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Blog > January Writing Prompt: A trip in a time machine


The writing prompts invite postcrossers to write about a different topic on their postcards’ messages every month. These are just suggestions though — if you already know what you want to write about, or the recipient gives you some pointers, that’s great too!

We have a forum topic for people to contribute writing prompt suggestions for us, Jane (aka MostlyMess) suggested a classic conundrum: if you had a time machine, what time period would you visit, and why?

In January, tell us about the time period you’d visit if you had a time machine.

For me, it’s pretty difficult to say! I have a lot of questions first: how long would I have to stay? Would I be able to interact with anything, and if so, am I well disguised? You can see I have a practical sort of attitude to the problem… But if I’m just daydreaming, and I could choose to go to any time period as an observer (and return whenever I choose), then there’s one obvious answer for me. I want to see dinosaurs!

A triceratops toy

My favourite dinosaurs are probably ceratopsians (like Triceratops) and stegosaurs. Those two genera of dinosaurs never met, unfortunately, so I’d have to pick just one… If I want to see Triceratops, looks like I’m headed to the Late Cretaceous! I’d probably have to be very lucky to catch a glimpse, but hopefully my time machine would guide me to the right spot.

If forced to pick an era of human history, I’d quite like to go wander around Castell Coch (my favourite castle) when it was newly decorated by William Burges, and no one could stop me wandering into every room!

How about you? Would you join me on a trek back into the Cretaceous, or are you happy with human history? Is there a place you want to visit at a specific time, or something you’d like to find out? Let us know in the comments here, or write about it in your postcards this month (or both!).

