- "Time goes by so slowly" — Madonna
Time travel is a travel topic...and not just any travel topic! Without geographically leaving the place you are at, time travel enables you to experience and explore entirely new surroundings!
Time travel will have been popularized in 1885 AD by Herbert George Wells (1866-1946), a British science fiction writer who first saw the potential for using a Time Machine to transport tourists to other eras in which they could buy tacky souvenirs and leave behind massive amounts of rubbish. Before this invention, travellers of the era were largely limited to galloping into nearby towns on horseback (if there was no railway yet) and annoying the locals by leaving trails of horse excrement in their wake.
In 1964 AD, Mick Jagger will famously claim "Time, time, time is on my side..." before heading forward in time Freejack-style to appear in a long string of come-back performances in 2013, 2015, 2110 and 2250. The string of Rolling Stones comeback performances ended in the twenty-third century when the group began to gather moss.
Time travel is particularly suitable for people with limited time. While you otherwise usually will need at least one day to make a journey, time travel enables you to return to the same moment you left. Thus you can literally start your day by a trip to somewhere else and return home for breakfast! Or even have breakfast at the end of the universe (see Eat below)
In any given time period, over 5,000 different languages are likely to be in use worldwide. In general, Hebrew or Ancient Greek are useful in Biblical times, Latin is essential in the days of Imperial Rome and proper English is invaluable in the British Empire, even if the language has been dead in America since 1783 (see also the note about English Interpreters, below). Other popular regional languages in various eras include Spanish, Arabic (but it should be noted that Early Coptic may be better understood in the New Kingdom), Russian, French, Chinese, German, Hindustani, Malay/Indonesian, Persian, Portuguese and Swahili in multiple nations. Many other supposedly "dead" languages, such as Pig Latin, Plankalkül or COBOL, may be very much in use if you visit some era in the distant historic past. Adding to the confusion, new languages like – you know – Valleyspeak totally appear from time to time, and there are inevitably additional languages on other planets for visitors to the future.
However there is a tendency from at least the 19th century onwards of more languages disappearing than appearing anew. Public education, nation states and mass media all contributed to this but the most important factor are ignorant people in Hawaii shirts who think shouted English is the universal language of those who don't speak English. They are called Tou-Ris'te in the ancient tongue of Lutetia , which roughly translates as: arrogant bastard who complains if the cabbie wants more than a dollar. Remember: Nahuatl with a bad accent is better than no Nahuatl at all when visiting 1480 Tenochtitlan.
LGBTQ Travellers are advised to be aware of the colourful differences and false friends between English and the Polari/Rupaul subgroup within the Lavender language family which may be encountered historically within that community.
A big problem for all time travellers is - especially after returning - the tense you use when referring to your adventures. Douglas Adams was one of the first to give the issue serious thought and his works are a great resource for the time traveller as well as for spending time waiting for the time machine to land.
Choosing appropriate clothing can be tricky, some tips are :
- If visiting certain eras and regions dress in a modest, or even outright austere style. Fake pearl beads or flashy cubic zirconia rings may be mistaken for the real thing, and taxed accordingly. Strict rules were applied to the size of lace ruffs in 16th century Europe.
- Research before you go, not only into the styles, but how to work within them. A poor match will make you stand out in your destination. (However, be aware that some period contemporary illustrations may not be an accurate reflection.)
- Be familiar with period specific items. A fraternity Greek night does not count as experience on how to wear a toga, and there's nothing that shows up a time traveller more than reacting in a strange way to items that would be considered commonplace in your destination. Admittedly, this is a greater consideration for female travellers as stays (or wooden hoop skirts), stockings from before the invention of nylon, and a crinoline may be initially unfamiliar, but male travellers are advised that high-heeled shoes were expected for noble and wealthy men in Ancient Egypt and pre-revolutionary France, as well as in all eras for horseback-riding men who dislike having their feet slide out of their stirrups at awkward moments, such as when 9th-century Persian warriors are attacking you.
- It is a myth that modern clothing sizes are generally larger than in the past. Before the 18th century, clothing was made to measure and did not have sizes. Due to a shortage of seamstresses and an abundance of factories, off-the-rack factory-made clothing became available nearly everywhere, in five basic sizes (too tight, too loose, too short, too tall, and just plain wrong). The height of sizing complexity was reached in women's clothing in the late 20th century in the US, where almost every article of women's clothing (shoes, socks, stockings, underwear, bras, jeans, shirts, and dresses) used a different sizing system, and manufacturers followed at least three distinct methods within those systems. The result was that nearly any woman could claim to be a desirable size 8 – at least for some article of clothing – but no one could find clothes that actually fit. People with unusual size or shape requirements, including all women pregnant with triplets or more, are advised to travel to the mid-22nd century or later for clothing. When the backscatter X-ray machines were removed from airport security lines in the mid-22nd century, they were re-purposed for making made-to-measure clothing while you waited, and the idea of clothing having "a size" once again disappeared.
- If visiting the US Civil Rights era, Rosa Parks is an excellent and well-known seamstress. Please bring your garments early so that she may return them to you properly adjusted before she has to catch the bus. In an earlier era, Betsy Ross is a fine seamstress who also offers a wide selection of red, white and blue flags.
- Only certain piercings are appropriate, and in general those other than for the ear should be removed.
- Be warned that you may not find cotton underwear in the future, so if you have allergies you may need to pack carefully.
- Outerwear is difficult. Fur coats are de rigeur in pre-historic Northern climates, but disdained from the late 20th century onwards. If you are traveling before 1970 AD, keep your Gore-Tex gear out of sight. It's usually enough to wear a wool cape over it. As long as your outer clothes are soaked through, and you complain about how miserably wet and cold you are, no one is likely to notice that you're dry underneath. Insulated gloves can be hidden by wrapping your hands in rags. To keep your feet dry, get leather boots made in a plain, classic style, and apply clear modern weatherproofing glue to the seams.
- Accessorise appropriately for the era. That beeping digital wristwatch, smartphone or pocket pager is an annoying disruption to prayer services in the cathedrals which dotted every street corner in sixteenth-century Europe.
- Unless you plan to do all of your own laundry, remove all labels and store markings from your clothes. It's difficult to explain what "Machine wash cold, tumble dry medium" means to someone from the 19th century or earlier.
- The local Packard or Hudson dealer is unlikely to carry spare parts for the DMC-12. If motoring in a prior era, bring what you need to carry out a few basic roadside repairs or tow your vehicle back to your home era.
- If hitch-hiking, don't forget your towel.
- Maps, compass and if at sea, a sextant. It cannot be stressed enough that you will need to know how to use pre-GPS navigational aids. Radio beacons are a mid-20th century phenomenon and GPS won't be around until the third millennium AD. Also, some maps have fictional streets or even entire paper towns added for prestige which may trap the unwary user. After the third millennium of course, GPS is phased out and you will have to rely upon the European Galileo system, the Russian Glonass or the Zimbabwean earth location identity system 10 (elis 10).
- Take an accurate and portable mechanical time-piece and wind it regularly. A brass exterior may be slightly less tempting to local pickpockets than gold.
You may not be permitted to travel in time if you have certain medical conditions, or are on specific medications. Drunken charge of a time machine is severely punished in all eras by all authorities, with particularly severe consequences during the Prohibition era. Depending upon your era of departure there may also be legal hurdles.
Time travel for nationals of Russia or PRC is severely restricted well into the 22nd century.
The general criteria for time-travel vary considerably between countries but the joint ESTA-ERA scheme has the following amongst its criteria.
- Over 16 for accompanied travel to after 1980 (AD) only, Over 21 for unaccompanied travel (with the exception of CHRONOSTRICTION WARNING RED arrival points)
- For travel prior to 1980 (AD), proof of vaccination.
- English language fluency, and an appropriate second language for the destination era.
- Do not suffer from schizophrenia, epilepsy, cardiac murmur, infirmity of the bowel,
- Valid biometric passport for a year after the intended departure date.
- Valid Chronorist Identity Packet.(CHIP)
- No unspent criminal convictions or civil judgements.
- Previous compliance with CHRONOSTRICTION notices in force at the departure time.
- All persons and baggage subject to contraband checks.
There are standing international CHRONOSTRICTION notices.
If you sit next to Albert Einstein, are leaving the station at near the speed of light and aren't in a thought experiment (or aboard a SBB train) you may have achieved time travel. Sit back and enjoy being early for once.
- If you hold a membership in some book clubs (e.g Usborne, Scholastic) or magazine subscriptions (Galaxy, Andromeda, Life,), you might get a discount on CHRONORAIL passes for specialist time-trains in Europe. (NB For British Chronorists these now depart from Kings Cross, rather than Victoria or Marylebone)
- Take the Metro-Rail North, for Stamford, CT and alight at Willoughby.
The four Horsemen of the Apocalypse, Pestilence (or Conquest), War, Famine and Death, offer a one-way trip forward to doomsday. They will not be providing a means to obtain the return trip. Study your Metallica beforehand so you know what to expect.
By time dilation
Exploit various scientific curiosities by which the traveller steps into Narnia (or Newfoundland or some similar alternate dimension) only to discover on return that the amount of time which has passed in the real world differs from that in the alternate existence. A common example is travel at or near the speed of light; useful for outrunning obnoxious photo radar units, this has the effect that very little time has passed for the traveller while hundreds of years go by outside. This provides a means to travel to the future, but not back, so be sure to return any outstanding library books before departure, or the overdue book penalties will lead to financial ruin.
Launched in 2155 by George Jetson of the Spacely Sprocket company in a desperate attempt to remain relevant after most of that firm's core lines of business had been undercut by lower-priced competitors from other planets. Spacely's UFO was manufactured for about a dozen years, but discontinued for legal reasons after a rival took the invention back in time and patented it. A string of competing letters of patent invention soon appeared, culminating in "Ye Apparatus for Flighte of ye Goode and Honourable United Empire Loyalists" patented in 1784, and blatantly copied from the 2155 original. Most of these retroactive patents expired centuries ago, but legal counsel is taking its sweet, billable time in trying to untangle the various time lines. Many of the UFOs were abandoned in random places and times like Area 51 during the Cold War or Roswell (New Mexico) on doomsday, simply for lack of spare parts to repair the propulsion and time travel apparatus. Jetson was retroactively bankrupted in 1758, one year before the British invasion of Quebec City, yet the resultant legal disputes were only resolved in 2416. The vehicle itself might make a good time travel platform if one can find the replacement parts, but the folks at Area 51 are keeping the locations of the spare pieces a secret.
- The preferred horseless carriage for time travellers is the DeLorean DMC-12, popularized in 1985 by Back to the Future. The main drawback of this vehicle is the need for 1.21 gigawatts of electricity to power the flux capacitor; fortunately, in 1985, plutonium may be purchased in any corner drug store.
- If visiting the US, a suitably modified 1967 era Chevrolet Corvette may be a cheaper, if less convenient option. A model with independent rear suspension is strongly suggested for improved comfort. For running repairs it may be worth keeping a workshop Manual in the vehicle.
- Be wary of vehicles which have been transported back to other eras and registered there before the advent of vehicle title branding and consumer protection laws. There's little more annoying than buying the seemingly latest, state-of-the-art vehicle, only to find it has been previously written off after a major collision with an asteroid in 2085.
- There's a portal to the depression era (mid-1930's) within walking distance of the gas station on the outskirts of Homewood.
By hire car
- Instead of purchasing the DeLorean, rent it from a hire car agency, take it back in time, then return it the day before you took it out. That way, the car rental firm has to pay you. Just watch that you return it with a full tank of petrol and that the bastards don't try to overcharge you for the collision damage waiver coverage. Hire car firms are terrible for that sort of thing.
- Airline pricing in the future tends to be annoying, as carriers become expert in determining which flights will be full or almost full, sending this information back in time and using it to retroactively send pricing through the stratosphere for popular destinations such as the Moon. There are few, if any, bargains to be had in the 23rd century.
- FedUPS, a parcel carrier founded in 2050 from a merger of two smaller rivals, often has packages which absolutely, positively have to get there yesterday. Most of this cargo travels on FedUPS own aircraft and time machines, but occasionally a package to some oddball destination is sent by obtaining a seat on a commercial time travel carrier, using the checked baggage allowance to carry the payload freight, and selling the passenger slot (minus the baggage, with just carry-on allowance) as an air courier ticket at a discounted rate. These tend to be last-minute standby and reach some rather unusual destinations; for instance, a competitive 22nd-century mining company might need to ship spare parts to a team of geologists observing the Big Bang, so that the company can be the first to stake mineral claims when the Earth is formed. Advisory: Don't be tempted to stow away, the margins on some of these flights are such that you could be ejected when discovered, leaving you stranded in an unfamiliar and potentially hostile period.
- Short hops back and forth in time can be done cheaply and easily. Just find a time zone border and cross it. Take a long-distance flight eastwards and you will upon landing notice that the local time is different from your own wristwatch or phone. If you travel westwards you may find that time has pretty much stood still since you took off (but your own timekeeping equipment will again show you've been flying for hours). One exception is the Pacific, where you when flying eastwards can have breakfast at the destination on the same day you've eaten lunch at the place of your departure, and when you're flying westwards you'll notice that a full day has disappeared! Who knows, perhaps you've flown through a magical zone which steals days and emits them around the world every four years as the spooky thing called February 29th?
- Book your air tickets a month ago, in order to get the best rates. Be sure to grab a copy of tomorrow's newspaper before departure to verify that the wreckage of your flight isn't on the front pages.
- The Concorde (or any other supersonic jet) could get you across the Atlantic in no time. In fact, you could have breakfast upon arrival before you ever left. (Supertramp, apparently, recommends Breakfast in America despite the awful fast food and bizarre customs surrounding tips in that country.) Sadly petroleum prices have risen somewhat and after 9/11 the writing was on the wall.
A gimmick briefly popular among food delivery companies in the mid 2300s, order a pizza and an automated flying drone delivers it half an hour ago. The device's inherent limitations (limited cargo capacity and no passenger capability) render its usefulness limited, much like absurd restrictions on carry-on luggage rendered the usefulness of most commercial airlines rather limited in the 21st through 23rd centuries.
By time portal
The time portal method of travel is quite a common method of travel. However, it's not always easy to identify where the portals are and you may end up using one accidentally if you are not careful. The other issue with time portals is that the return journey is usually a lot more difficult than the initial journey.
Beware of traffic cops who hide out just at the edge of a wormhole through space and time, usually as a scheme to ticket arriving vehicles for displaying expired tags which were valid in the era of departure. There's nothing more annoying than a loud-mouth Timecop who wants to take out his personal issues on you, the traveller.
There's also a risk of being caught in an endless loop, reliving the same day multiple times. While every day as Christmas might be heavenly, one can only relive Groundhog Day so many times consecutively before this becomes really tedious, just as frustrating as fifty first dates.
- By arrangement, the US government operates domestic time and dimensional portals for accredited historians and researchers, including Groom Lake (West Coast) , Wright Patterson, OH (Mid West). It should be noted however that the former East Coast facilities at Montauk and Norfolk have been decommissioned.
- In the UK, government operated time portals exist, but transit is strictly limited to military and accredited government personnel with appropriate clearances. The former US joint facility at Bentwaters has been decommissioned since the mid 1990's. There are also a number of privately operated research portals (notably at Swindon and Culham (Oxford University) ; Chesterton (Cambridge University), Aldwych, Camden, (Tfl/GLA) (NB: The Hobbs End remote viewing facility has been decommissioned.), London Wall, Alexandra Palace (Corporation of London) and Hogwarts Academy (funded by private donations, with a subsidy/grant from the Ministry of Magic).
- UK travellers can also use the CEDT facility (Portail Dieter Heuer)(Portal of the Years and Days), Meyrin, Switzerland
- Personal time portal devices are available from the Japanese Kadokawa Corporation and Apple from the late 22nd century onward, but are outright banned in mainland China. Some jurisdictions impose a sales tax on time travel, known as the Daylight Savings Tax (DST). In jurisdictions which implement DST, time travellers will occasionally find an hour missing for no good reason.
- The Pliocene Gateway, found in France, is a one way time travel to the Pliocene epoch. See the Saga of Pliocene Exile for details on how aliens in the past have affected folklore and legends of today.
This tends to be very hit-and-miss, but you could try flagging down a passing time machine and telling the operator you absolutely need to get to your destination yesterday. Likely not an option in New York City or on Toronto's Bay Street, where everyone is routinely this impatient and locals have learned to tune their entreaties out.
