Packing for a trip through time

March 9, 2012 — 20 Comments

I would love nothing more than to have a time machine so I could visit various places in different centuries, witness particular events, meet certain people, etc etc etc.

But how would you pack for such a trip? And what other preparations would be required? You’d have to prepare a lot in advance. And some destinations would require more planning than others.

For instance, if you wanted to visit Salem during the witch trials (although I’m not sure why you would want to), you’d obviously have to have clothing and equipment that were appropriate to the period. You’d have to make sure you had the right hairstyle, and you’d have to have a fluency in the English that was spoken during the 1690s. And of course you’d need a thorough understanding of the social and religions customs so you could blend in and not attract attention with any peculiar behavior. Because there’s one thing worse than being pegged as a tourist, and that’s being pegged as a witch.

In any case, here’s just some of what you would need to enjoy your trip safely.

Medicine for stomach aches and other gastrointestinal problems. Whether you’re having olives and wine in ancient Rome or enjoying a huge Victorian meal with 12 courses, you might have some digestive difficulties. Or you might find that the meat you ate was rotten or not completely cooked. And that can put a damper on any vacation.

Vaccinations against pretty much everything. No matter where you travel, you’re going to be in a cesspool of ick. Things like smallpox, yellow fever, measles, and typhus were everywhere. Sometimes you only worried about them during an epidemic, but in a lot of areas these diseases were endemic and posed a risk at any given time.

An arsenal of antibiotics. See “cesspool of ick” above. Plague, tuberculosis, typhoid, scarlet fever, cholera, and all kinds of other bacteria whirling around waiting to infect some unsuspecting time traveler.

(For the gentlemen) An era-appropriate condom or two. You’re on vacation, and you might meet some hot chicks that you’d like to get to know better. Maybe you always wanted to have your way with an 18th-century French courtesan. Or a Victorian trollop. Technically, you could leave all kinds of fair maidens with child without any repercussions. But condoms have been in use since the 16th century, so it would probably be a good idea to have one made that looks like the ones in use at your destination. Also, see above for “cesspool of ick.”

(For the ladies) Some sort of non-detectable birth control. Let’s say that image from “Pride and Prejudice” of Colin Firth in the wet shirt is etched on your retinas. If you were to visit England in 1810, you might find many gentlemen to your liking. In which case, you might want to get busy with some of them. But even if you’re visiting an age where condoms were in use, you can’t exactly whip one out from under your petticoats—women didn’t do that unless they were working girls. And you’d have a lot of explaining to do with a diaphragm or a sponge. Here’s where the Pill, an IUD, or hormonal injections come in handy, because they’re completely invisible. So you can have your way with your new friends, free of the risk of getting knocked up with a mixed-century child.

It would also be helpful to find some way of deadening your olfactory nerves during your trip. People and places were pretty ripe. The combo of body odor, human and animal waste, dead bodies, rotting food, and other unseemly aromas would probably be enough to make most of us keel over.

And you might want to leave your iPod, cell phone, and laptop at home.

20 responses to Packing for a trip through time


    So what you’re telling me is there’s a difference between typhus and typhoid?

    And can I come back from my visit or am I stuck there? Cuz that may have an impact on my needs for birth control, if you catch my drift.



    There is indeed a difference between the two diseases. But more importantly, of course you can come back from your visit to re-supply, dear.



    This is advice I actually needed for when I can time tavel, because I am going to go back in time and do so many dudes.



      Hellz yeah, La La. What say you and I take a road trip? We can drop you off in 1939 to see Pierce, and I’ll continue on down to 1840 to get me some Robert Cornelius. From there we can scope out the talent wherever you want—gladiators in Rome, knights in the Middle Ages, etc. Or we can just randomly scour the centuries for hot ass. I vote for c) All of the above.


    AgrippingLife June 7, 2012 at 11:22 am

    I like the way you girls think. With our 21st century female wiles We can divide and conquer. I might also add a Viking or Norseman to the mix, ya know, just for variety sake?



    the mere mention of Colin Firth has me rummaging a round my DVD collection so I can watch him in all his glory!! What a gorgeous man… if I was going back in time… I would dye my hair blonde and go back to the 60’s enter into a miss world,miss universe type competition and bags myself a few wonderful weeks with George Best……



      George Best—he was pretty ruggedly handsome back in the day, wasn’t he. Shame about him, poor guy. Then yes, you must join us on our trip and we’ll drop you off in Manchester during the 60s!



        Excellent. I am just practising my winners speech. if I am going back and have to take part in one of these contests (only way to get the attention of George) I damn well am going to win! I must also practise some groovy dance moves for the celebrations after!



    Great! I think of this from time to time how it must have been back where…



    Love it!!! I am a huge historical fiction nerd, and have always wished I could “go back”. Good tip on the birth control, a mixed century child would grow up so confused. . .



    Lots of antibiotics. Something most people wouldn’t think about. Of course, it would be pretty hard to be immunized against all the strains of diseases they had back then, so yes, antibiotics and a healthy immune system. Great post!


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