What’s the Best Way to Time Travel?

In a previous post, I went on about X-Men: Days of Future Past and their use of time travel.  I came up with as many paradoxes or plot holes I could think of to make my points. I thought about movies and TV shows that used time travel like Terminator, Doctor Who, Back To the Future, Hot Tub Time Machine, Austin Powers 2, and Bill & Ted’s Excellent & Bogus Adventure.  Then I wondered “Which way is the best for time travel?”

Comparing all six would be time consuming, so we need to trim the list down.  Austin Powers and Bill & Ted  are out since there’s already a time traveling car and phone booth with Back To The Future and Doctor Who. Taking Bill and Ted off was difficult as the Wild Stallions did travel through Heaven and Hell to save the world, but their phone booth  is cramped and probably smells like time travelers nacho-feet and ass.

That leaves Terminator, Doctor Who, BTTF, and HTTM.

The hot tub is the newest of the four time travel devices, so we’ll start there first.

Since hot tubs vary in capacity, the number of companions you have depends on the tub size and how many people you know. It helps if they’re okay with hot tubs since you’re asking them to be slow cooked in a cesspool of human filth. It helps if they’re willing to get into said hot tub with YOU as well.

four guys looking at a hot tub time machine

Nothing but a bubbling bucket of human time sauce

While offering a round trip experience, it’s not ideal for more than one trip to the past. There’s no user interface to control when (or where) you go, opting more for the decade you happen to be reminiscing about. In the movie, the friends are talking about one specific era, the 1980s.  What happens when everyone’s talking about a different decade? Will it send each person back to what they were talking about or does the hot tub require everyone to talk about the same time to work?

Since there’s no control panel, the time period and location is a crap shoot.  What if the hot tub takes you to a traumatic moment you’ve blocked out? Revisiting the event, even if you can change it, will still leave you scared.

Don’t forget hot tubs are a combination of water, electricity and you. Properly set up and used for normal purposes, hot tubs are fine (minus the human cesspool bit). But you’re pouring energy drinks on it to get back to high school to kick Bobby Richardson’s ass like you should have. Now you’re running the risk of electrocuting yourself and the poor bastards with you. Keep that in mind when you’re standing knee deep in 140 degree water and pouring synthetic bull piss on the hot tub’s control panel.

While better than no time travel at all, the hot tub isn’t, nor should it be, your first choice given the opportunity since there is no control over the time, date or year you’ll be visiting. There’s also no control over clothing either, as you’re sent back with what you’re wearing or not wearing.

Honestly, if you’re okay with naked time traveling, then

Terminator might be for you.

Static cling is an issue.

Static cling is an issue.

Terminator doesn’t focus on time travel like the other’s in this list, but it’s still an important part of the stories. Going back in time the Terminator way, surrounded by a huge ball of blue lightning is so awesome, it belongs on a rock album cover.  But it cover comes with some unfavorable situations.

First off, anyone using this way will be buck-ass naked when they get to wherever they’re going. The nudity makes sense as we’re all born into this world naked, so why wouldn’t a time traveler be nude when they’re born into a different era.  Being naked is fine if you’re in the 1 percent of people with bodies like a god or goddess.


But you and me? We’re more likely to in a National Geographic than Playboy.  Most of us are very uncomfortable about nudity  in public. Showing up in a new time with no money and no clothes may be enough to turn anyone away from this method.

Say you’re an exhibitionist and the public nudity does it for you. That’s fine. Different strokes for different folks. But remember the time travel in Terminator is a one-way trip. Once you leave this year and go back, you’re done. Since we don’t see how it’s specifically done, it’s impossible to gauge how accurate the technology is. It’s probably more accurate than a hot tub, but I’m wondering if it’s possible to get more specific than the year. Can they go down to farther than just the day or year? I don’t think they can as it’s the only explanation as to why Skynet didn’t send another Terminator for Sarah Connor after she escaped the first assassination attempt.

Also, this specific technology doesn’t happen without the singularity. For those too lazy to click and read that, the singularity is where technology becomes so advanced, it starts to answer the question of how to make technology better. In Terminator terms, it’s when Skynet became self-aware. In the real world, that’s when your cell phone controlled washer and dryer stops eating your socks and starts eating your children.