While it's free to and even mandatory for candidates to partake, this is a mode of transportation that has several drawbacks. Being put in a freezer is a method that allows you only to travel forwards in time — you'll be sleeping while time passes. You cannot use this method to get back in time, so there's a risk you'll get stuck in the future unless there's some other mode of transportation available to get back.
Secondly, it tends to land you in rather unpleasant environments, possibly the 2030's San Angeles where you will have to chase your criminal fellow travellers because the police of the future will be incapable of doing so, or Second OWK Gynocracy, where "normalisation" of males, is an all too chilling regular occurrence.
In the worst case the ones in charge of the program have forgotten about you, and you might wake up in the 2500's when a gigantic trash pile collapses over your sarcophagus. Now you're really out of luck, as the world has turned into an Idiocracy where nothing works, without technical means of getting back. On the bright side, you will likely be the most intelligent person in the world now.
You could also end up at the dawn of the fourth millennium just to find out that you are little more than a glorified delivery boy and your best friend is a lazy alcoholic robot. To add insult to injury the president is Rrrrrrricharrrrd Nixon for some reason. Wrwrrrhhrrwrrr.
- The only truly four-dimensional travel experience, you never know when or where you will end up (especially with a Type 40). Often found in London or the South Wales Coast, just look for the oversize blue police call box. Be wary of absent-minded academics, overly knowledgeable clergy, and sharply suited gentlemen of Mediterranean appearance who claim to be the owner of such devices.
- If you can't find a TARDIS handy, the telephone booth in Bill and Ted's Excellent Adventure might be usable in a pinch. It's also a way to reduce your telephone bill by going back in time to make local calls for a nickel, or forward in time to find the period in which rates for trunk calls are lowest. Apparently, if you visit 1982 you can ring Jenny as a seven-digit call and it only costs a dime; you know the number.
By Thiotimoline (aka TMT)
In a word DON'T!. Despite the boasts from some youthful adventurers on social media that ingesting this obscure (first investigated in depth in the 1940's) compound will greatly aid the time travel experience, the side effects aren't worth it. Not only will you be vomiting up your lunch in naked abandon, several hours before you even consider a 'thit', you run the danger of becoming "unstuck", with the doors of chronological perception crashing in around you, and wondering why Santa's Little Helpers are wearing space suits. Even indigenous cultures, for whom travel across times bound is a shamanistic ritual, treat the plant roots containing TMT analogues, and which form part of these rituals with great care and deferential respect. (Aside: Research on TMT safety is continuing in Japan, notably by Yoshiyama, amongst others.)
"Lucy in the Sky with Diamonds" can also be a bit of a heart breaker at times.
By cardboard box
It's amazing what they do with corrugated cardboard these days. Ideal if you're a hyperactive six-year-old whose best friend is a tiger. Just write the words "Time Machine" on the side and climb in the top. Bring a pair of goggles, and be sure you're facing the right way!
The traveller's choice of vehicle depends largely on the era being visited. That 1960s VW Bug which was looking pretty shabby by 1980 might look like an impressive bit of hippy nostalgia twenty years later. Likewise, that flaming Pinto which was the bane of Ralph Nader's existence in the 1970s could make an impressive weapon if lobbed over a medieval castle wall as a fireball of death five centuries earlier.
- After about 1920 AD you will need a document called passport for international travel, sometimes even an additional one known as visa for getting around. Generally speaking passports of rich and powerful nations get you to more places without the need for Visa than passports of second rate countries such as England in the 24th century or the United States after its defeat at the hands of Bermuda. If you want to see the world without that hassle, go to a period before that. But do keep in mind that as a rule transportation infrastructure gets worse the further back in time you travel, and places you can easily access in the future will be more or less a next-to-impossible destination to reach (or get out of, respectively). Air travel also tends to get more expensive (in real terms) outside of a brief period between deregulation and a hike in fuel prices and (in the US at least) lack of competition due to mergers and bankruptcies.
- Once cars stop being a feasible way to get around due to fuel prices and environmental concerns, large parts of the Americas as well as sparsely populated parts of Africa and Asia become almost impossible to get to. If it hadn't been for legislation boosting Amtrak service introduced by liberal left wing extremists in the late 2010s, some parts of rural America, especially in the South would have reverted to the stone age by the late 21st century.
- Expect delays and paperwork when crossing borders, even snap luggage inspections. Borders especially on disputed or unmapped frontiers can change without obvious notice. Sometimes there isn't even an arbitrary line in the sand and should you happen to wander into one of those - usually empty and deserted - places and run into trouble, chances are nobody can or will help you.
- In other eras the very concept of borders is non-existent or at least approached in a totally different way. The Roman Empire, for example, considered itself to be borderless and only put up the famous Limes and Hadrian's wall to keep the pesky Barbarians from disrupting trade with... some other Barbarians. The European and Nordic Unions are other supra-national empires with looser border control.
- Don't however make the mistake of thinking that the Soviet Union despite its name, has loose borders, Even its Tsarist Precursor had the concept of internal borders and passport like documents to move around inside the country. This is also something to consider in relation to Germanic speaking regions.
- Travel from Israel to anti-Semitic states in Arabia in the late 20th century is usually severely limited or impossible. Many countries quietly offer their citizens multiple passports, one passport for the Israeli entry stamp and another to get you accepted at the border of post 1979 Iran, Sudan or other countries at the height of the anti-Zionist frenzy. If you are a Israeli citizen (or in severe cases, if you are a Jew from any country) you may be barred from a number of states entirely.
- Likewise, due to legislation dating from the Cold War era, avoiding a transit of the United States is highly advisable if you have any of the works of Canadian author Farley Mowat in your possession.
By Bennett buggy
Planning to visit the Great Depression era? Be sure to rent the Hoover Wagon, also known as the Bennett Buggy. A Model T Ford pulled by a horse, these were all the rage in the dust-bowl Dirty Thirties.
A similar concept had a renaissance of sorts in the 1973 oil crisis in Europe, when gasoline became scarce for a while. After unlimited amounts of petroleum were found, this problem was of course solved once and for all. Despite what naysayers say... ONCE AND FOR ALL!!!
By flying dragon
Popular in China from the Ming Dynasty onward, travelling by flying, fire-breathing dragon never really caught on in the California of the 1970s due to strict emission standards. However, if you are going to San Francisco, don't forget to visit the florist (In 1871, Podesta Baldocchi comes highly recommended).
Chasing a dragon is a risky business and is explicitly prohibited by a number of Governments, despite some looking the other way when it occurs amongst the natives.
By pirate ship
A great way to travel, as your trip pays for itself... if you are an able seaman and quick with the sword. The preferred choice of tourists who feel they absolutely have to bring back a souvenir of every place they visit, but do not want to deal with the carry-on restrictions of the airlines. It should be noted that some pirate ships like certain British hostels have rather strict policy on drunkenness and lights-out times.
If you are willing to research a little more thoroughly, you may even qualify for certain government grants under 'Privateer' enterprise-support schemes. Such schemes also provide some measure of consular support, which may prove useful in remoter regions. However do consider that if you are too successful as a privateer, you may be given useless titles such as governor of King John's land, that may occupy significant amounts of your time and keep you from doing all the fun piracy stuff.
The ordinary "horseless carriage" is at present a luxury for the wealthy; and although its price will probably fall in the future, it will never, of course, come into as common use as the bicycle.
Not advisable in Rome from 100 BC to 100 AD due to the horrible traffic. Emperor Augustus was particularly notorious for closing whole city parts to all traffic for days. Unleaded fuel is hard to come by in most of Pangaea before 250 000 000 BC, as the dinosaurs who made all that great fossil fuel were still in the egg waiting to hatch. Washington, DC is to be avoided at all times, especially 1812, as the layout of the streets is incredibly confusing.
That the automobile has practically reached the limit of its development is suggested by the fact that during the past year no improvements of a radical nature have been introduced (Scientific American, Jan. 2, 1909). The horse is here to stay but the automobile is only a novelty, a fad.
Travelling in the Bertha Benz or Henry Ford era? The Chemin du Roy was completed in 1737, but "completed" does not mean paved or even macadamised (a fancy 1820s name for simply dumping fine gravel atop coarser gravel). Most roads of the era were muddy horse paths, impassible with every rainstorm. A few toll roads, which profited from the stagecoach "carriage trade", eventually had gravel. Nothing was asphalt nor concrete. There's a reason why Benz used bicycle-style wheels and Ford used horse carriage-style wheels on their first vehicles; the underlying path was rubbish.
Don't be surprised if a wheel falls off the carriage any time you hit a particularly bad patch of road. For that matter, don't be surprised to find no bridge in some really obvious places (like Windsor to Detroit or Montréal island to either mainland shore) until the railway era. In fact it is not until those pesky cyclists fund the "good roads movement" that any progress towards drivable roads is made even in supposedly "advanced" nations.
Car travel is also not advised into Central London from the Mid 19th century onward, Although you will thankfully not have to pay the Congestion charge, you will encounter an average speed of only 12mph. Parking, has always been a constant issue. From 1900-1953 trams (US: streetcar) are more practical option where available, from 1906 the developing Underground is also a possibility, but be warned that the 'surface' routes can be a bit grimy, despite the increasing use of Electric Traction from the 1910's onward.
The more adventurous traveller on a road trip to late twentieth century onward might consider hiring a classic RV of the era such as a Volkswagen minivan (Note: Rental is typically less expensive than purchase.) The classic first generation Type 2 is compatible with numerous third party conversions and is considered a classic vehicle for such jaunts. The later, less than memorable, Third Generation design also sees a few conversions and may be a better bet for families. (Note: If purchasing a Spacemaker roofed conversion, ensure your conversion is actually delivered in period.)
Don't bring cars from the mid-1970s or later into earlier time periods, or you may experience problems due to leaded petrol gumming up all of the new-fangled emissions control gadgetry. Best to stick with reliable, proven designs like the Edsel.
China outlawed cars in 2053.
Traveller Tips: Make sure you check if there are any red-flag or warning triangle requirements in your destination era. There are also vastly changing rules where you can and can't ride your car. Chances are the more you want to visit a place the less likely your old Diesel 20 litres per 100km tank-like something that produces more particles than exhaust is allowed to enter its inner city at least not free of charge. Some locations even bar cars entirely in order to preserve the heritage atmosphere. Particularly notorious for this are islands such as the East Frisian islands or isolated mountain communities like Zermatt. For some reason many of these places are hugely popular with travellers. Don't they know that the car is the future of transportation destined to lift humans out of the sorry state of having to use its heavily inadequate bipedal motion device?
From the 16th century onward, you should be able to find a 'cab'. Best for short hops, by the late 19th Century taxi cabs can be obtained at most major railway terminals in London, sometimes from the road directly adjacent to the arrival. Taxicabs, also known as Hackney carriages in parts of England, were pulled by horses until the late 19th century, when their historic authenticity was destroyed by fitting internal combustion engines. Taxicabs are mostly powered by gasoline or petrol in that latter period, something thankfully obsolete by the late 21st century (and not a moment too soon!). The difference between gasoline and petrol is unknown, but petrol costs twice as much in the forecourts.
The drivers of these vehicles mostly start their day with the taxi driver's prayer (Deus non mortuum survivibus taxibus intactica / God I hope this taxi doesn't kill me). They can be quite pleasant, while some can be talkative and others can send you crazy. Many 20th century cab drivers will smoke like chimneys; this is a consideration if you suffer from asthma or respiratory problems. Make sure that you get a licensed driver, too many travellers have found out too late that their unlicensed cabbie is a contemporary of "Jack", Schneider or some shady political group with a grudge.
Remember that you will need the right money to pay them for your journey, which will often have been twice as long as needs be, and ludicrously overpriced, or they may become irate and begin to use a language long since forgotten, known as swearing. This may be obscene and you should remove yourself from this situation as soon as possible. The "Cockney Cabbie" voice profile on an auto-drive self-hire from the mid 21st century onward is considerably bowdlerised compared to its human predecessor.
- Some drivers will be extremely reluctant to enter districts of London with a reputation such as Southwark, Bermondesy, and Rotherhithe, especially after dark.
- If you feel totally out of place and don't speak a word of English, just become a taxi driver in New York City. Additional extremities or heads are not a must but not a hindrance either.
The newest invention of that Siemens guy in Berlin might just prove to be the transportation mode of the 20th century: Instead of having the streetcars pulled by horses or filling the streets with soot from steam engines, he has installed a Oberleitung as he calls it to move the tram or streetcar electrically. This electrische Straszen-Bahn is the newest fad in Germany, and all civilized countries are bound to get one sooner or later. The name could be improved upon though.
Beginning in France some brilliant engineers have solved the problem why streetcars are so slow: They gave them priority over cars and even their own right of way. This new fast convenient form of mobility is bound to become the transportation solution of the 21st century. It has many benefits over subways, as it is cheaper and provides more light to riders, over cars as it doesn't pollute the city with soot and particles and over bicycles as there is no need for muscle power. Even America has recognized the trend and all major cities are bound to get one sooner or later.
By flying car
First introduced in 2017, the initial flying cars were pricey but had a flying range of almost 700 kilometres on regular petrol, a partial autopilot and a parachute that automatically deployed if the pilot fell ill. While there were a few early adopters, most chose to wait until the product line matured to include self-driving car technology, eventually eliminating the need that the operator be a licensed pilot. Don't trust overly optimistic science fiction and "the world of tomorrow" pieces that predict flying cars within a short time -span from the 1950s onward. Once gasoline hits a price of more expensive than bottled water the car-fad flying or not is over anyhow. The last holdouts being parts of "flyover-country" in Redneckville, USA
What can be more palpably absurd than the prospect held out of locomotives travelling twice as fast as stagecoaches? Rail travel at high speed is not possible, because passengers, unable to breathe, would die of asphyxia.
According to Stewart H. Holbrook in The Story of American Railroads, "The coming of the railroad, and the rapidity with which it expanded during the 1830's, found a public wholly unprepared, and pretty much confused. What, thoughtful men now asked one another, was a railroad? There had been little thinking on the subject, hence there was no philosophy of railroads. The canal builders and operators, of course, simply damned the new method of transportation on every count they could think of. It was dangerous. It wouldn't work. It was merely a clever method by which smart scoundrels could steal your money more or less legally by selling you worthless stock. The canal men had something there, for a terrible amount of stock did prove worthless. The railroad was also against nature. And, finally, it was against God; and many a preacher found friends among canal and stagecoach men when he opened up full blast on this new curse that a tireless Satan had promulgated to try all Christian men."
From the late 19th century AD, rail travel is the way to go, although you may have to live with having to make obscure connections at unexpected times in places like St Helens, Montabaur, Göttingen or Debaltseve. For most of North America and Western Europe there is an extensive network. Just be warned that the tracks through Lac-Mégantic are poorly-maintained and still rather slippery from oil.
For Great Britain (1840's onward) and Western Europe, a period Bradshaw is a near essential purchase, as it will greatly aid your travel arrangements, Available at any good bookseller in Great Britain, the same publisher also publishes a series of in some case extensive regional guides, regarded as the not so Rough Guide to many period of locations.
High speed rail becomes an option in Continental Europe (1980s and onward), Japan (1960s and onward), China (2000s and onward), Morocco (late 2010s and onward) and North America (22nd century and onwards). High speed rail may well be competitive with airlines in terms of both price and travel time. Generally speaking any rail connection that takes you centre-to-centre in less than 4 hours is worth considering over a flight.
A number of trains are "destinations" or excursions in themselves:
- Orient Express. 1883 to 1962. This world-famous train is a luxury worth spending money on if you have budget. Meet interesting socialites, stars, diplomats and possibly the occasional (reluctant) government agent or detective. Be warned: if you are offered a seat next to Agatha Christie on this train, this is not a coincidence; there will be a murder on board which you will be forced to investigate and every passenger on this train will be a prime suspect. Not for the faint of heart.
- Trans Europ Express. 1957 to 1970's. Whilst not as prestigious as the former listing, this extensive network is still an experience. It is important to note that Interrail passes will not be valid on the majority of these services.
- The Eurasian railway. Started as a cargo only railway in the 2010s this railway became an obsession with ultra adventurous tourists in the late 2030s. However it didn't reach a mass market before Justin Vented, a brilliant engineer from Belize solved the break of gauge problem. Not the fastest train in the world by any means, but where can you board a train in Spain and not leave it before reaching Beijing?
"Heavier-than-air flying machines are impossible," as explained by Lord Kelvin,president of the British Royal Society, in 1895.
You may be able to get an early connection to Babylon by gyrocopter, Importantly, you will have to arrive even earlier at the transfer, as terminal security at the "gate" is tighter than Ben Gurion.
