The Adventure Time Dilation

What physics teaches us about travel’s indelible memories

Surfing in Florianopolis, Brazil.

Surfing in Florianopolis, Brazil.

Einstein’s theory of relativity states that time passes differently for different observers, based on the particular observer’s velocity. The best hypothetical example of this theory in practice is for two watches to be set to the exact same time, then one is sent aboard the International Space Station orbiting at 17,150 mph and the other remains on Earth. Before long, the watch on Earth will noticeably lag behind the other watch speeding around the Earth!

While a genius, Einstein wasn’t an adventure traveler and missed a second component of the theory of relativity: the adventure time dilation effect! When traveling, every moment is an experience that leaves an indelible impression on the traveler. The greater the adventure, the deeper and more numerous the memories.

Street artist in the historic neighborhood of San Telmo in Buenos Aires, Argentina.

Street artist in the historic neighborhood of San Telmo in Buenos Aires, Argentina.

This creates a challenge when returning home and reintegrating with “normal” society. Whether gone a weekend, a week, or a year, our friends’ and families’ lives have continued at steady-state with barely a blurb worth mentioning out of the normal routine. When we ask them “What’s new?” and “How was life was while we were away?,” we receive puzzled looks in return. It’s always the same response, “Um, not much, I don’t really remember.”

Meanwhile, we’re eager to regale our loved ones with an endless list of stories and memorable experiences. They will listen kindly, but, despite their best intentions, will never fully relate. What is the returning adventurer to do? It can feel like a fighter jet landing on an aircraft carrier. The deceleration of accumulating new experiences is so great that we need an arresting wire to return to pace of everyday life.

Judgmental monkey in Bali, Indonesia.

Judgmental monkey in Bali, Indonesia.

One consequence of this effect is that while it can be more difficult to form bonds with people who aren’t adventure travelers, the bonds we do create with our fellow travelers are greater and more meaningful. In fact, many studies have shown that the deepest and most solid relationships form through shared experiences. And, those inevitable instances that occur during international travel—those difficult, exhausting, and stressful instances— help us form the strongest relationship bonds of all.

The opportunity to “expand” time and fill your life with incredible memories and deep relationships is right around the corner with a click of a button. So, start dreaming about your next authentic adventure and contact us to start planning today!