John M.'s letter was excellent, polite, and to the point.
The following are my rules for townies:
1. If your water comes out of a faucet or a bottle, and you can not safely walk to a permanent backup source in less than 10 minutes every day, then you will die.
2. If you do not raise your own food, or personally know the family that you bought it from, you will either die, or be forever controlled by someone with a clipboard and a list, and you will wish you were dead.
3. If you live in the city because your job is more important than your life, then don't bother bugging out. The only Job you are likely to get out here in the country is digging graves for people that think like you.
4. A centuries old rule of farming: It takes a minimum of 10 years of farming a piece of ground to know it. So, you're going to compress a decade of intimate knowledge into a weekend, because you read a book? We'll send the guy mentioned in Rule #3 out to your shack next spring.
5. Unless you have a fully stocked and equip 19th century-style working farm to escape to, with food for two years stored in place for humans and livestock, you are simply a well-intentioned refugee, or an unwelcome house guest.
6. [Forget "foraging".] In the 1850s, (for the purpose of sizing reservations), it was determined that a skillful Native American needed 100 square miles (10 miles x 10 miles) minimum, to live off the land, per person. There was a lot more game back then, and less afraid of humans. You're going to be competing with around 300 million hungry human bellies, every morning.
7. Ten cases of canned food fits in a 2'x2'x2' area. Around 30 cases will give you one meal a day for a year, and fits under a [tall] bed. The gear, tools, food, and clothing needed for a family of four for a year in the wild would fill one or more semi-trailers. So you think that you're going to effortlessly bug out with a truck and trailer at O-Dark-Thirty and survive? Stay home, or become breakfast for less dainty bellies.
Finally: There are two terms you hope never appear in your obituary: "unfortunate accident", or "shallow grave".
If you and your gear are not already pre-positioned on your own homestead, and your city job is just seasonal or part time for the Gov.Bux, you are probably bound to end up in one of these two categories by bugging out.
Prepare, but stay where you are, unless the emergency is a temporary natural event - Feral Farmer
JWR Replies: I concur that taking halfway measures is an invitation to becoming a statistic in a societal collapse. As I've stressed countless times, the best approach is to live at your retreat year-round. A marginal second choice is to maintain a fully-stocked retreat that is constantly under the watchful eye of a trusted friend or relative that can also keep your fruit nut trees watered and look after your livestock. But even then, you'll likely lack the requisite large-scale gardening experience in your retreat's particular climate zone. You will also lack having developed trust relationships with your neighbors--something crucial to survival. It is incredibly naive for anyone to anticipate that they can "bug out" with everything that they'll need. Even if you are fortunate enough arrive with your vehicle and trailer intact, as "Feral Farmer" points out, you will be way behind the power curve: under-equipped, and under-provisioned. And as, John M. mentioned, those that are under-prepared will probably end up in a life of thievery, rather than watch their families starve. The goal here is to be part of the solution, rather than part of the problem.
I also concur with Feral Farmer's observations on foraging. The hunting and even the fishing pressure will be tremendous. I've heard from consulting clients in California' Coast Range that deer harvest have dropped to pitifully low numbers in the past five years, because of the depredations of Mountain Lions. (Which have been elevated to protected species status in the People's Paradise of California.) The chances of filling just one deer tag, they say, are now slim except for anyone that has the time to willing to "hunt hard" throughout California's short deer season. So, I ask: If this has happened when there were just a few thousand excess mountain lions, then what will happen when there are an extra 5-to-10 million deer hunters wandering around California, shooting at anything that moves? (The California deer population has already dropped from more than one million to an estimated 485,000. That is not a lot of deer to go around, WTSHTF. And what will happen to the freshwater fishing stocks, when there are hundreds of thousands of set lines being worked, year round?