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The barter system has its roots in caveman "fire-for-rock" trading. It served as a secondary way of purchase. From bartering for supplies from a few decades ago in rural communities to kids swapping playing cards, it is the world's oldest means of procuring goods. It will outlast the current monetary system in any apocalypse. Like the olden time, people wanted a currency that's worth something, like gold or any other precious stones.
In the zombie infested world, money won't help you very much. The only way you can have something you need is to barter things you have. In this section, you will learn how to get the things you want peacefully.
Items to Trade
Cigarettes and Other Tobacco Products: If the opportunity arises, grab these. If someone you end up trading with smokes or has a party member that uses it, they will probably want these. If anyone in your group uses tobacco, it might boost morale. However, keep in mind that many people may find the use of these products disruptive and the health concerns that arise may not be worth it.
Medical Drugs: If you find any drugs, grab them. Do not use these unless you must, as chances are that someone else will need them. Do note that headaches, allergies and the like can all be extremely detrimental and if a party member is afflicted with a medical complication, using drugs can be preferable to them, and they will most likely be willing to pay a high price for them. Also, keep in mind that people with serious medical conditions such as diabetes will require special medications that they will pay through the nose for.
Illegal Drugs: In a zombie apocalypse, breaking pre-apocalypse laws will be the least of your concern. Though it is best you do not use any of these, they have uses such as escaping the world and painkilling. Remember that illegal drugs are made illegal in the first place because they do not contribute much to the safety and security of those who use them.
Pornography: Even if you aren't that kind of person, someone else might be. And you could be isolated for a long, long time. Video and DVD will likely be useless, but magazines won't.
Alcohol: Makes a person more relaxed. Use in extreme moderation. It can be used as an improvised pain killer, fuel, antifreeze and explosive.
Toilet Paper: Will be very common in urban areas and hard to trade, but it can raise morale by restoring a "norm" and can be used as improvised bandages.
Ammo: In a world where money is obsolete, ammo serves as a good alternative since they possess the value of being able to shoot down zombies. The better the quality of the ammo, the more value they possess. For instance, a well preserved military grade ammo would net you more goods than a homemade ammo. Ammo trade also allows you to sell ammo unfit for your firearms for the ones fitting. Be wary that some buyers would attempt to use the ammo they've just purchased to shoot you down. Take extreme caution whenever you want to use ammo as a currency.
Ashes: Always save this. You may not know this, but if you eat something poisonous, ingesting some ashes might just save your life. It works by making you throw up. It's as simple as that. To obtain this, put some wood on the fire, wait for it to char, shave the outside and repeat. Those who you are bartering with may not believe this, but it is worth a shot. You could also use ashes as a source of soup.
Money: Within the first week of infection, people might think that money will still have value. A month after the infection, however, fewer people will be alive and those that have survived to such a point will probably already know that cash is virtually worthless. Always keep at least one of each bill, though, for an archive when you try to rebuild.
Gold & Jewellery: These items will be basically worthless in a post-apocalyptic world, and yet there will be people who are not practical and will covet what they perceive to be "valuable." So, with that in mind, don't be so quick to discard these items; keep them and attempt to use them to trade for realistically valuable items like food, firearms, ammo, medical supplies, water, etc.
Sex: Though you may find the prospect offensive, if you or a member of your group is considered attractive, you may have the chance to use sex to gain supplies from even the most stubborn trader.
Fuel: Fuel is needed to power most vehicles. If you have a gas powered generator, you'll have power for lights, power tools etc. Keep in mind many generators run on diesel, not regular unleaded gasoline.
Books: Much of the knowledge that mankind has ever discovered is stored in a book. Books can teach a person almost anything that they need to know. Also, these could provide entertainment in the most bleak of times if nothing else is available.
Wood: Wood is a handy material for building/fortifying your base and to build fires, for cooking or heating purposes. As stated before, the burned remains of wood may also prove useful in an emergency.
