Your survival kit is also called a “bug out bag” for a reason. If you’re lucky, you’ll get enough advanced warning to be able to scoot out ahead of an oncoming disaster.
What are your options if you have to get out of Dodge? Whether you’re just trying to get to the next town over, or wandering a shattered, post-apocalyptic landscape populated by zombies, mutants, and zombie mutants, your method of transportation will be a big part in determining where you go and how you get there. Let’s look at your choices!
There’s no place like home.
Before we talk about leaving, let’s talk briefly about staying.
Since you spend the most time at home, you have more opportunity to stock the items you will need for an extended disaster scenario. We’ll discuss sheltering at home in a later post.
The minimal method of locomotion. Walking (or, in the case of zombie mutants, running) may be the slowest way to get around, but it also gives you the most options.
You can cut through yards on a most-direct path, get in and out of buildings as needed, use stairs, switch between routes if a road or other artery is blocked, and it’s easier to hide if you have to.
Even if you start out in a vehicle, you may need to walk at some point. This is why most survival kits come in backpacks.
Sure, it’s nice to have a generator, but would you really want to carry it? If and when you must walk, have a good pair of sturdy, steel-toed work boots, wool socks, and blister treatments in your first aid kit.
Tour de Disaster
If you want to be able to move faster than a walk, but still have options when it comes to picking a route, consider a bicycle. At a minimum, you can throw your emergency kit on your back, hop on a random bike, and go.
Bicycles are easy to maneuver, are quiet, and can be carried if necessary. They don’t need fuel, and you don’t have to hotwire any that you find in order to use them.
Bicycles come in a variety of makes and models, from multiple gears to reinforced frames and tires. You can also build or buy a touring bike, which has integrated storage options, a small generator, and heavy-duty construction.
If you decide a bicycle is your best choice, know how to repair it, and keep the necessary items in your kit.
Live to Ride, Ride to Live
The next step up is a motorcycle. Their advantage is that they are much faster than a bicycle, generally have more storage capacity (especially a touring model), and most can carry an additional passenger.
They can also take advantage of smaller paths which a car would not be able to negotiate. The downsides to a motorcycle are that they are noisy, need fuel, can’t be carried, and require specialized mechanical knowledge to repair if they break down.
Not Two Tired
Moving on from the two-wheeled vehicles, we begin with the smallest. All Terrain Vehicles (ATVs), also known as “four-wheelers,” are open-sided vehicles, usually steered with handlebars.
There are many different types of ATVs. Some are built for speed and used in racing; some are built for rugged duty and used by Forest Rangers, rescue squads, and the military.
The advantages of ATVs are being able to carry more gear and/or another passenger, faster traveling, and rough terrain is easier to move through. Similar to a motorcycle, the disadvantages are that they are noisy, need fuel, can’t be carried, and require specialized mechanical knowledge to repair if they break down.
Here in my car, I feel safest of all
A car is, by and large, what most people will have access to when it comes to an evacuation (we’re including trucks and vans, too). They have a long range (with a full tank), can carry lots of disaster supplies, and hold more people comfortably.
Cars have radios for receiving emergency broadcasts, some have built-in GPS systems, and most all of them have integrated safety features. In the modern age, where we have paved everywhere, you can get to most places with a car.
While it’s fun to think that you will be blasting across the map in something like this:
you probably won’t. In fact, this:
is much more likely. That’s a picture of the evacuation ahead of hurricane Rita in 2005. Did you notice that the silver SUV in the median has its hood up? This is definitely not the time for a mechanical failure.
In addition to your personal disaster kit, you should also have some basic car maintenance supplies on hand, such as jumper cables, a spare fan belt and/or timing belt, antifreeze/coolant, spare tire, etc.
You know your car best, and you know what it takes to keep it going, so have that stuff. No matter how many routes there are out of town, they will all be crowded, especially the longer you wait.
If you have your personal kit and evacuation plan ready to go, and keep your car fueled up and stocked, you can hit the road early and avoid most of it.
Another choice is to take your home with you. Campers and RVs come in many different shapes and sizes.
Most are fully-contained homes, offering multiple sleeping arrangements, cooking and bathing facilities, electrical generators, lots of storage, and the ability to take it just about anywhere.
They can be useful if all of the hotel rooms at your destination are booked, or if you don’t have a specific destination.
And now for something completely different
Other modes of transportation may be available to you, depending on your lifestyle or geographic area.
Boats, aircraft, snowmobiles, military vehicles, even horses or mules, can all serve as a viable transport, depending on your goals and destination.
Ever get the feeling you’re being followed?
No matter what method of (land) transportation you choose, there are trailers available to fit. They are not only good for allowing you to carry more survival supplies, they can also be parked at a base camp if you need to roam, or abandoned if you need to move faster.
They are great to have, but if they start impeding your progress, be prepared to do without them.
No matter your choice of transportation, the crucial part of any evacuation is to plan in advance. You may have several different destinations in mind, depending on the type of disaster you are facing.
Know multiple ways to get to each of them, and be aware of potential bottlenecks on those routes. Timing may be critical, so if you have the opportunity, travel along these different routes to get a feel for how long it would take to use them.
A GPS is a great tool, but in case it fails, you should have good, up-to-date maps on hand, too. These maps should be relevant to the mode of transportation you are using, and be a large enough scale to show smaller courses, not just the big highways and interstates.
Hint: if you will be walking, and avoiding others is a priority, consider getting railroad maps for your area and destination.
We hope that you have found the above information to be useful. Next week, we’ll be discussing hurricanes, and the best multi-tools to have in your survival kit. See you then!
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