A handful of people will time travel this New Year's Day. While it might be a little late for you, don’t worry, it works every year. All you need is a couple thousand dollars and you can go from the year 2015 back to 2014 and celebrate New Year’s Day twice.
It will only work if you leave from somewhere in the southeast Pacific, China or Japan and arrive somewhere on the West Coast of the United States or the eastern Pacific Ocean, like Honolulu. When you fly eastward, you cross the international dateline, which bisects the Pacific, and you “gain” a day. For example, at 4 p.m. in New York, on the west side of the dateline, it is 10 a.m. Thursday, but on the east side it is 10 a.m. Wednesday.
The following video shows how the dateline and the concept of midnight works around the world. By the time the ball drops at midnight in New York City, much of the world will have already welcomed the new year:
For this example, we’ll go from Auckland, New Zealand, to Los Angeles, which are 21 hours apart.
If you left on a flight from Auckland at 5 a.m., local time, on New Year’s Day, heading to Los Angeles, which is 21 hours behind Auckland, you would arrive in L.A. around 8 p.m. on New Year’s Eve, in plenty time for a nap and another glass of Champagne at midnight. In other words, you would depart in 2015 and you would arrive in 2014.
And that -- going back to the previous year -- is as close to time travel as anyone can get.
The international dateline has caused other strange time-zone mix-ups in the past. In 2011, the small island of Samoa and a handful of others switched from the east side of the dateline to the west side in order to be in the same time zone as regional trading partners. The islands chose to do so on Dec. 29, and so they skipped Dec. 29 and went right to Dec. 31: