If you could time travel, where would you go?

By Caitlin Kelly


Time to let go, at last

Of all the super-powers — flight, amazing strength, invisibility — the ability to travel through time has always fascinated me.


My home is filled with items from the past: rush-seated wooden chairs from the 19th century; scraps of early textiles, pieces of porcelain from the 1700s , and I dream of owning an ancient Roman, Greek or Egyptian object — a coin or statue or piece of bronze or glass.

One of the attractions of the HBO series Game of Thrones — despite its gore! — is the feeling of losing myself in a long-ago, far-away world, filled with thrones and knights and huge stone castles.

Of course, time travel to any period deep in our past also means losing cool contemporary stuff like antibiotics, general anesthesia, a woman’s right to vote and own property, reliable, safe contraception…oh, and telephones, television, cars and computers…

But — riding in a sedan chair! A barge down the Nile! Doing the Charleston! Watching the Wright Brothers try out their first aircraft at Kitty Hawk!

(True, I don’t long to be a mud-covered serf in some filthy field. Have to be a little specific about this stuff.)


If I could time-travel, some of the times and places I’d like to (safely!) visit:

Paris, pre/during/post Revolution

medieval England

ancient Egypt

London, circa 1800

Paris, 1920s

Canada, 1700s

The U.S. during World War II when women took over “men’s work” in the factories

I have less curiosity, oddly perhaps, about the future.

I’d also like to go back to Rathmullan, Co. Donegal, and meet my paternal great-grandfather, who taught there in a one-room schoolhouse I visited and where I even saw his handwriting in its ancient ledgers. And to turn-of-the-century Chicago to meet my maternal great-grand-father Louis Stumer, who helped develop a gorgeous white office building in 1912, still standing downtown, the North American Building.

How unlike one another they were, and yet I’ve got bits of both of them, intellectually and genetically.

If you’ve never seen the fantastic film 1981 British film Time Bandits, check it out! So fun.

I enjoyed The Time Traveler’s Wife as a book, less so as a film.

One of my favorite stories by legendary American writer Ray Bradbury is about time travel, A Sound of Thunder. It’s so eerie and so smart, first published in 1952. I read it when I was 12 — decades ago — and have never forgotten it! It’s the most re-published science fiction story ever, according to Wikipedia.

Here’s a fun post by fellow writer Leslie Lang, with links to some great books on the topic.

Where would you go and why?

37 thoughts on “If you could time travel, where would you go?

  1. This was fun to read, Caitlin! I have some ancestors I would love to meet, too. And I have to check out “A Sound of Thunder” – have never read it, somehow. Fun read. Thanks for the link.

  2. Ah yes a great thought provoker. Firstly, I want to touch base on the superpower subject and admit that if I was to choose one, it would be the ability to roll my R’s.
    As for time travel, I would start by going back to the agricultural revolution. Imagine that. I’d give them a few pointers, perhaps perceive myself as a god without an agenda. Kick start culture with a 100% equality mindset and then watch what transpires.
    Renaissance Italy, Silk Road boom during the mongol empire, Australian colonisation (my nationality, a bloody past here that I would aggressively try to change).

    1. Interesting — so clearly not a passive observer! You MUST read Bradbury’s story then, as it tells a powerful tale about the tiniest man-made change in history — and what it causes.

      1. I’m gathering the butterfly effect is a spin off – showing my generation here but I live the concept. I will definitley have a read!

  3. i’ve always been fascinated by the idea of time travel. the concepts of space and time and the movement within and through them. i loved the movie ‘sliding doors’ which was not about time travel exactly, but did present an interesting concept in this arena. i loved ‘time travelers wife’ too, and i’ve never heard of that ray bradbury story and i’ll make sure to check it out. i read ‘something wicked this way comes’ as a young girl and have never forgotten it.

    as for me, i’d imagine that i’d like to visit renaissance/medieval england or victorian america. both would have been a hard time to be a female, but for some reason i am constantly drawn to and fascinated by all things of those times and places.

  4. Wow, what a great question for the Doctor Who fan in me. Well, I would certainly love to visit Victorian England and maybe witness D-Day. And I’m sure I’d have a blast in almost any era of Japan. And I would love to have met the Lubavitch Rebbe and Shri Mataji Nirmala Devi, a famous Hasidic rabbi and the founder of Sahaja Yoga, respectively, while they were still alive.

  5. Corfu Caitlin… I’d want to meet a young Gerald Durrell as he discovers the critters and environment that that place was in that time. Sunday Island too – in the Kimberley – NW Western Australia… where my mother’s ‘mob’ come from and to juxtapose this some, the Irish equivalant that is where my father’s side hails from. I often wonder how the two might compare in some ways – what was similar and what was different. Hope all is well over your way mate… it’s been awhile since I got active – so I’m trying ot do so slowly. Cheers… πŸ˜‰

    1. Belongum!!!! Have missed you, mate. πŸ™‚

      Ooooh, yes, to Corfu and Durrell. Imagine sitting at the dinner table when Larry opens the matchbox…

      So glad to hear from you again.

  6. Have you ever watched Timeline? I like to show it when we study the Middle Ages. Being a Modern and being transported to the age of knights isn’t for everybody!

      1. It’s the movie version of Crichton’s novel. Came out a few years back and stars Gerald Butler. I watch it just for having Gerry B. πŸ‘Œ

  7. I agree – it would be fascinating to travel to 1920s Paris! My current novel is set during that time period so it would be a good opportunity for research. πŸ™‚

    I’d also be interested in traveling with Lewis & Clark on their journey across the US. A difficult journey to be sure, but amazing discoveries and sights to behold.

