Would You Survive a Zombie Apocalypse?

If a car broke down whilst road tripping in Iceland, I’d have no idea what to do.

Before we get started here on this page, I want to clarify something. I am not a nutcase, at least I don’t think I am. Perhaps this is open for debate.

Years of self-guided research into environmental issues and a tendency to have an affinity for dystopian future-based novels has naturally led me to mentally examine the state of the world, time and time again. Most often, I think the outlook doesn’t look too hot (or… it does look too hot which is most of the problem). I can’t help but think that something really bad may one day happen.

Climate change will wreak havoc on the world as we know it. A virus will be released that will wipe out a large proportion of humanity, such as in Stephen King’s The Stand or against the Hork-Bajir in Animorphs. World War Three will kick off, or people will rise from the dead and devour us all.

I don’t know what the future holds. I am not a psychic. Psycho maybe, but not psychic.

In these mad and unsettling scenarios, I often wonder what my own chances of survival would be. I mean, a virus type thing I’d have no control over – that’s genetics. Yet, how skilled am I when it comes to basic survival?

This is the thing that bothers me. In our technologically enhanced lives, we are becoming more and more reliant on convenience. We look to electronic devices to solve all our issues for us.

Don’t know where you’re going? Ask Google Maps. It will tell you exactly how to get to your destination – you don’t even have to think about what you’re doing! And as such, you’ll never learn your way around the area that you live in and forget about ever knowing how to read a map again.

Don’t fancy cooking when you get home from work? Just order in some Uber Eats or Deliveroo! The convenience of it is all too much that you may find yourself doing it several times a week. So much for knowing how to cook.

As long as funds aren’t an issue, any problem you have can be rectified by throwing money at it until it goes away. You can pay someone to clean your house, repair your car, fix anything that is broken.

I hope you’re beginning to realise now that the above paragraphs and title of this post, were just hopefully an eye-catching phrase underlying a much deeper issue.

In asking: “Could you survive a zombie acopolypse?” the real question is – How useful are you?

And if push came to shove – could you fend for yourself?

I did not start this campfire, I just stood nearby, observed and sipped wine.

This is a topic that I spend an almost unhealthy amount of time thinking about. Because, I’m not so sure I would survive an apocalypse. For one thing, I only have four cans of tuna and one of tomato stored in my pantry and I don’t even like tomato, although if push came to shove, i.e. I was starving, I’m sure I might deign to eat it then.

But all in all, the older I get it seems the more useless I become.

It wasn’t always the case. When I was younger, I learnt how to drive around the cities I lived in using a big street map book – remember them? I got lost so many times, turned down many one-way streets in error and even got pulled over by the police once for making a right-hand turn into a street where that was prohibited (they let me off with a warning – I pointed out you couldn’t see the sign because someone had already run into it and it was bent backwards out of view).

However, I eventually got to know my way around these places pretty well – my knowledge of these cities rivalled those of the black cab drivers in London, way back when. I don’t have a car now and I’m not sure if those street maps even exist anymore, or it’s all down to GPS now. Basic navigation skills. That’s one pretty important skill we’re losing as a society, right there.

I also used to be able to gut and fillet fish, thanks to a job I had working in the seafood section of a supermarket in my teens. That is a skill that might still be intact, if a recent taxidermy class has taught me anything.

I can ride a horse and hypnotise chickens, which is pretty bloody cool. Thank you, childhood years spent in the countryside. I owe you a bunch.

Plus I can swim, because Australian.

That being said, I had a car for eight years and never learned how to do basic things – like change the oil or a tyre. I don’t know how to light a fire and make it continue burning and it would also be pretty neat to do it without a lighter. I haven’t properly camped outside since I was nine years old (glamping however – hey, hey hey!). I’m pretty useless when it comes to fixing thing. I don’t know what needs to be done in the case of a medical emergency, apart from call 000 (the emergency help line in Australia). I was a blue belt in karate at the age of ten, but I’m pretty sure I’d lose in a scrap these days.

In fact, my fitness levels are currently deplorable. I kill mostly everything I try to grow. Speaking of death (urgh) I eat meat but am not sure if I’d be able to ever end an animal’s life, well besides a fish. Hypocrite, much?

Fishing off Frankston pier in Melbourne.

Travel Helps

All those travellers who wax lyrical on how much travel teaches you… ahem. They may have a point.

I think travelling often definitely helps you to cope well in what could otherwise be upsetting situations. Thanks to travel, I’m now able to keep a cool head when bad things happen, like getting hopelessly lost or missing a flight. Well, so long as I’m not too tired and my blood sugar levels aren’t super low, that is.

The way you travel probably helps too. If you’re living the high life, flying business and staying in five star hotels and resorts, then your skills (apart from spending copious amounts of cash) might be limited.

If you’re roughing it somewhat – camping, maybe travelling by foot or bike and are a real adventure nut, then you’ll accumulate more skills. This means your chance of surviving the apocalypse are higher than rich people who are used to throwing money at a problem to make it go away.

I’m neither a high-flyer or a budget traveller – being mid-range, I fall somewhere in-between. My skills are thus so so.

I imagine if the apocalypse happened people would be unimpressed with me at face value because I’m not a doctor or carpenter or whatever and haven’t been camping for twenty years. But then I’d amaze them with my ability to catch and gullet inedible blowfish and they might re-think their opinion. Who knows. This is completely hypothetical and all.