For an experience that is unforgettable, consider an Australian Excursion with the Queensland and New Territories Air Service, the perfect way to explore the coast and heart of the Island Continent. If you have the time, and budget, you may also take an inter-war 'flying boat' of British Imperial Airways, Flights depart Southampton on a regular schedule across the Empire.
Adventurous people may want to try some of the first aeroplanes at the beginning of the 20th century, the de Havilland Comet or the Tupolev Tu-144 (the plane the Franco-British Concorde shamelessly copied... or the other way round). It's strongly advised to bring a portable time travel device so that you can easily escape to another time and place if something happens (and it's fairly likely it will). Luckily you will still be able to carry pretty much anything on-board a plane at this time.
If flying through the Cold War era or any of the Ice Ages, be sure to select aircraft with the appropriate de-icing equipment. Dust filters are advisable when visiting Pompeii, viewing volcanoes, or formations in the desert from aloft.
Fly internally on a US airline to meet original stewardesses from the 1970s. PanAm is one of the world's leading airlines, if not the only airline in all futures prior to the 1990s. Your in-flight meal will be prepared by Howard Johnson's, one of the largest restaurant chains in the world and operator of the "Earthlight Lounge" in 2001: A Space Odyssey.
Note: The last day to fly on aircraft of any type without being presumed as a terrorist by out-of-control paranoid governments is September 10, 2001. Go back and enjoy it while it lasts.
There is also a short glorious period when flying was for "anybody"; prices had briefly dropped below the "two years' salary" range prior to the invention of the breathing surcharge in the 2020s.
A much-loved means of transport; King Richard III notably offered "My kingdom for a horse!"
Do be sure to visit any of the eras where this is the principal means of transportation, as the system in subsequent eras is most likely operated not by a whole horse (or even a quarter horse) but by some horse's backside who managed to gain elected office and make a hash of everything.
After the Mega-fauna die-out at the end of the Pleistocene, horses disappeared entirely from the Americas. Take that into consideration when visiting. Results of arriving on horseback may include anything from being mistaken for a four-legged monster to being venerated as a god.
No matter when you are, no matter where you are, buses are not all that glamorous despite Mercedes and other manufacturers trying to convince you otherwise. Just hope it was built in the same century you're in, there are not more than two times as many people as seats and the number of actual live chicken is below ten. They are however usually dirt cheap (with - more often than not - an emphasis on dirt) and sometimes the only way to get around unless you have a car. Plus they offer breathtaking views of truck stops, freeways/motorways and overpasses that a pedestrian won't get.
For the trip of your life hop on a Magic School Bus! For some this is THE acid test of an excursion to the 1960s, with a band of merry pranksters.
Popular in the immediate post-World War 2 era in the Philippines, a surplus military Jeep painted in bright, colorful colors and used as a magic bus.
By ox cart
A rather stubborn vehicle. Good for carrying heavy loads, if you can convince it to move. As it mostly runs on grass, some have argued it to be an ecological alternative, stubbornly refusing to take into account the methane emissions.
At a blazingly-fast two miles per hour, this vehicle can complete an Oregon Trail run in a mere six months... unless you have died of dysentery before your pioneering journey is complete.
By turnip truck
Not advised unless there is no other available transport. Tourists who "just fell off the turnip truck" have been taken for fools by the locals in almost every era.
See also: RMS Titanic
The mode of travel of the rich and famous. Everyone from John Jacob Astor (of hotel fame) and Charles Melville Hays (of the Grand Trunk railway) to Isa and Isador Strauss (owners of Macy's department store) trusts the quick, reliable and efficient service provided by the modern steamship to get them where they need to be. An engineering marvel of the late 19th and early 20th centuries, the mighty and magnificent steamship plies the vast oceans with majesty and pride.
Because of their rapidity and reliability, steamships continue to roam the rivers of Europe and North America as late as 2016.
By sailing ship
See also: Cruising on small craft
The main mode of transport on the oceans before the invention of the steam engine and after oil hit 2453$ per barrel in June of 2025, they are excruciatingly slow and you will learn the old seafarer's curse: "too much and too little wind". (The corresponding cyclist's curse is "uphill and against the wind". Both ways.)
A personal yacht was briefly a fad for rich people in Rolex advertisements and James Bond villainesque billionaire entrepreneurs looking for a challenge.
Briefly popular during the Apollo Project era for quick trips from the Earth to the Moon; PanAm began issuing spots on a waiting list for moon travel in 1969. Apollo stopped running spaceships in the early 1970s, travel to the Moon remained unavailable for visitors until it was re-introduced by other nations in the mid-2020s. By then, airline deregulation allowed any lunatic to go into the moon travel business, with a corresponding decline in quality of service.
A powerful and efficient means of transport, unless and until you break down and need roadside assistance. The Chariot Association of Antiquity (CAA/AAA) advises that they do not have adequate equipment and vehicles in most locations to tow injured dinosaurs to a veterinary office in the case of a breakdown.
Popular in Nineveh in the time of Jonah. Not advisable in the early 21st century, where the Mosul region was under occupation by "Daesh" — a religious extremist group — after George W. Bush's 2003 crusade for Jesus in the Middle East went very badly wrong.
Briefly popular in the early twenty-first century, but best forgotten. Like the skateboards of the 1970s, this is just a fad.
By Zeppelin (rigid airship)
Briefly fashionable in the inter-war era, when there were still plans to use the top of the Empire State Building as a tie-down point for dirigible airship landings. That idea rather flamed out and fizzled. Oh, the humanity!
A usable means of transport during Noah's flood, but the novelty quickly wears off; once the last unicorn has been eaten and there's nothing left to do but clean up after a boatload of animals, any dry land - even running the boat aground on a mountaintop - appears a welcome alternative.
Available any time now, or just five years into the future from where you land this hyper modern pneumatic tube is designed to hyper-whisk you around in no time. Buckle up, as the braking deceleration equals 0.5g or half Earth's gravitational pull.
No. It doesn't matter if it's the future, the jetpack still has lousy fuel efficiency, running out of fuel after seventy seconds or so. If you botch the landing or run out of fuel mid air, you will die and no parachute can help you.
- The Big Bang, an eternity ago. Hear a long list of laudatory but meaningless superlatives, now clichéd in destination descriptions, be used for the very first time in the history of the Universe.
- Dinosaurs. Usually spotted in prehistoric time periods, although careless travellers have been known to bring the creatures back as newly-hatched babies when they still look cute, only to release them to the wilds when they grow larger than the house. For instance, the banner image T-Rex walking through the town of Drumheller was brought as a mascot by a Sinclair Oil crew and escaped into the wild. Warning: Dinosaurs (especially the larger ones) can be unpredictable, (Please see the travel topic on Dangerous Wild Animals for guidance.) Whilst bagging a trophy piece for a mantelpiece may seem like a good idea, large dinosaur heads are exceptionally bulky and difficult to transport as carry-on from the prehistoric era intact. (see also Rivers memoirs) Safari guides on organized tours are fully conversant with Appendix IV of CITES and have absolutely no discretion in enforcing its strict penalties. Take ONLY Photos, and leave NO footprints!
- Megafauna: You think Safaris are for Africa? Think again. Before reckless hunting by natives, poachers and sadly time travellers brought them to the brink of extinction and beyond there was a wide variety of giant mammals and flightless birds on all continents, most notably mastodons, Mammoths, North American horses and giant Kangaroos. Dress appropriately, wearing only a 1960's fur bikini is not the best option for mammoth watching. .
- For further if somewhat idiosyncratic advice on what to see, in respect of both dinosaurs and mega fauna, Reginald Rivers memoirs compiled by L Sprauge de Camp are worth reading, even though some of the terminology may seem dated.
Antiquity, Rome and the Middle Ages
- Ponder the true riddle of the Sphinx and the Pyramids.
- See six of the Seven Wonders of the Ancient World, which can't be visited any other way. For the Colossus of Rhodes, be careful to not miss the 50 year window during which it stood.
- Pay a visit to Venice before a suicide plumber flooded the village.
- Visit Pompeii in its heyday before August 24, 79AD. If you want to see some really hardcore stuff, go on that particular day but remember to have your time travel equipment ready at a moments notice when the black cloud gets nearer.
- See key landmarks like the Colosseum in Rome before they were allowed to fall into disrepair.
- Admire Constantinople as the center of Byzantine Architecture.
- Watch the density of settlements (i.e. the number of inhabited places per square furlong) reach its highest number in Central Europe in the middle of the 14th century, just before the "black death" killed almost half the population. Many a Wüstung occurred since then.
Golden Age of the Caliphate
(For pre Arab-Egypt see the Antiquity subheadings.)
Travelling during Ramadan should be considered carefully.
For those that already have considerable understanding of the period, the Islamic Golden age is a perfect era to improve not only your Arabic, but also your understanding of the teachings of the prophet. The Caliphate in both its Western and Eastern reaches offers the traveller much. It is a vast expanse and will not be possible to cover even a fraction of the major sites on a single visit. A visit to this era will also provide a cultural balance to a Byzantium visit. May you the traveller to this distant land, find peace and prosperity.
Architecturally, the Bazaar in Istanbul is worth a visit, as is the Blue mosque.
In ancient times, India and nearby Pakistan, Afghanistan and Iran had many wonderful cities and architecture, now no longer to be found. So don't miss the cities of Persepolis, Susa (especially the famed thousand-pillared temple of Varuna located here), Meluhha (while here, you may try to decipher the long-puzzling Indus script), Krishna's Dvārakā (now submerged in the Arabian Sea), Hastinapur (capital of the Kuru Kingdom and the most important city of the initial days of the Aryans, destroyed by a flood in the tenth century B.C., as per findings of archaeologist B. B. Lal) and Indraprastha (while here, don't forget the Mayasabha, the wonder of the ancient world, built by Mayasura, also known as Mamuni Mayan).
The Indus Valley Civilization (the then Meluhha to the Sumerians, Mleccha to the Aryans) of the Bronze Age and its precursor Mehrgarh of the Stone Age are must visit destinations for those with a serious archaeological interest. You may also like Vijayanagar of the medieval times as well as the richly decorated Somnath temple before its destruction in 1024.
Of the early historical times in India, of interest are the imperial capital Pataliputra (a leading city of the ancient world, from where Emperor Ashoka had sent missionaries all over the then civilised world, thereby making Buddhism the leading religion of mankind), Lumbini, Sarnath (don't miss Mrigadava sanctuary and the Lion Capital of Ashoka) and ancient Varanasi with its Shiva temple. Wildlife lovers may consider visiting the Naimisharanya for exotic and long-extinct flora and fauna (also for interacting with the rishis who had composed the Mahabharata and other major works of ancient India). Researchers interested in written records may like to visit the university libraries of Nalanda and Taxila.
Those interested in the mythological era can plan a joyride in the famous flying machine, Pushpak vimana. Better time it after the Lankan War (i.e., after the demise of its owner), in which case you can also have a view of the Setubandha in its ancient glory plus cross-ocean swimming alongside it. Space travel can also be arranged in King Kakudmi's spaceship upto Brahmapura. Remember the time dilation factor, however, which means that you may find on your return that centuries have elapsed. Pre-booking for the mythological tour is essential as there is exceptional demand for it.
- The Great flood of China in the 3rd millennium BC.
- Construction of the Great Wall, basically between what from the 20th century onward was known as China and Mongolia. The best thing is that it's an event that takes place several times from the 8th century BC to the 17th century AD.
- 1867 onwards is great time to do business with Japan (wartime excepted), traditional honor and competitive spirit remains strong in commerce even a hundred and fifty years later and beyond.
- Don't forget to take extra coinage if you want to hit the Tokyo arcades around 1980. But in some arcades you may find more than invaders of personal space, be careful.
- Old myths hold that an ancient curse still hangs over the "dead zone" in the environs of Dai-chi on Honshu Island, but if you visit be sure to honor and respect the fifty brave samurai that knew "..not the full wrath of the spirit loosed by the sea.."
- We just discussed the magnificent volcanic party at Pompeii. But the 1804th anniversary of that event, held in Krakatoa in 1883 isn't bad either — despite taking place three days too late. Oh well, they aren't too punctual in the tropics.
Visit downtown Managua, when there still was such a thing, in its full splendour before the 1972 and 1931 earthquakes. Just don't say anything against Somoza. Either of the three. Arriving by plane is also advised against, especially if you are a baseball star.
Visit Cartago, Costa Rica before it was destroyed. While there, say hello to the Costa Rican army.
When going from the East Coast to the West Coast of the US prior to the 1870s, you may well have to make a lovely detour through either Panama or southern Nicaragua. Take some pictures of Ometepe; just try to be discreet with that five mega-pixel camera.
- Visit the sea coast of Bolivia.
- Visit the Incan Empire and see Machu Picchu when it was a city... or what was it really? Try to not confuse them with Aztecs further North, as it is seen as a major faux-pas and a dead giveaway for "Hollywood elites" who can't do the bloody research
- View the Nazca lines being drawn. (Not to be mistaken for anything related to burning tons of fuel while going round in circles in the South of the United States)
- Piltdown Man. One of the great British scientific advances of 1912, the other being the launch of the mightiest vessel the world has ever known.
- Bethlehem Royal Hospital (Bedlam), Moorfields, London. If you've visited the London Dungeons Attraction (1990-2000), the voices tell me that this real live freak show of the 17th and 18th century will be a thrilling reminder of the misfortunes that awaits those that stray from the moral path as well as an instructive tour of pre-Freudian psychiatric practices. Definitely NOT for those of a nervous disposition. (Open from 1330, public tours daily. Access after 1770 by special permission only. No admission after 1800.)
- Great Exhibition, Hyde Park, London. There is much to recommend this vast display of worlds finest wares to the discerning visitor, that wishes to see how marvels in art can be produced in the expanding industrial age. The exhibition building itself is a marvel of fine ironwork and glass. Refreshment rooms are provided along with ample conveniences for both the gentlemen and ladies accompanying them. Temperance adherents will be elated to find that no alcohol is to be permitted within the exhibition. Prices: "Season Tickets, for Gentlemen £3 3s; for Ladies £2 2s. The first day Season Tickets only will be admitted. On the 2nd and 3rd days £1, 4th day 5s, and the same rate for the succeeding seventeen days. On the 22nd day the prices as follows in continuance: Mondays, Tuesdays, Wednesdays, and Thursdays each week, 1s. Fridays, 2s 6d and Saturdays is 5s. No change given at the doors.".
- Be sure to sample Beothuk culture before 1829; it may be your last chance to do so.
- Visit charming Newfoundland outports such as Grand Bruit before all of the cod disappears from the oceans circa-1992. If visiting before the deployment of refrigeration, packing cod in large wooden barrels laden with massive amounts of salt is a good means to preserve it until it can be brought to market.
- Some old towns are only visible through time travel. A few of these, including Detroit and the Indiana rust belt, are now ghost towns. Hurricane Katrina era New Orleans may be toured by time travellers in glass-bottom boats.
- Visitors from the Renaissance and Middle Ages will enjoy visiting Pioneer Village living museums to see all of the new technology on display.
- Also consider visiting Wolfsburg in the 1920s when it was just a picturesque piece of pasture waiting to be paved for profit.
- Tour Hooverville, the legendary city of the Great Depression of the 1930s. Take another step back into time, and visit Scrooge, Marley and Company during the depression of the 1840s.
- Take to the open highways by motorcar before the roadside turns into an endless sea of "big things", tourist traps and tacky novelty architecture in the post- Model T era.
- Palace Castle (宮城, Kyūjō), 1888 to 1948. Tokyo Imperial Palace, erstwhile home of Emperor Hirohito, destroyed the night of 25 May 1945 during an Allied firebombing raid on Tokyo. The declaration of Japan's defeat in World War 2 was made from the basement of the concrete library on 15 August 1945.
- Chornobyl Nuclear Power Facility (Чорнобиль), Pripyat, Ukrainian SSR. 1970 to 1986. This modern industrial city is a perfect destination for those interested in seeing the progress in urban planning and social provision, as well as the engineering achievements made in the world's foremost socialist state. Official tours arranged in conjunction with INTOURIST include a tour of the Chornobyl Nuclear Power Facility itself, which in 1986 is planning to complete important experimental and demonstration work in time for the Mayday parade.
- The Berlin Wall — from 1961 to 1989. And on Nov 9, 1989, a magnificent wall breaking party! Bits and pieces are still around afterwards, that is: until some investor decides to build luxury apartments where they stood.
