Prepping in College: Being Prepared for a College Bugout If Necessary

College Bugout When the SHTF!


I was preparing myself for a college bugout!  When my oldest started his last year of high school, I realized that his decisions of if and where he wanted to go to college was going to impact me more than in the pocketbook.  I realized that in the back of my mind, I would always be thinking about how far he actually was from home.  How would he get home if the “world went crazy?”  And what would things be like for him on the way back if the “big one” hit?

Luckily, he chose to go to the local community college and then transferred to a program with the local university.  But, these thoughts came flooding back to me this week when I was emailed by a young college student.  The email read…

I have recently begun prepping as I find it fun and thought-provoking as well as practical. I have been reading some articles from your website and have begun listening to your podcast daily. First, I would like to thank you for putting time and effort into these tasks to help others become more prepared for when SHTF. I also was wondering if you could point me in a good direction to continue prepping. I am a college student and don’t have many funds available but did put some money into a basic bug out bag. Besides improving my bug out bag I’m not sure what my next steps should be. I am living in a dorm (over an hour from my house) so stockpiling food or water is not practical. I didn’t know if you had any suggestions as to how I could best prepare while living on campus. Any thoughts are welcome!

I responded to the email after a few days of thinking about this student’s situation, but I also thought that there are others out there, students, parents and even prepping grandparents, who might be in the same predicament.  So I would like to share and elaborate on my thoughts.

The Bugout Bag

Having a college bugout bag is an important and key element for a university student.  In a collapse or SHTF situation, they are truly in a situation where they should “bugout” to another location.  That location is going to be home or wherever the family will be located, if that is a bugout or retreat location.

The bugout bag is going to have to match the distance that the college student is traveling.  In the email that I received, the college student was only an hour away from home.  In this situation, I would have a minimal bugout bag.  I would have food or snacks that could be eaten on the go, water bottles, a phone charger, a means of defense (more on this below) and a first aid kit.  I would also always have the basics to filter and purify water, make fire, a knife and material to make a crude shelter if needed.  Of course, the bugout needs to reflect the season of the year.  Bugging out in the Spring is going to look and feel a lot different than bugging out in the Winter.

If the distance from college to home is farther and will take days and maybe even weeks, the bugout bag is going to have to be more robust.  For sure, food will have to be more substantial, probably a combination of dehydrated and even some survival tabs to manage hunger.  Water will need to be replenished, so a good filter is needed.  A fire kit, first-aid kit, shelter, defense, map, compass or GPS, and clothes will need to be in place.  Again, the distance and season will determine the specifics.

The bugout bag should always be ready and stored away in a closet.  It is recommended to have a bugout bag regardless if the student has a vehicle to travel home.  You just never know.

There has been a lot written on bugout bags.  For more, visit What Do I Put In My Survival Kit?


The perfect bugout would have the student getting in their vehicle and driving home without any issues or even catching a flight back home if they are across the country.  However, not every college student can afford a vehicle on campus and you can’t count on a flight.  After all, we are talking about bugging out from college.  You never know which SHTF situation you are really prepping for!

The next best option would be a bicycle.

If a bicycle can be kept locked up and not stolen, I think a regular mountain bike would do.  The college student should have a spare tube, manual pump, and tools to change the tire if needed.  They also make puncture proof tubes that might be of interest.

If the bicycle is not safe just being locked up outside somewhere, then a foldable bicycle that can go under the bed might be required.  There are foldable bikes on the market that are made well and are reasonably priced.

The plus side of having a bike on campus is that the college student could use it to get around too.

Routes Home

Regardless of the mode of transportation, the college student needs to have various routes home.  A search on Google maps will give a student or their family member helping them prepare options.  Once several routes are established.  It would be a good idea for the student to take the various routes home when they visit home to make sure the routes are safe to travel, what concerns they might have and if there are any potential resources that could be utilized in a bugout home.


Defense is a big topic in the preparedness community.  It should be for college students too.  Unfortunately, most colleges are liberal snowflake hubs.  The State of Texas does allow college students to conceal carry on campus, but there are still rules that prohibit concealed carry in certain areas of the campus.

Other states that allow concealed carry on college campuses are:  Arkansas, Colorado, Georgia, Idaho, Kansas, Mississippi, Oregon, Tennessee, Utah, Wisconsin.  SOURCE

One way that students can defend themselves if they can’t carry a firearm is with pepper spray.  Students should be familiar with their pepper spray and practice on deploying it quickly.

READ – An Open Letter to My Past Female Students Entering College


This area is very important and one that the college student should take seriously.  Our world is so fast paced and everyone is so connected that if an SHTF event was to happen, people would know pretty quickly.  The problem is that college students don’t always pay attention to the news and what is going on in the world.

The good news is that almost every college student is plugged into social media.  Like it was mentioned above, news travels fast.  The hope is that college students will see any important news and events going on and monitor the situation to see if they will need to respond.

One social media that young people use is Twitter.  Twitter can be very helpful to gather information fast.  Personally, I use Twitter for news.  That is the reason I only follow news organizations (mainstream and alternative news) on Twitter. It is very easy to open the Twitter APP and scroll a little bit to see if anything significant is going on.

In an SHTF situation, it might be beneficial for a college student to have a means to listen to radio reports, shortwave and weather.  A good, handheld crank, solar, battery operated emergency radio is nice to have.

If the grid goes down, due to cyber terrorism or an EMP, a small handheld ham radio, like the Baofeng, enclosed in a small faraday cage will be invaluable.

Closing Thoughts

Being away from home and in the middle of an SHTF situation, the college student’s first priority should be to get home.  A little bit of thought and consideration should be given to getting home.  Parents can help their child with purchasing the gear they might need and helping them think through some of the plans they should have in place if they ever needed to bugout from college.


This article first appeared on Ed That Matters.

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Todd Sepulveda

I'm the owner/editor of Prepper Website, a DAILY preparedness aggregator that links to the best preparedness articles on the internet. I'm also a public school administrator and a pastor. My personal blog is Ed That Matters, where I write about preparedness and from time to time, education. Connect with me on one of my social media outlets below.

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  1. B January 22, 2018
  2. KT January 22, 2018
  3. FLAPrepper1 January 24, 2018
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