I guess kayaking is a skill or something.

Skills That Are Worth Having

At this point, you might have wondered what on earth has possessed me to write the majority of this post. This is a fair assumption indeed.

I’m genuinely keen to skill up a bit more. The other day my doorknob fell off my bedroom door WHILE THE DOOR WAS CLOSED and my friend and I had to MacGyver our way back in, which we managed to do without damaging anything. I thought “hey, it is cool that I can do this probably thanks to hours of reading crime fiction novels. I wonder what else I am capable of if I actually put my mind to it?”

So, here are some skills I would like to learn over the next couple of years, so if when the apocalypse comes I’ll actually be ready.

  • Grow herbs without killing them.
  • Start a campfire without burning everything in the vicinity down.
  • Put up a tent without getting frustrated and making the nearest person with a penis do it.
  • Jump start a car and change a tyre.
  • Relearn how to read a map and work on improving my sense of direction.
  • Use a compass.
  • Some basic self-defence.
  • Also some basic first-aid.
  • Sew without making a mess of it.
  • Knit a pair of socks.
  • And for “fun” – go for longer bushwalks without complaining about hip-pain or fuelling my apathy toward general exercise.

Plus maybe also stockpiling my pantry with foods I actually like.

Apocalypse, give me two years and I may actually be ready for you.

In all seriousness, are there any practical skills that you wish you were better at? Has travelling improved any of these for you, or were you just born handy? And how do you think the world is going to end?

Slightly amused by this post? Stick a pin in it!

How skilled are you when it comes to basic survival? What has travel taught you in this regard? And the biggest question of all... would you survive a world-wide disaster, such as a zombie apocalypse?

How skilled are you when it comes to basic survival? What has travel taught you in this regard? And the biggest question of all... would you survive a world-wide disaster, such as a zombie apocalypse?

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  1. When I was writing my to-do-before-30-years-old list I actually included learning basic self-defense and first aid, but cowardly left it off the post because I was scared I won’t be able to accomplish it in the next three months. I still want to do it though.

    I was also thinking that all those skills need practice. For example I had a whole year of medicine class in uni (including first aid), but can hardly remember anything now. So theoretically even if I learn how to start a fire, I’d have to go camping every once in a while otherwise it will be forgotten quickly. Our modern progressive world doesn’t give too many opportunities to practice these skills, unfortunately.

    1. Maybe not in the next three months but you could certainly get a head start on it, right? Self-defence is actually something I’ve been contemplating returning to for years now and I always find a reason not to. Enough!

      No, the modern world doesn’t, but I think you can rather FORCE yourself to acquire and maintain the skills (apart from the medical ones, perhaps). Camping is pretty big in Australia and I’d like to start going on a more regular basis, but it’s hard without a car, sigh. And you can’t light campfires in summer anyhow because of the bushfire risk, so no billy can roasting over the fire in the warmer months. Not that you’d want to drink tea in the heat anyway.

  2. How do you hypnotise a chicken?? Does it work on other poultry or just chickens??
    I can sew and knit so if the end of the world/zombie apocalypse/world war III occurs when we’re in the same-ish part of the world I’ll happily exchange a pair of knitted socks for some of your inedible blowfish.
    This post has excellent timing though – I had very similar thoughts and resulting conversation with the girls I work with last night, as one of them read some fake news that Russia was sending an undetectable nuclear weapon powerful enough to wipe out the UK twice over, and was convinced we were goners. One of them once worked for an NGO in Africa so was pretty alright with making something out of nothing, fires, cleaning water and all that. The other is a mother so is good at calming people down and being a nurturer and what not. She also used to work for the NHS so would be designated first aider. My role would be to make new clothes out of leaves, and to tell funny jokes. We had planned out an escape route to the basement and everything.

    1. I have only ever tried this on chickens, not any other kind of bird, but you put them lying down on the ground and draw a line away from their beaks a few times. They become transfixed on that point and you can step away from them and they’ll just lie there clucking until you clap your hands. Probably not the nicest thing to do, but it’s always a crowd pleaser.
      Glad it was timely… I think? It’s certainly a topic that can keep a conversation going for hours on end!

  3. Love this! But it definitely is true that people (generalising, but especially city folks) tend to be less handy because they don’t need to be because YouTube is simply a click away.

    I always say I would be the first to die in a zombie apocalypse because I cannot run very fast at all without feeling like I may as well give up.

  4. The great majority of my skills are only useful in the context of reasonably complex society, or at least with some kind of starting resources. LOL I’m doomed.

  5. I love thinking about things like this. The key to surviving is knowing people and putting together a team of people who know how to do everything that needs to be done. Keeping spirits high and helping people stay positive in the face of difficulty is something that I’m sure you would contribute to any post apocalyptic survival scenario!

  6. “Put up a tent without getting frustrated and making the nearest person with a penis do it.” – LOL. That is definitely on my list as well. I read The Road recently and was also wondering if I’d survive in this type of scenario. Considering how many times I felt the need to Google something today, I probably wouldn’t fare well. Time to step up my game!

    1. Oh gosh, I had such a crisis after reading that book AND watching the movie! I’m definitely opting for zombie apocalypse over anything nuclear related.

  7. Great article, thanks. I think we should all start taking out prepping even more seriously since i see this country going down the wrong road faster and faster than ever.

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