The end of the world. It's all over now. The Mayans predicted it thousands of years ago thanks to their astronomical science...or was it Terence McKenna with his computer program? Nevermind, doesn't matter. We're doomed. Farewell, cruel world...(LOL what? They predicted the first billion views of a single YouTube video and Jae Sang and his friends throw a )kick-ass party in Gangnam! The soju is on the house!( )
The people of the future, accustomed to the wonders of time travel, tend to go out of their way to make travellers from the past feel welcome. Expect elderly greeters in uniform to greet you with a bombastic "Welcome to the woooorld of tomorroooow!"
- See fallen empires in all their (former) glory. Most popular are the Roman and the British empire, along with the wreckage of the Soviet empire in 1991 and the American empire in 2008, but the medieval Mongol empire, the Spanish empire of the 16th and 17th century or the Swiss empire of the 23rd are not to be misunderestimated.
- The Clinton Presidential Library and Gender Policy Studies Collection, Little Rock, Arkansas. Established 2030 AD. Highly significant collection of papers from the term of America's 46th president. Notable archived material includes the originals of the COFE-DAW, IMUNI, and CLINC bills, as well as Executive papers relating to the Sebvastpool Incident. ( Note: The Library is working with NARA and the US Executive Office, to recover correspondence of the pre-presidential period, from declassified records recently recovered in Maryland, these may have become available for viewing when you visit.)
- Vulcan Foundry Museum, Phobos Construction Platform, Martian Orbit. This museum, forming part of the civil side of one of the inner solar systems major star-craft builders, is a near must visit for all aerospace fanatics, as well as those with an interest in Marti-solar anthropology. Must-see items amongst the museum's static collection include the reconstructions of the primitive Viking star-board scout ship; the Capricorn (American) and MEK-MARVS (Russian) concept craft; Anastasia and Avro HSV 3546 (NOTE: This significant craft is being restored to flight condition, complete with the distinctive sound of its sub-orbital atmospheric propulsion plant.). As well as critically designed ephemera gallery, the recently completed tetryptic(?) Lowell-Wells, Bradbury-Chilton, Hayles-Bryant and Robinson complex give an extensive, if somewhat chilling in places, account of Martian history from its formation through the mid-colonization period.
- Noted writer Isaac Asimov has some hints on what to see on the Moon. The ride in the lunar rover is worth the trip, but it's likely not worth buying moon rocks as keepsakes in the souvenir stores if they're already available plentifully lying on the lunar surface for free.
- CRONCORAY (Joint Facilty Violet One), Dreaming, Northern Territory, Australia.. Until the decommissioning of the second generation "Violet Echo" equipment, this site (full name: ChRono-synchornous COmmunication Resarch and Analysis facilitY) was effectively unknown except to the small number of military and intelligence officials that worked at this facility from the 1970's onward. Official tours only began when a change in security priorities led to a centralisation of functions at the "Joint Defence Facility" and the stand-down of Violet One. Tours were initially limited to the building exteriors, portions of the external array itself, the memorial wall, the abandoned psionics lab, and Lobbies 7 and 10. (This was for safety reasons as much as anything given the condition of parts of the facility.). Lobby 7, which served as a technical holding bay became the Newman-Lambert gallery on chronosynchronus research (and worth a visit by itself.). Lobby 10 was the fueling bay and access point for the Bussard converter (which powered the facility). Work on reconstruction of the control room which was used for the first "Infinite Corridor" experiment forming part of Violet Echo (and the later CASSANDRA, JANUS and ZOETROPE projects) is ongoing. The Newman-Lambert Gallery is open 1000 to 1800, other parts of the site by official tour only (Check in at the desk in Lobby 7).
- Be sure to visit Tomorrowland, a quaint living-history museum with many period attractions.
- St. Burchardi church in Halberstadt, Germany, started performing Organ²/ASLSP (As SLow aS Possible), an organ arrangement of John Cage's work ASLSP on 5 September 2001. The performance lasted 639 years, finishing on 5 September 2640.
- Watch the various old towns of yesteryear being constructed; talk to the original architects, ask why the tower in Pisa is crooked and why Europe could possibly ever need so many cathedrals. Hint: politics and pork barrel spending has just as much to do with it as you would think.
- Meet historical people of fame from Marco Polo to Emperor Atahualpa and Jesus to Galileo Galilei. And Chief Roi Mata!
- You can also get an autograph collection anyone would be jealous of.
- Literary travellers may be tempted to visit Stratford-upon-Avon; watch Shakespeare appear live at the Globe Theatre; Swap stories with Mark Twain or ask numerous authors what inspired them.
- Train kung fu with its creators at the Shaolin Temple in the 7th century AD.
- Join Sejong the Great and his team on Samsung's predecessor in creating hangul and a slew of other progressive inventions in the 15th century AD.
- Pick up a Sherman Tank at any Army-Navy Surplus store immediately after World War 2, take it back to the US Civil War era and join General Sherman in his effort to "make this march and make Georgia howl". Just don't get caught singing "marching through Georgia" any time after that in Atlanta. We're not just "whistling Dixie" about that.
- Attempt to solve the identity of killers lost to history!. Video killed the radio star, but who did kill Cæsar, William Rufus, Edward V (of England), JFK amongst countless others?
- Retrace the Jules Verne Around the World in Eighty Days itinerary by locomotive and by steam ship. Just keep in mind that any elephants you purchase to get across India will likely need to be left behind at the end of that portion of your journey, due to their sheer weight if nothing else.
- Catch the wave? By choosing your period you can get some of the best surfing ever!!
- Sermon on the Mount. 25 AD. Be sure to arrive early to hear Jesus speak, unless you want to end up standing way at the back wondering what's so special about the cheesemakers.
- Human sacrifice: All the rage in certain periods and places, especially in Tenochtitlan around 1480 AD. Try to be just a spectator and not the main attraction.
- Alþingi — every summer from 930 AD to 1798. Free Icelandic men may attend the assemblies themselves and speak at the law rock, but it's also a great social event for everyone where you can meet traders, craftsmen, entertainers and travellers from all over the Ísland and eat, drink and be merry like a Viking.
- Signing of the Magna Carta, 1215 AD. Bring back a few copies of this legendary document as souvenirs for all of your friends.
- Guy Fawkes Night, 5 November 1605. Celebrate the defeat of the Gunpowder Plot at the House of Lords by joining the festivities with King James I. Stop by various commemorative bonfires around London, enjoy the fireworks.
- Salem Witch Trials, Danvers, 1692. The thirteen colonies have become a wretched land of foul sorcery and unspeakable evil. Alas, it's nothing that executing witches and heretics won't easily fix. Fun for the whole family.
- Armistice Day, 11 November 1918, Compiègne France. This is a War to end all wars, and its conclusion marks the beginning of an era of peace and prosperity which will last forever. So great are the psychological resistances to war in modern nations, that the world will never return to conflict on the scale of the Great War of 1914-1918 ever again.
- War of the Worlds. Halloween 1938. An imminent Martian invasion of the Earth, reported live by the Mercury Theater (52nd Street, Manhattan) and the Columbia Broadcasting System in the finest Wellsian tradition.
- V-E and V-J Day, 1945. Celebration of Allied victory in Europe and Japan, which ended World War 2. Godwin's Basic Law proclaimed to ensure certain aspects of the conflict are never mentioned again in aftermath of Nuremberg trials.
- The Crucible, Martin Beck Theater, New York. Premières January 22, 1953. This is yet another critical work by "liberal" playwright Arthur Miller, who seems to be making a name for himself as a pinprick on the conscience of American life. The allegorical subtext with events in the recent memory of current affairs, whilst not overt, can however be recognised by competent audience. Booking essential
- The Mysteries, 1977. National Theatre, London. Culturally significant, re-interpretation of the Medieval passion play which stands in favourable contrast to the "rock gospel" which preceded it. The moody atmospherics which accompanied an open air re-enactment of the Crucifixion sequence on Good Friday were a gift. (Visitor note: Bring an Umbrella). Visitors wishing to contrast this work with the original plays should note the source material comes from Wakefield.
- The real Olympic Games in Olympia can be seen every four years from 776 BC to 394 AD when they were shut down by over-zealous religious fanatics. Some French Baron with too much money on his hands tried to revive them together with some other people. While it will never catch on, Athens in 1896 is slightly less boring due to it.
- There are still tickets for the first ever Super Bowl, an anticlimactic event where the heavy favorite Green Bay Packers steamrolled the AFL team from Kansas or someplace. Be careful not to be confused as the original program says "AFL-NFL world championship match", funnily enough only American teams ever become world champions. It is highly doubtful whether the Super Bowl fad will catch on beyond the 1960s as one side seems to always be a sub-par team and the half-time entertainment is not as good as with College Football.
- Join the first Stanley Cup match, back when the original intention of awarding the Cup to the Dominion's finest amateur athletic teams was still upheld. Queen's University will face off against the Royal Military College.
- Fans of English Cricket would be best to avoid the 1882 Ashes Test and the 1932-33 Australian Tour. County level cricket in England is played from the Mid 19th Century onward, although tickets may be limited.
- Scrimmage with good ol' Walter Camp or Jim Thorpe. If you are African American, try avoiding the general Washington, DC area until 1962 and an area about 10 miles around George Preston Marshall. To make a good living at the game, become a draft adviser and make Tom Brady and Kurt Warner your first overall picks.
- Those ruffians playing a bastardized version of Cricket will probably never amount to anything, but if you have to waste a nickel, you can watch them at various "ballparks" in most of the Northeastern United States.
- Super Bowl CMLXVI, the first major sporting event played on the Moon, is quite a spectacle. The New Houston Spheroids take on the New England Patriots in a nail-biter of a match. Unfortunately, the match would later be tainted by accusations that certain players were wearing performance-enhancing moon boots, but the spectacular half-time show still makes up for the game.
- The Roman baths are worth a visit.
- A trip through time for womyn-loving-women would not be complete without a visit to the poet Sappho on the isle of Lesbos. Be sure to bring back a few volumes of her works.
- Visit ancient Greece and have a gay old time.
- Is Philosophy your thing? Speak Ancient Greek? Then perhaps you will find the public lectures given by Plato, Socrates and others of great interest, Don't disturb the circles!
- Show up at Oxbridge in time to start the St Scholastica Day riot of 10 February 1355. Hang around just long enough to get a degree, come back, drop the name on your curriculum vitae and it will appear to prospective employers that you have several hundred years of experience in your field.
- Royal Institution, London. - Late 18th century onward, Extensive library, semi-regular schedule of public lectures and demonstrations, proceedings of private meetings also published on a regular basis (see also South Kensington from Mid 19th Century).
- Legend has it that there was once (briefly) a time and place when studying at any university was actually affordable without taking out a huge loan or having rich parents. Try Europe in the late 20th century.
- Language fans rejoice - depending on the era and place, you may encounter native speakers of languages like Gothic and Etruscan. However, miscalculate the era a wee bit and French becomes a dead language.
Inquiries about "taking the King's Shilling" may be directed to any naval press gang.
- In ancient times, ocean-going ships were in need of galley slaves. A great way to travel if you don't mind rowing the boat through the entire journey.
- In modern times, ocean-going ships are in need of galley slaves. Not a great way to travel as it involves endless kitchen drudgery, but an option if it's the only way the master will allow you on board.
- Scotland is looking for seafarers to establish a Scottish colony in the New World. Ability to stop the ship on a dime is an asset.
- There is also a constant need for sailors to join Viking raiding parties, with positions available in much of Europe and as far afield as L'Anse aux Meadows.
- Always wanted to sail around the world but can't afford it? Ferdinand Magellan offers a great opportunity to see the Magellan's Strait, the Spice Islands and much more! Departure from Sanlúcar de Barrameda, Spain in September 1519. You'll be back in September 1522, if you've survived, that is.
- If you are a US Citizen, have relevant sea-faring experience, and can cope with an extended period visit the US Navy has always needed "a few good men". Among the conflicts for which Uncle Sam needs soldiers and sailors are the Revolutionary War, War of 1812, US Civil War, the Great War and its sequel World War 2, the Korean War, Vietnam War and the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq. In fact you can find a job from the shores of Tripoli to the halls of Montezuma without ever leaving the first half of the 19th century.
- Alternatively, if you are a British, Canadian or Australian citizen you may wish to apply to join the Royal Navy. Informal inquires regrading the historical criteria may be made c/o Sub Lt. Pertwee RN (rtd.), T.S. Salmon-leap, Portsmouth.
- If you speak multiple languages, your language skills may be a useful way to earn time-period appropriate currency, depending on your fluency. This however is not without drawbacks, as perceived over-familiarity in certain languages could result in unexpected hostility from the natives.
- An option with comparatively low risk is clerical work in the Library of a European or North American University from the late 19th century onward. Fluency in Latin ,Ancient Greek, Biblical Hebrew, French, German, Russian or Arabic would prove useful. Depending on your language skills of the period, teaching is another possibility, although it should be noted that you may be subjected to an impromptu examination to confirm your fluency. ( Familiarity with a particular School's traditions is also strongly advised.)
- Teaching Klingon as a second language was briefly popular in the early 2800s, as a generation from the planet Otaku in that era found it fashionable to appear knowledgeable about foreign cultures. The fad soon passed, but if you are passing through the area between 2802 and 2805 this may be a means to earn a bit of extra spending money.
- Even completely dead languages like Aramaic or COBOL can be monetized if you speak them fluently and manage to visit the correct time period. There is an urgent need for COBOL translators in 999 AD to deal with the extension of the date field from three digits to four and in 0 BC to deal with the years beginning to count upward instead of down.
- For those who speak fluent UNIX and have a firm linguistic command of Ancient Geek, broadcasters need commentators to go live on January 19, 2038 03:14:07 GMT and reflect on-air on the end of an epoch, just before all computers that still use signed 32-bit Unix Time overflow one second later on January 19, 2038 03:14:08 GMT.
If your have native fluency in a language, as well as near-native levels of understanding of the culture, traditions and practices of its speakers (such as for example those of the Indian Subcontinent), you may be able obtain work supporting consular efforts. Be aware though that the risks involved may be higher than for other forms of work. (See also Peace Corps Volunteering.)
- Assuming you can pass an audition, and don't mind performing in drag, then minor dramatic roles may be available in some theatrical productions.
- It is also worth noting, that if you can 'rig on a ship' you can also 'rig for a theatre', assuming you can cope with long hours.
- Whilst you may not make any serious money from vocal or instrumental performance, you may at least be able to get your dinner by performing for wealthy socialites and patrons. Do your research first, as musical tastes can change in the blink of an eye.
- Theatrical agents in London (late 19th to mid 20th Century) are always looking for novelty talent, see back issues of The Stage for details. If you can cope with bad hostels, collapsing rostra and out of tune accompanists, then you too could make it in "Variety!". Don't however put your daughter on the stage against an agents advice.
- There are always jobs for talking dogs and ventriloquists.
- Demonstrations of scientific phenomena which are easily understood by a post 19th century audience may amaze earlier generations, as any sufficiently-advanced technology is indistinguishable from magic. Caution should be exercised; if you make too flamboyant or mystical performances, you SHOULD expect a visit from the Inquisition.
Artisans and tradespersons
- There are always tasks for skilled artisans and trades; for instance, natives of the colonial era spend much of their time manufacturing wax candles as they wait for someone to finally invent or discover electricity.
- As long as the British Empire's love affair with travel by horse continues, there will always be employment for blacksmiths and farriers to produce horse shoes at the forge. Leatherworking skills are also potentially in demand.
- Outdoor work for skilled and unskilled construction workers and foremen with warm and sunny weather guaranteed is available around the late 3rd millennium (both BC and AD) in Giza.
- Seasonal farm-work may be obtained at harvest, from the 18th Century onward.(Europe and North America). Hop Picking in Southern England, as well as grape harvesting in France is a possibility. Depending on the region you may get a harvest supper and free cider/wine as a completion bonus.
- Manual labourers are needed to shovel coal aboard locomotives and steamships. The working conditions are wretched, but the job offers the opportunity to travel.
- There is an ongoing need for colonists to establish homesteads in eighteenth-century Canada and Australia. Nominally free or almost-free land is available, but with no services; forests, tree stumps and rocks will need to be removed before this terrain may be put into cultivation.
- Certain large houses in Europe, and the Americas, are always in need of domestic staff. You should apply to the butler (if male) or housekeeper (if female). For positions above the most menial, a formal written enquiry before arrival is the typical process; referral from the clergy may add to an otherwise exemplary application. For further detail on what roles entail, see Mrs. Beeton's concise summary; her work is otherwise of note for extensive coverage of 19th cuisine, summaries on English legal matters, basic nursing care and other topics relevant to the management of a grand house. (Other works on running a grand House included those published in the early 21st century by the National Trust, although its period relevance may be an issue.)
