Time Tourism for Beginners

Mechanics of Time Travel, by Flickr B. Owen

Mechanics of Time Travel, by Flickr B. Owen

by Ava Short,

If you’re a fan of “Doctor Who” or “Back to the Future” or even “Superman,” you know there are many ways to travel through time, and a number of reasons to do so. You can circle the Sun at warp speed to save the whales, or reverse the rotation of the Earth to save your girlfriend. Whether you choose one of these methods, or simply hop in your Tardis to have gyros with Socrates, there are some guidelines to follow.

Simple rules

The key to time tourism is to keep things simple to avoid unintended consequences. What if you eat the piece of pie that kept your grandmother from starving during the Depression? Or kill your grandfather? Or worse, invent the leisure suit. To avoid these catastrophes, follow the “Campsite Rule” of leaving things as they were before your visit.

The other simple rule is: Try to blend in. If you look or sound like a tourist when you travel, you may fall victim to con artists, thieves or corrupt officials. Wear a toga and sandals to ancient Rome, not jeans and a t-shirt. And speak the language. If you go to the future, bring a tablet with translator app. Then, if you have Internet access with satellite Internet equipment through someone like HughesNet, you can speak the language anywhere. If you go to the past, you’ll have to actually learn the language or gesture while speaking loudly and slowly like tourists do today.

Finally, keep in mind your own time is relative as well. When you leave 2013, you’ll be coming back moments after you left. You’ll have aged the amount of time you spend in the past or future, but everything in 2013 will be only moments older. If you spend a week hanging out at the Cotton Club in 1933, it won’t be as noticeable than if you spend five years in Elizabethan London, especially if you get the Plague.

Be practical

If you go anywhere for any length of time, you’ll need food, water and shelter. The same is true with time travel. Unless you go forward to a Utopian society, you’ll have to eat, and you’ll need time-appropriate cash. For that reason, you may want to take smaller jumps forward or back to get easier access to cash for the time. Don’t jump straight back to 1865 if you don’t have 1865 dollars to spend, hop back until you can grab older cash on the cheap.


Time travel provides great investment opportunities but be careful. You can bet heavy on the last Super Bowl, knowing who was going to win, but don’t make a habit of it. Oddsmakers don’t like to lose in any time.

Investing is easier. Go back in time and buy shares of blue chip stocks like Apple or IBM when they were cheap, start a trust for yourself, then come forward and collect. Or, get a 1938 dime, go back to a newsstand in June 1938, and buy a copy of Action Comics 1 (first appearance of Superman) for 10 cents. Come back to the present, say you found it in your grandparents’ attic, and auction it off for a fortune with no harm done to anyone or the time stream.

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