Everything was different when SHTF, yes. Living was hard, comfort was gone and everything was stripped“\ down to the bare survival. Lot of small commodities that we usually do not think about (we take it for granted) was simply gone because of obvious reasons (the whole system was out) but also because simply life becomes full of hard duties, to finish simple tasks and obtain resources becomes hard, dangerous and time-consuming.
Celebrations become rare and not so happy and big (not even near) but in the same time they become more precious and needed too.
Get-togethers (family) become even more important because people lean much more on each other between group or family, simply because they needed much more support – psychological. too – than in normal times.
A lot of religious people lost their faith when they saw family members dying. On the other side lot of people found God in that desperate times – as an only hope.
Being together with family members for small “time off“ become almost like small rituals, like a ritual of finding inner strength and support in order to push more through hard times.
Yes, religion was a big part of it, but it was not only about religion, it was about finding strength in you and people close to you – family, and sharing it between each other.
Without access to storebought presents, what kinds of gifts did people give?
It could be divided in two groups:
Things that help you in the new reality:
All kind of things that helped you to solve all kind of problems that SHTF brought. For example, people who were skilled in handcrafting used to made cigar holders out of wood and bullets casing, it was very popular for smokers and the reason for that was because cigarettes were rare, and people usually smoked bad tobacco rolled in bad paper and good cigar holder (as a combination of cigar holder and pipe) was essential for smoking that stuff.
It was small thing but really important if you were a smoker in that time.
Another example was small handmade stove. It was made from thin metal, and in some cases it was portable. Point was that kind of stove needed really small amount of wood ( fuel for fire was important and hard and dangerous to get in urban settings) to make it really red hot and cook something quickly or boil water.
So cool and usable kind of inventions.
Things that connect you to normal
In this other group were all kind of things that connect you to the normal (prior SHTF) life. It was not only cool and nice to have those presents, but also it was important psychologically to taste something that actually makes you feel normal again.
For example after living for months through collapse, one simple bottle of beer could make you feel human again, and it would somehow gave you strength.
Sweets (Candy), beer, spice, or even few songs that someone play on guitar for you were precious.
What did you do for the children at Christmas to make it special?
Kids were somewhat “forgotten“ in the SHTF times. Quite simply not many people paid attention to them other then keeping them safe from dangers.
People did not have enough time to take care about their needs.
During the holidays people usually wanted to give some kind of joy for them, or to “keep the spirit“ of holiday alive for them.
In majority of cases it was very poor imitation of holidays in normal times, for example I remember that making pancakes (jam was made out of tomato juice and very expensive sugar) was considered alone like a holiday. Special food, or attempts to make some special food, for kids, were usual holiday presents for kids in that time. Today that kind of food would look ridiculous and not even edible probably, but in that time it was precious.
What did families serve for Christmas dinner in Bosnia during this time?
Traditionally for Christmas and New Year holidays in this region here, we ate huge amounts of meat, and drink wine, so people during the collapse tried to keep that tradition.
Again it was mostly unsuccessful in terms of normal, but in that time having hot stew kind of meal from MRE was considered holiday dinner, and actually it was very very tasty and a “holiday spirit“ dinner considering what we usually ate.
Wine was out of the option most of the time but hard alcohol was there.
In general, were people happy and joyous to find a chance to celebrate, or was it grim and depressing because it was so different?
General picture looked like this: we were cold, more or less hungry, dirty, tired and unsure in future, but yes we appreciate feeling of getting together for holiday and we were trying to keep “spirit alive“.
Truth is that sometimes it worked, sometimes not.
But generally yes, psychologically it was important, it had its place, it had a sense to get together, take some time to try to feel normal again, to remember that we are still humans.
Definitely those moments were not bright and happy, like in normal times but on the other hand those moments were appreciated and were much more real than in peacetime.
Do you have any holiday stories you can share from this time? (Doesn’t matter if they are happy stories or sad – I’d really like to show the reality of post-collapse holidays.)
It is big thing (I guess just like everywhere) to leave presents under the tree for Christmas and New Year here.
It is custom here to buy big bags (kids motifs of cartoons, fairy tales and similar) and fill it with favourite snacks, sweets and toys of each kid and leave that bags under the tree (we did not had custom of socks and similar, we had those bags, to literally translate the name would be “kid package“).
Of course, it was out of the question to have the bags and sweets and toys in the middle of SHTF.
My uncle in that time came into an opportunity to make a deal with local small “warlord“ or gang leader if you like.
The deal was about giving some weapon for food (the guy had a connection with outside world) and my uncle “made a condition“ on the whole deal with the term that he will give a weapon for food but the additional deal was that he also need 3 “kids packages.”
In that time and particular moment, taking into consideration with what kind of people he was making a deal it was like he was asking a serial killer, to his face, to sing a gentle lullaby, and my uncle said that those guys simply could not believe what he asked.
Everybody was looking for or offering weapon, drugs, violent contract deals or even prostitutes from those people but he was looking for “kids packages“.
But they indulge him, and my uncle said that he thought they indulged him simply out of the fun, and out of the fact that it is gonna be a very interesting urban legend that someone could obtain kids packages in that time.
The guy even wrote down the list of sweets and toys that my uncle asked from him.
I think those sweets and toys when they came were one of the most unreal items in that time and place, but they were worth the effort.
It really gives you something to think about.
What a reality check. And how fortunate we are. Our version of “things were really tight this Christmas” is laughable in comparison to what is described above. I can’t thank Selco enough for sharing his stories with us.
I’ve often recommended prepping with things like cake mix, birthday candles, extra Christmas cards, and items that support your family traditions, and after reading what Selco had to say, I believe it’s even more important. You can’t overstate the psychological aspect of being able to provide that sense of normalcy.
More information about Selco
In his online works, he gives an inside view of the reality of survival under the harshest conditions. He reviews what works and what doesn’t, tells you the hard lessons he learned, and shares how he prepares today.
He never stopped learning about survival and preparedness since the war. Regardless what happens, chances are you will never experience extreme situations like Selco did. But you have the chance to learn from him and how he faced death for months.
Real survival is not romantic or idealistic. It is brutal, hard and unfair. Let Selco take you into that world.
Read more of Selco’s articles here: https://shtfschool.com/blog/
And take advantage of a deep and profound insight into his knowledge and advice by signing up for the outstanding and unrivaled online course. More details here: https://shtfschool.com/survival-boot-camp/
Daisy is a coffee-swigging, gun-toting, homeschooling blogger who writes about current events, preparedness, frugality, and the pursuit of liberty on her website, The Organic Prepper. She curates all the most important news links on her aggregate site, PreppersDailyNews.com
She is the best-selling author of 4 books and lives in the mountains of Virginia with her two daughters and an ever-growing menarie.
You can find Daisy on Facebook, Pinterest, and Twitter