- If you have the fitness, can cope with long hours and extreme weather, the expanding railway network of the American Frontier has openings in construction work. Don't be tempted to blow your pay in the saloon. Should you desire more challenging conditions, consider the Trans-Siberian Railway or the Panama Canal.
Sales and Mercantile Trade
- There are short-term opportunities in burgeoning gold and silver rush towns on the Yukon frontier. For those selling tools, supplies and mining implements to each year's cohort of starry-eyed prospectors, this mad rush westward is a veritable gold mine.
- In the medieval period, there are job openings for Pawn, Rook, Knight, Bishop, Queen and King. The level of mobility varies, depending upon the position. Recruiters advise that a well-placed Pawn in particular stands a good chance of a lucrative promotion. Furthermore the Queen, as the one token female of her era, enjoys unlimited mobility. The position of King is not without its burdens, you could be subject to a series and number of checks, and you wouldn't believe the amount of paperwork involved. Note that you will not gain a better position by playing games with a pale faced gentleman in a dark cowled robe, especially if he talks IN CAPITAL LETTERS, subtitles or a Scandinavian language.
- If female, be careful of unsolicited offers of a theatrical or modelling nature. Whilst many of these are made in a sincere fashion, it is unfortunately noted that a number are connected with traffickers, seeking recruits for the so called 'white-slave trade.'
- The owners of any ship forcibly removing Africans to America in the pre Civil War era are also to be treated with the utmost of suspicion. Don't be the next lot on the auction block.
- Be wary of accepting jobs involving sorcery or witchcraft (even purported). Practitioners of these black arts are often lynched by fearful local townsfolk.
- Also be exceptionally cautious of assisting in the recovery of anatomical materials or property from the condemned.
- Crime does NOT pay. In particular some noted authors (including Dickens and Chandler) have given graphic accounts of the real underworld and its consequences.
In working in the past choose your period carefully:
- Some highly skilled trades, the medieval guilds guard their 'mysteries' a matter of professional honour, and will not appreciate someone they see as an outsider taking work away from their brethren.
- You should also be wary of so called 'union towns' of the American 19th century onward. Whilst some eras implement 'right to work' legislation, this is by no means universal, or appreciated by the wider community.
- The manufacture of hats in some time periods requires working with mercury, an exercise likely to leave one as Mad as a Hatter. Sweeping chimneys was also an occupation not without its risks.
- YOU are responsible for ensuring your own OSHA compliance, personal protective equipment, and exercise of common sense. From the mid 20th century , the developing trade union movement may be able to provide assistance in respect of worker safety concerns, although many employers outright refuse to recognize them.
- Be aware that certain modern working practices are not honoured. You could be working long hours without health cover (so should arrange your own specialist cover if taking an extended visit). If the medics in your chosen time period believe that an imbalance of the four humours (blood, phlegm, black bile, and yellow bile) must be treated with bloodletting using medicinal leeches, or if the government of the day hunts practitioners of abortion and birth control as criminals, you may need to be evacuated to another time period in a medical emergency. Most workplace health plans do not cover this substantial expense.
- Some periods are openly (even officially) hostile to workers of specific ethnicity, check the laws before you depart.
- For archive work you might have to be familiar if not fluent in arcane languages and bygone technology such as Latin (until the 22nd century at least) French (well into the 2050s) punch cards (up to 2003) or USB storage devices (in use until 2078) Some people have variously made a fortune copying archives from one format to another, especially for private use. Even when the archive exists in convenient media (such as those that don't crumble, rot or even spontaneously combust.) you may find yourself working with a proprietary and poorly documented representation, or a fiendishly puzzling encipherment (which may need an entire department to read). One can't help but wonder why people didn't stop at stone tablets, as they are compatible with 30th century technology BC and AD.
- If working in the future, be aware that a growing trend from the 22nd century onward is to outsource once-rewarding manufacturing jobs to other, distant planets with non-existent health, safety and employment standards. So much for any supposed "right to work", suckas.
You may wish to stock up on needed supplies before leaving the modern era. The best place to go for every time traveler's needs is the Time Travel Mart, which has two locations in Los Angeles: Mar Vista and Echo Park. In the early 2100s, H. G. Wells briefly operated a shop, considered to be the "Woolworths for the time traveller", under the Wellsworth banner. Unfortunately, the time-travelling clientèle proved fickle, with the attitude "I shall just wait a while and buy it more cheaply yesterday".
Bringing back souvenirs as a time traveller is a great opportunity to take advantage of prices and opportunities which are more favourable in another era.
- When visiting the past, why not stock up on dodo birds, passenger pigeons or other pets which were once plentiful but will soon be collectors' items?
- When visiting the future, bring back a few Terminator-style robots; they're plentiful in most 24th-century dystopias.
- There are many opportunities for arbitrage by picking up stocks, investments and merchandise in some era in which they are worthless, only to sell them to a greater fool in some prior era. For instance, RadioShack Corporation stock which is worthless in 2015 can be taken back to 1977, the last year the chain was relevant, and exchanged for trinkets like CB radios, 8-track recorders and "Trash 80" microcomputers. These trinkets may then be traded to the natives of that or an earlier era in an attempt to get something of value in return.
- Conversely, pieces of furniture and works of art (creative or otherwise) may be purchased in bulk in an earlier era, brought to a later era and profitably sold as priceless antiquities.
- Small newspaper advertisements (also known as classifieds) are the Craigslist of their day. However, unlike fleaBay, auction notices are to advertise an actual live auction which buyers are to attend in person. These often take place on the local county fairgrounds. Although a "Buy it Now" option may exist, these tend to be few and far between. Don't forget to take the auctioneers fees into account and be careful, any stray gesture may be interpreted by this fast-talking lot as you having bid to buy livestock, cattle or obscure items which would be tricky to describe on customs declarations.
- When visiting the backwaters of Mormon Utah in the Johnny Lingo era, where livestock is the measure of wealth, the "lobola", "dote" or bride price is traditionally paid in cattle and the negotiations tend to be awkward and complex. If planning to offer "eight cows for Mahana", it's only polite to bring your prospective bride and in-laws to the stockyards and invite them to browse and inspect before the bidding starts.
A few buying tips:
- Research your item, and for high value art pieces, their provenance, it can at best be an expensive embarrassment (such as finding the reputed Vermeer you bought is in fact a van Meegeren worth considerably less), or at worst a lengthy jail term for stolen (and potentially looted) antiquities.
- Check electric and electronic equipment compatibility. It's no fun finding that the Radiogram (a furniture console radio and gramophone) lacks Bluetooth or that you can't view Super8 on anything other than a compatible projector. Pre-1946 FM sets with the band on 40-46 MHz are worthless outside their narrow era. Format wars are older than you think.
- Be aware of any export restrictions of the era concerned. Exercise caution with items which contain substances subject to modern controls, such as uranium glass, Paris Green, lead paint, ivory and bone. Patent medicines based on arsenic or quicksilver may be particularly noxious. Don't fall foul of the Radium craze of the 1900's.
- Throughout the ages, various things have become currencies. However, for some mysterious reason, gold seems to be accepted almost anywhere almost any time. Spanish piezas de ocho and South African Krugerrand are your best bet for the modern period.
- In the immediate aftermath of conflicts, be exceptionally wary of "too good to be true" offers from sharply dressed or smooth-talking gentlemen offering to supply all manner of items for a "price".
- Don't forget to factor in applicable local sales taxes. (Purchase Tax for UK luxury items purchased between 1940 and 1973 is typically a third of the gross price of an item).
- Decimal currency is by no means universal; for example there are 240 pennies, not 100, in a pre-1971 British pound. Similar considerations apply to other eras' currencies of choice. Also try to be aware of the prevailing inflation and exchange rates. Reichsmark in particular do not hold their value well.
- There have been various risky or disastrous investments over the ages. Be cautious; see "Stay safe" (below) for some investments to be avoided.
- Pet rocks were briefly a widespread fad in 100000 BC. Pick up one or two as souvenirs, but no more than that; a suitcase full of rocks very quickly becomes a weighty burden when the time traveller has to drag it back through a crowded 25th century spaceport packed with impatient aliens.
- Ancient Greece and Troy are longtime commercial rivals; each carries a wide selection of competing goods and merchandise. Just beware of Greeks bearing gifts. There is also an adage about equines that's as applicable to this period as any other.
Old testament era
- Various robes and garments of good quality may be purchased in this era, which pre-dates outsourcing of all clothing manufacturing to sweatshops in Bangladesh. Purple robes tend to be costly and difficult to obtain, unless you are a king; it is therefore inadvisable to tear your robes in frustration when your nation is defeated on the battlefield.
- Wikivoyage has advice on how to negotiate a fair price which can be invaluable when trading horses.
- This era is also a good place to source chariot parts, as all roads lead to Rome. In general, what's good for the General Chariot Company is good for Cæsar.
- The cup from the Last Supper appears to have been misplaced. If it turns up, you may consider turning it in to King Arthur in a later era for a substantial reward.
- Be sure to pick up a lantern or two. A few vendors come highly recommended by Diogenes, who has been searching for an honest man since ancient times.
Renaissance and middle ages
The selection in 1066-era London is limited and of poor quality as the market is flooded with cheap imports brought from the Continent by occupying Norman rabble. Go back further, and options are somewhat variable.
- Quality spices may obtained in "reputable" bazaars. Be firm but polite if you are offered poor quality, or spices that aren't what they claim to be.
- Likewise, merchants dealing in imported goods will normally be located at the waterfront, near the docks, to provide access to valuable and exotic cargoes as seafaring ships sail in.
- If you're visiting 1455, stop by Mainz, Germany and pick up a few Gutenberg Bibles, written in Latin. Nothing like a Good Book to pass the time while waiting for a stagecoach, TARDIS or steam train in some other era.
- Venice is a good choice for glassware, but expect to pay a premium.
- Baghdad in the Abbasid era, the heyday of the Muslim world from 750 to 1258, is an extensive and cosmopolitan bazaar of imported goods from throughout the known world. Sample spices from India, fabrics from central Asia, ivory and gold from Africa, "migrant labour" from Scandinavia or silks and porcelain from China via the Silk Road. Be prepared to bargain hard!
Colony and Empire era
- Most towns will have a stone mill for grain, built on a waterway to harness hydraulic power to operate the mill. Show up on market day and there will usually be farmers present to sell you grain.
- From the mid 20th century expect to pay a substantial premium for "artisan" milled flour complete with organic mineral additions!
- Beaver pelts are available inexpensively from 1673 onward in Canada, although transportation infrastructure in that region in that time period is primitive or non-existent.
- Drop by "Woolworth's Great Five Cent Store" in 1879 and buy anything in the store for a few pennies. Drop by a Binns Department Store before various UK locations were bombed by Germany in World War 2 and left looking like a Target Store on clearance day; visit Eatons in Canada in 1869 or Montgomery Ward in the United States of America in 1872 as models of modern organizational efficiency.
- Some cities from the 19th Century onward will have extensive markets, of world renown (or notoriety. See below for London.)
- In 1860s Great Britain, try local Co-Op stores for food and general sundries. Visit J Sainsbury in 1869 or Morrisons in 1961.
- In earlier time periods, most villages will have some sort of market square. Watch for farmers herding livestock and animals down major streets, then follow them into the village - this will usually lead you directly to the marketplaces. In some towns from the 18th century onwards these marketplaces may be extensive, or may require a local guide to navigate.
Most luxury items, as well as some unique souvenirs can be obtained in the London of the late 19th century onward, excepting wartime. Then, as now, Great Britain is pound proud, Bringing in leftover €uro currency from the 21st and 22nd centuries will only get blank stares. However beyond the 23rd century asking for that "Britain" thing will get you laughed out of Scotland's Southern territories
The classic gentlemen's suit can be obtained relatively straight-forwardly between 1900 and 1970. Saville Row is the highest quality, but understandably attracts a substantial premium as a result. Some older tailor's and established firms will almost certainly advise against perceived garish 'modernities' in some styles, but polite firmness about what you as a customer require works wonders. Burtons is a cheaper option from the 1950's onwards.
For relatively inexpensive but practical clothing of the post-WII era, consider the chains of the early 1960's such as Marks and Spencer, and British Home Stores (BHS). Truly cheap clothing will not arrive until the onset of the "Chinese invasion" of the late 1990's, so be prepared to adjust your price expectations accordingly.
For Street and Trend fashion, try Carnaby Street in the Late 1960's, or the markets around Camden Lock in the 10 year window between 1995-2005 around the turn of the millennium.
If you are looking for the exotic, don't bother looking before the 1950's , and be wary of seedy outlets in Soho at any time.
Hatchards at 187 Picadilly comes highly recommended. See also Foyles below.
Official papers, including Hansard and the London Gazette may be obtained from HM Stationery Office on Holborn (open from around 1900?)
- Gamages, Holborn, London, E.C. 1, ☎ HOLborn 8484, fax: (Telegrams accepted to GAMAGES, HOLBORN). Drop by between 1878 and 1972. One of the better known London stores. Will ship throughout the British Empire, useful stockist of period spares for some equipment, Gamages manufactured the Leach Trench Catapult during the Great War. *(Buyers note: Familiarity with practical research by Tesla, Heaviside, Maxwell or Count Marconi's experimental work, will greatly assist your dealings with sales staff.)
- Foyles, 119 Charing Cross Road, London, W.C. ((Tube: Tottenham Court Road)). 1906 onward (excluding wartime). Prominent London bookseller, and goldmine source for period scientific works., (Buyers note: Until modernization in the late 1990's, sales staff are unable to handle cash directly. You will have to obtain a chit from the relevant department and find the cashiers office in the bowels of the building in order to pay for your purchases. Please ensure you use the correct denominations as currency misunderstandings may be difficult to remedy after leaving the Cashiers Office.)
- Hamleys, 200 Regent Street (later 188-196 Regent Street). From 1881, (relocated 1981). For the big kid in everyone, by choosing your period, you can purchase a number of toys and games. However, some items are not suitable for modern children, and should be regraded as items intended for adult collectors, owing to the use of certain materials or constructional techniques. Although Hamleys is a stockist of brands such as Hornby and Triang, Beatties (1938-2001) (Tube:Holborn) or Harrow Model Shop (Tube:Harrow on the Hill) (1950 to 2005) may be better able to meet the specialist needs of railway modellers looking for period items. The plush football lions on sale in 1966 are guaranteed collectibles
The main food markets in London are Covent Garden (fruit and vegetable produce), Billingsgate (fish) and Smithfield (meat). Be prepared to start early for the highest quality and negotiate hard for the best price. Whilst quality may not be to be the exacting FDA or European standards of the 21st century, the produce on offer should at the very least be "fit". Unfit meat, fish or produce is a concern that should be raised initially with the trader concerned, or with the market authorities.
- Collectors of classic motorcars are often interested in ephemera, such as the 100th Model T to have rolled off Henry Ford's production line. These are rather bulky to bring back as souvenirs, but have a cult following among aficionados.
- Bring back spare parts, such as curb feelers to protect your whitewall tires from scuffing on the edge of the pavement, which are difficult to source in later eras.
Space colonisation era
Rather a disappointment, but we used to stop by there in the late 23rd century on our way back from other, more distant planets. It was a chance to get out of the UFO and stretch our legs; we'd usually pick up a few Mars bars and a bag or two of M&M's for the kids before blasting off again. From the 24th century onward, it has the charm of a layover in Hahn where you aren't allowed to leave the airport. Even trying to find water on Mars is a time-consuming exploration which was usually more of a bother than it was worth.
Initially shunned due to its out of the way location, this sector eventually became a dumping ground for 23rd century industrial and data processing machinery. While the original plan was merely to recover any precious or reusable metals, by the 24th century obsolete equipment was being unloaded as-is onto time travellers from other eras who could profitably resell it a few centuries earlier.
- Buy surplus memory cards in the 26th century, load them up with a copy of every work ever printed or recorded (as the copyrights on most would have finally run out in the 2500s) and bring them back as souvenirs. It's amazing how much will fit on one card in that era.
- Pick up a few spare infinite-length storage tapes and bring them back to the 1940s for use on the period Turing machines of that era. The computer will still be slow, but will never run out of memory.
Time travel presents a wide variety of options for interesting cuisine. Some form of fast food is available in most periods, but be aware of cultural sensitivities. It would also be wise to note the adages concerning food in tropical climates. (Wikivoyage also has advice on how to avoid Chornorists Cramps).
- Big Og's Brontosaurus Burgers, Prepared fresh while you wait. Worth a visit, if only to see why this place is being advertised on cave walls everywhere.
- A wide variety of frozen foods and desserts are available.
