Prepping basics: How to prep while living on the road
By Zoey Sky // Feb 20, 2024

If you want to bug out safely when SHTF, you must prepare so your bug-out car is ready with the supplies you need while on the road. (h/t to

Living on the road for emergency preparedness, or what preppers call "bugging out," is a lifestyle that requires a high degree of adaptability and resourcefulness.

Bugging out allows for survival in a transient state, but you rely on limited resources and constantly changing environments. For some preppers, this lifestyle is ideal due to different factors such as socio-economic pressures or a desire for freedom from the grid.

But this lifestyle isn’t for everyone because it also requires flexibility, a willingness to part ways with modern comforts and an advanced level of self-reliance that may be challenging for some.

If you think bugging out will be the ideal option when SHTF, stock up on the necessary supplies like extra clothing, first aid kits and medication, clothing and beddings, and food and cooking utensils.

Pros and cons of prepping and living on the road

Bugging out isn't an ideal situation, but it offers some unique prepping benefits.

Prepper benefits 

Being able to leave immediately is one of the greatest advantages of living on the road for emergency preparedness.

With a bug-out car full of supplies, you can stay mobile and avoid incoming threats.

This lifestyle also gives you freedom and flexibility to navigate your course based on your comfort and safety.

One of the bigger benefits is that being constantly on the move may reduce your exposure to large-scale disasters that could severely impact stationary locations, like your home or a bug-out location.

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Common disadvantages

Living on the road has some significant drawbacks, like the limited space in an RV or car. This limit also means you won't be able to bring all your belongings or store extra supplies.

Living in a bug-out car also means you miss out on the stability, support and sense of belonging that comes from being part of a permanent community.

Not settling down also means you will need to find resources like food and water when SHTF. (Related: 5 Survival essentials for your bug-out vehicle.)

Before bugging out in your car, here are different factors to consider:

Cooking and water collection

If you are going to live on the road, you need some of these supplies so you can prepare meals even without a gas or electric stove:

  • Portable camp stoves – This option is compact and lightweight and allows you to prepare meals using small propane or butane canisters as fuel.
  • Portable grills – This is ideal for outdoor barbecue sessions and you need wood for fuel.
  • Backpacking cookware sets – This option is ideal if you plan to go camping while bugging out.
  • Solar ovens – Solar ovens are a great alternative if you are traveling in an area with a lot of sunlight.

You also need to stock up on non-perishable food items, canned goods and easy-to-cook meals to maximize storage and minimize waste. Get a cooler to keep perishables fresh for a few days.

Get dehydrated fruits and vegetables to make the most of the storage space available.

Water collection and purification are also crucial when bugging out. Keep a sturdy water container for collection and storage.

Here are several ways to purify water while living on the road:

  • Boiling – Boiling is one of the most effective methods of purifying water. Bring water to a roaring boil for at least one minute to kill most types of disease-causing organisms.
  • Iodine solution – Add a couple of drops of iodine solution to disinfect water and make it safe to drink.
  • Water purification tablets – Drop a tablet into your water container and wait for it to dissolve.

Emergency power

Having a reliable power source means you can power essential devices, from communication tools to basic appliances.

A gas generator is a great option. However, while it provides substantial power it also requires a consistent fuel supply.

Solar power is a quiet, eco-friendly solution. Once installed, they offer a continuous power supply during the day and you can store excess energy in batteries for use at night.


Maintaining proper hygiene while living on the road is essential for personal comfort and health.

Here are a few options to consider:

  • Hand washing – Hand washing doesn't require expensive gear, but it requires more time and energy.
  • Portable washing machines – These are compact and can be powered by your car’s battery or a portable generator. You only need a source and proper disposal of greywater.

Dirty clothing cannot insulate you properly because it’s clogged with the oils from your skin. Keep your clothes clean after SHTF to maintain your health.

A lack of insulating clothing can also cause hypothermia in cold weather and heat stroke in hot climates.

Choosing the right vehicle

Selecting the appropriate vehicle for life on the road is a critical decision that will affect your mobility, comfort and survival during a bug-out situation.

When comparing options, consider the vehicle’s purpose, size, durability and fuel efficiency.

If you still don't have a bug-out car, here are some options to consider:


Sedans and sport utility vehicles (SUVs) are great if you want to prioritize mobility, fuel efficiency and ease of driving.

Many cars have ample storage space and four-wheel drive capabilities so they can handle various terrains, making them ideal for emergencies.

Even though cars lack the amenities of RVs and customized vans, you can equip them for short-term living on the road before SHTF. Cars also blend into environments more seamlessly and attract less attention.


Recreational vehicles (RVs) are great if you want to prioritize comfort and space. Most RVs come with amenities such as a kitchen, bathroom and sleeping quarters.

However, RVs have high fuel consumption and may be challenging to drive in certain terrains.


Trucks, especially four-wheel drives, are durable and can handle rough terrains. They also offer decent storage space but lack the living amenities of RVs or customized vans.


Vans offer a balance between mobility and living space. They are also easier to drive and, with some customization, can offer decent living quarters.

Additionally, vans are also more fuel-efficient compared to RVs.

You should also consider fuel consumption when selecting a bug-out car because you may not have access to regular fuel supplies.

Prioritizing vehicles with good fuel economy is preferred. If you have space in your car, stock up on emergency fuel.

Vehicle maintenance

Maintain your vehicle since you will need it for shelter and transportation when disaster strikes.

Regular vehicle maintenance ensures that your car keeps running smoothly. This means you must practice some car maintenance skills, like changing a flat tire, checking oil levels or replacing worn-out brake pads.

Even if you can't become a mechanic overnight, basic vehicle upkeep tasks are quite manageable.

Before SHTF, learn how to perform these tasks to save you time and stay moving when it matters the most.

Before SHTF, choose a vehicle that meets your specific needs and serves as a reliable, comfortable and sustainable home base in a bug-out situation.

Watch the video for 30 emergency events and when it is best to bug in or bug out.

This video is from The Urban Prepper channel on

More related stories:

Bug out survival planning: How to get out of the city after SHTF.

How to store emergency water in your vehicle.

Basic outdoor survival skills that will help you when SHTF.

Sources include:

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