44 comments so far

Toome2, Netherlands
Funny, but this is one of my questions too. If I had a time machine, I would love to travel back for a meeting with my grandparents I never meet. Asking questions about there lives in the East and know how they feel going back to the Netherlands after the War.
ruthkepler, United States of America
I first was going to write that I'd go back to my hometown in the US when I was 5 or so to see how it compares to my memories. That may not be the spirit of the question though. I love England, so I'll choose living in London around 1966; a nice buzz going on there then.
sunshine_jumbo, Canada
Would like to see my ancestors from France in 1600 and there travel to new France
Jupiter, Brazil
I'd travel to ROMAN EMPIRE!!!
HookedonPostcards, Canada
A terrific question. A challenging question.
As a woman, there is no time in history that was welcoming or safe for girls and women. Traditionally: property of men.
Women and children were not 'given' 'rights' until the early 19th century. And only minor rights and only in some places.
On the global scale, things start to improve - a little - in the early 20th Century.
And still, in the 21st Century, many children and women are not safe, do not have access to education, do not have freedom to choose for themselves, and do not have the same opportunities as their male counterparts.
So, I ask myself: would I go to a historical point in time where I could play a role to effect change? Or, would travel to the future to have the opportunity to look back to see where the lives of children and women are in the future, and figure out what I could do now to help improve the lives of children and women.
Probably, go to the future, then return to work from the present with 'future knowledge'.
beesknees, United States of America
I would go back in time to see when life started
teicher, Germany
I would love to be a guest in the Age of Dinosaurs. But how should I protect myself from these gigantic carnivores? Perhaps in a very stable steel cage. And how should I get from one place to another? Maybe with a tank on a dinosaur path? Actually nothing could happen to me in a tank. But what, if a dinosaur got so mad at me that it knocked over my tank? - I think I'd rather stay and enjoy lizards - with a magnifying glass.
DarciNZ, New Zealand
Exciting! I would like to go to Rotorua, New Zealand in the year 1885 to see the Pink and White Terraces, the "eighth wonder of the world" at the time. Then in 1886 Mt Tarawera erupted and buried the beautiful terraces underwater. People used to go and bathe in them as they were mineral-rich thermal pools; it would have been marvelous!!
LizMcArthur, Canada
I would like to go 30 minutes before a lot of people have made the final decision to take their own life. I would like to touch the hurt and the abandoned before they die- give them hope. I would like to appear at the time an innocent child is hurt and instead, take them home and raise them with love.
Fazmerir, Portugal
I would travel back to the time when "they" (whomever 'they' were...) were building those three Egyptian pyramids. Just for fact-checking's sake. 😬
DianneRN, United States of America
I would like to speak with my grandparents about their decision to immigrate to the USA from Netherlands after WW2 (1947), talk to them about how they survived the war with children & how they afforded to leave the Netherlands. I would like to hear my Beppe's (grandmother's) feelings about leaving all she knew and tell her how I am doing now.
mamash, United States of America
I would want to travel back to when my daughters were small, to the moment that was the last time I would rock each of them to sleep, hold their chubby little hands or hear them call me « Mommy », and I would know to be fully, 100% present for those moments and sear them into my brain forevermore.
Postenkartenfan, Germany
I would like to travel to the year 973 with a time machine.
1050 years ago, the German Emperor, the grandiose "Otto the Great" embarked on his last journey through his German homeland.
Quedlinburg, Walbek, Merseburg, Memleben and Magdeburg, all of these places belong to my closer home.
So I could admire all the art treasures and magnificent buildings and enjoy the intact nature of that time.
I would like to be part of his entourage on his final journey.
greenskull, Russia
I ❤️🧡💛💚💙💜💝💜💙💚💛🧡❤️ Postcrossing!
omurk, Türkiye
Interesting question! Actually, I'd never thought about it much! But if I ever had a time machine, I would travel to the 19th century, to Europe. It would be amazing to meet with the artists or the feminists of that time to whom I admire!
Niels-, Netherlands
I like to read about the univers and how big it is. ±70km more space to discover per second is what the scientists say?
Where did it start? I want to see that. Preferably from a safe distance of course 😅.
moonlessnite, Canada
I would travel back to the Vietnam war era and join in some of the protest marches and demonstrations.
Indreni, United States of America
I've always thought that if I could travel in time, I would go to the past, because the past would be more interesting. I'd like to see how beautiful nature was before humans started destroying it. But these days, I suddenly think perhaps I would want to go to the future. Because if there is progress and wonderful changes, it would give us in our current times so much hope.
Carol1, United States of America
I’ve often wished I could have lived in England in the 1930s, been a friend of Agatha Christy and travelled to Egypt with her. I would love to work on an archeological dig with her, finding and cataloguing the relics. Exploring pyramids. I plan to go to Egypt this year, at last. But it would have been better a hundred years ago and with Agatha and her crew.
Cassysj, United States of America
I would love to see the mansions of The Gillded Age 1880s I would also like to see my city in the 1930s when my mother was born
Julie_Myagkova, Russia
If I had a time machine, I would go to the time when all my ancestors lived and I would make a family tree for 5 generations back at least.
ZYC521, China
Remember the time with me and exchange postcards.
pemasagirls, France
Tough question ! So many places I’d like to see.
Ido for my first trip I would
- either join you to the Cretaceous period
- or go from the 16th to 20th July 1969 to see Apollo 11 sending men to the moon and feel the emotion of these days, see the launching and watching / waiting as they are landing, hearing Armstrong say his famous sentence.
Really feel in my body the intensity of these moments.
KhristinaT, Russia
I would definitely go to pre-revolutionary Russia, for example, to the current St. Petersburg, during the Russian Empire! I would like to see how people created such beautiful buildings with stained-glass windows, metlakh tiles, how they built something that even now looks amazing. And of course I would look at the wooden towers, which have not survived to our times. And I would buy postcards there, which would now be more than 100 years old :)
ranganathhv, India
Wonderful imagination!!!
I love to travel to a period when all the human species were present and love to see their travel from continent to continent e.g.out of Africa towards Asia.
Gaiasduhter, Germany
I study history and although my favorite time periods at University are the middle ages and early modern times, I would not want to visit those times, because they were not at all women friendly. Actually no time in the past was. But I would travel back in time, though, to meet the female greek philosopher and scientist Hypatia of Alexandria who lived in the 4th/5th Century, and Hildegard of Bingen who lived in the 11th/12th Century.
mariellitacanepa, United States of America
I've never really thought about going back in time - the present goes so quickly therefore I guess, I would like to go back to the 1900s - I want to see how people around the world dealt with the current events. I don't want to experience it, I just want to see it from the outside. I couldn't handle living the past. I want to witness my grandparents lives, where their parents migrated from and my life from birth. I want to know/remember - personally - my family's life, what my grandma would say to me, or the big earthquake i lived thru.
Flippie, Canada
I like to back in the time from Rock and Roll. The 1960's off course. The music, the outfits, the hairstyle, the diners and having a good time.
Happy Days.
I was born in 1964, so I missed it.....
supercmonkez, United States of America
I always thought it would be cool to be part of the American Pioneer movement as they ventured west. Then Covid hit and I watched a lot of "cowboy" themed movies with my husband and saw all the gun fights and robberies I decided, that wasn't for me. Craziness everywhere ! I'll have to keep thinking.