If you are okay with going on a one-way adventure from a post-singularity reality and walking around naked in a new city, be my guest. For those of us wanting to wear clothing, then the blue ball of electricity isn’t the way.  Instead of being curled up in a blue ball of future lightning, you’d rather just hop in a car, play Huey Lewis and go, then check out the DeLorean.

The DeLorean

If you're going to time travel, why not do it in style?

If you’re going to time travel, why not do it in style?

Ah yes, the DeLorean. This car is synonymous with doors opening up, Huey Lewis & The News, and a mad scientist yelling: “Great Scott!” The only way this car is more 80s is if Ferris Buller drove it with Ghostbusters decals on the hood. Hell, let’s throw that light from Kit on the front and call it a day.

We have two options for the DeLorean.

Both allow for travel to the pastand  future.  But the older model requires plutonium (or a lightning strike) to generate 1.21 gigawatts to go through time. Neither fuel sources are available at the local gas station.

The second DeLorean has key upgrades regarding fuel and mobility. With the addition of Mr. Fusion, you don’t need  plutonium rods or lightning. Mr. Fusion can turn garbage into nuclear fuel and produce the required 1.21 gigawatts. Doc Brown added the flying ability, so you don’t need any straightaways to get to speed.

If you didn’t notice from the movies, there’s a reason all three movies take place in Hill Valley. The DeLorean can’t change the location like it can change time. If you wanted to see a specific area, say Ancient Rome, then you’re road tripping in a time traveling machine. The trip isn’t cheap since the DeLorean had shitty gas mileage. I’d  argue that time travel would drop the DeLorean’s fuel economy further.

Flying wouldn’t help here. You’re in present day Seattle and want to re-watch the Bronco’s soul-crushing defeat at the Super Bowl.  Flying from Seattle to New York in the DeLorean would be a bad idea.You’re flying an unlicensed DeLorean and violating some law I’m too lazy to look up.  NORAD would force you to land or get shot down.

What would help is if there was a time traveling machine that would leave present day Seattle and arrive in New York City on game day.  A machine like…


Doctor Who's blue TARDIS

Companion not included.

The Doctor’s big blue box.

It’s bigger on the inside. It can pull planets across the galaxy.

It can visit any point in time and any place in the universe.

It has enough horsepower to cause the end of the world when it explodes.

It has a pool and a library.

And this wonderful piece time traveling machinery can be yours, but before you hop in that box realize that:

If there’s labels on the control panel, which I’m guessing there’s not, then it’s in an alien language. It may take some time to figure out what all those knobs and levers do. But once you figure it, you’ll be fine. Just remember not to leave the brakes on.


If you have Gallifreyan tech, you’re going to deal with some of their enemies as well.  Sure, none of the Doctor’s villains are as scary as a machine uprising, but they’re not friendly either. During your jaunt in the TARDIS, you come across some Daleks, Cybermen, Weeping Angels and a list of bad guys so long, it has its own Wikipedia entry.

Of course, if there’s Daleks, Angels and Cybermen, then there’s the Doctor and you’re the companion. A good, but dangerous, spot to be in. Plenty of people die on that show all the time. The Doctor caused the volcanic explosion at Pompeii. There’s the folks that died in the Cyberman/Dalek war.  Do you want to risk being of the Doctor’s companions?  It’s dangerous and your departure could be far from ideal.


Everyone has different thoughts on this, but I say Doctor Who’s TARDIS wins. It fits more people than the hot tub and you don’t sit in a human cesspool of time sauce.  It’s better than Terminator’s blue electric ball as the TARDIS offers a return trip.  The DeLorean is beat since the TARDIS probably has a better sound system.

Or we could compromise…

A DeLorean Tardis

A fair compromise.


Thoughts, questions, comments, concerns or sarcastic remarks?

Leave them in the comments section.

About the author

"Talks about geek/nerd things, college football, and online marketing. According to my wife, I'm goofy and awkward. I try to wordsmith things."- My Twitter Bio