Old Testament era
- Dining in the Old Testament era was prone to seven years of plenty, followed by seven years of famine. If you must drop in, stop by Joseph's (of Technicolour Dreamcoat fame) for a feast fit for a Pharaoh.
- If visiting 360 BC, stop by Plato's Atlantis and sample some of the fine seafood.
- Join Jesus and the twelve disciples for the Last Supper.
- Toga Tonio's Pizzeria, thirty minute horseback delivery guaranteed or Tonio will fall upon his sword. Phone XXXIV.
- There's also a Little Caesar's on the lower level of the Roman Colosseum, next to a pit filled with lions.
Dark Ages and Renaissance
- Valhalla — located somewhere in Asgard, Odin throws an awesome party every night for Vikings that have fallen in combat. The catch is that you obviously won't make it back alive.
- Medieval banquets, although entertaining, are risky. Do not be fooled into thinking you have travelled through time if you land somewhere where most of the costumes are very questionable, such as Bunratty, Schaumburg and Buena Park. Beware of spontaneous jousting matches which break out between rival knights and tend to thoroughly disrupt a meal; most venues post "No Smoting" signs to encourage knights to act as gentlemen and avoid smiting their opponents.
- Borgia's Buffet, 1480 – 1519, is only slightly less risky. It was rumoured that Lucrezia was in possession of a hollow ring that she used frequently to poison drinks, but this was never proven.
- Stagecoach travellers have access to a wide array of roadside taverns serving cakes and ale, great steaks and good cheer. There are even fresh horses for the mail coach.
- Stop by Woolworth's lunch counter in Greensboro (North Carolina) any time between the February 1, 1960 start of the sit-in and the desegregation of July 25, 1960. Come back a few decades later, when all that's left of the Woolworth company is Foot Locker, and remind everyone of the time it took half a year to get service at their crummy lunch counter.
- Pop into West Berlin on June 26, 1963 for jelly doughnuts with John F. Kennedy, then president of the United States. "Ich bin ein Berliner!"
- From 1990 onward, a good restaurant will be able to advise on the inclusion of certain ingredients. They also should not be offended if you ask to confirm the origin of certain meats served. Some Michelin Star eateries are proud to declare their 'BSE free Status'.
- Would you like flies with that?
- Food will be replaced by tasteless unremarkable nutrition pills. If this isn't your cup of tea, try Soylent Green.
- Be wary of convenience stores which send stale leftovers back in time to make them appear to be fresh; do not rely solely on the "best before" date on the packages.
- Milliways (The Restaurant at the End of the Universe). Watch the entire universe end from the windows of the restaurant as you eat. Cheap, as you place a penny in an account when you return to your time to pay the bill.
- King Hamurabi was a famous party host in his day. Although the penalty for making bad beer was being drowned in it, there was no campaign for real ale and no Budweiser.
- The Egyptians learned how to brew beer from the Mesopotamians. Or was it the other way round? Any way, decent beer is to be found as early as the old kingdom and king Tut is said to have embodied the "live fast die young" motto.
- Be careful offering milk to locals: With a few exceptions (mostly in Northern Eurasia) this will draw blank stares and (if you convince people to drink it) digestive problems.
- Visitors to Cana are invited to watch Jesus turn water into wine.
- Jesus also recommends bringing back new wineskins as a souvenir of this era. "And no one pours new wine into old wineskins. Otherwise, the wine will burst the skins, and both the wine and the wineskins will be ruined. No, they pour new wine into new wineskins." (Mark 2:22)
- Tap water is not always entirely safe, as the "outsider theory" that water that has been recently shat in by wild horses shouldn't be drunk has yet to gain traction.
- Falling into open artesian wells is also a hazard, as well as a risk of injury to livestock.
- Beer is near universally, available across Northern Europe from the Mid 12th century onward, in varying strength.
- From about the 7th century AD onwards visitors to the Middle East should exercise caution and discretion in the consumption of any beverage with an ABV over 1%.
- Honey and mead are available in most roadside coaching inns, along with boasting, ribaldry, and even some water and hay for the horses. Just be sure to show up before the horses were replaced by flying saucers, a change which ruined some fine traditions in travelling. Heck, back in my day, the innkeepers offered fresh water for the livestock for free; the Ice Age had just ended and there was fresh ice water everywhere, very refreshing. They just don't run these places like they used to.
- Carbonated soda pop is available as a mild stimulant from pharmacies in the late 19th and early 20th centuries; most of these early sugar-laden concoctions contain cocaine, caffeine or other drugs. Eventually, as those beverages start becoming more mainstream, water powered by radium and other radioactive substances will become vogue. If you may choose, stick with those earlier versions.
- Visitors to the Prohibition era may be tempted to sneak their own booze in; this technically *is* illegal and risks drawing the attention of black-suited men who carry machine guns in violin cases.
- LGBTQ visitors are invited to drop by the Stonewall Inn, 53 Christopher Street, Manhattan/Greenwich Village ☎ HUguenot 8-2705 where drag queens and friends of Dorothy intend to party into the wee hours on June 28, 1969. It'll be a riot! There'll even be a big, old gay parade a year later (June 28, 1970) in New York, Los Angeles, San Francisco and Chicago to commemorate this event.
- Brawndo. Because it's got electrolytes and who would drink toilet water anyway? Available sometimes before 2500.
- Star Wars Cantina. Proudly serving the flotsam and jetsam of the galaxy. A direct competitor to the Ten Forward of the Star Trek era.
- Beware that the services that Starbucks provides in the 26th century are quite different from what they serve in the early 21st century.
Available accommodations tend to vary widely by time period. While there are rating systems for both lodging and food service, they tend to vary widely from one era to another or even one realm or Empire to another. Do not assume that a lodging which was rated "two rocks and a pebble" by Better Caves and Gardens in the prehistoric era is the equal of one rated "two diamonds" by the Chariot Association in the gladiator era; an innkeeper who awards themselves five stars is unreliable in any era. Always inspect lodgings carefully before checking in to ensure "no surprises".
- Fred Flintstone's house. Colour TV, automatic dishwasher and various modern amenities at stone-age prices. Recommended by Good Cavekeeping magazine in its last issue before print was finally declared dead.
Old Testament era
- Procrustes Inn, Sodom and Gomorrah. All guests will be stretched or truncated to fit our luxurious beds.
- We don't care if you're about to give birth to the Messiah.. there is no room at the inn.
- We don't care if you're about to give birth to Brian, who is called Brian.. there is still no room at the inn.
Dark Ages and Renaissance
- Dracula's Castle may be accepting visitors; proceed at your own risk. Leave your garlic at home, it's strictly banned here.
- For better accommodations you may try Al Andalus or the Caliphate-empire.
- Most travellers in the Dark Ages stay at Motel 6 since they offered to leave a light on. Unfortunately, the original innkeeper retired centuries ago and the facilities have not modernised since then, so a Motel 6 room in 2125 looks much as it did in 850 except for being a little worse for wear.
- In extremis, a monastery or abbey may be able to offer temporary hostel-style accommodation. Don't expect anything more than very basic facilities. Not available in some regions (especially England) after the 15th Century.
- Bloody Benders Inn, Kansas, 1871-1873. They check in, but they don't check out.
- If you are George Washington just sleep any place. There's a whole chain of properties of widely-variable quality displaying a sign that "George Washington Slept Here".
- KdF Seebad Prora — expected to open soon, on this magnificent resort at the Baltic Sea 20,000 workers of the Reich can spend an Aryan beach holiday. All the rooms have view to the sea, and there is a cinema with educational films and a stadium where even the Führer himself performs.
- Visiting 1940? Familiar toll-free reservation numbers like +1-800-HOLIDAY or that Sheraton number with all the 35's in it don't connect in that era. There are no area codes. Not a problem, just pick up the handset and when the operator asks "Number, please?" ask for long distance, "New York City, PEnnsylvania six, five thousand". The number still works.
- Don't be surprised if your 1940 hotel room has no television. There's a place in Carthage with a radio in every room if you're willing to pay a princely $3/night (good money in that era) but many communities will have no television stations until the early 1950s. The technology exists, NBC demonstrated it at the 1939 World's Fair in New York City, but with no stations it's a worthless curiosity which will most certainly never amount to anything. At least the radio will play the modern big band tunes of the Glenn Miller Orchestra.
- John's Modern Cabins on US66 in Newburg (near Rolla) is just a few cabins in the woods (its restaurant will be torn down when the road is widened in 1957, with the site abandoned after I-44 bypasses US66 a decade later). It's worth a stop just because of an impressive neon sign proclaiming how modern everything is. If visiting before 1946, stop by the popular nearby resort at Arlington, Missouri where one can swim in a pool fed by an underground stream.
- If visiting US Route 66 in its 1950s heyday (before it was overrun by talking Disney cartoon cars), that neon-lit motel will not accept BankAmericard (as it won't exist until 1958) nor MasterCharge (introduced in 1966). The US government of the era is willing to exchange dollars for gold at $35 an ounce if you need cash for this time period. Instead of reserving in advance (by contacting the property directly, there are no central reservation computers until Sabre in 1963 and Holidex in 1966), most travellers just look for the glowing neon-orange VACANCY signs when pulling into town. There should be a few motels on the main road, out by the Studebaker and Packard dealerships.
- The same issues apply to the use of Barclaycard, Access and Eurocard with British or European innkeepers of the same era. Be sure to carry pounds of sterling silver for use as currency.
- Lodging in the 1960s–1980s is notable primarily for beds which vibrate if travellers deposit coins into a box. Particularly greedy innkeepers were also fond of installing coin-operated radios and television receivers.
- Fawlty Towers is Great Britain's most prestigious address; check in between 1975 and 1979 and be sure to keep a stiff upper lip.
- The Hotel California offers an incredible deal, in which you can check out any time you want but you can never leave. Some people here have been seen chasing the dragon (see above).
- Bates Motel, Fairvale, California (Old Highway 10, between Phoenix and LA). Fifteen miles east of Fairvale and twenty-three miles west of Hitchcock, California on Old Highway 10, a forgotten stretch of highway off Interstate 10. Family run, no other details known at this time.
- Don't bother. Between the inflated prices, identical cookie-cutter "economy limited service" hotel chains and the billions of dollars of ridiculous "incidental charges" annually which modern innkeepers add to unsuspecting travellers' credit card bills, most time travellers prefer to sleep in a cave in the prehistoric era at about the same level of discomfort and a much lower cost.
- The International Space Station offers cramped accommodation in low earth orbit for just USD 10 000 000 a pop (including transport there and back again). While comparatively cheap, it is small, crowded and awkward. Its location, at a height somewhere around 300-400km from Earth, is less than ideal and not much better than staying at an airport hotel strip.
- Deep Space Nine. Convenient to a stable wormhole in the space-time continuum and all major hyperspace bypasses, established 2414 to boldly park where no one has parked before.
- Death Star. That's no moon, that's a space station. Unfortunately, the WC's are no cleaner than at thousands of other remote filling stations across the galaxy.
By cave drawings
The original system of communication among early hominids was Anthropods On Line, a primitive dial-up system in which specially-trained birds would whistle down a line at 1,270 cycles to send a "1" and 1,070 cycles to send a "0"; a response would be whistled back at 2,225 cycles for a "1" and 2,025 cycles for a "0". More birds had to be perched at periodic intervals on the wire to boost the signal as it became weak, garbled and unintelligible - limitations which caused the cave persons to quickly give up on the system and instead inscribe their messages on cave walls in frustration. Passing travellers would then copy the messages onto tanned animal hides and hand-carry them to the destination. The dial-up system was scrapped, but not before Anthropods On Line had inexplicably managed to take over Time Warner with the purchase price paid in company stock.
Gravity is not constrained by time, therefore you can communicate with family members in another era by knocking books off their bookshelves and drawing signs in dust.
By papyrus scrolls
This originally started as a joke in which critics would print portraits of their political opponents on bog roll. Once the toilet tissue ran out, this was switched to plain paper and used to store conventional data. The system is secure, as a "Scroll Lock" key is included to this day on every parchment.
A good way for the past to communicate with the future. Not so good the other way around.
By amateur radio
The latest technology of the early 1900s; the stereotype of the "ham fisted" amateur radio operator pounding out Morse code from a station hand-built from a Model T spark coil is common by 1909. As the original radio amateurs are expected to build their own equipment, some skill is required; until national radio amateur organisations like RSGB (Radio Society of Great Britain) and ARRL (American Radio Relay League) become commonplace in the 1920s, the only easy source of information will be an "Elmer", a more experienced radio amateur willing to act as a mentor to new operators.
Please do not take the "spark gap transmitter" out of its original time period. This contraption dumps so much interference across every frequency that Marconi routinely builds commercial radiotelegraph stations to transmit from one village, with the receivers in another village twenty miles away just to get away from the noise.
If you copy "CQD CQD CQD DE MGY MGY MGY..." that's the Titanic; best to stand by and keep out to avoid adding to the confusion. If visiting during the Great War (1914-1918), the radio-amateur service will be shut down for the duration; radio amateurs need to take down all antennae until the conflict is over.
By Ouija board
Handy for talking with departed spirits, as a means to avoid needing to travel further back in time to speak face-to-face.
A blinking useless contraption. If the other station is too blinking far to see your blinking heliograph signal, this is nothing but a blinking waste of your blinking time. Worthless even when the apparatus is not on the blink.
Don't believe every claim that is sent to you by semaphore; a signal claiming that a wealthy Nigerian prince wants to give you millions of naira should raise big red flags. If in doubt, the standard response on shipboard semaphore is "tell it to the Marines".
By Enigma machine
A commonly used cipher in the World War 2 era, now obsolete as the code has been cracked. Better to use a more secure code, such as the indecipherable scribbles which medical doctors use to communicate prescriptions to pharmacists on a "one time pad", as these cannot be decoded by third parties.
A scientific curiosity of the late 1800s, telephony only met with scepticism. "The Americans have need of the telephone, but we do not. We have plenty of messenger boys." (Sir William Preece, Chief Engineer, British Post Office, 1878) For that matter, "This 'telephone' has too many shortcomings to be seriously considered as a means of communication. The device is inherently of no value to us." (Western Union Co, 1878).
- When visiting the historic past, telephones may be readily spotted by the large battery in the base and the crank on one side. Most from the mid-1870s onward are of wooden construction and permanently mounted to the wall, eliminating the problems of lost or stolen handsets. The local telephone number to reach the general store is "two long rings, and one short".
- To reach the Dominion of Newfoundland between 1939-1949 have an operator ring Montréal or London inward, who will manually attempt to raise someone by shortwave on the Marconi set.
- The 1950s is a mess of arbitrary changes of six-digit (2L+4N) local numbers to seven (2L+5N) in many major North American cities. In general, each telephone central office is named to indicate one specific part of town. One dials the INitial LEtters of the NAme (indicated in CApitals) and the numeric digits, so "ADelaide 1234" is dialled AD-1234. Count on the telephone companies to make a hash of this by renaming "ADelaide" to "EMpire 3" and the like, changing every number in the book.
- In the post-1959 subscriber trunk dialling era, the code to reach inner London may be any of 1, 71, 171 or 20 depending on the day of the week and year. If you're unsure, it's usually best to crank out "two long rings, and one short" and hope someone at the general store knows what code the GPO is using this week.
- Western Union will be able to deliver a message to most places in the Continental USA, from around the 1880's till 2005. This can prove useful in sending yourself funds, or when you need to make forward arrangements for your next destination.
- Morse Code apparatus is also being installed in railway stations from the late 1800s onward; in Chicago, Sears Roebuck and Company has suggested this new technology has valuable applications in e-commerce.
- Guigliemo Marconi is tinkering with wireless telegraph apparatus, which he intends to install aboard RMS Titanic and other fine steamships of the White Star Line in the early twentieth century.
By wireless network
- Cyberdyne Systems Skynet, the disembodied, self-aware synthetic intelligence or "Global Digital Defense Network" of Terminator fame. It's annoying and frustrating to use, but the other choice is to deal with T-Mobile and its Montana-sized holes in mobile telephone coverage. HAL9000 compatible for those stuck on outdated, 2001-era technology.
- Mobile telephones, in general, work poorly for time travel due to the mess of incompatible standards over the years. For instance, buy a new CDMA flip phone from a Canadian incumbent carrier in 2008, take it to 2017 and it makes a fine paperweight... but is of little use for anything else. Smartphone users are prone to presume that, because there is an Apple Users Group led by Eve in the Garden of Eden, that their Apple devices from some later era will automatically connect to the network. This is a mistake. Nothing is compatible in the walled garden. The network in Imperial Rome operates on Roman numerals. Devices which calculate in Arabic numerals will not connect. More troubling, with no 'zero' in the standard Roman numeral set, it is impossible to get the trunk prefix or reach the operator. Likewise, the state of the art digital communications system on the RMS Titanic, while it can be a lifesaver in an emergency, operates on Morse Code. This excludes all but skilled operators from the network.
