When you need to get out of town as quickly as possible in an emergency, not all vehicles are created equal.
What’s ideal in one situation probably won’t be ideal in a different set of circumstances. Therefore, this article will look at several affordable – totally different – vehicle options.
Option 1: Fuel Efficiency and Mobility (Starting at $4500/ Used But In Good Shape $3000)
In this first approach, you will focus on being able to travel as far as possible on a given amount of fuel and have the option to cut through traffic. The most affordable option is the motorcycle.
Its advantages include:
- Relatively low start up cost. Even a new motorcycle can easily cost less than $5,000. The more expensive models are still significantly cheaper than a new mid-sized car.
- Maneuverability. Motorcycles can cut through traffic and get around abandoned cars more easily than any other vehicle option.
- Fuel efficiency. A large number of motorcycles get at least the equivalent of a fuel efficient mid-sized car, but with far superior performance. For example, the Honda Gold Wing gets around 35 miles per gallon (MPG). Many motorcycles will get over 60 MPG, such as the Triumph Thunderbird.
But a motorcycle isn’t the perfect bug out vehicle for all situations.
Some disadvantages include:
- Not-so-great overall range on a single tank of gas (although you get a lot of miles for each gallon).
- You need practice in order to safely and effectively drive a motorcycle.
- You’re exposed to the elements.
- A motorcycle offers no built-in shelter. However, there’s always the option of towing a small camper.
- Motorcycles are often louder than a typical car.
- Motorcycles don’t handle ice or snow very well.
- A motorcycle has limited cargo and passenger carrying capacity, even when towing a trailer.
Option 2: Balance and Blending In (Starting from $27.000, Used But In Good Shape $12.000)
This second approach emphasizes not standing out and being able to do a lot of things moderately well. An affordable recommendation is the hybrid sedan.
The reasons for this recommendation are:
- Good fuel efficiency. A hybrid sedan will easily get 40+ MPG.
- Decent passenger and cargo space. A backseat and trunk provides a moderate amount of room to carry supplies and people.
- Makeshift shelter. A car isn’t an ideal place to sleep, but it will protect you from the elements. It also has built-in cooling and heating, although these features will use up precious fuel.
- It doesn’t stand out. If you’re reading this article, you’re probably going to be more prepared than the average citizen during an evacuation. This means you are a prime target for charitable requests (at best) or thievery and violence (at worst). The last thing you want your vehicle to do is broadcast the fact that you have plenty of supplies.
Some drawbacks to using a hybrid sedan as your bug out vehicle include:
- Poor off-road handling, at least compared to a dedicated off-road vehicle.
- A more intricate engine compared to a non-hybrid vehicle. This makes on the spot repairs a little more difficult and complex.
- Not as much carrying or towing capacity as a van, truck or other large vehicle.
Slightly higher cost than a non-hybrid sedan, although easily affordable. Many hybrid sedans can be purchased new for under $30,000.
Option 3: Extra Space and Blending In (Starting at $25.000 – Used But In Good Shape 15.000)
This third approach is to use a minivan, which is very similar to the second approach, but provides more cargo carrying capacity while still blending in.
Advantages of using a minivan as a bug out vehicle include:
- Plenty of carrying capacity, whether it’s extra passengers or supplies.
- More livable space. If you’re going to be sleeping in your vehicle for more than a few nights, you’ll appreciate the extra room a minivan provides.
- Blends in very well with other vehicles in traffic.
- Has towing capability if a hitch is installed (and the minivan itself isn’t already fully loaded).
Cons for having a minivan as your bug out vehicle include:
- Usually more expensive than a smaller car
- Generally poorer performance and lower fuel efficiency than a sedan.
- No off-road capability.
Option 4: Off Road (Starting With $20.000, Used But In Good Shape $6500)
If you know you’ll be avoiding the roads in your bug out situation, an off-road vehicle is probably a must-have. There are many off-road capable vehicles, but an affordable and practical option is a pickup truck with a camper shell.
The benefits of this bug out vehicle include:
- Good off-road capability, with high ground clearance and four wheel drive.
- Towing and hauling capability with a high torque engine.
- A diesel fuel option for certain pickup trucks.
- Plenty of cargo space.
- With the camper shell, the truck bed can protect your passengers and/or supplies from the elements. The camper shell will also help shield your supplies from unwanted attention.
- Good durability.
Potential pitfalls for having a pickup truck with camper as your bug out vehicle are:
- Relatively poor fuel efficiency.
- Could be harder to blend in, compared to a sedan or minivan, due to stereotyping.
- Not as affordable as some sedan options.
- Less seating than a minivan.
- Harder to maneuver than a sedan.
Option 5: The Kitchen Sink (Starting With – $70.000, Used But In Good Shape – $10.000)
If you want to be able to have the most amenities and carrying capacity while bugging out, a recreational vehicle (RV) is your most realistic option. While not the most affordable when new, a used 2001 Class C RV with less than 100,000 miles can be purchased for under $10,000.
The benefits of having an RV as a bug out vehicle are:
- Comfortable transportation. From bathrooms, to showers to a kitchen, an RV can be setup so it’s like a second home on wheels.
- Plenty of carrying capacity. With an RV you can carry a lot of supplies and people with plenty of room to spare.
However, the drawbacks to bugging out in an RV are significant:
- Compared to other vehicle options, RVs have very bad gas mileage.
- A new RV will be fairly expensive, so only a used RV can be considered affordable by most people.
- An RV literally screams “I have a lot of stuff.” As mentioned previously, you don’t want to give others the impression you have a lot when everyone else has a little.
- Large size can be extra difficult to maneuver and operate.
- Depending on the size of the RV, a special driver’s license may be required.