  8. I am writing a monthly post on blogs I enjoy reading…and yours is one of them. I would appreciate if you would give me a one or two sentence quote about your blog, that I would include in my post. Thanks and Cheers! I would like to publish the post in about one weeks time.

    1. Gerri, thanks! That’s so kind of you…

      Um…tongue-tied. πŸ™‚

      Broadside, at its best, is a party. My goal is to invite fun, smart, curious readers into a virtual living room (no feet on the furniture!) for lively conversation. With readers ranging from Belongum, an aboriginal man in Australia to Katharina, a teacher in Germany, to Elizazbeth, living in a tiny Cornish town, I look forward to hearing their insights and adventures. I’m moved by what I learn there, and always looks forward to comments.

  9. I’ll join you in Paris 1920s. Odd, sometimes a place holds a feeling for us and we don’t know why. If you believe in reincarnation, that’s one explanation. Today in NYC and it feels very much like home every time I go . . . for no explicable reason.

  10. There are so MANY periods of history that fascinate me that I’d probably have to visit a dozen or more times and places – always assuming I didn’t accidentally tread on a butterfly (that has to be one of my favourite time travel stories too). Go to Paris 1920s and meet Hemingway? Watch HMS Dreadnought launch in 1905? Check out the games in ancient Rome? You betcha.

    In a sense, I’ve already ‘time travelled’ to one of my favourite periods – the deco era of the 1930s. My home town, Napier, NZ, holds an annual celebration of the era – really, an excuse to party – pivoting not around how things really were in the 1930s (hard, poor, cold, hungry) but as we want them to be (Hollywood, furs, champagne, luxury cars, partying). all in good fun. This year, the whole downtown area was jammed with hundreds of 1930s-era cars and hundreds of people dressed up in cloche hats, Zoot suits – an extraordinary collection. Anybody might have thought the place was a Golden Age movie set. Wonderful.

    1. Wow. Now I have to get there for one of those! What an amazing scene that must be!

      So cool that you — the historian! — know that wonderful story. I wrote Bradbury a fan letter when I was 12, and he wrote me back. I still have that postcard. Means the world to me.

      1. I did science (physics, mostly) and was a sci-fi fan long before I was bitten by the history bug! Bradbury was a wonderful writer. I’d class him, along with Heinlein, as a great American author of the twentieth century by any measure.

      2. Indeed!

        His stories are really unforgettable decades after you read them. I also read them at a highly impressionable age — 12 or 13. His writing and that of Gerald Durrell made me want to become a writer, even though their skill intimidated me.

  11. davidjrogersftw

    All the places and times you have in mind are wonderful, romantic, and exciting to think about. Now if I were to pick one place to travel to it would be downstairs to my recliner so that I might read a good book I just picked up. But I have writing to do that I’m also looking forward to and a schedule to keep that has been in effect for a long time and has become second nature to me, as I ‘m sure your writing has to you. Happy traveling.

  12. davidjrogersftw

    Writing is my profession–nonfiction, fiction, memoir, poetry–and that’s why I enjoy seeing writer’s posts so much. I am enamored of artists and am writing a book about them–writers,painters, actors, dancers, directors, etc,–and of how they became artists. I find them so appealing because they are extraordinary models of human effort and excellence–the most prodigious and devoted and sometimes the most fulfilled workers in the world. They will sacrifice anything–anything–for their work, even security, even peace of mind. I find in what you and your audience have to say a kind of camaradarie and many stimulating ideas.

    1. Your book should be very interesting! Do you have a publisher and pub. date? I’d love to read it…process really fascinates me.

      People who are creative/artists make little sense to others because we’ll persist, as you know, in the face of crushing rejection, crap pay and extreme difficulty. If it’s what you feel called to do, literally, as your vocation, other choices feel…wrong. Even when, of course, they offer any/more security or prestige or $$$$$. It sounds pretentious, but if you turn your back on your true talent, I think you do yourself, and the world, a disservice. We are blessed if we have that gift and commitment to it.

      1. davidjrogersftw

        You’re right, of course. And thanks for your ideas. I agree that in a very real way, artists feel unusual, and it is because they are unusual. How many people who are not artists know what it is like to be driven to create, whatever the obstacles? Artists need a great deal of courage and audacity in order to exercise their wonderful talents. Perhaps my current publisher will be interested in the book, but I have no pub date in mind. Still researching and still formulating my approach to the material, which is voluminous. One possibility is to make it a creative/self-improvement book on the order of my Fighting To Win: Samurai Techniques for Your Work and Life. That book–very successful–shows people in a practical way how to overcome obstacles such as fear, fear of taking risks,self doubt, and hesitation so they may reach their goals and purposes. That information is pertinent to artists. Thanks very much for your interest and encouragement.

      2. I think it’s a difficult issue to discuss — people need talent (yes, really), not just drive or lack of fear. Then you need to have a ferocious amount of drive and self-discipline on top of that.

  13. davidjrogersftw

    I too think artists need talent–and an abundance of it to be great–as well as the ability to overcome impediments to fully exercising their talent. There are writers who have the talent to write great works, but because they hear that it is very hard to get published they doubt themselves and give up and we never see the wonderful works they might have produced. It’s a shame, But it happens often…

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