- Telephone companies are also infamous for making arbitrary changes to the numbering plan to confuse and irritate time travellers, such as the infamous "PhONE Day" where a leading 1- was added to every number in the United Kingdom as a practical joke. The telcos were unapologetic, although a subsequent proposal to change 9-9-9 to an unlisted number was shot down by Ofcom.
- The telephone system on 26th century Mars is particularly rubbish, in that the trunk code to get an outside line is π — a completely irrational choice that takes an infinitely long time to dial. It's usually quicker to go to Saturn or Jupiter and call from there.
- When visiting eras that you've already passed through before, be sure to avoid crossing paths with yourself and inadvertently registering the same device to the network under the same serial numbers multiple times simultaneously. Network operators are cracking down on this form of mobile phone "cloning".
- From the invention of the iPhone onward, the likelihood of someone (nearly) bumping into you while walking on the street rises, approaching almost 1 by late 2020. While some blame the smartphone, shock absorbing clothing had just as much to do with it. And occasionally it'll be you bumping into others while playing with your smartphone!
By carrier pigeon
Likely the best option for the traveller. While a mobile telephone costs a fortune in 'roaming' fees, and will be dead if taken more than one "generation of technology" outside its home era or to a country which uses different standards or frequencies, a homing pigeon always quietly and efficiently finds its way back to its home network.
A subatomic particle travelling faster than the speed of light, tachyons are great when a message absolutely, positively has to get there yesterday. Tachyon carriers are also preferable to conventional, one-sided postpaid mobile contracts as they run backwards in time; the contract expires three years before it was ever signed.
Included briefly in Google's Android operating system. The R2-D2 release, which came out in the mid-2500s, included an ability to project a hologram with a message. An amusing novelty, this saw little use other than to transmit messages of distress from abducted space princesses. An attempt by Apple to copy the feature was panned by critics as "not the 'droids you're looking for".
Reach out and touch someone. Literally. Briefly popular in the Star Trek era, but banned in 2600 after widespread abuse by telemarketers beaming themselves into subscribers' living rooms to deliver unsolicited sales pitches at meal times. Anyone trying this uninvited in the 27th century is likely to be met with phaser fire from disgruntled homeowners.
The Society for Chronological Pursuit (SCP) recommend a few basic precautions for travellers:
- Traffic in the Imperial Roman Empire, like that in most of the British Empire, drives on the left. Return to the modern era and some unelected Eurocrat will have moved all of the Roman chariots to the wrong blimey side of the road — a collision waiting to happen for the hapless time traveller.
- One does not simply walk into Mordor.
- Do not leave the time machine unattended with the key inside. Time after Time, unattended time machines are stolen by unsavoury characters like Jack the Ripper to cause havoc in the future.
- Do not leave valuables in plain view; that book of future sporting event outcomes will fall into evil hands and you'll have to go Back to the Future 2 or 3 times to fix the resulting mess.
- Be wary of animal collisions when travelling through time; a pterodactyl through the windscreen of a 1980s DeLorean can do a lot of damage which is very difficult to repair in the prehistoric era.
- One must be careful about projectile items which may hit parts of the time travel vehicle. Rocks, arrows, discarded blacksmithing tools and even screwdrivers can cause technical difficulties.
- Morlocks are a known danger in the distant future. Especially hungry ones.
Periods and places to avoid
As with any tourist destination, there are places that would be best avoided. As this is a broad topic, it would be impossible to give complete listings here; consult your respective country's consular officials and national historic register for advice.
There are also CHRONOSTRICTION notices, issued to an international protocol. WARNING RED notices are the highest level and are absolute prohibitions.
- Under NO circumstances is viewing any nuclear or large scale weapon detonation at close distance a sensible or sane choice for the time traveller. Not only are the physical risks (such as flash and blast) too great to be under-emphasized in depth here, your presence WILL be taken as a 'national security' matter, with all the attendant negative consequences. You will learn more from documentary footage in any event. If you have to go there, go afterwards.
- If you do come under nuclear attack during the Cold War, do not look at the brilliant flash of light. Duck and cover. Duck and cover. The flash of nuclear detonation will be followed by a blast wave and massive quantities of debris. Fallout shelters will be provided in the basements of major public buildings in the local community. If on a bus, you could be driven out of the city entirely. Tune to the local civil defense frequency in your area for information.
- Some agencies place explicit prohibitions on trips to Cambodia and China of the 1960's-1970's, the Indian Mutiny, early 20th century Russia and "Revolutionary" France, amongst others. In general, one should avoid war zones such as Detroit in the 21st century (see Robocop and Delta City#Stay safe), Europe pre-1945 (outside of the famous pax Romana) and the Middle East pretty much any time outside of the Muslim "golden age". Careful note of civil disturbances should also be made; most of the major riots are easy to avoid, being limited in time to a few days or weeks, but smouldering unrest in some eras is harder to avoid.
- The Babylonian army is particularly known for their practice of "shoot first, ask questions later" (Or spear first and ask later, respectively). If you read and write cuneiform and are an able archer, you could get a job with them.
- You would be well advised to stay well clear of churchyards and cemeteries between dusk, dawn and 1832 in Edinburgh, London and other major cites You may not only encounter unsavoury characters interested in an entirely different from of 'resurrection', your presence may lead to extensive questioning by the local judicial authorities.
- The undead, in particular, are best avoided. This can only end in trouble — particularly during the Black Plague era.
- Beware of strict visa and exit controls when visiting the pre-1991 Soviet Union or any of its associated occupied states. Taking pieces of the Berlin Wall as souvenirs, while amusing post-1989, is not likely to be condoned at the height of the Cold War.
- Certain specific eras and regions are prone to treating women as chattels, auctioning people of colour as slaves or burning heretics at the stake. Choose your time travel destination cautiously.
- If visiting Dixieland or the Confederate States of America at any time up to and including a century after the US Civil War, expect to encounter segregation and apartheid. The Negro Motorist Green Book (published in New York City from 1936-64) is a handy list of lodgings, restaurants and accommodations at which one may safely stop without being lynched by folks wearing bedsheets as formal attire.
- If conducting a trip to pre-Soviet Siberia, be aware that 1908 was a year that had a considerable impact on the region. Events in the vicinity of Lake Cheko on June 30 caused considerable shock waves.
- Police and government may not be able to protect you if you visit failed states such as Somalia after 1993 AD or Michigan after the implosion of Detroit in the Great Recession. The worst of all failed states is Liechtenstein after the 2059 AD overthrow of the Fürst. Bring your own armed guards, travel in daylight and keep a sharp lookout for land mines and improvised explosive devices.
Schemes and scams
- See also: Common scams
There are many scams, that have been used on the unsuspecting tourist throughout history. Some such as the overly eager 'porter'; family member's shop with "special prices", or "distressed veteran/refugee" of a vague event are as old as antiquity. The classic three card monte is also older than you think.
Some of particular note are:
- Dishonest tax collectors, who overcharge taxpayers in the Roman era and pocket the difference for themselves. Jesus would not approve.
- Relics. Don't be tempted by the stallholders outside the major shrines, not only is the trade in "remains" despicable, you could be bringing back epidemiologically sensitive material.
- In addition, you could probably sail to the New World, if all the claimed pieces of the True Cross offered at shrines were put together; Calvin has made an explicit point concerning this.
- The Indulgence. You may encounter better-dressed and well spoken individuals at major markets and Christian festivals offering unregulated after-life insurance schemes and all manner of Purgatorial indemnities. These sellers are wholly unlicensed to market such products, the policy documents concerned not being worth the paper they are scribed on. For after-life planning and remission advice, speak only to officially accredited confessors. From the Mid 15th Century, these sellers will be the subject of an extensive campaign of targeted regulation.
- Martin Luther, in particular, has issued a warning against the selling of indulgences. This warning may be found nailed to the church-house door. In England, John Wycliffe previously has raised concerns of a related nature about pardoners.
- Don't buy any bridges. Particularly not the Brooklyn Bridge or for that matter London or Tower Bridges. Sharp talking gentleman may also attempt to sell you the Eiffel Tower.
- Do not under any circumstances play poker "on the river", you could lose more than your shirt.
- Wandering around Boston in the spring of 1920 you may run into a certain Mr. Ponzi touting international reply coupons and promising 100% profit in just three months. Fuhgeddaboudit.
Efforts by authorities to crack down on the scammers are ongoing. By the late 1700s, about a thousand convicts annually were being sentenced by English authorities to transportation to Maryland and Virginia, a frightening prospect to criminals of the era. Or in fact any era. Just imagine having to live in Maryland or Virginia. Or, God forbid, some place between the two.
- Don't be tempted to hide any untaxed Capital Gains in a numbered Swiss account, as most major tax authorities of the 22nd century and beyond are wise to this kind of time sensitive evasion, the penalties with interest can be substantial.
- If visiting the Netherlands in the mid-1630's, don't buy tulips even if everyone else apparently does. Instead, bring some tulips and get them sold before February 1637.
- Be sceptical of offers of time share resorts in the Scottish colonies proposed for the early 1700s in the Darién Gap. If the colonisation effort fails, the underlying real estate will be worthless.
- Likewise, Charles Babbage's plans for a Babbage Analytical Engine are impractical and will amount to nothing. The machine is too mechanically complex to ever be built.
- Railway stocks in the late 19th century are an incredibly risky investment. While some people have become incredibly rich from them and amassed personal power and fortune enough to depose and appoint the president of countries like Nicaragua as they please, others have burned through investors' gold and silver by the stagecoach load for something that turned out to be little more than relatively pretty paper with fancy names on it. In the most common pattern, these names would be built from the name of the local village, that of a nearby local village and that of some distant point halfway across the country which the line will never reach before first reaching bankruptcy and ruin. Take a hint: Once two or three rival railway lines connect places you never heard of in strange gauges, it is time to cut your losses and run.
- The next step for those still bemoaning their losses on the railway stock bubble, in which shares traded at insanely high multiples of earnings unmatched until the bucket funds started chasing "one share of radio" in the Roaring Twenties (see below), is usually to bet on the motorcar, automobile or horseless carriage. This is a fool's game; both Chrysler and General Motors will be bankrupt by 2009. Petroleum is not infinite and most of it refuses to move away from under the sand of strange political entities.
- Before putting money in the riskier historical investment schemes such as the South Sea Company and land speculation in the new world(s), seek professional financial advice. This includes complex financial instruments offered by firms like BCCI, Bear Stearns, Barings Bank, Bayou Hedge Fund, or involving large public companies such as Enron, Nortel, Bre-X, MCI Worldcom, Poly Peck and Adelphia, amongst others. Various US banks exposed to the Black Monday 1929 stock market crash are also highly questionable in stability as investments. The lone bright spot in an otherwise dismal New York portfolio, the Bailey Building and Loan of Bedford Falls has a reputed net worth of $2.
- Investing in the Roaring Twenties? Picking the right time to cash out can be tricky. Wait too long, and you will lose your entire portfolio. Even a speakeasy, the one sound investment of the 1920s era, could be at risk if those pesky communist sympathizers let the government start selling whiskey.
- Advised that "stocks have reached what looks like a permanently high plateau"? That's a good time to sell and leave the market.
- When visiting the Roaring Twenties, please resist Wall Street entreaties asking "$600 for radio". In this case, "radio" doesn't mean an actual AM radio for $600 (still a not-insubstantial sum in those days); "radio" meant one share of stock in RCA, a company which would be largely irrelevant by 1986, with its trade branding sold to the bloody French. Most other non-notable radio companies are badly overpriced in this era; all are worthless as the US will lose its radio manufacturing industry to Japan and later Korea and commie China. The same "market bubble" phenomenon will merely be repeated in later eras with television, colour television, "3-D" image projection and Internet stocks as a good scam never dies.
- "Computers in the future may weigh no more than 1.5 tons," according to Popular Mechanics in 1949. If this amazing scientific advance does come to pass, there will be a sharp drop in resale value for existing computers. Even if Thomas Watson of IBM confidently stated in 1943, "I think there is a world market for maybe five computers," this sort of planned obsolescence means holding on to computer hardware as an investment is extremely inadvisable.
- Waterfront property in the Lost Villages of the St. Lawrence Seaway, including Aultsville and Moulinette, is likely worthless. Ignore sales pressure insisting that you absolutely must buy before the 1958 deadline.
- Most space shuttles marketed in the late twentieth century were little more than orbiting Ford Pintos which would ultimately end up grounded because, like Ralph Nader, they are unsafe at any speed.
- The new Greek Drachma, launched after Greece was ejected from the European Union in 2055, is worthless. The same is true of the Iraqi dinar, the Zim dollar, the Reichsmark (Weimar era), Ostmark (the communist-era aluminium chips that some want to make you believe are money) and other toy currencies. Don't assume that, just because these can be purchased in thousands for a penny, dollar, pound or Euro, that they can be resold in future for a profit - or at all.
Other risky investment choices include:
- Any instrument denominated in Confederate dollars, the currency of the Confederate States of America.
- Any number of Channel Tunnel Companies of the 1840's onward.
- Colonial schemes whose viability is in doubt, such as the Tanzian Groundnut and the US colonization of North Vietnam. A 1969 US colony on the Moon was also abandoned.
- Des « châteux en Espagne », Spanish "castles in the air" sold as time-shares to the unsuspecting French at the turn of the third Millennium. Despite what the sometimes extremely forceful sales personnel will tell you, creditors will foreclose on Spain in 2044 and sell the entire country at auction for a pittance, wiping out investors in the financially-stretched nation.
- Travellers to London in the early to mid 20th century may gain police assistance by asking any Operator for "WHItehall 1212". In earlier time periods, a messenger to Scotland Yard is more appropriate. Another option is to simply flag down the TARDIS, which has a knack for appearing at the convenient place and time.
- The US Government established a Time Agency, stationed midway between 1994 and 2004 AD, for law enforcement across the time frontier. Its jurisdiction is limited. While corruption of these Timecops is rare, certain officers of this agency have been known to use unsanctioned investigative techniques.
- Nobody expects the Spanish Inquisition! Their principal weapons are fear. And surprise. And an unwavering dedication to the Pope.
Prior to the passage of recognition laws in the early third millennium AD by various Western nations, the situation for LGBTQ travel is highly complex and specialist advice should be sought.
- LGBT travel through time carries a significantly higher risk, and in some eras could prove fatal. The backwaters of Arabia and Africa are particularly bad well into the 22nd century and to be avoided at all cost. The 21st century British Empire is a good place as it is ruled by a series of graceful and liberal Queens.
- Planning a visit to San Francisco's Castro district during the infamous "Proposition H8" era (2008–2013)? Elope to rural Iowa instead, you can get married there any time after April 2009. Another option would be to make your vows over the blacksmith's forge in Alberta.
Time travel is inherently risky; one miscalculation and one might arrive on Grosse Isle to meet typhoid-laden coffin ships during the Irish Potato Famine or land in the middle of Europe during the Black Plague. Historically-pandemic diseases which are now forgotten once ran unchecked. Medical treatment at destination often involves "leeches", "bad humours", arsenic and all manner of quackery which would make today's practitioner cringe; if the disease does not kill the traveller, the remedy most certainly will. "Louis Pasteur’s theory of germs is ridiculous fiction," according to Pierre Pachet, professor of physiology at Toulouse (1872). Bringing deadly diseases back from other eras is also very poor form and likely to cause animosity to be directed against subsequent time travellers.
Also, bear in mind that diseases that in the 21st century are associated with the tropics and/or developing countries may be a risk for time travellers even in places like Europe. Most notably, do bring some anti-malaria medication for visits to the Ancient Rome, English marshlands in the middle ages or even 19th century Finland. Vaccinations against smallpox, typhoid and TB are essential and mandatory in some countries; a plague vaccination is also advised in the strongest possible terms (as trying to find a highly specific mold prior to the 19th century AD is next to impossible). Polio and Tetanus boosters are also suggested. If you travel to the future, you should beware of multi-drug resistant bacteria and the remote possibility of "containment breach"
You should also take appropriate precautions that various local stomach diseases around aren't going to happen to you (again, this depends on the era you're visiting). If you're traveling to the 18th century or earlier, you might be able to fool your hosts into boiling the local water into safety with a story about a witch's curse that says it's bad luck for the whole town if you drink water that wasn't first boiled for ten minutes. If you can get clear glass, you can build a solar cooker or pasteurize water in bottles by setting it in direct sunlight for a full day.
