How to Time Travel

I once met a traveler named Charlie. He came up to me and said something I will never forget. He said,

“Brian, I travel because it makes my life seem longer.”

His statement perplexed me, so I asked him to explain. He continued,

“When I am on my death bed, I want to look back at my life, and have all these vivid memories. I want them to be full and different every single day.”

I thought about this. Then I thought about my childhood. It turns out that I rode the bus to school nearly 200 days a year for more than 10 years. That’s 2,000 days. I don’t remember most of those days. They blur together.

But when I was a child, once a year, we would take a family vacation. I remember every single one of these. The first one was to St Louis. It was the first time I was on an airplane. My sister was maybe 2 or 3 years old. I remember her in her little stroller.

Each year we took a trip. Dallas. Baltimore. Chicago. Seattle. When I look back on my life and the experiences I have had, I think back to these journeys. I remember every one of them. They are vivid life experiences that I shared with the people I care about. My life is longer because of the journeys I have taken.

Me (left) with my little sister and mom on one of our vacations many years ago.

Repetition doesn’t create memories. New experiences do. Our perception of time is really driven by our perception of the unfamiliar, vivid and new. Of course, it turns out time slows down the most during life threatening experiences. [1] A safer way to slow down time is to travel. Travel is a new experience that can transport you out of your everyday routine to create memories with the ones you love.

As we enter the holiday season I hope you get a chance to spend time with the people you care about. And if you can, travel with them.

There is an old saying that “life is a journey.” In fact, life is many journeys. The more of them you take, the longer it will seem.


[1] This is a fascinating New Yorker article profiling the research of Neuroscientist David Eagleman, who has studied our perception of time, and why it seems to slow down or speed up.