Time travel supplies

I’m planning a European vacation to the year 1000. My medieval Latin is passable. I can only carry about twenty extra pounds of stuff with me in my backpack and I don’t have a lot of money in my budget. What should I bring along to pay for my trip? I thought about buying a load of cheap, solar-powered calculators but that might get me burned at the stake. How about a case of ball-point pens? Any other suggestions?

Take a load of medicines.

Definitely need some for myself, but medicine might not make a good currency - a little hard to explain.

I don’t know, I think about 20 lbs of antibotics would be worth a lot once you cured one person with them.

I’d think salt, pepper, other spices and gold might be useful.

a small firearm and some extra ammo ought to make an impression.

Toilet paper.

Lab-created gemstones, silver, and pepper. Don’t take ground pepper, take the peppercorns. Between these three items, you should be able to barter for just about anything. Maybe you could take some paper wrapped packages of sugar, too.

Take antibiotics, water purifying tablets, and antidiarrhea medicine for yourself, along with some aspirin. Maybe take some soap, too.

I thought of taking a taser, for protection, but that might get you burned at the stake, or some similarly unpleasant early death.

How long are you staying? Are you trying to make a profit on this trip, or just trying to have some traveling money?

A Taser would be even more impressive (though you might need a good power source to keep using it).
Safety not guaranteed.

Brilliant! Both salt and pepper would be highly valued by the monied classes, and useful as a trade item.

At least until you fall asleep.

I’d definitely bring a water purifier, some antibiotics (for personal use), and a camera. But then, if I were going to hop in a telephone booth and go time touristing I’d go to Carthage, Corinth, Samarkand, Thebes, or Classical Athens before going to Western, Central, or Northern Europe.


Zippo lighters.

Leave the iPhone behind.

Those little LED flashlights and keyring compasses you get from REI, bring dozens of them. Also when showing them how to use these items, introduce uneccesary steps and never repeat the same steps in the same order so they will think they need to keep you alive.

Some blocks of fine fabric dye. Perfumed balm/salve for the ladies. Sewing needles. Pocket mirrors.

Be sure to get the uniform fine white salt, not the large-grain colored stuff that costs so much more now. The uniform fine white salt is going to be more valuable where you’re going.

Sugar would also be valuable.

Bring knowledge. There were certain things they were obsessive about at the time. How to produce reliably high quality corned gunpowder, for example. How to produce wootz (i.e. damascus) steel. How to consistently produce good quality steel of any kind in quantity, for that matter.
Typically, the ruling class of the period were more interested in becoming more wealthy and powerful than they were in simply owning some wonderful object.

Wasn’t aluminum worth a bunch of dough back then? Or did no one care about it yet? What’s 20# of empty soda cans look like?

Aluminum was essentially unknown outside of arcane geology until the 1800s, due to its rare natural occurrence in pure form and the difficulty in refining it. Also, it would have relatively little practical use (too weak in unalloyed state for structure, to soft for weapons, too reactive for cooking) at circa 1000 CE. The knowledge of how to alloy and temper steel, however, would be of substantial use to a warlord or general, as superior weapon strength, toughness, and hardness (sharpenability) would give the edge (pun intended) to his troops. A working knowledge of practical chemistry would also be somewhat useful; however, you’d also need to develop (or bring with you) tempered and purified ceramics and glassware to produce refined chemicals in order to make any stable explosive compounds. A more useful skill would be knowledge of machines and mechanics that could be built from indigenous materials.

However, if you prove to be too useful to a warmonger, he’s probably not going to let you tool around much. If the idea is a vacation rather than permanent residence, you should consider self-sufficiency and trade goods over enduring skills.


I thought no one nowadays knows how they made damascus steel. Now, if you could bring a knowledgable smith back with you today…

Make sure you do some pre-emptive vaccinations.

Do we know what medieval Latin sounded like? Could you really be confident that your pronunciation would be correct?