You won't appreciate catching the local epidemics, the natives also will not appreciate yours. The 21st century in particular is looked down upon as a cesspool of AIDS and Ebola by residents of subsequent eras. It would be very poor form to track these bugs into the Garden of Eden or other sensitive locales.
Reintroducing (regionally) extinct diseases is seen as particularly bad taste. Travelling back to 2010 to visit Haiti after the deadly 12 January earthquake and re-introducing cholera will not earn popularity with the locals, even if the United Nations insists this is a great idea. Likewise, your discarded smallpox-infected blankets will not be welcomed by the natives in eighteenth-century America much as smallpox, measles and influenza were not gladly welcomed at the end of that century by aboriginal Australians.
A scientific and rigorous program of prevention and immunization before departure is therefore a necessity.
The following practitioners specialize in medical care for time travel:
- Dr. Emmett Brown, Hill Valley, California
- The Doctor, London, United Kingdom (care of: Specialist Medical Branch, WHO, Geneva)
Basic medical advice may also be obtained from local WHO liaison officials (see #Stay Safe above).
Do not assume widespread access to modern toilets and sanitation in all time periods in all locations. You may be in for a rude surprise. If you hear "Gardez l'eau" immediately get away from under any open windows, as chamberpots tend to be dumped directly into the street in some eras, much as, before the invention of toilet paper and Eaton's catalogue, the left hand is only used for one purpose.
Detailed technical advice concerning symptomatic identification of historical conditions for accredited professional expeditions, can be obtained in writing from, Dr. Donald Mallard, c/o BUMED, Falls Church, Virginia. "The abdomen, the chest, and the brain will forever be shut from the intrusion of the wise and humane surgeon." (Sir John Eric Ericksen, Surgeon-Extraordinary to Queen Victoria, 1873)
If visiting the Moon, beware of sunburn as there is no atmosphere to protect you. Dieters may be tempted to breathe a sigh of relief upon landing on the Moon and observing that they weigh a sixth of what they did on Earth. Don't take this as an invitation to visit the buffet; take in a few weightless exercise sessions on the return trip to the Big Blue Marble or all of that weight will be back again, as if one had never left the planet.
One must also be wary when purchasing medical insurance for time travel. Insurers are infamous for refusing coverage of "pre-existing conditions", even if the malady in question will not be discovered until the early 29th century. One must also be careful of expiry dates for coverage and for medications. The 'best before' date on those medicinal leeches might not accurately reflect that you just jumped ahead a few centuries, right in time to pick up some nasty bug on another planet. There may also be import restrictions on bringing back certain medications, such as thalidomide, even if the cute baby on the package with the little flippers for arms makes it look like a very wholesome product.
If you are pregnant time travel is specifically advised against within the last 4 months of a normal term pregnancy. Although limited midwifery support may still be available in most eras except the prehistoric, healthcare providers of previous eras may be unfamiliar with certain delivery procedures, or immunization practices. You may think it clever to go back sixty-five years, give birth, then rush home to sign baby up for his or her first old-age pension cheque, but don't push the selection of "cute" locations and eras for your child's birth to the extreme. Choosing imperial Rome in the era of the gladiators as a form of birth tourism may allow your child to claim "cīvis rōmānus sum", but a Caesarean section in that era can be painful. Further to the periphery of the Roman empire, conditions only worsen, so in Bethlehem you may be giving birth in a stable with shepherds gathered around. In the British Empire, time travel can be used to advantage to deal with NHS waiting lists *if* you plan your journey so that you have NHS cover in both your departure and destination years, but don't leave things to the last minute or the last few months of pregnancy if you must have the foetus frightening room and the machine that goes "ping!" lined up for your planned delivery date. It's the most expensive machine in the hospital, after all, and cost over a quarter of a million pounds.
- In some regions, it is strongly recommended that a local guide be obtained. Language familiarity greatly aids this and will help you avoid some the backseesh that may occur at high-demand periods or sites.
- Do not assume that you will be understood in Modern English when visiting the time of Chaucer. Bring an interpreter. Similar considerations apply to — like, you know — Valleyspeak when visiting the 1980s and Southern drawl when — y'all be — visiting the US civil war antebellum era.
- When visiting the time of Dickens ("A Christmas Carol", 1843) the ghosts of Christmas past, present and future are willing to act briefly as guides for time travellers. Enquire at Scrooge, Marley and Co. on the high street.
Keeping up with events in period and opportunities for the tourist can sometimes be daunting.
A few possible sources of current information are:
- Drawings and inscriptions on cave walls, which largely superseded the interminably slow "Anthropods On Line" dial-up in 250000 BC.
- Smoke signals, which were emitted when the first attempts at electric and electronic circuitry didn't quite function as their designers intended.
- Town criers and heralds, which would shout « Oyez, oyez! » and deliver the latest news to the townsfolk and villagers.
- Various speakers standing on soap boxes in the town square. Just be wary of touts promoting dubious patent medicines, or radical ideologies.
- News from abroad would also be carried aboard sailing ships from faraway lands. By the mid-1800s, a messenger would be dispatched on horseback from the dockyards to the rail station to get the news out on the Morse telegraph.
- Gutenberg's movable type contraption has resulted in a flood of printed daily and weekly news papers of varying quality. In most villages, there is a different rival newspaper for each political or religious group of opinion so that, as in future periods, readers only see what they want to see and hear.
- Newspapers are common from the early 17th century onward, but are a rather untrustworthy and sensationalist bunch, regardless of era. A description of an event in 1631 that is described as a rather forced "marriage" taking place in Magdeburg is apt to make fans of George R. R. Martin blush.
- After 1890, local newspapers are a good source for advertisement of events in their respective communities, as well as small ads (classifieds) offering all manner of period wares of varying veracity and price. New entrants in this era will brand their newspapers as "Telegraph" instead of "Mail" or "Post" to convey the image of news hot off the wire.
- Lastly, there is the annoying spam of handbills promoted by various pamphleteers to promote various opinions. Johnathan Swift's modest proposal looked quite reasonable the first few hundred impressions, but once some spammer takes this to the movable-type press, prints hundreds and thousands of these, then glues them to every gas lamp and horse hitching post in the Empire, it quickly gets repetitive and tedious.
State and consular assistance
- International assistance may (subsequent to 1970) be obtained through host countries subject to the appropriate UN protocols. Local units in countries adhering to the additional Information Transfer Protocol offer technical assistance, consular representation, medical advice and emergency casualty evacuation. Visitors to the interwar time period, 1918-1939 AD, must contact the League of Nations for assistance under international protocols; sadly, this organization is legendary for its ineffectiveness.
- Ad hoc assistance may also be obtained from a British agency established under independent Crown Authority. This should be a last resort option as the agency concerned is known to be somewhat brusque in handling concerns, although it does have a more open attitude to diversity than other agencies. Main offices : Cardiff, Wales.
- It should also be noted that a bona-fide 'Travelling man in distress' who can give appropriate signs, can expect to receive at the very least courtesy from various orders when on pilgrimage 'towards Jerusalem'. If you are in need of assistance and the Priest and Levite merely pass you by on the other side, try flagging down a good Samaritan.
- Roman citizens may obtain the assistance of Caesar's Roman Empire while travelling through any occupied land anywhere in that respective time period. The "cīvis rōmānus sum" claim, as invoked by Saint Paul, continues to be honoured by the modern European Union. The Chariot Association of Antioch (tag *CAA to request roadside assistance by carrier pigeon) will honour memberships in all corresponding Roman clubs, as well as AA and AAA memberships; they're also a good source for maps, on which all roads lead to Rome.
- Passports can be awkward for time travellers, both because of their arbitrarily-short expiry dates (most time travel companies require an additional six months of passport validity beyond the historical era to which you intend to travel) and because the issuing country might not exist in the destination time period. British Commonwealth citizens are advised to travel back to the year their respective Commonwealth Dominion was established (for instance, the Dominion of Newfoundland existed from 1907 to 1949), exchange their individual-Dominion passport for a standard British passport, then travel freely throughout history as British subjects on the presumption that There'll Always Be an England.
- Impartial sympathetic advice and counselling in respect of London may be obtained after 1974 from the London Gay and Lesbian Switchboard.
- Be sure to pick up a copy of the secret gay agenda, as it usually includes a good blueprint of the era being visited.
- Transgender visitors to London may also obtain advice and gossip from Doreen's Fashions between 1970-2005 in Leyton Road, Walthamstow.
Health and beauty
- Delilah's Barber Shoppe, in the valley of Sorek, 3003 BC. As advertised in the biblical Book of Judges.
- Gentlemen accustomed to using safety razors instead of straight razors may consider bringing a few from their home era. Just don't take them into any period after September 11, 2001 or be presumed to be a dangerous, deadly terrorist. For shaving cream, the Burma-Vita Company offers Burma-Shave from 1925-1963 AD with a charming roadside verse in 45 of the 48 US states. Prior to the modern era, no one will mind too much if you don't shave at sea.
- Female hair removal is somewhat easier to find, at the expense of enduring some discomfort, Egyptian sugaring can be an involved process. Be warned that, although laser hair removal can be found in the 1960's, its impact on the skin is not considered safe by modern standards.
- Likewise, the sanitary belts offered to ladies of prior eras are primitive; travellers are best to bring their own supplies from home.
- Eyeglasses in prior eras tend to be simple monocles or hand-held magnifiers. These typically do not correct for astigmatism. The first attempts at glass contact lenses or laser eye surgery are best avoided in their original historic time periods if you value your eyesight.
- Similarly, expect a hearing aid in the pre-transistor era to be little more than a primitive speaking tube.
- A suitable walking stick can be obtained reasonably from the 18th century onward. It's also a useful item for fending off bandits, unruly locals and hawkers that won't take no for an answer!
- When visiting the past, please avoid killing off species which otherwise might have survived. The unicorn is not there to be ridden as a horse and if you don't stop loading up on tourtière meat pies on every trip through the Saguenay region, pretty soon there aren't going to be any passenger pigeons left. Dinosaur eggs are very fragile; they are not playthings for your children to climb upon or drop.
- The same considerations apply to military history. As tempting as it may be to muster a formation of Avro Arrow planes, fly them back to 1775 Boston and swoop down upon the bastards throwing the gov'nors blimey tea in the harbour, by the time travellers do this to every historical period the entire military history book just becomes a homogeneous mess of cavepersons being blown away by laser plasma weapons in every era from the stone age to the space age. That destroys the unique historical context of each individual era.
- When camped out in some earlier time period, endeavour to leave no trace. A prime directive, as it were. There were not supposed to be people, motorcars or flying saucers in the dinosaur era and the recent uncontrolled influx of tourists is severely degrading the historic integrity of the era.
- Don't try and attack any forts on the Rio San Juan. Even if you are utterly convinced that you'll become one of Britain's greatest adventurers and your name shall go down to the ages, chances are all you get from that is a bunch of sick soldiers after you had to feed the corpses of the rest to the river sharks. You might even get beat by a 17 year old girl in a nightgown
- Killing Hitler has already been tried, about 42 times. Try to think of something more original. Overall, an attempt to change history by plotting to kill rulers and leaders is not a smart idea — just ask the poor British guy named Fawkes.
- Robbing stagecoaches is highly illegal. (Conversely, visitors to the subprime mortgage collapse era in the third millennium are advised it's perfectly lawful for the bank to rob YOU.)
- Be aware of cultural sensitivity, Walking all over native 'holy land' like you own the place is not appreciated and has led to violent responses in many eras and countries. Claiming to have "discovered" entire continents which already have native people who have been living there for millennia also makes you look clueless, especially if you mislabel America as "India". Blindly treating a "Pardon?" "I don't understand you" as the name of a local feature or placing local native terms for "right here" (such as Mississippi or Mississauga) onto maps as geographic place names will show your lack of planning.
- Introducing non-native species and non-native diseases can do immeasurable ecological damage. The buffalo or North American bison are already struggling in the face of over-hunting and encroachment by settlers and railways; add imported cattle diseases and populations once sixty million strong could be slashed to less than 1000 by 1890, an impending disaster for Plains native tribes who depend on the herds.
- Modern technology is something that you might want to stow away. Taking a photo or — god forbid — video footage of anyone in the 19th century or before and showing it to them is guaranteed to scare the bejesus out of them and label you as a wizard or a witch. Remember the Inquisition!
- If joining the brief 1920s fad of touring the nation by motorcar, please do not set up picnic or camp sites in farmers' fields without permission. Municipalities are attempting to set up camp grounds which should fill the gap until private, commercial camp sites and cabin courts become commonplace in the 1930s and 1940s. In the meantime, the "tin can tourists" in their Tin Lizzie automobiles are becoming an annoyance to good horse-loving farmers and villagers.
- Inappropriate conduct around religious shrines has also caused a number of "diplomatic incidents". Changing currency in The Temple has been known to provoke an exceptionally strong reaction, although you are likely to be crucified for speaking out on these sort of religious issues.
- Some sites are also considered sensitive because they are considered war-graves, burial sites or places of the ancestors. A visit to these will almost certainly need advance permission in your own era, before practical arrangements for travel are even made.
- Be aware of the restrictions on the transfer of cultural items (US visitors from the 21st century are advised to consult: http://eca.state.gov/cultural-heritage-center/cultural-property-protection for further detail), The marble frescoes you are 'rescuing' could later become a costly and emotive matter to resolve. Even the most dubious and backward of cultural entities, such as Burbank in the late 20th century, have been known to region-code their output in a vain attempt to prevent its export.
- Various periods, including the Spanish Inquisition and the Holocaust, are infamous for their lack of respect for the diversity of the LGBTQ community. In the second millennium AD and earlier part of the third, LGBTQ issues remained a sensitive issue in some regions, despite legal recognition. If you arrive prior to the 19th century, the very word "homosexual" and indeed the concept behind it may be unknown to locals. Don't expect them to be very tolerant of public displays of affection. Notable exceptions are ancient Greece and Rome, where heterosexual public displays of affection may make you look effeminate (if male) and "improper" (if female).
- Conversely, some planets in the 25th century have four or five genders, requiring one carefully select the appropriate pronouns. The development of Morphic Adaptation Unit technology in the mid-to-late 21st century raised additional issues of etiquette. If you are unsure as to the gender presentation of an individual, politeness, courtesy and discreet inquiry are preferable options. You definitely shouldn't use the outdated colloquial term 'ladybug' when referring to the highly evolved transversalis coccinela, harmonia axyridis and related sentient species even if other travellers who should know better do so.
- When visiting Great Britain after the second world war and especially after the 1960s avoid insinuating that their great times are over or referring to an empire they once "had"; the suggestion that they might have absent-mindedly misplaced some rather large object such as Australia or Canada is boorish in the extreme. Soccer is also a dicey topic (outside of 1966 that is); in any "football riot" the fans are far more dangerous than the players. If you refer to the Falklands by anything but their British name or as anything but British, the reaction will however not be as unpleasant as it is in Argentina the other way around. Even if you drive a big car and have a rather crude sense of humour.
- If you attempt to return Angola to Portugal or Algeria to France, don't be surprised if the European Union politely declines your well-intentioned but misguided offer. There are many former colonies which have been nothing but a disappointment to their poor mother countries. You raise them, you feed them, but as soon as you turn your back you find they haven't turned into what you'd hoped they'd be.
- Don't go to war with a country without an army. As Great Britain can tell you, all that leaves you with is cut fishing nets and a lot less cod.
- "Don't mention the war!" is good advice in many otherwise peaceful areas. The same is true of Stanley Cup riots in a certain large British colony.
- The issue of mass destruction weapons is also NOT a laughing matter, and discussion of this still controversial subject is best avoided entirely. If you as a time traveller feel that you have moral responsibility to intervene, then humanitarian and moral support to those figures and organisations committed to non-violent efforts is the best option.
- Arctic and Antarctica – those places pretty much stay the same no matter what era you're visiting. Apart from the occasional secret Cold War base, that is. And on Antarctica, in addition to the ghosts of Robert Scott and his crew, The Thing might still be at large, who knows? You may even find the lost Miskatonic Expedition of 1930s!!
- ...and other next-to-impossible destinations!
- Underground Railroad, a futuristic transportation network of the 1850s in which one gets to ride to freedom on a train which runs underground. All the rage in the US antebellum era, until it was run into the ground during the Penn Central collapse of the 1970s with the remains taken over by Amtrak and VIA.
- Try visiting one of the many parallel universes or travelling through space.
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This article was last edited at 12.33pm. The day after tomorrow, next year.