So you want to time travel! Congratulations. You’re about to embark on an exciting journey, and I’ll bet you think you’re prepared. You know not to do the following things:
- Kill your grandmother
- Become your own grandmother
Otherwise, you figure, you’ll be set.
You watch Back to the Future and read a little Audrey Niffenegger, and you think you know everything. Have you considered that, in the wrong historical moment, you could be picked apart by lions for the amusement of a coliseum, or die gasping and spitting from cholera?
It’s time to get serious. Here are the most important considerations if you attempt time travel.
#1: STAY ALIVE
Don’t be a Christian in ancient Rome, a Muslim during the Crusades, a Native American when colonialists come knocking, or a smart woman anytime the religious leaders get that witch-burning glint in their eye. In fact, if you insist on being a smart woman, you will have to be extremely careful and take particular precautions. (See #4)
Go where you can blend in and be a member of the ethnic group in power.
#2: PICK YOUR HOME WISELY
Where you land is essentially where you will stay. Choose carefully. First, go for a coast. Remember, for most of history, people didn’t have TVs, the Internet, or even electricity, which means if you don’t want to spend the hours from 6:00 PM to 6:00 AM listening to docile female relatives play the piano, you need to go where the fun is.
The fun comes on ships. So, by the way, do the cute sailors. Stick to port cities. (See #3.)
#3: THINK ABOUT THE FOOD
Got gruel? This is another reason to put down stakes near the beach: a more varied diet, one with, hopefully, spices, salt, and, you know, protein. People died of a lot of things in the past—snakebites, toothaches, war—but a lot of them most have dropped from the boredom of eating the same damn thing every day. Make sure, wherever you’re going, that you’ll have more than potatoes and cabbage.
#4: PROTECT YOURSELF
Bring, in alphabetical order:
- Britta filters. Some people throw corpses in the river upstream from you (for convenience, or for fun! [Corpse racing—is it really any weirder than The Bachelor?]). Always clean your drinking water, or else do as the locals do: Stick to beer.
- Birth-control pills. This is where Seasonale™ really comes in handy. You think they have tampons in the past? No, they strap themselves into homemade diapers made of rags and keep tilling the fields while they bleed. Don’t be shark-bait. Reduce the number of your periods as much as you can. Equally important: Don’t get pregnant. Childbirth was the leading cause of death for women until, basically, yesterday.
- Condoms! People were cesspools of communicable disease. A condom a lay keeps the syphilis away.
- A lighter.
- Money. Gold is good. Everyone likes gold, especially the higher ups you may need to bribe.
- Suntan lotion for your delicate skin.
- A Taser is useful if the locals get grabby, either of your purse or of your person. Though if you’re comfortable with firearms, you might want to bring a small pistol instead, because those don’t need recharging.
- Vitamin C for scurvy.
#5: HAVE FUN!
Enjoy wearing those awesome, old-timey dresses.