Time Slows Down While Traveling

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The faster you travel, the slower time goes. Here’s why I believe time slows down while traveling.

This post was originally published in 2012. It has since been updated for accuracy of links and content.

While moving from city to city and country to country on the frenetically-paced Ultimate Train Challenge last year, time had a different meaning. As I wandered the streets of Zurich (a place I’ve now returned to for a few months), I couldn’t believe I was sick and lost in Barcelona less than 24 hours prior. It felt like days (if not weeks) had passed; there was so much water under the bridge.

I experience this whenever I travel quickly, or when there are rapid changes in my life; I might wonder why a certain person hasn’t replied to an email I sent weeks ago, only to realize it hasn’t been more than a couple of days.

Living More

If 24 hours can feel like weeks, it must mean we’re experiencing more in that stretch of time than what we normally associate with 24 hours. This jives with the increased experiential effects of fast travel or rapid life changes, where more stuff just happens.

In a new place, I notice more things. I use my senses more. I live more consciously, and I emote more intensely.

This time-stretching theory could be another reason why travel accelerates the natural progression of a romantic relationship, or gives birth to those characteristic “instant lifelong friendships” that often form on the road.

Sci-Fi and Advanced Physics

Isn’t there a space-time-travel theory that taps into the idea that time slows down depending on how quickly you move? I think those guys just might be on to something.

But enough of this physical philosophy – let’s get practical:

How does all this fast-paced time-warping travel affect my complexion? I wonder…

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6 thoughts on “Time Slows Down While Traveling”

  1. Nice to have you here in Switzerland. I like to read how you experience our country as a foreigner. Hope you will visit our capital (Bern) too. (Zurich is not so popular in the rest of Switzerland, I think Switzerland has much more to offer. Of course few people of Zurich would admit this. Rivalry…)
    Greetings from Solothurn.

  2. @Sarah – Thank you for your warm welcome! Don’t worry, I’m getting around as much as I can! (I have a post coming up next week about “traveling without moving” that will explain my movements in Switzerland a little better.

    Funny you say that Zurich isn’t so popular in the rest of Switzerland – I’m originally from Toronto, which isn’t so popular in the rest of Canada…so in some ways I feel right at home! 🙂

  3. Haha! This is awesome! It’s is fun to read about at phenomenon I’ve often experienced! 🙂

  4. That theory you’re talking about has been proven. It’s called time dilation and it affects every moving object. However, it’s only noticeable (to humans) when you approach an appreciable fraction of the speed of light – so I doubt that’s what you’re noticing on your travels 😉

  5. I noticed the same thing when I spent 6 months travelling around Europe. That 6 months seemed like years and the 6 months since I’ve been back in the States flew by like only a few weeks.

  6. @Gaby & @Nathan – Glad I’m not alone in this feeling!

    @Mike – C’mon! You don’t think the same principle could also work on a slightly smaller (more emotional, irrational) scale? 😉

    And nobody has helped me get to the real heart of the matter yet: What is all this time-warping doing to my complexion, dammit?!

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