Do’s and Don’ts of Time Travel

So, you’ve finally done it. You’ve scraped together the millions of dollars, dozens of passports, countless vaccinations and hours and hours of anachronistic language classes. The day is at long last here, and you are ready to take that romantic little vacation – through time. Yes, time travel is everything you’ve been told. You will meet exotic people, doing exotic things in exotic eras. You will get to see the “Good Old Days” when they were better known as “These Wretched Times.” But, before you hit the app button on your genius phone, there are a few things you should know:

Time Travel Don’ts

  1. Don’t shoot your grandfather. It’s tempting isn’t it? You’ve read about people who’ve done it on countless blogs and seen the very realistic, yet highly grainy videos, on YouTube. Shooting your biological grandfather isn’t just against the law, both criminal and temporal, it is considered unacceptable behavior in just about all cultures. For now, let’s put aside the thought of setting off a black hole, supernova, chain reaction, and think about this: What did your grandfather ever do to you? He produced your father or your mother, but other than that he’s been a pretty decent guy. So put away the Derringer or Blunderbuss and buy the man a drink instead.
  2. Don’t invent something that hasn’t been invented yet. You may picture yourself tooling around the streets of medieval Messina in a Maserati, but cobblestones were bumpier then than they are now and building an internal combustion engine from scratch is no walk in the park. The people indigenous to your time destination may fully understand vehicular self-propulsion or may choose to challenge you and your demon machine to a fair and speedy trial by ordeal. Instead, grab a donkey and a cart and enjoy the scenery the way it was meant to be enjoyed – very, very slowly.
  3. Don’t gamble on an event in which the outcome is documented. All the arrangements have been made. You’re traveling back to the year 1937, so that you can clean house by betting every penny you own on War Admiral to win the Triple Crown. Before we get into the matter of what you can and can’t bring into the past, there’s this whole bit of being a little too cocky. You may look at the indigenous people of your time destination and see a bunch of rubes, but regardless of when you land, the people there are probably already wise to the stranger who bets his savings on the highly improbable. They may have fallen for that trick the first time, but they have a special tree limb behind the grandstands for chiseling rats with devilish grins and a gleaming genius phone in their hand. Instead, enjoy the thrill of the race, the excitement of authentic anticipation and the knowledge that although technology and crass commercialism have screwed up a lot of really keen inventions, the horse is still as wonderfully designed now as it was ten thousand years ago.
  4. Don’t try to visit the younger “you,” looking to offer advice. More time travel vacations are ruined this way than any other. Please, no matter how much you may want to warn your younger self not to date that boy (because we all know what a no-good husband he turned out to be), not to take the long way home from school on this particular day, or to study bio-engineering instead of figure-drawing, you just know that the younger you is not going to listen to the older you regardless of your intentions. You’re just going to end up with that horrible realization that the creepy man or woman that haunted you as a child was actually the older you all along. Instead, enjoy yourself. Take yourself to the beach, or an amusement park or just buy yourself some nice clothing, and for crying out loud, get yourself a decent haircut.
  5. Don’t visit the era of rapacious, carnivorous dinosaurs. Sure, the first three seconds are filled with intense, heart-pounding excitement and jaw-dropping scenery. But the remainder of the trip will be a huge letdown.

Time Travel Do’s

  1. Do proper research on your era destination and use a reliable teleportation service to get your luggage to the right place and time. Yes, there was one thing the film, “Terminator” got right. You will arrive at your destination bearing nothing more than a 4-D passport, an ear to ear grin and your birthday suit. Since, it’s highly unlikely you’ll find a passing street punk or village idiot you can overpower for their wardrobe, make certain that your luggage arrives at your destination before you do. There’s nothing more embarrassing than showing up for the Spanish Inquisition the way that God intended you to.
  2. Do go out of your way to meet the not-so-famous. So, you went to 1934 Nuremburg and you didn’t see Hitler? Or Joan of Arc was a bit tied up on the day you chose to visit? Perhaps, Confucius did have a throbbing headache and was forced to spend the rest of the afternoon trying to sleep it off. Experiencing the past is more than just meeting the people you’ve read about in history books. Did you know that the vast majority of human endeavors throughout history involved moving a giant pile of manure from one end of a field to another? Remarkable how little has changed. Don’t waste your hard-earned vacation chasing down famous figures; converse with a cobbler, trade fish tales with a fishmonger or make pleasantries with a peasant. A lot of great things happened while most of mankind was sitting on its ass. 
  3. Do purchase adequate time travelers insurance. Even the best time apps on the best genius phones can sometimes get their wires crossed; particularly as you make the tricky transition from early 21st century technology to late 18th. Time travelers insurance covers sticky instances where you might have a breakdown in a parallel universe and meet your more handsome and successful self completely by accident. Time travelers insurance can also help you out of a bind; say if you land in a 10th century Magyar village beset by bubonic plague rather than that pristine pre-contact tropical island in the middle of the south Pacific. And if you end up having your identity stolen in some remote place and time, time travelers insurance can help you recover your identity or better yet give you someone else’s entirely—and no one will be the wiser.
  4. Do hand a handkerchief to a butterfly if you’re in the Brazilian jungle and she appears ready to sneeze. You have no idea how many countless wars and millions of lives you can save just by performing the most mundane of tasks. It’s amazing how much butterflies can change the course of time and history. It’s completely disproportionate to their size and strength.
  5. Do enjoy yourself! You saved up long and hard for most of your life, or if you played your cards right, through several lives, just for this special holiday. Those app minutes will tick by quickly as your service fee increases at an exponential rate—so make the most out your minutes. Meet some really old people, go to places that don’t exist anymore, try cuisines that disappeared eons ago and make sketches, lots of sketches. You can’t take photographs, but tattoo artists are always easy to find no matter the place or time. But most of all, remember to treat your ancestors with respect. The future is filled with better time machines.