A suitable rally point must, first of all, be known and accessible to all members of your party. It should also be reasonably secluded, but not to the point where special skills or vehicles are required to reach it.
There is no value in a very distant and secluded rally point if everyone in your party cannot reach it. A suitable rally point will be far enough from the danger area, yet accessible enough, while maintaining some semblance of seclusion and security.
There is no perfect formula, so you must find a balance. If security and seclusion are of optimal concern, then your rally point will likely be tougher to reach and may require off-road vehicles. If the goal is to get many people organized quickly, a local camping ground or national park may be best.
Rally points should be defined from a directional perspective and tied to secondary factors within your local community. Your own personal resources should also be taken into consideration. Do you own a boat? Is it docked in a bay, a marina, near a river or an ocean? If you live inland, this can make for a great rally point.
Your choice to head to such a location, however, should be guided by accessibility. If you live in California, it may make sense to shoot for Catalina Island, if you have a means of making it there. Since so many people will likely head east and away from the coast, it is a smart move to do the direct opposite and head towards the water. You are not only likely to encounter little traffic, but little danger from the human element, as well.
What if you live in New York City? The country’s most densely populated metropolitan area is home to nearly 20,000,000 people. This means that this one small pocket of the country is more populated than all but three entire American states. Considering that New York City is on the Atlantic Ocean and the eastern seaboard, there are not many viable escape options. Few New Yorkers can afford boats and heading out into the Atlantic is highly questionable. The highways around New York City are eternally packed and since so many city dwellers count on public transportation, many cannot simply get in a car and go.
New York City does, however, have the safety valves of Long Island and New Jersey, both can be reached quickly, via mass transport and by walking across various bridges. During the 9/11 terror attacks many Manhattan residents were able to make it to nearby Westchester county, just north of New York City, by walking and bike riding to the Bronx and then continuing north on foot.
What if you live in Texas and there is a breakdown of border security? We are all familiar with the Mexican mafia and the propensity of drug cartels to function within American borders. Once again, the herd mentality is something to avoid. The layman will likely consider heading south of the border, if there is an infrastructural breakdown in the United States. This person would be driving head first into the mouth of danger and potential death. The smart move under this scenario would be to move north and further inland.
Once again, however, we can’t simply stop there. We must be vigilant and take all factors into consideration. What if we happen to be residents of El Paso, Texas, for instance? Here we are, mere miles from the Mexican border, but we also have Fort Bliss directly northeast of us. If we have packed our go bag full of guns, money and pain killers for our grandpa Jack, do we really want to be heading in the direction of a military base while our borders are under siege?!
Of course, we don’t. We don’t want to be heading in the direction of any armed personnel; foreign or domestic. This is not the time for patriotism or reliance on authoritative figures. When things go bad, police, military and government authorities react as hastily and panic just as much as regular folk. You do not want your safety and that of your family to be left up to the decision making of 19 year-old soldiers who do not have the experience to tell the difference between you and a dangerous criminal.
Remember that your rally point is always going to be unique to your location. If you live on a farm, escaping hundreds of miles away over a span of hours may not be very difficult. If you live in the metropolis. However, simply getting a few miles away from the crowds and panic, can be enough to ensure momentary safety and buy valuable recovery and preparatory time.
The suitability of a rally point is directly tied into the dynamics of your living environment. Wherever you live, whichever way you choose to travel, always try to avoid crowds, mobs, major roadways and authority figures. All of these factors can serve to slow you down or worse, leave you stuck in place. Make your plans according to your strength and weaknesses, but also consider the structural and regional factors which surround you.