I grew up in the '60's and '70's, it was a pretty good time living in the suburbs of Seattle, we weren't really affected by much.
JarlRagnar, Germany
I have been fascinated by this topic since my youth in the 60s, where I´ve seen the film "The Time Machine", based on the book of H.G. Wells from 1895.
I have different wishes about what I want to do:
- I would like to walk through my hometown Göttingen in the late 50s/ early 60s
- seeing life on one of the Polynesian islands like Tahiti 100 years ago
- accompanying the naturalist Alexander von Humboldt on his trip to South America from 1799 to 1804
I know, that are very different things, but for me all very exciting :)
LookOutKid, Germany
Oh, that‘s a very interesting theme ! And it is difficult to choose the aim(s) for such a travel, perhaps I would like to attend :
- the time with Cleopatra and to see how big her power really was and how pretty she was
- the year 1740, I can trace my ancestors back to this year. I would like to know, what their projection about the future was
- New York, Manhattan in the 1950s and 1960s years, when the folk and rock music starts. I think I would hang around in the Gaslight or The Bitter End every evening 🤣
- last but not least: I would also like to travel in the future, not to change anything, but only to have a look, what‘s going with the children and their children and so on
evg335, Russia
I'm a history teacher. I would like to visit some little-studied moments and periods in history. For example, to visit the place where my city and the city of Nizhny Novgorod are located now in the 13th-14th centuries.
evg335, Russia
I'm a history teacher. I would like to visit some little-studied moments and periods in history. For example, to visit the place where my city and the city of Nizhny Novgorod are located now in the 13th-14th centuries.
Owlagdad, United States of America
I would travel back to Emmendingen, Baden, in 1850, to understand the conditions that convinced my great, great grandparents that it was time to move to America. I have a feeling that they didn’t know they would be going to a country that would have its own civil war in just a few more years! Should I have warned them? If I had, would I be writing this now?!
zwiebelbaguette, Germany
I would travel back to the 80s to see Freddie Mercury live on stage with the rest of Queen.
Malocar, United States of America
Thank you for this writing prompt. I love it!
antika18, Germany
That would be great! I would then travel back to my childhood where all worries and problems were still far away from me. Everything was just more carefree and sometimes I miss this time.
Nicolonia, Germany
I would love to visit the Renaissance period in Italy and meet Leonardo da Vinci in his workshop.
Tarane, Germany
I would love to travel to the old greeks and just observe their everyday life… their beliefs and their joy in life.
Hildeco, Belgium
I would go back to the time my grandmother on my daddy's side lived. She died in WO II so I never met her. I would ask her about her life, how she met my grandfather, about my dad's childhood and so many more familythings I don't know anything about.
Demmi, Romania
hmm...hard choice!
Renaissance days when Leonardo painted Monalisa and Michelangelo sculpted Pieta ...
... or if I could go as you said to any time and period as an observer and return whenever I choose; ... then definitely I would be forever a traveler soul!!!
Happy Postcrossing Year!
Waldo, United Kingdom
A trip to the time machine workshop wherever that is, with the hope that an interpretation app is available there, and a supply of postcards.
einzigartig0611, Austria
If I could travel back I would like to look over the shoulder of Guiseppe Verdi when he composes or tills his fields. Ever since I've owned the audio book by Elke Heidenreich (A journey through Verdi's Italy, Flieg, thought .....) I've often dreamed back to that time........

To see and observe my grandparents and parents as children, that would also be nice...............
kinuko, Japan
I would like to meet Marie Antoinette and tell her, "You were a very pretty and wonderful woman."
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