Medicine: Always ask for pain killers and disinfectants. They help with cuts, gunshots, headaches, childbirth, surgery, etc.
Tools: You need these. Tools to ask for include, but are not limited to:
- Arc/Oxy-fuel welders
- Axes and hatchets
- Nail guns
- Nuts and bolts
- Power tools
- Shovels (preferably collapsible ones)
Guns: If you're going to want to live through the apocalypse, you will need guns. Ask to see them when trading. No matter how tempted you are, rifles and handguns are preferred to RPGs and miniguns. Make sure you get some ammunition with it. Ask how to clean it, take it apart, etc. If possible, get accessories such as scopes and suppressors.
Ammo: If you're going to use guns, ammunition is a necessity. If you're lucky enough, you have already occupied a fortified settlement and if you happen to have a reloading station that's even better, not only will you be able to reuse spent brass shell casings and rounds, but it'll boost up your chances of being a successful trader as well as provide a near infinite source of ammo limited only to the quantity of brass, bullets points, and gunpowder, which can be made from semi-common materials.
Animals: Smaller animals are preferred. Chickens provide eggs and goats milk can be used as milk or turned into cheese or yogurt. Larger animals like sheep, cows and pigs should be declined as they are more trouble than they are worth, although they provide a lot of meat. Dogs and cats can boost morale and can be used for food, if desperate. This should be avoided as dogs can help hunt or act as an alarm, and cats can hunt small vermin that spread disease. Horses and other pack animals are good for transport if you have no vehicle available.
Duct tape: The saying "you can fix anything with duct tape" is true and has hundreds of uses, ranging from making arts and crafts to boost morale to restraining a hostile person or zombie.
Flashlights: Needed for moving at night or exploring and looting dark buildings. Just be aware of surroundings.
Batteries: For flashlights, entertainment, etc.
Bleach: Use this to clean your dirty water, but only use a quarter of a teaspoon per gallon. Only use this as a last resort. If you have access to it, boil it, don't bleach it. This is the last thing you ask for, if you ask for it at all.
Solar Panels: One of the biggest steps to rebuilding humanity is electricity. If traders have these, ask for them, no matter what it costs. One of the downsides to this is that someone in your group must know how to install them. Although, this problem could easily be solved by finding a book that goes into detail on those kinds of things.
Seeds: You need this to grow plants. A good backup food source. Always ask for corn seeds, because they can be used for so many things, from cornbread to popcorn. Also, you can make fuel out of corn, called Ethanol.
Fire Starters: Things like matches, lighters, and flint and steel are needed to ignite fires, as rubbing wood together is tedious.
Clothes: Clothes have many uses which range from armour to makeshift bandages, though they are most commonly used in their practical usage: covering the body and protecting it from environmental hazards like the sun and cold or hot temperatures. Only consider clothing that is beneficial in more than one way. Do not get clothes that mainly exist just for showing off.
These are things you shouldn't ask for, but you want to. The only reason you should get these is if you have something you don't need, but the trader wants.
Moist Towelettes: As seen in Book of Eli, you can give yourself a makeshift sponge bath with these. They're lightweight, small, and cheap, so you shouldn't have to give much for them.
Hot/Cold Water: A hot shower or cold glass of water will be very rare in a zombie apocalypse. Do not however, trade your gun or something of high value for this luxury.
Small Explosives: Despite popular belief, small explosives like grenades and land mines are not very effective against a member of the undead. Only ask for these if you know you will be battling a living enemy soon.
- Make sure that the equipment that you are buying works properly. Look if something is rusty, broken or is not exactly what your trading partner says it is.
- Don't get too interested. If you get too interested your trading partner knows that you need what he is offering and will raise the price. Always try to convince him that he needs more what you are offering, than you need what he is offering.
- Beware quacks. When a disease plagues humanity, there will always be those who will try to make a profit from it. If someone offers you a "cure for the zombie virus", or something that makes you immune to the disease, it is definitely a fraud. If a cure is found it will be administered free by authority figures.