Preparing Your RV or Car to Bug Out for Disaster

bug out rv

If you face a situation such as an impending natural disaster or civil unrest, it pays to have a plan to safely leave, or “bug out.” Owning an RV puts you in a good position to bug out, but you can even set up your car to camp for a while in case of an emergency.

Let’s take a look at some of the things to keep in mind when you set up your car or RV as a bug-out vehicle. It’s important to plan ahead and even make a few practice runs.

Keep your vehicle in good repair

Maintaining your vehicle just makes common sense. Make sure the tires are good, know how to change a tire, and keep a good spare. Check the oil and water regularly, keep your gas tank full and keep a tool kit onboard.

Know the limitations of your RV or car

The one thing you don’t want to do is get into a sticky situation while trying to escape one. You want to avoid breaking down and getting stuck out in the middle of nowhere.

If you have a 2-wheel drive vehicle, don’t wander too far off a paved road. Also, watch your ground clearance. Even with a 4-wheel drive vehicle, make sure you’re driving on solid ground. You want to avoid getting hung up on rocks or stuck in the sand by sticking to a good dirt road.

Plan your bug out

You need to know where you are going; spend your weekends now, investigating potential bug-out locations.

As we have learned during the pandemic, the government can not be trusted to help you; remember all of the closed campgrounds? Most of the time, it may be possible to bug out to a state or national park in some circumstances, but the Bureau of Land Management (BLM) land may be a better option. A private campground can also be a good option. However, don’t depend on just one bug out location, make a list of as many as you can.

You might also want to consider the political leanings of your bug out location; this is especially true if you are escaping social unrest. You’ll want to choose an area that has a reputation for safety. Get to know any towns in the area. While you’re there, try to keep a low profile.

Planning your route is also important, and the number one rule is to avoid the main highways. Get a paper map and study it for alternative routes; if you depend on GPS, it may want to take you on the fastest route, the highway. Keep a road atlas onboard, don’t depend 100% on Google maps or GPS.

Finally, sticking to the smaller highways and side roads is the way to go, to avoid the crowds.

Staying in touch

When you’re mapping out your bug out locations, also test them for cellphone reception. An ideal spot will allow you to also go online to check the news. Being able to call out is also important for your safety. Also check to see if your locations have radio reception; however, good cell reception is likely more important.

Before you go, grab your laptop, tablet or other devices you might need not only to stay in touch, but also to pass the time.

Solar power

If you have an RV, consider solar power, or, a generator. If you are bugging out in a car, you can stock a small solar charger to keep your electronics charged.


If you have an RV, your ability to stock food and water is definitely an advantage. While some Rvers like to keep their freshwater tank empty to reduce weight, keep it filled in case of an emergency. However, make sure the gray and black tanks are empty.

If you have a car, you can keep a narrow 6-gallon Aquatainer behind the seats, or you can keep a 7-gallon square Aquatainer in the trunk. The average water use per person is 3-gallons per day for drinking, cooking, and washing up, so keep that in mind when you stock your car with water. Also, water weighs 8 pounds per gallon.

You can also consider keeping a water filter that filters out contaminants on board, such as a Berkey filter or even a Life Straw. This will allow you to take advantage of river or lake water if you have no other options.


If you have an RV, keep a few cases of freeze-dried survival food onboard, as well as other dry goods, such as rice, lentils, beans, and trail mix. The point is, keep the cabinets of your RV stocked with non-perishable foods so you’re ready to go.

If you have a car, keep in mind, freeze-dried survival food needs to be prepared with boiling water; that means you’ll also need to have way to boil water onboard, such as a camp stove and a small pot. You’ll also want to keep a cup and a “mess kit” onboard. Other good food options for a car bug out are boxes of protein bars, granola bars, beef jerky and trail mix. Rotate these foods occasionally to keep them fresh.

If you’re bugging out with a pet, also make sure you have food for them onboard too.


Once again, if you have an RV, you’re ready to go. Simply keep the bed made up, and have extra blankets for cold nights.

If you are setting your car up to bug out, keep a sleeping bag and a small pillow in the trunk or back seat. You’ll also need to figure out where you’ll sleep; remaining in the vehicle is the safest, rather than setting up a tent. If you can sleep in the back seat, or better yet, fold the back seat down, that’s the best plan. Of course, you can keep a small tent onboard as another option. But sleeping inside your car is the best bet for staying warm, dry, and safe from predators.


Keep your RV stocked with clothing for all seasons, including a coat and shoes. If you’re setting up a car, your storage may be limited to a backpack. If that’s the case, pack 2-3 pairs of good wool socks, underwear, a few tee shirts, and a foldable windbreaker and keep it in your car.


You can carry a gun, but also know the gun laws wherever you go. Bear spray is always a good thing to carry “out in the boonies”; it not only can repel bears and coyotes, but it can also be used on human predators.

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