Traveling Through Time(zones)

Carefree Sun Dial Arizona

Primitive clock (aka Sundial)

Living in Arizona, I’m really only affected by daylight savings time in relation to how it affects the phone calls in my life – personal and professional. You see, Arizona is one of the few places on earth that doesn’t observe this ritual. When I first moved here I thought I would hate that, but now it’s hard for me to understand why everyone continues to observe the time change!

Although Daylight savings time (DST) has only been in practice for about 100 years, the idea was conceived many years before. Ancient civilizations are known to have engaged in a similar practice where they would adjust their daily schedules to the sun’s schedule. DST was officially proposed in 1895 by New Zealander George Vernon Hudson; Germany was the first to organize implementation in 1916. Early proponents of the practice aimed to prolong hours of daylight and reduce the use of artificial lighting in the evening. Given the changes in the use of electricity in modern times, the continuation of DST is the subject of great debate.

What does this all have to do with traveling? Well, it’s particularly difficult when traveling across time zones during that appointed mysterious moment when time shifts. For example, being in New Orleans for a long weekend and realizing you’ll have one hour less to spend in questionable pursuits. Then coming back two hours from a trip one hour forward. It’s all very confusing! And it also aggravates a condition we all know and love – jet lag. So here are a few tips and tricks for traveling across time zones – and hopefully avoiding some of the ill effects of jet lag!

time zone clocks

So many time zones…

Do some research ahead of time. These days most people use their phones for clocks and most phones will automatically adjust for a change in time zone. However, this is not always the case.  Use an app or do some research online and make note of the time difference between where you are and where you’re going. Then set a good old-fashioned watch accordingly. Also, make special note of where one time zone changes into another. This is particularly useful in avoiding “uh oh” moments when traveling across states or countries that are in two (or more) different time zones.

Remember DST. If you’re traveling near a time switch, it’s a good idea to check dates and take note if it happens in the course of a trip. A little research ahead of time can really save some panic when trying to catch a bus out of the middle of the Ecuadorian jungle for example (not that I would know anything about that). Also keep in mind that not all locations observe DST.

Pace your sleep. I usually set my watch for the destination time zone ahead of time and try to plan any sleep/naps accordingly. The sooner you start adjusting your schedule to the new time zone, the easier it is to trick your body into believing it should be operating on the new schedule.

Use light to your advantage. Our bodies are naturally / primitively aligned with light. Exposing yourself to sunlight – or lack thereof – immediately upon arrival can help reset your body’s internal clock.

Be kind to yourself. No matter what, mistakes happen. If you miss out on an opportunity because of a time mishap, try to remember that it’s not a big deal in the grand scheme of things. Likewise, be sure to drink plenty of water, exercise, pace yourself, etc. when changing time zones. Sometimes it just takes our bodies a little longer to catch up to our brains clocks.

Do you have any tips for traveling across time zones / avoiding jet lag??

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