One of the worst oversights in travel literature is the complete lack of information on where and where not to travel after the inevitable zombie apocalypse. Some of us aren’t resigned to the fate of living in a prison fortress and harvesting root vegetables for the rest of our lives, and we still plan on fulfilling our lifelong dream of seeing the world, shambling hordes of undead be damned.
Our Lonely Planet and Fodor’s guides will be useless by then, however. They irresponsibly omit important information like population density, likely infection rates, possible escape routes with notes on road passability, and whether the local cuisine is likely to include sacrificial tourist meat. Matador, as a responsible travel publication, has decided to begin to help fill this vacuum. Here we’ve put together a brief list of popular tourist destinations and whether or not you should consider them in your wanderings through the world of the undead.
Singapore is best known for its clean streets, delicious street food, high standard of living, and disciplined, efficient government. It is also an island, which provides a slight geographical advantage in the event of mainland outbreaks. Because of the highly functioning government and the ability to mobilize proper defenses rapidly, one might think Singapore has the best chance of survival among the Asian countries.
This, however, would be wrong. Singapore has the third highest population density in the world, behind the also-doomed Macau and Monaco, and just ahead of the inescapably lost Hong Kong. High population densities mean that, when an outbreak occurs, it will spread fast, and the living cannot be expected to react calmly and rationally.
And an outbreak will occur: In spite of its relative geographical isolation, Singapore has destroyed much of its local farmland through urbanization, and is nowhere near self-sufficient. As such, if it expects to survive, it must rely on trade.
Every boat and plane that arrives on Singapore’s shores carries the risk of infection, but every single boat and plane will be necessary if the government expects to keep its populace happy and maintain order.
On top of this, the Straits of Johor, which separate Singapore from mainland Malaysia, are relatively shallow, and as we all know, zombies don’t need oxygen and can walk under water.
Travel tip: Don’t fall for the island fallacy: Secluded does not mean safe.
Some islands, however, are very safe. The safest places in the world following a zombie apocalypse are going to be arctic or subarctic islands. This means you should look towards Iceland, Greenland, Svalbard, and the Canadian Arctic Archipelago.
My personal pick as the best of the lot is Iceland. First off, it’s beautiful, and it has the legendary hot springs, which is a nice way to fight the cold. Its climate is also a mixture of arctic and subarctic. Zombie flesh, having no circulation, freezes in the cold, which makes subarctic locales, with their occasional, pleasant warm weather, slightly more risky, but in the case of an attack, retreat to the cold central highlands is possible.
Iceland existed for centuries as a self-sufficient island, relying mostly on fishing and whaling for food, and is now primarily powered by renewable resources (geothermal and hydropower). There is every chance it will be an oasis of civilization in the midst of a world gone undead.
Travel tip: The hardest part about Iceland is getting there, but never underestimate the value of investing in a trans-Atlantic boat.
The United States
The US will be a crapshoot in the case of a zombie apocalypse. Though it’s one of the most populous countries in the world, it’s also one of the most spacious, with the majority of the population along the coasts. Needless to say, the coasts are probably off limits, unless you’re in Alaska. The heartland is a better bet in terms of low zombie concentration.
The US may be able to handle the onslaught — the American populace is the most heavily armed in the world, and have been known to form militias for much more dubious threats. That said, the American gun fetish is a mixed bag for you as a traveler. Post-apocalyptic nomads who travel improperly armed are, frankly, deserving of their fate — you should always carry some sort of firearm and an edge weapon (blades don’t need reloading) with you when you travel through infected zones.
But in America, virtually everyone is going to be better armed than you, and since America will likely experience a total governmental collapse in the case of a major crisis like this, you are likely to find the former United States a trifle anarchic.
Travel tip: American travel may become slightly difficult in certain areas. Though known for its intricate network of motorways, many American roads will quickly become clogged with automobiles attempting to flee the urban carnage. To travel effectively around the United States, your best bet is a bike or motorbike, or, if you’re extremely lucky, one of the amphibious “Duck Boats” that were used by local tour operators pre-collapse.
The European Union
The open borders and excellent infrastructure of the EU will ensure that the zombie virus travels quickly, so most of the densest urban areas will be decimated. That said, Europe has been through plagues before, and should be able to survive this one as well. Europe’s strength was always in its geography — its numerous mountain ranges, its countless waterways, its twisted, endless coastlines — and as such, small pockets of European society will remain untouched or hidden from the zombie threat thanks to some quirk of geography.
That said, these quirks will be virtually impossible to predict. Scandinavian countries should do quite well, given their relative isolation and climate, and some of the Mediterranean islands may be able to escape unscathed.
Likely, the safest place will be in Britain, which has continuously proven itself adept at warding off invasions through sheer stiff-upperlippedness. It is the most geographically isolated, and is also the most anti-Europe of the European countries, which should offer it some small protections. That said, if dystopian literature has shown us anything — think V for Vendetta and Children of Men — it’s that Britain in crisis is not kind to foreigners.
Travel tip: Paris is fucked. Don’t go to Paris.
You may have noticed we haven’t been touching mainland Asia. This is with good reason: Don’t go to mainland Asia. Particularly the Indian subcontinent. Nothing good will happen to you there. Some parts of Russia, Mongolia, and a few Himalayan countries will do well — the secluded nation of Bhutan will be a particularly delightful oasis — but for the most part, Asia’s geography and population density will not lend itself to zombie tourism.
Oceania, on the other hand, will likely do particularly well, as will most archipelagos. Archipelagos avoid the imprisoning isolation of single islands, and historically have seafaring cultures. As such, places like the Indonesian, Philippine, and Caribbean archipelagos will very likely fare well in the zombie apocalypse.
Indonesia consists of around 17,508 islands, which range from the totally deserted to the densely populated, like Java, home to 60% of the country’s population. If you haven’t figured out by now that you shouldn’t go to Java, then you’re probably going to die anyway. Your main risks in Indonesia are going to be pirates and the terrain. Pirates — a problem everywhere — have been operating in the Strait of Malacca for years, and thus will have the experience that will help them thrive when any form of global governance disappears. As for the terrain, much of Indonesia is covered in rainforest, which is easily the most ambush-prone environment for zombies. Avoid going into dense rainforest if at all possible: It’s not only the undead that are a threat in the jungle, but they will use it to ambush you.
Travel tip: Traveling is all about venturing into the unknown, so much that is true now will hold once flesh-eating ghouls begin to destroy our world — you should still, for example, always travel with an open mind. But you’ll want to avoid zombies opening it for you.