June 21, 2012 --
Summer is upon us, and this year, that can only mean one thing: just six more months until the end of the world, even if the Mayans didn't technically predict Dec. 21, 2012 would be the end of time as some doomsayers allege. But if you think the end is coming and you want to be around to see next summer, why not use this year's summer vacation to get acclimated with the kinds of conditions you can come to expect in a post-apocalyptic wasteland?
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Underwater Lodge in Key Largo Just because you'll have to live behind five-foot-wide steel walls after the apocalypse hits doesn't mean you can't still have five-star luxury -- or as close as you'll get to it anyway when the world comes to an end. Plus, if this is going to be the last summer vacation you go on before the apocalypse, why not try something unique? Hotels above ground are a dime a dozen. But if you're looking for a truly immersive vacation experience, climb aboard Jules Undersea Lodge in Key Largo, Fla., where even the guest rooms are underwater. As a guest at the hotel, you'll learn to adapt underwater living, which includes understanding the perils of decompression sickness and getting used to having fish watch you sleep through the porthole in your bedroom.
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Underground Bunkers in Switzerland If living underwater just sounds crazy to you but your doomsday enthusiasm doesn't, then why not opt for going underground instead? Plus, with this vacation, you can also take in the majesty of the Alps before the comet and/or global megaquake and/or interplanetary collision turns them to dust in six months. Underground bunkers were built in Switzerland back when Europe was dealing with the closest thing it had ever experienced to a real apocalypse: World War II. According to TIME Magazine, the Swiss military built some 20,000 underground bunkers as a defensive measure in case Nazi Germany ever invaded. Although many remained in service during the Cold War, these bunkers have since been transformed into banquet halls, museums and more. This photo shows the entrance to the "Zero Star Hotel," a bunker that has been fitted to provide all the comforts of a doomsday survival shelter, including cots, fuzzy television sets and cement walls.
Chernobyl Chernobyl, the site of the worst nuclear disaster in human history, is the perfect destination for any doomsday planner expecting a nuclear armageddon. Despite the fact that the site is still uninhabited, it has become a tourist hot spot (literally and figuratively). Tourists can expect to see local wildlife, such as elk and owls, that stayed put even as humans evacuated. Tours also bring visitor to the ghost town of Pripyat, which was once home to 50,000 residents. Although areas within the 30-mile exclusion zone, where tours are conducted, are still radioactive, the good news is that you'll get just as large a dose of radiation from the flight over.
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Chile's Atacama Desert If you want a preview of what the Earth looks like without water or life, stop by Chile's Atacama desert. Although technically it's winter in the southern hemisphere, so this might not technically qualify as a summer vacation, the Atacama is as inhospitable now as it will be any time of year. The Atacama desert is the driest place on Earth. It never rains and not a single insect or plant can survive. Because of these characteristics, the soil in the desert has even been used in studies about conditions on Mars. No apocalypse could make the Atacama desert any more lifeless than it already is.
The Warmest Place on Earth When doomsday comes around, you might not be worried about being in a place that's too hot or dry or radioactive. After all, Biblical history suggests that floods might be the real concern. In case doomsday survivors need to get used to intense flooding and seemingly neverending precipitation Mawsynram, India is the wettest place on Earth with an annual rainfall of over 40 feet a year. During the monsoon months, Mawsynram is hit especially hard. In fact, the village sees an average of over 10 feet of rainfall alone just in July.
Svalbard Global Seed Vault If you're going to survive, you're going to need to eat. And cannibalism just isn't an option for anyone surviving the apocalypse who also happens to be a vegetarian. For that particular subset of doomsday alarmists, a visit to the Svalbard Global Seed Vault may be worth your time just to check in on their inventory. Located on an island in the Arctic Circle, Svalbard is home to some 400,000 seed varieties from 27 countries. It can survive extreme cold, rising sea levels and even a nuclear blast. Just be sure to watch out for polar bears.
See Animals No Longer in the Wild If you're a doomsday planner who's resigned to the idea of our species going extinct past Dec. 21, 2012, why not use your time now to check in on some animal species who have already seen their doomsday? Facilities like the Al Wabra Wildlife Preservation in Qatar, which is home to hundreds of rare and endangered animal species, host animals that have already been to the brink and back. Birds like the Spix's Macaw seen in this photo essentially are living in their equivalent of fallout shelters given that these species are extinct in the wild and only exist in captivity.
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