Preparing for emergency situations is hard. Preparing while in college is even harder. Most college students don’t have the time, space or money to prepare for the worst. Mentally, they are ready to go, but are without the means to do so. However, there is something that college students can do. Create a bug out bag.
I am in my last semester in college. I grew interested in prepping in my sophomore year. Unfortunately, I felt like I couldn’t do anything because I was in college dorm. It’s easier to prep while you are living with parents or if you are one of the lucky few with your own apartment, but if you are in a dorm there is limited space. I couldn’t create all of the handy things I saw online or in books. I couldn’t jar or hide food. It seemed like I couldn’t do anything. In my junior year, however, I had an epiphany. There was something I could do. I could create a bug out bag. It didn’t take up space. It wouldn’t cost too much. If something bad did happen I could just grab my bag and go.
With this in mind I began researching bug out bags online. The first thing that I did was look up the price range of a bug out bag. Right then and there I thought I was going to die. Some of those bags cost hundreds of dollars! I didn’t have that kind of money! Then I decided to make my own, so I began looking up lists of items that should be in bug out bags. I quickly grew intimidated. There was just so much stuff on the list that I thought I would never be able to get it all. I gave up. Again.
The summer before my senior year I managed to gather up my courage and create a plan in order to make my bug out bag. This plan.
Step 1) The Bag
The first thing you need to do is find a suitable book bag. If you have one then good for you, but if you don’t then you will have to buy one. A book bag can range anywhere from $5 to $40 at your local retail store. The $5 bag sounds great until you look at it in a survivalist point of view. They are usually small, flimsy and not enough space for everything you need to put in it. Surprisingly, the best place to buy your bag will be the thrift store. Most thrift stores will have a wide variety of bags in pretty good shape. Look through the bags and ask yourself these questions: Is it big enough? Does it have enough sections? Are there places to clip things on if need be? Are there side pockets? When you find the bag you like check the price. I bet it’s less than $5.
Step 2) The List
Creating a list of items to go into your bug out bag is a very important step. There are many lists online that you can choose from. All of them free. Print one out and then look through your list. Is there anything missing? Add it on the list. Is there anything on there that you feel that you won’t need? Mark it off. Make sure to personalize your list. For example, if you have asthma add an inhaler to your bag.
Step 3) Raiding
By raiding I definitely do not mean breaking into a place and stealing things to put in your bag. Instead, go through your dorm, apartment, parent’s house, grandma’s house, etc. and if you see something that can go into your bug out bag add it. Please make sure that they are things that they can spare such as an extra flashlight or a pair of scissors. Also, make sure you ask for permission before taking it if it’s not yours.
Step 4) Dollar Stores
Most college students are already on a budget, some stricter than others. This step actually requires you to budget while shopping. Check your budget and figure out how much you can spare on your bug out bag per week. $5? $10? Once a week go to your local dollar store and spend your budget. It’s best if you go to a store where everything is actually a dollar or less. Why buy an expensive bottle of pain reliever pills for $5 when you can get a bottle at a real dollar store for just $1? Sadly, there will be things on your list that you will not be able to get there. Avoid buying can openers, knives, flashlights, etc. they will not be good quality and may let you down when you really need it.
Step 5) Thrift Stores
Thrift stores are a godsend if you are running low on money. Most thrift stores don’t just put anything out. Quality is important for them as well. Check the electronics and other miscellaneous items section. Look for things that run on batteries. Does your list include a small pot? Look through the dishes.
Step 6) Online Shopping
Unfortunately, dollar stores and thrift stores can only go so far. There are bound to be a few things left on your list some more expensive than others. Getting the item you want will require some actual research and a bit more of your time. Search online stores for your item and then crosscheck it with other stores in your area. For example, a survival knife is being sold on Groupon for $15. It seems great until you add in the shipping and handling and the price jumps from $15 to $20. Before buying the knife you decide to look up the same brand of knife at different stores. Two stores into your search you find the exact same knife available in-store at your local Wal-Mart for $12.
By the end of the sixth step you should have a complete, inexpensive and fully functional bug out bag. If you’re not feeling ecstatic by then look up the price of a bug out bag online and compare it to how much you spent on yours. Not only did you spend hundreds of dollars less, but your bag is more personalized to you and you most likely have things that the other bag doesn’t. Take that $300 bag.