This might be the world's biggest understatement, but if you're going to be traveling through time, it's nice to be prepared. Too many stories in the time travel canon don't allow for this sort of preparation, and their characters are weaker for it. When surprise artifact-touching or other external circumstance leads to unexpected time travel, potential chrononauts find themselves burdened with useless gadgets and bereft of vital supplies.
We've learned from our mistakes (or, more accurately, from movies where time travel goes terribly wrong), though, and this time we're going to be prepared. To watch another chrononaut navigate the nuances of time travel, tune into Syfy's 12 Monkeys tonight at 9/8c — you might even pick up some helpful lessons. In the meantime, the following tips will help you pack, plan, and prepare for your next journey across time.
A smartphone seems like the obvious choice when it comes to gadgets. Not only are they lightweight and concealable, they can function as recording devices, cameras, GPS, and flashlights. But consider this: could your smartphone be of as much use even ten short years ago? Without WiFi and data plans, there goes your Google, and unless you remembered to bring a charger, good luck finding a compatible one in the past.
With that in mind, consider hopping ten years into the future. It might seem like Bluetooth will still be everywhere, but there's no way to expect that. Something as omnipresent as wall outlets might become completely obsolete in ten years. Don't believe me?
Remember home phones?
Which brings me to another point...
You know how you leave your phone, like, everywhere? You're going to forget it somewhere in the past, if you bring it with you, and there goes your cover. Someone will find this phone, made by a company that doesn't exist yet, and it'll change the world in dozens of unforeseen ways. Or take it into the future, where your phone full of vintage-looking images are dated yesterday, and suddenly everyone's on to you. Not only is your phone full of personal information, the device will instantly betray you as some sort of prophet from another time, which is bad.
If you're on a mission, you'll need to blend in. Which means...
It can be hard to predict fashion trends. The big houses are already showing collections two years out, and it takes a while for couture to make its way through ready-to-wear and into the malls.
My suggestion? A plain hoodie. Unless you're headed way back, a hoodie is the perfect accessory to get down and dirty, staying as invisible as any wandering lunatic. Historically, hoods serve to make people look mysterious and cool — there's an entire video game franchise based on this principle. Additionally, it serves to make you look like a freaky prophet, and covers your hair when that flat iron I told you not to bring won't plug in to any of the future outlets.
Eventually, you're going to be found out. Your web of lies will begin to unravel, and you'll be left having to explain your true origins. If you're lucky, you'll fall for some bright-eyed fellow freedom fighter, and in the misty light of dawn they'll ask if you can stay like this forever, and you'll say no. Because you're from a different time. Or, if you're not so lucky, your lack of proper documentation will land you in a futuristic prison cell, and robot guards will be sent to interrogate you. Their clamps buzzing with electricity, they'll demand an explanation for your presence.
Either way, it'll go better if you've rehearsed it.
I suggest staying away from whipping out your fitness tracker and declaring yourself a technological wizard. It's become such a go-to trope that it practically screams 'crazy person who wants to be a time traveler.' You don't need to prove anything. You're the real deal.
No amount of gadget-waggling will save you from interrogators. What you need is to prove you know something about them. You don't, obviously, but neither do those guys who talk to people's dead relatives on television. With a little social engineering and a lot of portentous spookiness, you can really work that crazy prophet angle and scare your captors into releasing you.
With any luck, these tips and a little skill at improv can get you safely through your mission. It's about more than just saving your own skin, now. The human race is counting on you.
For more time travel do's and don'ts, tune in to 12 Monkeys' all new episode tonight at 9/8c.