Time seems to fly at certain moments and crawl in others, for reasons scientists are just beginning to understand. Here, a few examples of how you might subjectively experience the passage of time during a spring jaunt through Europe.
HItting the Road
Are we there yet? Whether you're driving across the state or flying across the Atlantic this spring, the outbound trip will feel longer than the return leg. It seems we mentally block out a huge, familiar geographical area as home (so the sensation of being "almost there"crops up sooner), whereas new destinations are a journey right up until the minute we arrive at the hotel, according to a recent study published in the Journal of Consumer Psychology. So get comfortable—that 10-hour international flight will seem to stretch on and on.
Listening to Your Ipod on the Train Ride to Italy
Up-tempo music (from Vivaldi to Vampire Weekend) makes time fly, a new French study reveals. Both cheery and eerie quick-stepping tunes keep your mind off the clock.
Skydiving in the Swiss Alps
As your plane takes off and you vividly imagine your parachute failing, a not-yet-understood cognitive process slows down the clock—putting the terrifying moment as far off as possible, posits University of New South Wales scientist Richard Bryant. But once you jump, excitement replaces terror; you're distracted from the passage of time, and the long descent zooms by, according to Bryant's study of novice skydivers.